USED BOAT: RODMAN 44
IN BUILD 2007 - TODAY PRICE RANGE £200,000 - £475,000
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.
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.
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