Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to find a good Greenline 33 on the secondhand market and what features to look out for…
In build: 2008 – 2023
Price range: £100,000 – £260,000
The spectacle of companies scrambling to join the sustainability bandwagon, whether driven by science or legislation, or even the court of public opinions, has become a part of everyday life.
At the top end of the scale are the titans who drive new technology like Elon Musk, while at the low end come the virtue signallers who do little but blurt out toe-curling platitudes: “Our amazing people proudly pledge to protect the planet,” you know the kind of thing.
In the middle, there are those operators who know how to seize the opportunity by implementing solutions that can be implemented immediately and backed by marketing campaigns that grab attention. Greenline Yachts’ 33ft motor-cruiser, which we review in this article, is firmly rooted into the latter category.
Greenline Yachts was created in 2008 by J&J Design, a Slovenian firm credited with more than 300 designs for 55 boat builders around the world.
Described as “a new range of environmentally sustainable, comfortable boats of unbeatable convenience and value,” it didn’t take long for the Greenline 33 Hybrid to make a splash – according to J&J Design, the model became the world’s best selling 10m boat, winning 21 Boat of the Year or design awards in the process.
SVP Yachts acquired the Greenline trademark in early 2023 after the production of the 33 models ceased.
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A major head-turner for Greenline was its adoption of the word ‘hybrid’. Greenline 33 was branded with the phrase “environmental pioneer” and the company promoted it at every opportunity.
Ironically, not all Greenline 33 Hybrids are hybrid boats. The electric motor and battery pack was an optional extra instead of part of the standard specification. The vessel was not actually hybrid-equipped, but was rather hybrid-ready.
Specifying the boat with just a diesel engine was, in fact, a route chosen by many when they discovered the additional cost of the 7kW electric motor and 48V/240Ah lithium polymer battery bank needed to transform the 33 into a diesel-electric hybrid boat (£23,500 plus another £7,673 for the solar panels on the roof back in 2010).
The full hybrid package is claimed to give a 20nm range with 4 knots of speed under only electric power (and longer with solar panels). However, older examples will not match this claim due to battery degradation.
Greenline’s solus diesel format offered options from Volvo Penta to Nanni, ranging in power between 60hp and 260hp. Among the owners electing to tread the diesel-only path were Martin and Shân Alexander, who purchased their Greenline 33 new in 2011.
“We opted for a Nanni 60hp propulsion unit as we were looking for something economical,” says Martin. To prove the point, throughout the 12 years he and Shân have owned the boat, Martin has kept a detailed fuel log. “Over the course of 925 engine hours our average fuel burn has been 5.7 litres per hour,” he says.
With a maximum speed of 10 knots and a cruising speed of 8 knots, Martin and Shân’s Greenline 33 was never going to go anywhere in a hurry but as sailors of more than 30 years standing, that wasn’t an issue.
“We wanted to explore new waters like the European canals, so we needed something without a mast,” explains Martin. “The 33 is an RCD Category B boat, so she’s perfectly happy offshore – she crossed the English Channel and made two long trips in France.
In our original test of a Greenline 33, our writer noted the boat’s “superdisplacement” hull (as Greenline tags it) has something of the sailboat about it, being very efficient but having a gentle rolling motion in any kind of beam sea.
Two wing keels are fitted to aid stability, which help but don’t stop it entirely. Martin did not mention this, but it was obvious that an experienced sailer would never be bothered by such a thing.
“We did encounter some pretty lumpy times, particularly around Boulogne, but she coped with it well,” he says. “The sea state was more of an issue for us than wind; if the waves exceeded 1.5m, we wouldn’t go out.”
In addition to their French excursions and coastal boating from their Ocean Village, Southampton base, Martin and Shân undertook two lengthy stints on the Thames.
These journeys entailed living aboard for extended periods of time, something which Martin and Shân took in their stride: “We’d take the boat away for two months in the summer and always found her extremely comfortable,” says Martin.
Make it and Modify
In order to accommodate their long journeys, the couple designed their Greenline 32 accordingly. Together with that Nanni engine and its miserly fuel consumption, Martin and Shân opted for storage units and a television platform in the saloon rather than a second cabin, which we are advised would have been fairly small in any case.
The option of a folding settee, or a dining table that could be lowered to make a bed was also rejected in favor of the fixed units. This boat is ideal for two people, but could be extended to accommodate four guests by adding two settees.
The Greenline 33’s saloon has excellent visibility all around, but the opening sections are limited to just two small sliding windows – one on port and one on starboard – plus an opening windscreen in the centre.
It would be very stuffy without the sliding rear doors and large glazing panels aft behind the galley, which are hinged up and stored at roof level.
A neat trick is the extension of the galley’s worktop that flips down when the rear window is raised. This creates extra workspace for the cockpit or a servery. “That window was a big feature for me,” says Shân.
“It opens up like a sort of ice cream shop and connects the galley to the cockpit – you become part of the party rather than being tucked away in a little galley.”
In fact, for a boat of its size the galley in the Greenline 33 is not small at all; it’s a generously proportioned, well equipped area with plenty of storage space. Adjoining both the cockpit and the saloon’s dinette makes it an extremely practical space whatever the weather.
Only seated helm
There’s no complaints with the rest of the saloon either; the settees are both large and well upholstered, the dining table has two leaves which enable it to be used from either settee, and the helm is cleanly laid out and functional.
Two points to note are that there’s no bolster at the helm, as its two-person seat flips over to form part of the starboard side settee, and it’s a seated helm only as there’s little room for standing between the helm seat and the wheel.
We have a major complaint about the access to our engine in the pilothouse. It is hidden under a large opening beneath the dining room table. To reach the motor it’s necessary to peel back the carpets and remove the cushions from the starboard settee before hinging the dining table over until it rests on the settee base.
While there’s bags of room inside the engine room for maintenance purposes, especially with the compact 60hp Nanni unit, it’s a bit of a palaver from a daily checks point of view.
The single cabin below decks in the forepeak can be used as either a vee bed or a double by combining the two beds.
There’s storage on either side of the cabin, including two large hanging garment lockers, and lights on three sides add to the general bright and breezy feel of the boat. The single heads have Jack and Jill door, which allows it to be used as either an ensuite or a day head.
Super-safe side decks
Outside, there are two large storage lockers built into the floor of the aft cabin and two corner seating/storage units. The aircraft is not equipped with any other furniture. Therefore, a free-standing table and chairs will be needed for outdoor dining.
A transom that can be used as a swimming platform or to get off the stern and onto a pontoon is folded down by an electronic winch. Alternatively, there’s a side entranceway on the starboard side of the cockpit, although nothing to port.
Greenline 33 has a final attractive feature: its side decks, which are super safe and have bulwarks that reach almost to the mid-thigh. As Shân pointed out, that makes ropework easy: “I’ve got two hands free to hand the line to someone, it really works well and you feel very safe,” she says.
In summary, the Greenline 33 is an interesting proposition for anyone looking for a boat that’s equally at home in coastal waters or gliding through the rivers and canals of Europe.
The boat offers comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price, with fixtures and fittings of decent quality. And there’s one last thing too; at just 9.99m long it’s a boat which can be quickly and relatively economically transported from one cruising ground to another.
Greenline 33 surveyor’s report
Collaboration between Seaway, J&J Designs and Volkswagen has resulted in a boat with a difference. The hybrid version, which includes a VW diesel motor and a 5kW motor and 7kW generator plus lithium ion and lead acid batteries creates a versatile vessel that can cruise at a comfortable 10-12 knots or 6 knots on electric power.
In diesel mode, the maximum range is 700nm. A solid hull with polyester resin, foam-cored decks and vacuum fusion ensures good consistency in construction, without risk of core delamination. The interior finish, while basic, is easy to maintain and sound.
- The service history of any engine or drive system should be thoroughly checked.
- Look for cracks in the mullions of the side and rear windows.
- Due to its single engine, shallow draft and high sides, it is necessary to become familiar with the boat’s handling when in close quarters. Check if the boat has a bow thruster or stern thruster.
- Look for excessive carbon deposits in the compartment of your bow thruster.
– Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Greenline 33 Specifications
LOA: 32ft 9in (9.99m)
Beam: 11ft 5in (3.49m)
Draft: 2ft 4in (0.70m)
Fuel capacity: 430 litres
Water capacity 300 litres
Engine: 60hp Nanni
Max speed 8 knots
Cruising range: Up to 491nm at 7 knots (based on owner’s average fuel burn of 5.7lph)
Type: Cruise the river and coast in a river cruiser
Designer: J&J Designs
Hull type Fast displacement
Greenline 33 operating costs
Annual fuel burn: 285 litres based on 25 hours of 8 knots and another 25 hours of 6 knots
Mooring: £7,092 (based on £710 per m, annual marina mooring on the Hamble River downstream of Bursledon bridge)
What’s on the market?
Engine: Nanni 60hp
Engine: Mercury VW 150hp
Engine: Volvo Penta D3 175hp
First published on October 20, 2023 in MBY.
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