I own a Hylas 49. We had it built in 2007 and I went to Taiwan to tour the plant and see how they build them. I also called Sparkman and Stephens in NYC
to discuss some parts
of the design to see how they thought it should be built. S&S had nothing but good things to say about Queen Long Marine
Simply said, the plant does great work. They have some really nice interior craftsman and the fiberglass/hull work is solid. The Hylas 49 is different than the 46,54, 56 and 70 in that those are German Frers designs and have a much different underwater shape. The 49 (Olin Stephens design) is (opinion) a much better heavy weather
boat with a more sea-kindly motion. The flatter bottomed Frer's designs will pound a bit in a chop. The Frer's design also carry far more beam aft and therefore have a bit more volume below for living space. The 46 has got quite a bit of boat below deck
for a 46 footer.
The boats are semi-custom, meaning that we could change most anything below without affecting structural bulkheads or the basic boat. The layout of showers, cabinetry, galley equipment
, etc is up to the person building the boat. That means that you could tell them to do some really DUMB things. Normally Joseph or Michael (owner of Queen Long builders and the plant manager) will talk you out of these dumb ideas before things get too far, but there are some boats out there that did some strange things. Don't assume they are all the same. Some of the basics (like tankage) can be allocated differently from owner to owner. For example, on the 49 you have 5 tanks
to allocate between fuel
and water. Boats with watermakers often allocate just 2 tanks
to water and 3 for fuel
while boats without watermakers do the reverse. Lots of boat-to-boat differences can exist. All the boats come over to the US with gelcoat
white hulls so the awlgrip colors you see can be done by many different shops. Mine was done in RI with multiple coats of primer and awlgrip inside a climate controlled paint
shop, while many commissioned in Florida
were done outside with just 2 coats. Again differences to check.
In general I find the construction quite good, and the little things for cruisers mean a lot. There are redundancies everywhere (water pumps, fuel filters, etc.) to make things easy when the inevitable happens. There are things to aid maintenance
(oil change pumps and clearly labeled manifolds for tanks and pumps) everywhere. Its a dry boat, and I have not had any problems since taking delivery
in late 2007. Mine is cutter
rigged, but not all are. Another thing to check. In a blow, staysail and main are wonderful to keep comfortable.
Regarding Oyster, its a fine boat and in some areas they use more high quality deck gear
(cleats, etc.) than Hylas, but the half million dollar difference between a Hylas and Oyster of similar size is not (again opinion) materials. Its largely labor cost and some exchange rate that during the 2000-2008 time frame mattered more than it does now.
I agree with the comments on the Discovery 55. That's a nice boat as well.
S/V Black Diamond