All sailboats are purpose built to some degree, and the Seaward 46RK is no exception. Sitting in the captain’s chair with the oversized wheel at my fingertips, protected from the elements by the bimini mounted on the overhead steel arch, I could well imagine fall days sailing along the inland bays of the Intracoastal Waterway or enjoying my shady seat while gunkholing through the shallow passes of the Bahamas.
The RK in the boat’s name stands for Retractable Keel, and it’s that feature, along with lifting rudders, that makes the Seaward 46 a viable option for skippers bound for thin waters. Don’t get me wrong: With a powerful solent rig, full-batten main, twin 54-horsepower diesels, and a 7-foot-6-inch draft with the keel down, the vessel has all the power and propulsion options needed for a passage to anywhere. It’s just that once there, the boat’s 2-foot-5-inch draft with the keel up will let you explore nooks and crannies that most sailors will only view from afar—or from their dinghy.
I got aboard the 46RK last fall and spent a couple of hours sailing the boat in winds averaging 10 to 12 knots. On the one hand, the boat is fairly straightforward to operate. From the helm, the engine controls and the electric winches are close at hand, and you enjoy good visibility forward over the raised cabin top. The jib set on the inner forestay is self-tending, so tacking upwind requires only a turn of the wheel.
That said, I was glad to have designer and builder Nick Hake aboard because on the 46RK, in addition to trimming the sails, adjusting the rudder and keel depth affects how the boat sails. Set the foils too shallow, you get leeway; too deep, and you’re needlessly dragging appendages through the water. Set just right, though, you get a very pleasant and rewarding ride. And we did.
The 46RK features a raised coach roof and large cabin-house ports, which immediately make sense when you step below. To port is an inside raised navigation/helm station with a captain’s chair identical to the one you find topside. You also have another set of engine controls, a second set of nav instruments, and a panorama of all that lies before you. A rainy day transiting The Ditch? That would pose no problem.
To starboard and down a step, there’s a fully stocked inline galley, complete with espresso machine. Aft are two cabins, both with double berths and ample storage. Forward, the owner's stateroom is plush, with a centerline queen berth, head and shower, and, again, lots of storage.
The hull is hand laid and solid glass to the waterline. Topsides and deck are cored. The keel is enclosed in a laminate box molded into the hull to prevent water intrusion in the event of a grounding. Throughout, workmanship appeared top notch.
If your sailing grounds include shallow bays and sounds or if you dream, say, of the Bahamas’ turquoise waters, the Seaward 46RK might just do the trick.
|LOA||48’ 0” (14.63 m.)|
|LWL||44’ 10” (13.67 m.)|
|Beam||13’ 3” (4.04 m.)|
|Draft (keel up/down)||2’ 5”/7’ 6” (.74/2.29 m.)|
|Sail area||1,006 sq. ft. (93.5 sq. m.)|
|Ballast||7,500 lb. (3,402 kg.)|
|Displacement||23,000 lb. (10,433 kg.)|
|Water||180 gal. (681 l.)|
|Fuel||180 gal. (681 l.)|
|Holding||40 gal. (150 l.)|
|Mast height||62’ 00” (18.90 m.)|
|Engines||Two 54-hp. Yanmars|
Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.