Best Boats 2012 Winner: The Southerly 49 (Systems)


The 2011 Systems winner, the Southerly 49, exemplifies the very best of contemporary installation practices, but then so too do a dozen other competitors. What sets the Southerly apart in our judges’ minds is its electrical distribution system using remotely operated digital circuit breakers—a “distributed power” or “multiplex” system. This one comes from the Swedish company EmpirBus.

In a traditional electrical system, the boat’s circuit breakers are clustered in a distribution panel at the navigation station. On a boat such as the Southerly, with a large number of lights, fans, pumps and other appliances, the dozens of wires emanating from the panel form a complex bundle that is frequently several inches in diameter. With a distributed power system, this bundle disappears! Instead, heavy-duty power cables are run directly from the boat’s batteries to the extremities of the boat. The various loads are then powered by tapping into these cables using digital circuit breakers placed close to the loads. The circuit breakers are controlled via a single communications cable that snakes around the boat and goes back to a virtual distribution panel at the navigation station. The net result is a greatly simplified wiring harness with a substantial reduction in cable footage and weight.

The microprocessors that are embedded in all digital circuit breakers can be used for sophisticated diagnostics and alarms.  Among other useful functions, the Southerly system also tracks bilge pump and battery charging history. If an internet connection is available, a serial port at the navigation station allows you to trouble-shoot problems from anywhere.



LOA 49ft 7in
LWL 44ft 3in
Beam 13ft 9in
Draft 10ft 3in (swing keel down)?; 2ft 10in (swing keel up)
Displacement 33,069 lb (light ship)
Ballast 11,530 lb
Sail Area 1,076 ft2 (100% FT)


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