This super-efficient cruiser takes on stiff winds and rough seas
There’s a decidedly sailing boat-esque feel to the Pogo Loxo 32. With its flat uncluttered foredeck, dart-shaped profile and upright transom it’s just a mast and rigging away from looking like just another white fibreglass yacht. Only the raised pilothouse introduces any motorboat vibe. And when you examine the background of the builder all becomes clear. Created in 1987 and based in Brittany, Pogo only made sailing boats until this model was introduced.
So what does a builder with four cruising sailboats between 30ft and 50ft plus a racing yacht in its range have to bring to the 9m powerboat market? The yard was never going to compete on a ‘me too’ basis, so instead it mines the current zeitgeist for efficiency, economy and ecology. Choose the single 75hp Volvo Penta D2 motor mated to a sail drive and below 12 knots you’ll be burning less than half a litre per mile. Below nine knots a 50hp D2 is more economical still, albeit only slightly, and it mirrors the larger engine up to 12 knots before getting marginally thirstier up to its maximum velocity of 16 knots, 3.5 knots down on the bigger motor. You can even opt for the reassurance of twin engines, a pair of 30hp D1 engines proving thirstier than either single set-up all the way from tick-over to WOT at 15 knots. Such is the price of extra weight and the drag of that second pod. Given this boat’s raison d’être, you’ve really got to need that second motor to accept those sacrifices.
Weight is a major part of how this boat does what it does. It tips the scales at just 1,650kg with a single engine, a quarter of the weight of the similar-length Sealine S330. Although this is an interesting benchmark, it’s an unfair comparison because the two boats are entirely different animals. While the Sealine is a plush
comfortable cruiser designed to cruise at speeds faster than the Loxo 32 will do flat out, the latter is a pared back eco-warrior that puts fuel efficiency first.
That said, it’s not without its charms. Decks are flat and wide and the simple cockpit utilises its central engine box as a broad seat, complete with folding backrest to turn this area into a sunpad. Drop the transom flat in superyacht beach club-style and you’ve got a great watersports area at anchor. Inside, that raised wheelhouse area gives light and headroom in equal measure, there’s a basic galley aft opposite the heads and a raised seat either side for a good view out forward. Ahead of the two short settees either side of the removable table is another sailboat-esque touch, a curtained-off double berth in the forepeak. It’s pretty basic looking, with plenty of white fibreglass on show, but actually that taps into the eco-vibe rather neatly.
So what do you do with a super-efficient eco-boat? Well, travel of course, and if your name is Bernard Deguy, travel rather a lot. Bernard approached Loxo with the suggestion that a seriously long cruise would be a terrific way to prove their new entry into the motor boat market. With the yard and then Volvo Penta on board, he began planning a trip that would capture the imagination. The result was a voyage that would “recreate a coastal and open sea navigation in the footsteps of the great Viking saga in Western Europe from Gothenburg, Sweden to Sainte Marine, France”.
Pogo Structures made two boats available, one with a single Volvo Penta D2 75hp, and one with twin Volvo Penta 30hp motors. And so, in April, the saga began. When MBY caught up with the cruise, the two boats had run up to Oslo, round the Norwegian coast and across the North Sea to Shetland and Orkney, down the west coast to Oban, across to Ireland, down to the Isles of Scilly and then across to Cornwall and Penzance, arriving two months later.
With the tide running and wind blowing, it’s a stride onto the foredeck anxiously clutching precious camera gear and we’re away. I’m joining Bernard and his friend Ariane Basteau for the leg from Penzance to Falmouth, a trip of about 30 miles. The conditions are perfect to test the Pogo Loxo: a brisk northerly Force 5 is blowing straight off the coast, so we’ve got sheltered water close in with the promise of bigger seas offshore. Our route out and around Lizard Point, the most southerly part of mainland Britain, and then in toward Falmouth not only allows me an extended cruise, it also gives a terrific variation in course and allows me to see the boat running at most angles.
The boat I’m on is the single-engine version. In Bernard’s opinion it is the engine of choice – quieter, (slightly) faster and, of course, more economical. As we head from Penzance we are enjoying the June sunshine just ahead of the heatwave to come. The boat is almost entirely standard, there’s no seat at the outside helm, and inside there’s not even hot water. The only obvious options are the two Simrad chartplotters, one at the outside helm and one inside, and an autopilot, essential on a trip like this. With the wind on out port stern quarter, Bernard sets the speed at 10 knots, aims the autopilot at Lizard Point and we’re off.
As we leave the natural windbreak of the shoreline, whitecapped waves gradually build, the strong wind holding the spray with us and flicking it mischievously across the cockpit, so we retire inside. There’s no steering wheel or throttle in here, just an angled console ahead of the starboard forward facing seat with a chartplotter embedded into it. However there is a joystick linked to the autopilot, so if we need to make a course change or dodge a crab pot buoy, we can. The view is great, big windows to the front and sides giving terrific visibility, but a windscreen wiper wouldn’t go amiss. Mostly, there’s enough spray to keep the screen clear but Ariane is dispatched at one point with a squeegee. I did say it was basic. When I get the chance to look at the other boat later I discover a proper lower helm with wheel and throttle, and a single wiper so clearly it can be done. There’s no outside helm on that boat, but I’m assured that you can have both if you wish, which would make sense. Bernard’s grasp of English is far better than my six words of French but communication is a little stilted. I learn that they’ve covered 2,500 miles so far, that both boats have behaved extremely well and that they had a smooth crossing of the North Sea.
Smoother than we’re experiencing as we approach the Lizard an hour later, about five miles off shore. With waves picking up the stern quarter, the boat is yawing gently as it rides the swells but roll is surprisingly dampened, helped no doubt by its
It’ s a purposeful no-nonsense looking boat, with a pa red back, low-profile, almost military vibe about it
very low profile. At 10 knots it feels like a displacement boat, the vertical bow burying itself in the next wave, occasionally sluicing water across that flat foredeck. The boat is actually planing thanks to its ultra light weight and long flat aft sections, which is where that incredibly low fuel consumption comes from.
PURPOSEFUL AND P LUCKY
We’re back in the cockpit as we pass the Lizard, grabbing photos and video of the other Loxo 32 against the headland. It’s a purposeful no-nonsense looking boat, with a pared back lowprofile almost military vibe about it. White water clawing up the base of the cliffs reminds us of the size of the swell far more than the motion of the boat does.
As we swing round onto a north-easterly heading and make our way towards Falmouth, we’re taking the sea on the port bow, dipping and punching through the rolling swells like a surfer paddling through a break. Solid sheets of spray are hitting the screen and very occasionally there’s a slight shudder as we land in a trough, followed by a short rain deluge in the cockpit behind us. But the plucky Pogo punches on purposefully, speed undiminished, getting its head down and on with the job. Even when we turn due north and take it straight in the face there’s no sense that we need to wind the speed back, we simply push the Pogo on through. It’s an impressive display for any boat let alone one as light as this. Exactly three hours later we’ve covered 30 miles safely, comfortably and fairly effortlessly. Before we head for Pendennis Marina and scrape the salt off, there’s just time to take over from the autopilot and have a drive myself. It’s hard to believe it’s a planing boat, it feels entirely displacement in character, running completely level and completely happily at any speed up to its maximum of 20 knots. And it’s the same when you wind the boat into a turn, it corners with zero drama, but bolt upright and without enthusiasm.
No, what this boat likes doing is covering ground indefatigably and at its own pace. Set it to 10 knots, divide your route distance by 10 and, give or take a little tide, you’ll know exactly how many hours it’s going to take you. The standout feature is the incredible economy. Our trip from Penzance to Falmouth cost about £15 in diesel or 50p per mile. The three of us on board couldn’t have taken the bus for much less let alone any comparable 32ft motor boat. And priced from around £130,000 inc VAT it’s more affordable than most rival boats too. CONTACT Pogo Structures at www.pogostructures.com
When we turn due north and take it straight in the face, we simply push on through
Dart-like profile makes it look almost military Don’t forget to spec a windscreen wiper! Pilothouse gives good light and views
The basic external helm can be supplemented with a built-in helm seat for longer journeys The engine box doubles as cockpit seating and a sun-lounging area
COMPASS Handbearing compass is just one of the sailing boat-type touches HELM The helm seat inside is a lot more comfortable than it looks STEERING An internal wheel and throttle are available if requested