Boat Review: Freedom 56

One significant revolution seems to be making headway among our offshore brethren: the pod drive. And the Freedom 56 makes use of this new technology in spectacular fashion!

It probably doesn't surprise you that a lot of the people who engage in offshore fishing are actually quite change-averse. Granted, most boats today consist of space-age composites and advanced construction techniques. But when you see the boats, they don't look much different than they did decades ago. However, one significant revolution seems to be making headway among our offshore brethren: the pod drive. And the Freedom 56 makes use of this new technology in spectacular fashion! I'm speaking of Volvo Penta's IPS drive, now found on boats as small as 30 feet and as large as 75.

Interestingly, despite our inherent resistance to change, acceptance of this new propulsion technology proceeded much faster than usual thanks to measurable gains in overall efficiency, performance and maneuverability, especially when used in fishing boats. The Freedom 56 employs three of Volvo's newest 11-liter, D11 common-rail diesels rated at 670 hp and equipped with twin-entry turbochargers that produce incredible torque at low speeds. With this 56, you'll never sit patiently waiting for turbo boost. And not a fish in the sea will outmaneuver the Freedom once you've engaged Volvo's "Sport Fish" mode!

This boat itself, with typical Carolina styling, provides four staterooms and three heads, with doubles amidships and in-bow over/under single cabins between them. Freedom's craftsmen earned their reputation for impeccable work on this 56. No surprise, since Freedom's boss, Jim Polatty, built more than 75 boats while at Buddy Davis and another 15 for Sculley. Combine his experience with the extraordinary track record of the design team at Applied Concepts Unleashed, and you get a well-balanced hull with above-average performance. This hull should be incredibly economical to run and will turn heads wherever it goes, especially when you slide it sideways into a tight slip...or your wife does!

As is the standard these days among most custom-built sport-fishermen, Freedom constructs the 56 by cold-molding three layers of 9-millimeter Okoume plywood on the bottom and two layers on the sides. Then they cover it all with Awlgrip for that traditional gleam. Structurally, Freedom designed three sets of stringers in this boat that run the full length of the hull to accommodate the Volvo Penta IPS propulsion packages. As a welcome side effect, this configuration added substantial "skeletal strength" to the entire hull.

Obviously, having an engine and propeller on centerline between two other engines presents unusual challenges compared to standard propulsion. In this case, the middle IPS pod mounts in a tunnel, effectively raising the propellers to the same depth below the waterline as the outboard pods.

Interestingly, Freedom chose to use Bennett Trim Tabs mounted in molded pockets rather than mounting Volvo's new QL tab system to the transom.

If you're like most people, your next question has to be, "what kind of speeds does such a unique system produce?" Applied Concepts and Freedom project a top speed in excess of 40 knots while burning only 70 gph. Dropping back to a still impressive 30-knot cruise should consume a mere 48 gph!

Another amazing benefit of using pod drives can be found in the amount of additional living space they afford in the same-sized hull. Every pod-drive boat gains considerable space in this area, and most owners traveling with large families or crews appreciate the difference.

Pod propulsion represents the single-greatest advancement in recreational boating since the chart plotter. So far, I've found virtually no downside to the technology. It dramatically increases performance and efficiency while giving you more room inside and makes actual handling of the boat around a dock easy enough for a 12-year-old!

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA......56'
Beam.....17'6"
**Draft.....
4'6"
Weight.....48,000 pounds
Fuel.....1,000 gallons
Water.....200 gallons**
Max Power.....Triple 670 hp Volvo IPS diesels
**Price.....
Price on request**

Freedom Boatworks LLC. / Wanchese, North Carolina / 252-473-2096 / www.ncfreedomboatworks.com