POGO LOXO

This su­per-ef­fi­cient cruiser takes on stiff winds and rough seas

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - WORDS AND PIC­TURES: Nick Burn­ham

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.

COAST­ING

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

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