USED BOAT: RODMAN 44

IN BUILD 2007 - TO­DAY PRICE RANGE £200,000 - £475,000

Motorboat & Yachting - - CONTENTS -

Rodman’s classy 44 Muse can now be found for as lit­tle as £200,000

T he Rodman 41 may have looked a fairly in­nocu­ous boat when it launched in 2000, but it was a sig­nif­i­cant step for Rodman. Un­known at that time in the lux­ury fly­bridge mar­ket, the Span­ish com­pany had a very strong pres­ence in the com­mer­cial world build­ing ev­ery­thing from fast off­shore pa­trol boats to pas­sen­ger cata­ma­ran fer­ries. The clos­est it got to the leisure mar­ket was a range of sturdy sports fish­ing boats. Prac­ti­cal they may have been, but glam­orous they were not. A con­ser­va­tively styled shaft­drive fly­bridge cruiser, the Rodman 41 slipped into the circa 40ft fly­bridge mar­ket with­out too much of a splash. The most po­tent weapon it had to com­pete with big name boats like the Princess 40 and Fairline Phan­tom 41 was its un­usual three-cabin lay­out. At the time only Sealine was able to of­fer some­thing sim­i­lar in the size range cour­tesy of its three cabin 42/5.

The pro­file of the 41 was raised fur­ther in 2005 when Volvo in­tro­duced its IPS pod drive sys­tem. Rodman adopted this new propul­sion con­cept en­thu­si­as­ti­cally, cre­at­ing a com­pletely new hull mould­ing for IPS ver­sions of the 41 that mir­rored the shaft drive boat for­ward but segued into a com­pletely new aft sec­tion de­signed to make the most of the new pod drive tech­nol­ogy. It made the 41 unique – no one else was of­fer­ing an aft cock­pit three cabin boat with IPS drive and helped Rodman to sell over 300 ex­am­ples of the 41, firmly es­tab­lish­ing the yard as a se­ri­ous con­tender in the lux­ury fly­bridge sec­tor.

Buoyed by its suc­cess, Rodman in­tro­duced the Muse range of lux­ury fly­bridge boats in 2006, start­ing with the Muse 54 fol­lowed a year later by the 44. “Peo­ple weren’t ex­pect­ing such a level

of lux­ury from what was (and still is) a suc­cess­ful com­mer­cial ship builder,” Dana Stevens, di­rec­tor of UK Rodman dealer RBS Marine tells me. “Peo­ple know and re­spect the brand for the tough Fisher & Cruiser range, and per­haps now the prac­ti­cal Spirit range too, but they still some­times seem sur­prised when you show them a Rodman Muse 44 with its lux­ury fin­ish. They are even more sur­prised to hear that the range is led by the flag­ship Rodman Muse 74.“

How­ever even this is not the largest leisure boat Rodman has pro­duced – it built a one off Rodman 105 su­pery­acht in 2005 for a client who had also placed an or­der for a com­mer­cial craft, prov­ing that the leisure and com­mer­cial sec­tors can go hand in hand. The Muse range now spans four boats, the 74, 54, 50 and 44.

Launched in Novem­ber 2007, the 44 was de­signed by Ful­vio de Si­moni with a bolder style that re­flected the builder’s new-found con­fi­dence in the lux­ury sec­tor. The sa­loon win­dow line was far sharper and more stylish than the pre­vi­ous 41, while the fly­bridge had a lower, sleeker pro­file. It even ran to small de­tails like the thick stain­less steel rub­bing band and stan­chion sup­ports that were ver­ti­cal rather than an­gled for­ward, look­ing more like those on a su­pery­acht than a typ­i­cal mo­tor cruiser.

PODS ONLY

With Rodman’s com­mit­ment to IPS now firmly es­tab­lished, the Muse 44 never even came with a shaft­drive op­tion. The only set up was twin 370hp IPS500S, giv­ing a max­i­mum speed of just over 30 knots and a com­fort­able and ef­fi­cient cruis­ing speed of 24 knots with a light load and a clean hull and pods. The per­for­mance of all IPS boats is par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to the clean­li­ness of the pod drives and pro­pel­lers so make sure any used boat you plan to sea trial has been thor­oughly cleaned be­fore­hand.

With IPS came the op­tion of joy­stick dock­ing – but bear in mind it was an op­tion, and an ex­pen­sive one at that, so don’t as­sume that all sec­ond­hand 44s will have it. The joy­stick was cer­tainly a ma­jor fac­tor in Terry Ha­ley’s de­ci­sion to buy the boat you see here, which he keeps at Swan­wick Ma­rina and uses mostly for day trips around the So­lent. Hav­ing had pre­vi­ous IPS ex­pe­ri­ence with a Rodman 1250 Fisher&cruiser, he’s com­pletely sold on the sys­tem. “IPS is bril­liant, any boat I buy in fu­ture will have to have it. It means that I can put the boat any­where, re­gard­less of wind and tide, and it gives me to­tal con­fi­dence. I used to dread tak­ing boats into har­bours or mari­nas, now I look for­ward to it.”

In­side, the Muse 44 echoes the Rodman 41, al­beit with sharper more modern cab­i­netry. Head through the sa­loon doors and you’ll find a very sim­i­lar sa­loon area. And just like the 41, the gal­ley is two steps up and for­ward, op­po­site the helm, free­ing up space on the lower deck for that three-cabin lay­out. And it’s there that you’ll find the most ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment over the 41 be­cause un­like the bunk-bed­ded cabin of the lat­ter, the 44 man­ages to squeeze in two iden­ti­cal guest cab­ins that sport proper side by side sin­gle beds. Both utilise the day heads (nei­ther has di­rect en suite ac­cess) and the mas­ter cabin for­ward gets its own sep­a­rate en suite.

Mark and Deb­bie Dyer cite the in­te­rior as one of the key in­flu­enc­ing fac­tors in their pur­chas­ing de­ci­sion. They keep their Muse 44 in Port So­lent and use the boat as an es­cape from the pres­sures of run­ning a busi­ness. “It’s plenty big enough for an aver­age fam­ily. As well as the sheer amount of sleep­ing spa­ces, there’s masses of room gen­er­ally. It feels nice and open, with good ac­cess every­where.”

The cou­ple also have high praise for the qual­ity of the fitout, some­thing MBY noted when we tested the boat back in 2008. “In­side, this boat feels very spe­cial, with ex­cep­tional join­ery qual­ity that would stand up against any­thing the likes of Sun­seeker, Fer­retti or Fairline are pro­duc­ing. It’s very sturdy too, not just beau­ti­fully fin­ished, with per­fectly ex­e­cuted dove­tailed joints on the draw­ers, es­pe­cially strong stain­less run­ners, and solid car­casses”.

And in fact it got even bet­ter, in 2014 the boat re­ceived a face-lift. On the out­side the gel­coat changed from pale cream to a brighter white, a grey stripe was added to the fly­bridge sides and a grey top­side colour be­came avail­able as an op­tion. The su­per­struc­ture was changed slightly, gain­ing larger sa­loon win­dows that lit an in­te­rior mod­ernised with in­set LED strip light­ing and a new coloured fin­ish to cup­board and cabin doors. Both the helms were tweaked slightly, too.

Around the same time, Rodman also be­gan of­fer­ing an up­grade from 370hp IPS500S to 435hp IPS600S. This gave the boat an ad­di­tional cou­ple of knots but per­haps more use­fully helped to off­set some of the heav­ier op­tional ex­tras such as a hy­draulic high/low bathing plat­form that can carry a ten­der of up to 350kg. De­spite this only around 10% of Muse 44s were fit­ted with the more pow­er­ful IPS600S.

But the stand out fea­ture of the Muse 44 re­mains the in­trin­sic strength and build qual­ity borne of those com­mer­cial routes. Bob and

Jane Lud­low saw one of the first at the Barcelona Boat Show in 2008. They bought it on the first day and use it to run Swan­ning About Char­ters, based in Chatham in Kent. The cou­ple have clocked up over 800 en­gine hours so far, cruis­ing every­where from the Thames to the West Coun­try and over to France, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the boat in all sorts of con­di­tions.

“The worst we’ve been in is prob­a­bly a force 6 to 7,” says Bob. “Like most plan­ing boats, it doesn’t like a very short sea, pre­fer­ring longer swells that al­low it to set­tle. But it’s al­ways felt safe and it’s a very solid boat.” Bob also has high praise for the build qual­ity, in­side and out. “It’s worn beau­ti­fully, even af­ter 10 years of use it still looks like new.”

Bob does much of the main­te­nance him­self, ap­pre­ci­at­ing the prac­ti­cal na­ture of the boat’s lay­out. The en­gine hatch, for ex­am­ple, is a mas­sive pow­ered sec­tion of cock­pit floor that gives great ac­cess to the mo­tors, but Rodman has also fit­ted a smaller man­ual hatch so that in the event of power fail­ure, you can still ac­cess the en­gine space. And fur­ther for­ward be­neath the sa­loon floor is an en­gi­neer­ing space with eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and clearly laid out 12v and 240v elec­tri­cal pan­els and cir­cuit break­ers, twin bat­tery charg­ers, twin wa­ter tanks and masses of room for air con­di­tion­ing or heat­ing sys­tems where ev­ery­thing can be eas­ily ac­cessed.

QUAL­ITY NOT QUAN­TITY

The Rodman 44 re­mains in pro­duc­tion to date. Cus­tom built to or­der in com­par­a­tively small num­bers (about 60 have been built so far), it re­mains a slightly left field choice for those that like the space its three cabin lay­out of­fers but per­haps most of all ap­pre­ci­ate the in­trin­sic build qual­ity re­flec­tive of a man­u­fac­turer with such strong roots in the com­mer­cial sec­tor.

SURVEYOR SAYS

There is no doubt that the Muse range is a cut above the rest of the Rodman sport fish­ers in terms of fit-out qual­ity and spec­i­fi­ca­tions but the DNA re­mains the same, rooted in hand laid GRP driven by the yard’s heavy duty com­mer­cial and mil­i­tary hulls. Hav­ing said that, any surveyor still needs to look care­fully at the build of each in­di­vid­ual craft. I have come across a num­ber of un­ex­pected de­fects on other Rodman hulls, in­clud­ing bulk­head de­tach­ment, post-build mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the hull bot­tom pro­file and ex­ten­sive gel­coat stress crack­ing on deck. This is not to say that the Muse 44 is prone to any such is­sues but noth­ing should be taken for granted.

I have men­tioned this be­fore in pre­vi­ous notes but take the time and trou­ble to as­sess the per­for­mance and han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics of the IPS pods. Some of the early Rodman mod­els fit­ted with the first gen­er­a­tion of IPS drives un­der­went post-sales hull mod­i­fi­ca­tions to cure chine rid­ing and trim is­sues. For this rea­son I would rec­om­mend both a full sea trial and a proper hull sur­vey, par­tic­u­larly of older boats. It’s also an op­por­tu­nity to check you are happy with the per­for­mance of the IPS500 units or would rather hold out for one of the rarer IPS600 mod­els.

The up­per helm is sur­rounded by sun­pads but set quite far back from the wind­screen The fly­bridge has so­cia­ble horse­shoe-shaped seat­ing but lacks a proper wet bar

Rodman is renowned for its smooth, solid GRP mould­ings as well as its sturdy wood­work The raised gal­ley at the for­ward end of the sa­loon is an un­usual but ef­fec­tive lay­out

The sec­ond guest cabin still has enough space for proper twin beds rather than bunks The mas­ter cabin in the bow leaves space for two fur­ther guest cab­ins amid­ships

BATHING PLAT­FORM COR­NERS The bathing plat­form is long and wide enough to carry a proper ten­der but its cor­ners are vul­ner­a­ble to berthing dam­age FLY­BRIDGE The low pro­file fly­bridge helps the sporty looks but is worth bear­ing in mind if boat­ing with young chil­dren or pets IPS DRIVES The pod drives are ef­fi­cient and easy to han­dle but it’s es­sen­tial to en­sure that the cor­rect main­te­nance sched­ule has been ad­hered to STRESS CRACKS Check the deck area for signs of stress cracks

S P E C I F I C AT I O N Model Rodman Muse 44 Type Fly­bridge cruiser In build 2007 - cur­rent De­signer Ful­vio de Si­moni Hull type Plan­ing RCD cat­e­gory B Prices from £200,000 LOA 44ft 6in (13.60m) Beam 14ft 0in (4.26m) Draught 2ft 9in (0.85m) Dis­place­ment 14.1 tonnes Fuel ca­pac­ity 1,330 litres Wa­ter ca­pac­ity 400 litres Per­for­mance 30 knots with Volvo Penta IPS500 370hp diesel en­gine Cruis­ing range 250 miles at 24 knots with 20% re­serve

The mas­ter cabin has an en suite bath­room but the guests share the same day heads

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