The placement of the hullside windows is a clue to the layout: The biggest window usually serves the master stateroom, as it does aboard the 500 Fly. Smaller windows provide plenty of light to other cabin spaces, too.
Rethinking the Accommodations
In the past year or so, Prestige has introduced several yachts that make use of pod drives for more than just propulsion: Pods leave room amidships for a full-beam stateroom, like the one aboard the Prestige 500 Fly. In the past, this valuable space in the widest part of the hull, and the most comfortable part under way, was occupied by engines; now it's occupied by people.
The lower deck is stateroom country: three of them, and two heads, forward of the engine room and an optional crew cabin aft. We doubt many owners will carry crew aboard a 500 Fly – she's perfect for owner operation -- so that space will find other uses.
What's most surprising is Prestige's ability to fit this layout aboard a boat that's under 50' overall. The 500 Fly has 49' 1" (15.2 m) LOA – 48' 11" (14.92 m) without the platform – but has room below decks for not only an owner's suite with breakfast nook and lounge seat, but also a VIP cabin forward and a twin-berth cabin between the two. And two heads with stall showers. (Prestige's 500S, an express cruiser similar to the 500 Fly, has the same layout.)
In days past this would have been the engine room, but pods turn it into the owner's suite. Along with the centerline berth, there's a lounge seat (behind the camera) and a small dinette for two. At the left is the access stairway from the salon.
There's a tendency today for designers to focus on double berths – we've seen many boats with nothing but doubles. But in the real world, not everyone wants to share. Prestige deals with this by making both guest cabins convertible: The VIP stateroom, forward, has an island double that scissors open to form V-berths, while the third, twin-berth, stateroom comes with a filler.
The forward cabin's centerline double berth looks like all the other centerline doubles in the world, until...
... the berth is split into two singles. This really increases the utility of the 500 Fly's layout, making her welcoming for both couples and singles, and families with kids.
Drop the filler between the twin berths in the third cabin for sleeping a deux. This is the only cabin without its own head; it shares the one across the passage with the VIP cabin.
Move the Galley Aft
Aboard a boat like the Prestige 500 Fly, there's always the galley question: Should it be "down" or "up"? Galley down takes up space that could be used for cabins, but opens up the salon for daytime activities; galley up does just the reverse, but also keeps the cook happy because s/he isn't marooned below while everyone else is having fun. With the galley placement on the 500 Fly, Prestige has convinced us that "up" is the way to go. The galley is in the aftermost part of the salon, handy to both the dinette and the cockpit. (A cockpit table is optional.)
The galley, placed aft in the salon, is handy both to the dinette and the afterdeck.
The galley is well-equipped with the usual appliances one would expect on a yacht of Prestige quality. The oven and cooktop are gas-fired, not electric, which are more common aboard sailboats than power, but nevertheless a good way to go if the owner doesn't want the generator running all the time. The genset, a 13.5-kW model, is optional – odd aboard a boat like this one where one would expect it to be standard. A dishwasher is optional, too.
The galley is separated from the salon by a console bar that doubles as the backrest for a section of the dinette. There's a step up between galley and salon which could surprise the unwary.
The salon is illuminated by large cabinside windows (blinds are standard) and a three-part glass sliding door onto the afterdeck, so on days when the weather keeps folks inside they won't feel trapped. A dinette and starboard-side sofa will seat six to eight. A 26" TV/DVD is available, and is included in the "Preference" package of most-wanted options.
The fully equipped lower helm might be the captain's steering station of choice on all but bright, sunny days.
The Sunning is Easy on the Bridge
One glance and one will see the thought behind the 500 Fly's bridge: It's all about lounging and catching rays. There's a sunpad next to the helm, and the dinette aft converts to a second pad. And there's a third (optional) on the foredeck. Don't forget the sunscreen.
Nobody will suffer vitamin D deficiency aboard the 500 Fly, with sun pads all around.
A sink, fridge and grill are all standard on the bridge, as is the fiberglass arch. We'd prefer the arch to be a bit higher, not only to add a bit of range to the radar, but also to move the microwaves further above our heads. This is a typical setup for a European-designed yacht – maybe the rationale is, when the weather's bad enough to need radar, the driver will be steering from below. And that probably makes sense to most people.
No question the 500 Fly is intended for sunny climates, with sun pads all over. The telescopic passerelle on the port side of the swim platform is optional, but a necessity when cruising in the Mediterranean and docking stern-to.
The only power option is twin 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600s. We haven't tested the Prestige 500 Fly yet, but she's very much like the builder's 500S, which we have tested. The two boats share the same hull; the 500 Fly weighs about 1,323 lbs. (600 kg.) more, according to Prestige specs, and has an inch more draft. Power is the same.
Our captain clocked the 500S at 29.8 knots; we expect the 500 Fly to be just a tad slower because of her weight, or maybe not: In this size boat, fuel levels will have more effect on speed than the extra 600 kg displacement. Twenty knots, or a bit more, was a good cruise speed for the 500S, and we think the 500 Fly will be happy at that speed, too.
We'd prefer more seating and less sunning area on the flying bridge, maybe an L-lounge where the pad is next to the helm.
Prestige includes a bow thruster with the Preference options package; most builders who've switched to pods consider a thruster unnecessary thanks to the pods' excellent low-speed control. But we like the belt-and-suspenders approach, and a thruster lets the captain nudge the bow this way or that without engaging the engines, often very handy when rigging or adjusting docklines. Electric mooring winches aft are also optional, and will come in handy more often than one would think, even with pods' excellent control.
We think she is excellent value for money, a nice balance of luxury and affordability. Prestige is selling boats almost as fast as they can build them – we expect an inspection of the 500 Fly will show the boater why. She's worth a close look if one is in the market for a comfortable 50-footer with lots of accommodations and modern pod propulsion.
Originally published by BoatTest.com