2013, April; Port Hacking: From Neodesha in Texas, Cobalt has a 40+ year tradition of building boats with a reputation for quality, innovation and performance. Every Cobalt I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing has lived up to this expectation, and this 200 Bowrider continues the theme even though it’s the ‘entry level’ model for the fleet.
The 200 (for 20 feet, although the actual overall length is 20 feet 10 inches or 6.35 metres) has more room on board than most of this size but, if that’s not enough for you, Cobalt has other bowriders ranging up to 30 feet (9.15 metres) as well as an impressive range of cruisers.
A clever example of unique engineering, and a neat display of true class, is demonstrated by Rolls Royce on some of its cars with the RR logo in the centre of the wheel hubs remaining upright all the time, even when the wheels are spinning happily along the road. It’s genuinely indicative of a similar class and quality from Cobalt boats that its company logo in the centre of the steering wheel also remains upright as the wheel is turned.
Maybe the 200 is the entry level model for the company, but it’s still a stand-out in its class. Priced at $59,990 ready to go on a trailer (all pricing at time of writing) with registrations and powered by a MerCruiser 4.3 litre 164-kW V6 engine, the 200 is good value, spacious, comfortable and easy to drive. It is ideal as a first family boat, or for experienced owners who are looking for a touch more quality than is the norm in construction and finish. The design is great for cruising with family and friends, for entertaining and for social water sports.
The layout has no surprises for a bowrider with the usual forward seating, amidships main cockpit, aft sunlounge over the engine bay and then a boarding platform across the transom. It is in the execution of the layout that Cobalt does so well. Additionally the hull design delivers the goods with a soft ride through rougher waters, plenty of buoyancy forward to keep dry the thrill-seekers sitting up front, and strong performance from the V6 MerCruiser that allows both relaxed cruising and rewarding driving for the skipper.
The helm position has a simple and effective dash layout with four analogue gauges comprising a pair of larger dials for the tacho and speedo, with smaller fuel level and drive trim instruments. The speedo has an inset digital display that scrolls through engine management data as well as a depth display. All the gauges are easy to read and are in clear sight above the tilt-adjustable wheel which has a large, sure-grip rim and smart polished alloy spokes – plus that clever always-upright Cobalt logo in its hub.
The throttle/shift control is very neatly integrated into the side of the cockpit rather than being just bolted on, and is well-placed for easy operation that matches up with a light steering effort; both controls give a good sense of what the engine and hull are doing. The drive trim buttons in the top of the throttle lever quickly become intuitive for positioning the prop thrust angle to provide optimum performance.
The hull does prefer full in-trim of the Alpha 1 drive when accelerating from rest, and even then there is a small amount of bow rise for a moment before the underwater surfaces bring the hull back to an efficient running angle. However, the bowrise is not enough to limit forward vision to any significant degree – and it may not occur at all with a passenger or two in the forward seating; we ran with a crew of three and a youngster all in the main cockpit.
Once on plane, trimming out the drive had the Cobalt 200 running very smoothly with good balance and a feeling of security. Small movements of the wheel or throttle produced instant response, and the hull banked moderately into tight turns whilst maintaining a solid grip on the water so there was no untoward slipping or lurching. The 200 just came around tight and sweet before straightening onto its new course with minimal loss of speed.
It was best to trim the drive back in for tighter turns, and only if obviously too much out-trim was used in such turns did the prop ventilate slightly. That was with a standard alloy prop, and an upgrade to a stainless prop could well obviate even that little ventilation. But really, the drive trim was quick to learn and a “still gaining experience” skipper would have no trouble mastering the technique and winning a sense of accomplishment in the process.
Anyone with a few hours behind the wheel of a boat will immediately appreciate the way the 200 handles and performs. There’s enough grunt in the V6 to give enjoyable mid-range acceleration, and higher cruise speeds are enough to give a thrill at the wheel while your passengers remain relaxed.
The 200 was on plane at 3,000 rpm and already doing 43 kph before heading up to 3,500 rpm and 54 kph. That rev range was probably the optimum for normal cruising, but the V6 was entirely happy when taken up to 4,000 rpm which gave 63 kph for when you needed, or wanted, a faster run to the next destination. Full throttle brought up a still-smooth 4,600 rpm which we held only briefly on the new engine to see our hand-held GPS scrolling up to 73 kph for a rewarding top speed.
The skipper’s seat was a supportive bucket with firm upholstery that would keep you comfy on long cruises; it had a flip-up bolster at the front and it adjusted fore-aft as well as swivelled for easier chatting with the crew when at anchor. An angled footrest was at just the right distance for me to give an extra degree of bracing through those tight turns in which the hull excelled. Controls for the ignition and ancillaries as well as the stereo remote were clustered conveniently on the dash near the wheel, and the skipper also benefited from a small open glovebox to keep their wallet and phone plus another open storage spot lower down near a drink holder for sunnies and similar small odds and sods.
Storage throughout the 200 was generous in the extreme with lockers under most seats as well as a large compartment for bulky items like skis and life jackets under the port passenger lounge. In addition to the usual facilities including a lockable glovebox, there were more unique stowage lockers such as in front of the screen on each side. Under the starboard side of the sunlounge across the back of the boat, a large hatch lifted on a gas-assist strut to reveal another huge locker with a removable Igloo cooler.
The backrest of the centre aft cockpit seat as well as the associated area of the sunpad also lifted on a gas strut for access to the engine bay. This was meticulously laid out with easy access for routine checks and maintenance; all the visible engineering was to a high standard. The deck hardware was of the same quality with cleats and grab handles at sensible spots, and inside the 200 were six stereo speakers and plenty of drink holders.
Beneath the glossy exterior, Cobalt builds 100 per-cent hand-laid hulls with Kevlar reinforcing over a full fibreglass stringer system. There are aluminium backing plates for all the through-bolted hardware and all the seat bases are in StarBoard/Kelron rather than wood for strength and freedom from eventual rot; the upholstery is hand-sewn double-needle 32-ounce vinyl with a protective barrier coat over multiple-density antimicrobial foam for long-distance – and long life - comfort.
So, after appreciating all the immediately apparent features and style of the 200, it’s well worth looking into the hidden areas to confirm the attention to detail that Cobalt uses in its manufacturing and finishing processes. The real test though is at the wheel out on the water, and it would be a rare skipper indeed who didn’t then find themselves with a smile on their face and a true appreciation of the joy of life.
Length (overall): 6.35 metres
Beam: 2.54 metres
Deadrise: 20 degrees
Draft: 0.94 metres
Weight (dry): 1,588 kgs
Fuel: 151 litres
Power (as tested): MerCruiser 4.3MPI (164 kw; 220 hp)
Drive: MerCruiser Alpha 1
Top Speed: 73 kph
2012, June; Middle Harbour, Sydney: The Sport 31 is the second smallest in the Bavaria line of cruisers that range from around 8.5 metres up to the near 14-metre 43 Hard Top. All models feature exceptionally good use of space and the 31 size in particular is often purchased by owners who were originally looking at larger boats. The design is an appealing package of a one-level cockpit with safe, wide side decks and an open plan layout below including a double berth forward and a separate aft cabin.
At just over 10 metres overall length, the Sport 31 is compact enough to be easily handled yet spacious enough to offer comfortable accommodations for weekends or longer on the water. The styling is contemporary European with external lines that are perhaps a little more flowing and more visually appealing than most counterparts. Pricing is competitive too from $239,000 to our as-reviewed boat at $250,000 (all pricing at time of writing) which includes a number of options that add to a strong list of standard features.
The owner demographic is widespread, but the Sport 31 has particular popularity for couples in the 35 to 50 age group who are discerning enough to look for a boat that’s a bit different – not so much that it’s a brazen ‘look at me’ style, but one that has that air of extra quality and ‘charisma’. The aft cabin allows family or friends to stay aboard in comfort, or to just have somewhere private to change clothes. The salon is roomy enough for entertaining, although the large cockpit and aft sunbed will be the areas of choice for most occasions.
Here’s a quick review of the company background. Producing a wide variety of award-winning sail and power boats, Bavaria is a well established German manufacturer with high-tech facilities that mix automation and hand-built attention to detail. A large production facility has the capacity of building up to 4,000 boats a year. Highly efficient systems keep costs under tight control and enable selling prices to offer top value. A predecessor of the 31 Sport won the prestigious European Powerboat of the Year Award in 2009 and other models have won that award since then, so Bavaria’s designs are widely recognised for quality and style.
First impressions of the Sport 31 mix appreciation of the elegant lines with thoughts of lazing away summer days on the large sunbed that dominates the back of the boat. Actually we were aboard on a winter’s day and even then the sunbed became a popular spot for our crew. Beneath the sunbed is a very large storage locker that’s perfect for fenders, covers, watersports gear and so on. And then both the locker and the sunbed lift on a power ram to reveal an unexpectedly deep and full-beam-wide engine bay; this was an initial clue to the deception of that external low-ish profile hiding generous internal cavities.
With the sunbed raised, a non-slip metal step and ladder take you down to check out twin MerCruiser 5.0 MPI V8 engines, each rated at 194 kW (260 hp), that are coupled to MerCruiser Bravo Three twin-prop sterndrives. The V8s are strongly mounted into a box-section grid of stringers and cross-braces that are fibreglassed into the hull for a tough unitary structure. The surrounding equipment and engineering, including an automatic fire extinguishing system, was efficiently installed and there was easy access to everything for normal checks and maintenance. It was all as clean as a whistle too and set a high standard that the rest of the boat easily matched.
The sunbed is surrounded by a teak-surfaced boarding platform with steps either side leading up to safe side decks protected by guard rails that allow you to walk along to the foredeck with no concerns about slipping overboard. The deck hardware is simply styled but, perhaps partly because of that, it looked strong and easy to use. The side guard rails continued around the foredeck and included extra bracing near the anchor locker so there would be good support when tending mooring duties.
Back aft, from the boarding platform a step or two takes you up into the main cockpit area with a wet bar over a fridge on your right and U-lounges around a removable table to your left. A clever aspect of those lounges was that the front inboard seat could be reversed to alternatively face forward and provide a companion chair across from the helm position.
The lounges were covered in a soft creamy vinyl that was very comfortable, and that applied to the helm chair as well which was pleasantly supportive to my back and had hip-high sides for holding me steady during tight turns or rougher waters. At the front of the seat, a fold-up bolster allowed standing to drive and, whether doing that or sitting, there was good vision in all directions as well as looking down to the dash panel with its gauges and displays.
In what has become an appreciated standard practice on upmarket craft, there was a mix of analogue and digital data with clearly marked gauges covering speed and drive trims as well as fuel level plus revs and temperature for each engine. Inset digital displays added to the range of information the skipper can monitor, whilst navigation was assisted by a Garmin GPSMap4008 GPS/Plotter. A graphic touch panel had controls for functions such as the horn, stereo, anchor winch and so on whilst there was a separate panel for the bow thruster and a twin-binnacle for the throttle and shifts with inbuilt drive trim switches.
The tilt-adjusting wheel varies anywhere between near vertical and near horizontal so you’ll surely find the angle that suits you best. A foot rest is handy when sitting and that bolster is good to lean back against when standing. The throttles/shifts/trims fell right to hand for me and made it feel just right as I ran the Sport 31 through its paces. The steering is quite direct at just under three turns lock-to-lock and was not quite as light as I’d expected, but nonetheless gave good feedback on what the hull was doing. Mostly that ‘doing’ was giving enjoyment and periods of excitement to the crew.
Accelerating from rest resulted in a fair degree of bowrise that hid the horizon for a while if sitting to drive. Even full in-trim for the drives couldn’t prevent the period of high-angle running until the boat was properly on plane. I was told the 150-litre water tank is located right forward (under the vee berth) and was empty for our run, so it’s likely that if it had been full the trim angle would have been reduced, or held for a shorter time. Even so, the hull settled after a pause to a good running angle and we were off for a comfortable cruise.
From 3,500 rpm and up, the MerCruiser V8s had the Bavaria well under control. At those revs, the GPS was reading 34.3 kph whilst a few hundred more turns at 3,800 brought up 43.5 kph. The props preferred the drives to stay trimmed just a few touches up – again the empty water tank probably influenced that, and higher trim angles might be advisable at faster speeds with a full load of water. The 520-litre fuel tank is intelligently positioned at the front of the engine bay where it is closer to the centre of balance for the 31, and so would have less effect between full and empty.
The hull banked into turns like a fighter jet with the underwater surfaces keeping hold for a secure feeling. The two sets of counter-rotating props on the Bravo Three drives were well suited to the boat and also kept hold with no ventilation or slipping. Response to the wheel and throttles was quick and gave precise control so that driving was rewarding when using the performance potential that the 31 offers. Most of the time on a boat like this though will be cruising, and that was easy on the skipper with a relaxed hand on the wheel all that was needed – although with a vigilant outlook at all times highly recommended.
Full throttle brought up 4,750 rpm and a healthy 60 kph, whilst mid-range mildly-hurrying cruising (say to outrun a forecast change in the weather) was best anywhere between 4,000 rpm for 46.5 kph and 4,500 rpm for 58.3 kph. We had calm waters for our run, but the heritage of the boat with its home base in often–rough European seas augurs well for handling short haul coastal cruising. Charging through a few wakes certainly gave a soft ride and a feeling of both strength and seaworthiness.
Just forward between the helm and that clever-convertible companion seat is a sliding lockable door that opens into the belowdecks accommodations. Downstairs there is a bright well-equipped salon with an L-shape dinette to port and a double berth forward that can be concealed behind a privacy curtain. Around the berth are stowage areas, and natural light flows through port holes and an overhead hatch – useful too for ventilation.
To starboard of the dinette is a galley with a two-burner electric cook top, sink, fridge/freezer and plenty of drawers and cabinets for stowing all the utensils and supplies. There’s a TV and stereo system there as well. A generous 1.9 metres of headroom helps the impression of spaciousness, and the use of fabrics and timber-tones makes the whole area most welcoming.
In the rear port corner of the salon, a door opens into the aft cabin which has a double berth running across the hull to starboard. The berth has a centre-foot removable section with sitting headroom (under the cockpit) whilst at the foot of the berth to port is standing headroom to make changing clothes more comfortable. There’s a seat there too, and again plenty of stowage.
Aft of the galley on the starboard side is another door into a bathroom with a basin, toilet, hand-held shower and spots for overnighting requirements. All the accommodations have room to move around and would make staying onboard a real pleasure for a family or two couples. Bavaria has been very good at fitting such a wealth of facilities and interior space into the external dimensions.
Whether downstairs or upstairs, the Sport 31 has a lot to offer with a pleasing combination of style, comfort, value and performance. The spacious one-level cockpit is perhaps the highlight of the boat, but that aft sunbed and the overnighting features keep it close company.
Length (overall): 10.06 metres
Beam: 3.31 metres
Draft: 1.21 metres
Weight: 5,470 kgs
Fuel: 520 litres
Water: 150 litres
Power (as tested): Twin MerCruiser 5.0 MPI V8s, 194 kW (260 hp) each
Sterndrives: Twin MerCruiser Bravo Three
Top Speed: 60 kph
The Sydney International Boat Show opens this Thursday (2nd August) at ICC Sydney and purpose-built marina at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, with beautiful vessels and world premieres to delight lovers of the boating and cruising lifestyle.
Making her Australian debut is the 66 Manhattan motor cruiser from Sunseeker. This prestigious and innovative new model is designed to maximise space and entertainment options with panoramic hull and saloon windows providing naturally lit living spaces. The newly configured flybridge also creates the feeling of being on board a much larger craft and has been designed with extensive seating throughout, large forward sunbathing areas and a well-equipped wet-bar. Thanks to the galley being situated on the main deck, there is room enough for four very spacious cabins below including two large twin cabins, a forward VIP suite and standout full-beam master suite with its own private stairway access from the saloon; a first for Sunseeker in this size range.
Premium Italian innovation joins the Show this year, thanks to specialist Gineico presenting their new generation Quick MC2 X-Series anti-roll gyro stabiliser, a revolution in the gyro concept. In rough waters, a constantly rolling boat can become unpleasant for passengers. Previously cost prohibitive on smaller vessels, the patented design MC2 X-Series stabiliser is approximately 30% smaller compared to existing gyro stabilisers on the market. That means these incredibly small, simple and efficient gyros are much easier to install in new designs and just as easy to retrofit to existing vessels. Gineico will also exhibit water makers, socket-mounted stainless-steel tender supports, helm chairs with integrated boat controls, stainless steel swim ladders, new LED backlit boat names, as well as superyacht-quality folding deck chairs and folding cockpit tables.
The Sydney International Boat Show will be the first opportunity for Australians to see the world’s most powerful outboard engine. Seven Marine, in conjunction with its Australian sales and service representative Luxury Marine Performance will display two of the 627hp outboards built by Seven Marine. The outboards are designed upon a 6.2 litre supercharged V8 platform with closed cooling, wet-disc clutch transmission and fuel injection. All models are offered with the opportunity to customise the outboard’s cowling colour and graphics configuration, add LED lighting into the cowling on the 577hp & 627hp models, as well as configure the outboards with contra-rotating props, joystick and dual station controls.
Reaching a significant milestone, Sylvania Marina’s Paul Ghosn is celebrating 40 years of exhibiting at the Sydney International Boat Show, with Paul’s son Nathan enjoying his 33rd year. Over the past 40 years, Sylvania Marina has been the NSW dealer for International Marine (now in their 58th year of boat manufacturing) known as Bertram in the early days, and then Caribbean from the late 80s. Both International Marine and Sylvania Marina remain family owned businesses, and the latter could well be the longest standing dealer for one brand of boat in Australia. Sylvania Marine will present the Caribbean 2300, 24 sports runabout, 2700 sports runabout and 35 flybridge.
Adult entry to the show is $22, with children (6-17 years old) $13. Kids aged five and under are admitted free. Family tickets (2 adults + 3 kids) are $49, Seniors $20 and Pensioners are $16. If you arrive after 5pm, individual single entry tickets are just $5 when purchased from any of the ticket booths at the Show. Multiple day tickets for return visits are also available.
The ticket gives entry to both exhibition levels of the International Convention Centre, the popular fishing master-classes, the on-water marina at Cockle Bay, entry to the co-located Australia International Dive Expo, bumper boat rides for the kids at the 16 metre pool located on the open-air Event Deck, and the Boating Safety Zone presented by the Show’s Partner in Safety Transport for NSW.
Up to date details regarding the show are available at www.sydneyboatshow.com.au.
2015, December: Sydney Middle Harbour: The Monte Carlo marque may be a comparatively new name to the Australian market, but its heritage and siblings are widely regarded as amongst the best on the planet. Part of the Groupe Beneteau organisation, it is the ‘smaller stable mate’ of Monte Carlo Yachts. Both fleets of motor boats are designed by the highly regarded design team of Nuvolari Lenard which also designed Steven Spielberg’s ‘Seven Seas’ and which creates super-yachts for world-famous brands such as CRN and Palmer Johnson.
The Monte Carlo MC4S sedan blends eye-appeal with practicality; it has a quite plumb stem and near-vertical topsides that carry the full beam down to the chines; both those elements maximise interior space whilst variable deadrise undersides give a smooth, dry ride and good stability at rest.
Its larger stable-mate, the MC5 flybridge, won the European Power Boat of the Year Award (Over 45 feet) in 2014 which is not surprising as the boats are Italian-designed and French-built to world standards.
The MC4S is priced from $935,000 and our review model with a range of options came up to $1,130,915 - although at the time it was available at a ‘display’ special price of $1,025,000 (all pricing at time of writing).
The interior is very contemporary with light brushed oak trim and superior quality leathers and fabrics. Huge windows and a massive sunroof give a very bright and open feel with a layout that is most comfortable and conducive to relaxed entertaining. Two double staterooms provide sleeping accommodation for four and there’s all the space and facilities you’d want for weekend or longer stays - a design goal being to match the appeal and charm of luxury holiday apartments.
To reassure owners with limited boating experience, the MC4S comes with joystick controls for the dual Volvo IPS 500 engine/pod systems. An optional additional control panel in the starboard side of the cockpit has a second joystick as well as bow thruster and engine start/stop controls. This adds further to the ease of backing into a marina pen. Intuitional movements of the stick translate into the required manoeuvering through the computer-controlled IPS (Inboard Performance System) pods.
The latter are powered by aft-mounted 5.5-litre six-cylinder diesel engines and project below the hull with very efficient counter-rotating forward-facing props that pull rather than push the boat through the water. Steering and manoeuvering is achieved by turning the pods to vector the thrust of the props; with the drive housing of the pods behind them, the props operate in a much cleaner flow of water than shaft- or stern-drive props for significant benefits in efficiency, performance and economy.
The aft-mounted engines allow a more efficient hull design too with the weight further back, and give much lower levels of noise and vibration in the saloon and staterooms. Without mid-mounted engines, the master stateroom can be positioned amidships for full-beam spaciousness and optimum stability. Machinery access is helped as well with large hatches in the cockpit sole lifting easily on gas struts to reveal the clean and beautifully engineered Volvo and other equipment installations.
Boarding the MC4S is a snap across a large teak-lined platform that can be hydraulically lowered to knee deep in the water. That not only makes access/egress for water sports a delight, but also offers a relaxing wading/bathing stage and an aid to the boat’s stability when moored. A further bonus is that it makes use of a dinghy much easier than having the hassle of retrieving one from a lazarette or similar.
Steps to starboard lead up into the spacious cockpit with an aft lounge that can be shaded on sunny days by an awning that electrically-extends out from the hardtop. Forward to either side are steps to the side decks with good guard and grab rails for safe movement to the foredeck even in open waters. To starboard in the cockpit, a stepped-ladder leads up to the sundeck that provides a rather unique vantage area to relax. This is a real highlight of the MC4S as I’ve not before seen a sundeck like this.
The saloon flows seamlessly forward from the cockpit through large stainless-framed glass doors to form a wide-open entertaining space. A full-facility galley is immediately to port across from L-shaped lounges around an extendable table with a slide-out ottoman for another seat. The helm is ahead of these lounges, at a higher level for better visibility.
A curved set of stairs forward portside in the saloon leads down to the accommodations with a generously capacious full-beam owner’s stateroom amidships – an unexpected delight in a 45-foot cruiser. It has an island queen bed, optional TV, plenty of headroom and stowage and also lots of natural light through monster portholes each side. The roomy ensuite bathroom is forward to starboard whilst further toward the stem is a guest stateroom with an island double berth and its own ensuite to port.
Throughout the accommodations, and indeed throughout the entire MC4S, there is an abundance of storage (including provision for a washer/dryer) and everywhere is beautifully finished using Alpi brushed oak and carefully selected fabrics and carpets. There are any number of thoughtful attention-to-detail features such as fold-away faucets, a TV in the saloon that slides out from behind a cabinet, powered helm seat and side windows, good navigation electronics, strong deck hardware and more. The luxury though is not overstated and the ambience is one of welcome and relaxation.
Back at the helm position, a double seat enables a mate (in either sense of the word) to keep the skipper company. Both are well served by a top-class layout with controls and displays ideally located for easy and efficient use. Visibility is quite good, especially with a one-piece screen devoid of any view-interrupting central supports, although the steeply slanted A-pillars are a bit obstructive at times looking out to the forward quarters.
Driving the MC4S was a delight with smoothly responsive steering and throttles/shifts. I could comfortably sit with my back supported by the seat and with an easy reach to the tilt-adjustable wheel. The throttles were linear and the Volvo IPS systems gave pleasing performance with 8 knots at 1,500 rpm leading to mid-range cruising of 12.1 knots at 2,500 rpm and on to a full throttle speed touching 26 knots at 3,600 rpm.
Just a light touch was needed on the wheel for turns which the hull and props executed admirably with moderate banking. Further adding to the controllability of the MC4S is a set of well-sized trim tabs that give the skipper immediate control of trim angles both fore-aft and laterally. There’s a reversing camera too, and the joystick at berthing speeds made it all so easy and relaxing.
For comfort, fun and opulence afloat, the MC4S is right on the ball with a special cachet that’s hard to equal.
Length (overall): 13.90 metres
Beam: 4.06 metres
Draft: 1.12 metres
Displacement: 11,398 kgs
Fuel: 1,070 litres
Water: 400 litres
Power (as tested): Twin Volvo IPS500 Diesels 276 kW (370 hp) each
Top Speed: 26 knots
2013, July; Berowra Waters: One of the keys to ongoing success in any line of business is adaptability, and that often comes down to recognising a market trend and meeting it as early as possible. Sensing that economic conditions have buyers looking for better value and smaller boats, Bayliner has taken a back to basics approach with this Element. It has a simple layout and no extraneous equipment in an easy-to-use bowrider-with-a-difference boat that offers safety, stability and a quite unexpectedly high fun-factor for both skipper and crew.
The last few years have seen the bad old Global Financial Crisis and consequent after-shocks hit boating companies around the world, and the huge US Bayliner organisation was no exception. The market was withdrawing into its shell somewhat with less new boats being purchased, and those that were bought were typically smaller as buyers downsized to keep within more restricted budgets.
Bayliner responded in a number of ways, including re-assessing what first-time new boat buyers were really looking to acquire. That was a good thing to do, regardless of the market situation, and the result was that this very appealing 4.9-metre Element is now available. It hits the target perfectly, and has been receiving a warm welcome.
Whilst the target market might be first time buyers, the Element is going to appeal to many more experienced boaties as well because it is such a ‘just right’ design. Buyers at the Melbourne Boat Show this year, where the Element was launched in Australia, frequently commented that the Element had them re-considering what they really wanted in their next boat after they had been looking at alternatives such as centre consoles and more conventional runabouts.
It’s all very well to go for a larger boat that’s packed with all sorts of features and equipment but, when it comes right down to it, you can have as much fun on the water with a smaller craft that has just the basic gear. There is a lower initial outlay, less to maintain, the boat is easier to trailer, launch, retrieve and store, and it’s quite likely that it will hold its value better when it comes time to upgrade in the future.
The Element’s layout blends ideas previously seen on bowriders and jet boats. The skipper has a neat helm console amidships to starboard with a pair of seats opposite, more seating up forward and a small sunpad aft. The boat has a capacity for six people and it accommodates that number very well for its length of just over four metres.
The seating is all set on integrally-moulded bases that form part of the inner liner of the hull. However, whilst it is a bit limiting for the skipper with no seat or wheel adjustment, the other seats works better than you might expect as most are designed so you can sit facing one of two ways. This gives options for the crew to face forwards, inwards or backwards. It’s rather clever and allows changing around between when running along and when at rest for communal chatting.
Even with all this seating, there is still good floor space for moving about the Element. As well, at the back of the boat are two boarding platforms on either side of the standard 60-hp Mercury four-stroke outboard. The platforms have a good non-skid surface as do matching boarding steps moulded in front of them on top of the transom. These steps are also intended as aft-facing seats for when the Element is moored.
All the seat cushions lift off to provide stowage below, with the skipper’s seat revealing a very spacious locker that runs back under the starboard side of the aft sunpad. The battery is in that locker, whilst under the port side of the sunpad is stored a removable 45 litre fuel tank. The cockpit sole is moulded in a non-skid pattern and the interior of the stowage lockers is finished in brushed-on grey flowcoat, so everything would be easy to clean. The seats are well finished in a dimpled white vinyl with grey accent panels. Again, it’s simple, but it still looks good.
The standard package includes a single-axle trailer, bimini cover and a removable 75-litre Igloo cooler. The Element comes with a good supply of drink holders and grab handles plus quality deck hardware including a combined navigation light at the bow. Options include a stereo system, digital depth gauge, bow filler cushion, mooring cover and a ’Sports Package’ which includes a choice of red for the main hull colour – the standard colour is black with accents in grey and silver - plus a watersports arch across the back of the boat with a board rack.
In profile, the Element looks just like a racy sports car with smoothly flowing lines and a small swept-back wind deflector at the helm. It’s deceptive though, for the cockpit is deep enough to be safe for youngsters and the topsides are high enough to keep out spray in all but very windy and rough conditions.
The hull configuration is interesting, and fresh, with Bayliner having a patent pending on its new ‘M-Hull’ design. This has a moderate vee centre section flanked by catamaran-like mini sponsons. In some respects, it’s similar to a cathedral tri-hull, and in other respects it’s like a tunnel hull. Yet it’s none of these and it suits its purpose very well with increased lateral stability, excellent buoyancy up front, quite a soft ride and less-than-usual banking in tighter turns. Especially for new boaties, it’s instantly confidence building.
The 60-hp Mercury four-stroke is another pleasing aspect of the Element package. It starts instantly, runs quietly and smoothly, and has plenty of power for cruising around with enough in reserve for casual watersports. It might struggle to haul out larger skiers or riders, but for youngsters it would be perfect.
This is a very open boat though, with no windscreen to protect occupants from the slipstream. We had our test run on a very cool and mostly overcast mid-winter day; I was concerned whether our crew of two teenage girls would be alright in the resulting rather low wind-factor temperatures, but they loved every minute of the run. Suitably rugged up, any family with even a trace of adventure in their blood would react in the same manner. On warmer days, the rush of air along the boat would be refreshing, and the bimini is there for shade from the summer sun.
The best bit is driving the Element. It is a beautifully responsive hull and is reminiscent of driving an older sports car like an early Mazda MX5 or an even earlier Austin Healy Sprite ‘Frog Eye’; those cars didn’t have a lot of power, but they had character and charm and excellent handling that made them great fun to own and drive.
The steering on the Element is pleasantly weighted and requires just a light touch with 3.5 turns lock-to-lock. That’s fairly direct and helps the wheel give useful feedback on how the hull is handling the conditions. We had calm waters and so resorted to swooshing through our own wake to check the ride; the hull proved family-friendly by avoiding any hard bumps and the forward hull sections worked effectively to push the wash and spray out and away from the boat.
The Mercury was spinning a 13inch pitch three-blade alloy prop which proved fine for typical driving; when accelerated into really tight turns, the prop ventilated a bit, especially if the Merc was trimmed up at all, but that would not be an issue in normal driving.
There was very little bowrise coming up on plane, and the design of the Element gives perfect 360-degree visibility. Cruising along, the running angle is quite level (as it should be) and the M-Hull and the four-stroke Mercury combine for very low levels of noise and vibration – it’s a smooth and comfortable ride.
The dash panel is ultra simple with a single, large dial for a speedo and an inset volts gauge. There’s room on the panel to add an after-market tacho and trim gauge if you want, and to fit a fish finder. Without a tacho we couldn’t check revs, but the Element was happily planing and low-speed cruising at 35 kph with mid-range cruising around 41 kph and a top speed of 49 kph.
However, it really feels a lot faster at all those settings with the breeze in your face and the water so close – it’s genuinely exhilarating! This is a great boat to take out even for a short run to blow away the cobwebs of the everyday world. The trailer is one that self-guides the boat when it’s being driven back on, and single-handed operation is easy when required.
The simplicity of the helm position is one of the compromises Bayliner has used to reach the top-value price point of the Element. With neither seat nor wheel adjustable, the comfort level of the skipper will depend on his height and reach; equally though, the vast majority of skippers will find the driving position totally acceptable, with maybe the help of an extra cushion behind the back of shorter-reach skippers. There’s a good angled foot rest under the wheel, and the throttle shift is well positioned.
All three drivers on our test run had no problems, and a common characteristic was the huge grin on their faces as they sped the Element through its paces and cruised back to the ramp afterwards. The only times that any of the crew were not grinning and smiling was when they were laughing at the fun of it all, especially at the times when the Element ran joyously through wakes.
All in all, this is a bonzer boat. It’s what real family and fun boating is all about. It’s fine for cruising and relaxed watersports and would be just as great for fishing; it has stacks of stowage space and versatile seating, is very easy to handle and tow, needs little space to store, and it’s less expensive than many alternatives. Go and have a look for yourself!
Length (overall): 4.93 metres
Beam: 2.13 metres
Draft: 1.10 metres
Weight: 712 kgs
Capacity: 6 persons
Fuel capacity: 45 litres
Power: Mercury Four-Stroke Outboard (45 kw, 60 hp)
Top Speed: 49.1 kph
For anglers who enjoy either the open waters off the coast or prefer our inland waterways, the Sydney International Boat Show promises new vessels, the latest rods, tackle, accessories and loads of technology designed to make your day on the water even more enjoyable.
Being the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest boat show, open from the 2nd to the 6th of August at the ICC Sydney and Cockle Bay Darling Harbour, the Sydney International Boat Show is the place to choose and buy your rod and reel combo, as well as fish finders, hard and soft lures, bait buckets, landing nets or even your next boat to go with all your new gear.
Learn how to fish like never before at the show’s fishing masterclasses, included with the cost of entry. A massive 63% of people visiting the show express an interest in fishing. The fishing clinics reflect that interest, with presentations ranging from inland waterway fishing to the more adventurous offshore competitions, presenting videos, photos and stories to match.
You don’t need to travel too far to land the big ones, as game fishing multi-world-record holder Tim Simpson leads this year’s fishing master classes, giving tremendous tips on how to catch marlin locally off Sydney, with your trailerboat.
Steve ‘Starlo’ Starling returns to talk about setting-up your boat perfectly for your style of fishing. What makes the ideal boating rig for your preferred style of fishing? Choosing the optimum layout, configuration and accessories will not only enhance your success, but also maximise your enjoyment of the sport. Turn those sorry sagas of “the one that got away” into tales of victory with Steve’s invaluable advice.
Also on stage, Justin Duggan covers sport angling on Sydney Harbour and other estuaries. As a former Zookeeper and Wildlife photographer, Justin found his passion for fishing and wildlife blended perfectly into the vast waterways and National Parks that wind through Sydney.
Greg Reid presents the best way to land big flathead. He has been fishing Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin for over twenty years and knows the area like the back of his hand.
Paul Burt tells on stage of his sneaky techniques for landing reef fish, and shares his famous recipe for preparing tuna ‘poke’, a real taste sensation.
Jo Starling gives her insights on introducing kids to fishing the proper way, as getting the kids to pick up a rod instead of a smartphone can be a challenge, but the rewards are worth fighting for. Fishing is one of the greatest gifts you can share. Come and discuss tactics for success with Jo, and let the kids join in on some fun fishing games and quizzes.
Additionally, YouTube sensation Rhys Creed shares his secrets on catching the huge but sometimes elusive Murray cod. Rhys has built an incredible following amongst the internet generation, based around his online videos and engaging style, demonstrating his skill and love of fishing.
The Supertank also returns where Cookie and Brett present live fish chasing a variety of lures right in front of your eyes. Learn about the best gear and techniques, while witnessing how well they work.
Alan Blake, President of the Boating Industry Association Ltd staging the event, said fishing represents the great Australian pastime of enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. “The Sydney International Boat Show brings together the leading dealers and manufacturers from across Australia and beyond, ready to showcase the latest in fishing, boating and marine technology,” he said. “This is the show where all your questions about spending more time on the water and catching bigger and better fish can be answered.”
The Department of Primary Industries can also be found at the Boating Safety Zone presented by Transport for New South Wales, the Show’s Partner in Safety. At this zone, you can learn about the regulations governing fishing across NSW, and the ways you can assist in keeping our waterways safe and sustainable.
Tickets and up to date details regarding the show are available at www.sydneyboatshow.com.au.
2015, July; Sydney Middle Harbour: Whilst there are numerous specialist designs available these days, most trailer-boat buyers are looking for a multi-purpose craft and the Haines Hunter 585R fills the bill admirably. Haines Hunter invested quite a deal of research and development into this hull to have it meet performance expectations from offshore fishing to inshore cruising and watersports.
For convenience and extra value, the company has 585R packages with a Mercury outboard and Easy-Tow trailer. This heavily-optioned 585R was priced at $84,500 ready-to-go; pricing starts at around $79,800 (all prices at time of writing).
An integral bowsprit with inset anchor roller is a neat feature at the stem and carries the overall length from the 5.85 metres implied by the model name to an overall length of 6 metres. The beam of 2.4 metres gives a spacious interior and the cuddy cabin offers shelter and overnighting ability in vee berths that convert to a double with an optional infill.
Also optional is a toilet, either electric or a Porta Potti; there’s no provision for a sink or stove but there are plenty of camping set-ups that could be taken onboard for simple cooking and cleaning tasks if weekends away were part of the plan to enjoy the 585R. The cabin is both practical and appealing; the small floor area is simply flow-coated but the cabin sides are carpeted with shelves plus there is lots of under-seat stowage and an overhead hatch.
The latter opens for easy access to anchoring/mooring duties with a generous anchor well under its own foredeck hatch; an electric anchor winch is a desirable option which was fitted to this boat. A stainless guard rail protects the foredeck and forward side decks, whilst low profile grab rails run up the transom quarters.
Two rod holders are standard in each cockpit side deck and our review boat also had an optional well-designed stainless targa arch above the bimini with a six-pack of rocket-launcher rod holders. Also optional was a cork-finish sole to the cockpit that looked very smart as well as being practical. Bi-level side pockets, with rod racks in the lower pockets, plus a large underfloor storage locker would absorb all the tackle needed for fun on the water.
A half-beam lounge cleverly folds out-and-down across the centre-back of the cockpit, and behind that a clip-out vinyl screen gives access into the aft bilges which hold dual batteries plus other engineering accessories and a bilge pump. A hatch to starboard of the lounge gives quick access to the battery master switch, and above that in the aft deck is a hatch for the live bait tank.
There’s provision for a bait prep board to fit centrally above the mini aft deck while to port is an entry passageway from a transom boarding step that’s fitted with a drop-down swim ladder.
The seats for the skipper and first mate are mounted above optional storage lockers with a stainless door under the skipper’s seat opening to reveal tackle drawers; a moulded door under the first mate’s seat is for another stowage locker. The seating is ideally positioned giving good protection from the breezes of passage behind the curved and raked screen which has a stainless grab rail fitted around the inside of its frame.
Sight-lines from the driving position were perfect with a clear view through the screen when seated and, naturally, an even clearer view over the top of the screen when standing - if more wind-swept at speed.
Dominating the dash in front of the wheel was a Simrad NSS9 combination GPS/plotter, depth sounder and auto-pilot with easily viewed displays of graphics and digital data. Offset to the left and above that was a Mercury VesselView 4 display that also combined graphics and digits in a variety of scroll-through options to give a wealth of information about the Mercury 4-stroke 150 on the transom.
The 585R is rated up to 200 hp, but the Merc 150 proved a superb companion for the hull with smoothly quiet running at all speeds. Acceleration from rest and through the mid-range was gratifying; cruising anywhere around 3,500 to 4,000 rpms gave an easy-loping 38 to 49 kph whilst opening the tap all the way sped the Haines Hunter to a top end of 69.8 kph at 5,350 rpm. The stainless 3-blade 17-inch pitch Enertia prop was a wise selection; the Enertia range is new from Mercury and designed for 4-strokes to give strong performance whilst emphasising fuel efficiency.
At the helm, the 585R lived up to high expectations with a soft ride through wakes and washes. The hull carries a deep vee with a rounded keel and two strakes either side inside quite wide chines. The latter helped with forward lift and pushed the wake and spray clear of the topsides for a clean running angle. Bow lift from rest was minimal with the Mercury trimmed in, and a short trim-out once on plane had the 585R scooting along very nicely indeed.
The Ultraflex hydraulic steering was well weighted to give a good feel for how the boat was handling. And it handled just fine through turns - the hull showing aplomb through close-coupled manoeuvres. The alloy-spoked Monza sports wheel was not adjustable but it had been mounted in the right spot for me to be comfortable whether seated or standing, and the skipper’s seat fore-aft adjustment put me at my preferred arms-reach to the rim.
The throttle/trim/shift controls were also sensibly located on the cockpit side, and I’d have been entirely happy to stay at the wheel all day. The 585R was not sensitive to the outboard’s trim, but it responded quickly and would put a smile on the face of any skipper who likes to play around with trim to get the most from their boat – whether that be for speed or economy.
As Haines Hunter intended, the 585R is a superb all-rounder; it’s good looking too and, especially with that famous name on the builder’s plate, it should prove a valued life-style investment.
Length (overall): 6.00 metres
Beam: 2.40 metres
Weight (boat only, dry): 950 kgs
Fuel: 230 litres
Power (as tested): Mercury four-stroke 112 kW (150 hp)
Price as tested: $84,500 (including options, on trailer, ready to go)
Top Speed: 69.8 kph
2014, September; Pittwater: Featuring a generous beam of 4.11 metres, the 11.7 metre (38.5 feet) Integrity 380 offers a great deal of onboard room, especially as the flybridge has its own aft deck that extends back over the cockpit.
With a basic theme of reliable simplicity, the Integrity packs a lot of standard features into its base price of $549,000 which, at the time of writing, included a host of options such as aircon/heating, flat-screen TV, an outboard-powered RIB tender, an Onan 4kva generator, upgraded ultra-leather upholstery, teak and holly flooring, Corian counter tops, cockpit seating, camping covers and much more. By the time you read this, that package may no longer be available, but it’s indicative of the excellent value that the 380 will provide.
Power comes from a John Deere six-cylinder turbo-diesel rated at 168 kw (225 hp) that cruises the 380 at a comfortable seven or eight knots and can run up to around 10 knots. Twin fuel tanks provide 1,135 litres for extended voyages at an average 8 litres/hour and the hull design can easily handle offshore conditions. A full keel protects the prop and rudder and delivers directional stability even in difficult quartering seas. The standard feature of bow and stern thrusters make manoeuvering around marinas and jetties easy and relaxed.
Stepping aboard the Integrity gives the first clues as to its remarkable liveability as wide side decks below properly sized bulwarks, and with clip-out sections of the strong guard rails, make it safe and convenient to board or disembark from directly alongside. The full beam boarding platform offers an equally viable alternative (at a lower level) with another central guard rail across the back and a small step up into the cockpit through a starboard entry port in the transom.
The cockpit leaves plenty of floor space even with L-shaped lounges in the port quarter and a reclining lounge to starboard. Under the sole is a sizeable lazarette for storing bulky items such as fenders, and indeed throughout the whole of the 380 storage capacity is beyond generous.
Stainless-framed glass ‘hopper’ doors can seal off the main saloon but when opened – the lower door slides away and two upper doors hinge upward – they leave an unrestricted flow between saloon and cockpit. The galley is L-shaped in the aft starboard corner of the saloon so anyone prepping snacks or meals is right in the centre of both the saloon and cockpit for conversations and social mingling; any gregarious chef can prepare their masterpieces whilst still leading interactive entertainment amongst guests.
A two-burner electric cooktop on the side Corian-topped work area is behind large sliding windows that admit all the light and fresh air you could want, whilst twin sinks in the work area facing the cockpit can be partially covered by a removable Corian panel. In craftsman-finished cabinets above and below are a microwave and fridge/freezer with doors and drawers opening into plentiful storage areas. For longer cruises, a second freezer can be fitted.
It was pleasing to see that the Corian worktops had integral fiddles which, although small, would help to keep things rolling off. The corners of the tops were thoughtfully rounded too for safety. Opposite the galley another L-shaped lounge forms a dinette around a table with fold-out panels so it can either be a compact coffee table or a full-size dining table. That area also converts to a double berth – as does the lounge/table combination in the cockpit. A large section of the beautifully finished teak cabinetry flowing back from the port front quarter lifts to reveal a flat screen TV. There too is a recessed area for keeping remotes and similar items.
The blend of cream-coloured acoustic vinyl in the overhead panels, the ultra-leather upholstery and the teak/holly flooring is both traditional and very appealing. The neutral tones mean that owners can create their own colour accents with cushions and other accessories, and also that it would be easy to change the accent and tone from time to time without having to amend the underlying finish. Integrity can provide alternative timber finishes such as Cherrywood or American Oak if required.
Deep and wide windows down the saloon sides and large screen panels across the front make the entire area light, bright and airy; blinds and curtains can turn the saloon into a more intimate setting in the evenings.
The main helm position is in the starboard front quarter of the saloon. It is both efficient and stylish with a stainless ship-style wheel and clearly-sighted dash panel. An overhead cabinet holds the stereo system control unit and a Raymarine VHF radio. There is plenty of space to add navigation electronics and a sliding door gives immediate access to the side deck and up to the foredeck for mooring.
Entry to the engine room is under the sole of the saloon. For routine checks, two panels in the floor lift on gas-assist struts and hinge to starboard for an easy step-down into a spotless engineer’s delight. For more serious work, another panel under the saloon table can be lifted. All the wiring and hoses were properly secured and – very impressively – there were clearly readable labels to quickly identify what was what. A non-mechanical owner or a technician new to the boat would soon find their way around. A level of redundancy is built in with the twin fuel tanks feeding through independent water-separating Racor filters and plumbed so that the engine can feed from either or both tanks. Should one tank or filter become clogged, it would be a moment’s work to switch to the other.
Also easily checked were the large raw-water filter and the shaft drive coupling. Aft was the Cummins Onan 4 Kva generator, and the battery boxes were properly installed with a beautifully made electrical connections bus-bar. The John Deere turbo-diesel was immaculate; these engines have a reputation for low maintenance and solid reliability. Because of that, they are often the preferred brand for commercial trawlers.
Back in the saloon, three steps centrally forward lead down to the staterooms and bathroom. There used to be two steps, but comments from owners indicated they were too steep, and so Integrity changed to the more easily-negotiated triple steps – an example of the company’s keenness to listen to feedback and to move quickly to adapt under a philosophy of continual improvement. To port is the guest cabin with double berth, hanging locker and other storage compartments whilst opposite that is the bathroom with electric toilet and separate shower area.
Further forward is the owner’s stateroom with island double bed, cedar-lined hanging locker, angled corner shelving and more stowage capacity as well as the second flat screen TV. All these accommodations are well lit through large portholes and, for the main stateroom, a screened overhead hatch. The quality finish of trim and timber with, for the bathroom, shiny white easy-clean surfaces and non-slip teak-grate under-foot platforms is welcoming and comfortable.
Put together, the interior of the 380 Flybridge is hard to fault for live-aboard enjoyment and relaxed entertaining. The two staterooms and the two convertible double berths in the saloon and cockpit mean you could sleep four couples, and there’s enough room for that to remain uncrowded over a weekend or so. The wide beam of the 380 not only adds to the interior spaciousness, but makes the Integrity very stable when moored. Two couples could enjoy life afloat for as long as they want; there are two fresh water tanks totalling 780 litres and the holding tank is 115 litres with Y-valving for discharge into shore facilities or overboard when out at sea.
And that’s before adding the extra space of the commodious flybridge which is reached up a set of rail-protected teak steps from the cockpit. Once aloft, a large floor space extends aft over the cockpit while forward are L-shaped lounges each side of a central helm chair. Triangular tables are perfect for holding snacks and drinks, and there are stacks of stowage spots under seats and in the front of the flybridge main moulding.
Overhead is a bimini for sun protection whilst the helm is a full duplicate of the one below with all the same instrumentation, although with the added benefit from the higher vantage point of a great view across the foredeck and the surrounding waters. The layout allows the skipper to be surrounded by crew and guests in a very convivial setting, and the aft extension allows for a quite separate group to mingle if required.
Matching all the upstairs/downstairs amenities, the anchoring/mooring facilities are well thought out with a strong power winch and plenty of room in the anchor locker. Those excellent wide and protected side decks mean getting around from cockpit to foredeck is safe even in a seaway, and the deck hardware is intelligently located and well-sized to take care of the boat in all conditions.
Length (overall): 11.73 metres
Beam: 4.11 metres
Draft: 1.12 metres
Weight (dry): 10,000 kgs
Fuel capacity: 1,135 litres
Water capacity: 780 litres
Power: John Deere 6-Cylinder Turbo Diesel 168 kw (225 hp)
Top Speed: 9.3 knots
2014, December; Sydney Harbour: The design and philosophy of Arvor boats is rather unique, and it’s probably because of that they have done so well in Australia. The style is reminiscent of European North Sea professional fishing boats – which is indeed where they originated – and the practicality shows through with fully enclosed wheelhouses and large open cockpits.
The hull designs are exceptionally seaworthy and other aspects of their antecedents are apparent in features such as safe side-decks, big self-draining scuppers and the ability to quickly fit emergency steering tillers. The latter may never be needed with today’s reliable engineering and systems, but if nothing else it’s reassuring to see that the builders still consider such ‘what if’ factors and allow for them.
The external styling is hardly streamlined, but it has real appeal in its sturdy and businesslike appearance. Anyone who understands what ‘seaworthy’ truly means will find it has a charm all its own. A quick tour onboard will also show the benefits within the spacious wheelhouse of excellent visibility and efficient ergonomics.
Peter Collins of Sydney’s long-standing Collins Marine saw the potential for the Arvor approach quite some time ago. He has since sold more than 500 of them here including around 200 of the Arvor 20 that he built locally. Arvor itself has expanded considerably over that time and now has manufacturing plants in a number of European locations all using latest technology facilities and materials.
This time around we were fortunate to have two newly released models for a side-by-side comparison which highlighted both similarities and variations to give prospective owners a very interesting choice. Both boats are primarily serious fishing platforms, but both are also excellent day or weekend cruisers and make fine family boats. Both could also be either moored or trailered, although each is probably more suited to one method of being kept, and one is faster. Both are in the same mid $80K price range (all pricing at time of writing), so budget considerations don’t affect the choice.
The 690D is a 6.88-metre diesel-powered shaft-driven boat that cruises around 15 to 19 knots and tops out around 22 knots. It’s more likely to be moored or kept in a marina and offers all the simplicity of operation of an inboard diesel. Pricing starts from around $84,500.
The 675 Sportsfish is a 6.55-metre outboard-powered design and cruises in the 20 to 25 knots bracket with a top speed of 33 knots. It would be easier to trailer and offers that extra speed for those who favour fishing spots further away; its pricing starts from around $84,150.
A trailer for either boat is about $11-12,000, and there are various extra cost options for electronics and accessories, and both boats can be fitted with dual helm set-ups (wheelhouse and cockpit). Sun awnings and cockpit covers can be added. There are other versions - smaller and larger - of the boats, so if the style appeals but you need less or more in terms of space or cost, there’ll be an Arvor to suit you.
Mainly because of the amidships engine location, the shaft-driven 690D has a larger cockpit and smaller wheelhouse than the 675 Sportsfish. In practice though, the variation in wheelhouse space is likely to be more of a consideration as both cockpits have plenty of room for moving around and for any form of angling activity. The latter is clearly the dominant design approach with rod holders, live bait tanks, integral tackle drawers and stacks of storage lockers prevalent in both Arvors. The layout is spot on for fishing too with wide side decks, right-height gun’l support and foot-work space below.
Continuing the fishing theme, both boats have quick and safe access to the foredecks with recessed walkways alongside the cabins. These are well below the gun’ls and protected by effective guard rails. It’s only when it is pointed out that you see that the cabins are actually slightly offset to port, so that the starboard walkway is wider and that little bit easier to negotiate. That’s another very thoughtful touch from Arvor that again emphasises the real-world experience in their design and build processes.
The anchoring and mooring arrangements are good on both boats with excellent deck hardware, anchor lockers with appropriate capacities for chain and line, and safe and easy facilities for handling mooring duties. The 690D has a power windlass as standard, whilst that’s optional on the Sportsfish.
Moving aft to the transoms, the two boats are obviously different with the 675 having a Mercury Four-Stroke EFI 150 outboard in an engine well and a boarding platform to starboard. The 690 has a much larger full-beam boarding platform with a bracket for an optional auxiliary outboard. Both boats have drop-down swim ladders and entry ports into their cockpits.
The latter have non-slip fibreglass soles with hatches that lift on gas-assist struts above very generous under-floor stowage. The 690D has a raised section that also lifts for excellent access to the Mercury diesel and its systems such as fuel and raw water filters and so on. The 690 has a single lounge seat that folds out from under the starboard gun’l, while the 675 has twin lounges – one across the port side of the aft deck and the other in the rear port corner of the cockpit.
The 675 also includes as standard a demountable table for the cockpit that slots into a floor bracket positioned to suit the two lounges. It would be easy to find a fold-up table for the 690D to set out drinks and snacks, or for some extra work space. Both the Arvors have cutting/bait boards.
Whilst personal preference between inboard/diesel and outboard/petrol power will probably play a big part in anyone deciding between the two boats, the other major differences are in the wheelhouses/cabins and in how the two boats drive and perform.
Both wheelhouses are spacious and have top class helm positions. Being fully enclosed, they offer total protection so skippers can con their craft comfortably in any conditions. An often overlooked joy of boating is cruising along when it’s raining (not too heavily though!) – but that works only when you’re snug and dry with good visibility and effective screen wipers. The Arvors are brilliant in this regard, and are also as good as you can get in this size of boat when offshore in rough conditions.
Both helm stations are to starboard with large panels to accommodate engine gauges and navigation electronics; the panels are moulded in a non-glare black and sweep across to port with recesses for storage and a drink holder for the skipper. The tall, near vertical curved windscreens are key factors in the good visibility aided by large side windows with slide-open panels for ventilation. Overhead hatches that also slide help further with light and air. Headroom is very liberal and that plus all the light that flows into the wheelhouses makes you feel you’re aboard a larger boat than the actual size represents.
Both the 690 and the 675 have cushioned areas in the lower forward sections of the cabins with fill-in panels that extend aft with other cushions to make up into double berths. A clever aspect of the fill-in panels are sections that hinge into place in front of the helm seat to provide a higher foot rest ‘false floor’ when seated to drive; but fold them away and you have a better set-up with more headroom for standing to drive. The seats are adjustable fore-aft and have flip-up bolsters for either a higher seated line-of-sight or for good ‘bottom bracing’ when standing at the wheel.
The 690D has twin seats side-by-side to starboard whilst the 675’s two seats are on either side of the cabin. The 675 also has an additional double lounge behind the helm seat and opposite that is a mini-galley with a fridge/freezer plus a storage locker with a small sink and cold water supply. The 690D is not so well equipped in this area, although there is a similar sink (but no water supply) and a little workbench area. Both boats come with single-burner butane camping stoves that can be quickly set up and are entirely suitable for likely simple cooking requirements.
An option for the 675 is a flushing toilet with overboard discharge (for waters where that’s okay), or alternatively a portable toilet could be set up in either boat. The 675 had curtains fitted around the cabin windows for a degree of privacy, and it wouldn’t be hard to do the same for the 690D.
Both the Arvors had full depth stainless-framed glass bulkheads across the back of the wheelhouse with sliding doors to seal off the cabin space. From each cockpit, a step down into the cabin made it an easy transition and, with the door open, it was no problem to converse between the two areas of the boats.
Although the two Arvors are quite different in their speed and handing, I found that both were easy and enjoyable to drive. There’s a degree of extra exhilaration with the 675’s additional power and performance, but the 690D has a sure-footed feel that’s also appealing.
Both boats had steering that was light and to which the hulls responded quickly. Neither boat banked all that much as tighter turns were negotiated, although the 690D has a near full length keel to protect the rudder and prop so that gave a slightly more secure feeling and would help with directional stability in a seaway.
On the other hand, the 675 Sportsfish had a deeper vee hull which gave a slightly softer ride and still handled well in turns. We ran both boats across the Heads of Sydney Harbour in a typical wind-blown chop on top of some mild incoming swells and both were a delight to handle. It’s true I enjoyed the extra punch and faster acceleration of the outboard-powered 675, and that could well allow finer placement in rougher waters or when crossing a bar, but it’s only when driving the two boats one after the other that you’d really notice the difference.
The 690D still had plenty of grunt – a lot more torque of course from the diesel – and it would be a rare skipper who would find it wanting in any respect. Running before the swells in both boats was no hassle at all, and heading into the sets and plunging through some larger waves sent spray sweeping away to each side; any that reached the screens was swiftly dealt with by the wipers.
The 675 was a bit more manoeuvrable going astern with the prop-angle steering being a benefit, and that might make a difference in some higher-action fish fighting situations, but again that would be a rare situational advantage. In short, the long heritage of Arvor in generally far worse Northern seas than recreational anglers in Australia would encounter shines through in the way the boats perform.
This particular 690D dash panel was better equipped than the Sportsfish – although that’s just a matter of preferences and options as both could be set up the same. In this case, in addition to typical engine gauges and switch panels, the diesel boat had been fitted with a seven inch Simrad colour display combination GPS chartplotter and sonar fishfinder which certainly added to skipper information and enjoyment. Radar and an autopilot can optionally be added.
As well, a control topped by a large red button was for a trolling valve. Because the 115 Mercury diesel runs the boat at around four knots at idle revs, the trolling valve can be progressively opened below 1,200 rpm and that reduces oil pressure in the transmission. The result is a certain amount of slip to slow the boat to more desirable trolling speeds even down to half a knot or so.
In addition to the dash panel, the forward overhead internal mouldings of the wheelhouses comprise three angled panels that are ideal for mounting additional electronics including marine radios or stereo systems. It was good to see Arvor had provided easy access into behind the panels through removable sections on the undersides of the mouldings – marine engineers would be most happy to see that, and to find ready accessibility behind the main dash panels to all the wring and steering hydraulics.
Arvor has done a great job of ‘getting back to basics’ in these boats; they have everything you could want for fishing, especially offshore, and for cruising around and relaxing, but there’s nothing superfluous to add to maintenance costs. It’s all easy-care and easy-clean; the overall design and packaging is extremely practical. Yet both these boats stand out with their ‘pro fishing’ seaworthy styling and you’ll receive nothing but looks of admiration and approval as you cruise and fish your own.
2014, Botany Bay: The Cruise Craft Explorer 595 HT (for Hard Top) is one of the latest models to carry that famous brand which has become synonymous for top quality fishing boats that are strongly built and well designed to handle Australia’s typical offshore angling conditions.
The 595 designation refers to the 5.95 metre hull length, although the integral bowsprit takes it out to 6.35 metres overall. Rated for outboards to 200 hp, the review 595HT was graced with a Suzuki 175 four-stroke on the transom and, with a number of options, was priced by Hunts at a tow-away package price of $99,784. That may vary by the time you read this, or with different power and options, but its representative of the value in this Cruise Craft.
The Australian boating industry has seen many highs and lows over the decades, from boom times to recessions, high interest rates to low, strong to weak Aussie dollars, floods to droughts and from overseas takeovers to cheap imports. Being able to thrive let alone survive through all this takes a particular brand of determination and perseverance - and of outstanding ability and service.
So I was most privileged for this review to see how two Aussie family companies have overcome every challenge to be at the top of the game after nearly 70 years in the marine trade.
In 1946 Roy Nichols began building timber boats and today, at a site in the Brisbane suburb of Hemmant that it has occupied since the early 1960s, the Nichols Bros family company thrives under the Cruise Craft brand with a third generation at the helm. In a remarkable parallel, also in 1946 Edwin Hunt established a showroom in the southern Sydney suburb of Blakehurst with a range of wooden launches and dinghies. On that same site today Hunts Marine continues most successfully under the guidance of its third generation of the family.
Since 2007, the two companies have worked together with Hunts Marine being the Sydney and NSW South Coast dealer for Cruise Craft. With such a proud heritage and lengthy record of success, it’s no surprise that the boat seen here was perfectly presented and performed to every expectation. Peter Benston, sales and marketing manager for Cruise Craft, flew down for the day’s outing on Botany Bay as an example of the company’s professionalism and to ensure that we had all the details we needed.
The 595 HT is a good-looking boat carrying graceful lines that embody a typically serious fishing rig with higher topsides forward to work safely in rougher conditions and with a lower gun’l aft to aid working rods and lines around the back. A sturdy guard rail protects the side decks and extends into a pulpit around the bowsprit with a good size anchor locker and efficient deck hardware. All this confirms that the Explorer has been thoroughly thought out for its intended purpose.
Construction is to Australian AS1799 Standards and carries a seven-year warranty. A below floor girder system and fully-moulded one-piece cockpit liner add strength and longevity, and safety is enhanced with moisture and fuel resistant two-pack foam filling the cavity beneath the floor with foam sheeting up the sides to the gun’ls. This foam filling also makes the boat quieter.
The hardtop configuration makes for a protected helm position with headroom for six-footers and taller to stand comfortably. The hardtop is a double moulding for strength and a smooth finish inside and out; a stainless frame across the back carries six rod holders in rocket-launcher fashion as well as LED lights for the cockpit and a riding light. The glass screen and the side windows reach right up to the hardtop so there are no gaps to admit spray or wind. The side windows slide open though, so you can easily control ventilation. Open or closed, the tall glass panels admit plenty of light, and visibility in all directions is nigh on perfect. An optional Perspex lockable sliding door can secure the forward cockpit.
I found the helm seat comfortable and had an easy reach to the rubber-rimmed stainless-spoked wheel. A recessed footrest was also positioned just right and there was an unobstructed view of the gauges and the compass right in front of me. The gauges were on a secondary angled panel in front of a much larger primary panel above the wheel where electronic navigation aids could be mounted for convenient sighting and operation.
A small recess to the right held the ignition key and safety cut-out with its lanyard, and next to that was a builder’s plate with all the required load and safety information. Behind that the throttle/shift control was well placed and lower down was another neat recess that housed a GME Acusat Digital EPIRB. To the left of the wheel was a switch panel above a GME VHF marine radio. Altogether, the helm area was an ideal spot to enjoy the performance that the Explorer and Suzuki could provide.
At virtually six metres, it’s quite a big boat, but good hull design meant that not a lot of throttle was needed to lift it on plane and bowrise was minimal with the Suzuki trimmed right in. The outboard’s trim angle is not critical and you don’t need to constantly adjust it, but perceptive skippers will find the 595 quite responsive to trim adjustments when seeking the most efficient running angle for any given conditions.
The hull carries a fairly deep vee with 20 degrees deadrise at the transom, so the ride was soft through a chop or swell. A set of polished stainless Lenco hydraulic trim tabs (standard with all the Hard Top Models) did a great job of balancing the boat laterally and gave an added dimension to the control available to the skipper. My view is that tabs are essential on deeper vee hulls as they allow easy adjustment to get a level ride regardless of side winds or crew/load imbalance. That makes for both more efficient and more comfortable cruising.
SeaStar hydraulic steering needed mainly but a light touch on the wheel although five turns lock-to-lock is a bit more than I prefer. Directional response though was very good and the hull banked only moderately through quite tight turns whilst retaining a solid grip on the water and avoiding any slip or shudder.
Botany Bay was unusually calm on our test run, so we headed seaward until we could crest through a few swells and a light wind-blown chop. The Cruise Craft just creamed through all that both into the waves and when running before them on the return trip. There was plenty of forward buoyancy and absolutely no tendency to vary off the chosen course. Driving the boat was easy and great fun.
From a planing speed around 3,200 rpm and 25 kph through cruising around 4,000 rpm at 41 kph and on to a top speed of 71.5 kph at 6,100 rpm, both the 595 and the Suzuki were unstressed. The Cruise Craft reputation for making light work of long runs to offshore fishing spots was easy to recognise and appreciate. At rest too, the boat was stable as the waterline beam is wider than most in this class - another attribute in favour of added comfort during long spells off the coast.
The first mate benefits from a supportive seat the same as the skipper and both seats swivel to face aft on stainless frames beneath which optional coolers can be kept. The first mate is provided with another storage spot, a drinkholder and grab handle plus, lower down, a stainless foot rest and a recess where a fire extinguisher is neatly housed. Behind the seats, the cockpit is spacious with a clip-out carpet. Rod holders are in the side pockets which are above recesses that allow toes to position for better grip and balance when working larger piscatorial prey.
Across the back of the cockpit, a three-quarter lounge lifts up and folds out from its retracted placement – so providing comfy extra seating when required but otherwise maximising floor space. Dominating the back of our review 595 was an optional large bait board assembly mounted on a stainless rail. A three-quarter width lid lifted up with a shallow storage recess below whilst across the back was a knife rack with two rod holders on the sides. Two removable bait tubs can attach to the stainless rail and are perfect for holding tools or extra bait. Also attached to the board was a flexible hose with a nozzle that can be a salt water deck wash or alternatively used as a hand wash or shower. The review 595 was fitted with plumbing for a live bait tank, and an optional fresh water bladder can be installed in the 595 if salt water is not always to your liking.
There’s a walk-through door in the transom to a port-side boarding platform with a drop-down swim ladder. The side decks are quite wide and have a non-slip surface; aft grab rails are inset along the cockpit so they don’t protrude and that allows the decks beside the cockpit to be comfortable to rest against or to use as bottom-parking seats when the boat is at rest. More rod holders are in those aft side decks. A pair of PopUp cleats at the rear helps keep everything tidy when not in use, but are the right size when needed as is the rest of the deck hardware which is intelligently positioned around the 595HT.
Up front there is a good-sized cuddy cabin that allows seated height for six-footers on quality-upholstered seat cushions with stowage beneath; indeed, there are excellent storage areas right throughout the 595. An infill panel makes the seating into a double berth. A step-down from the cockpit level gives added room in the cabin, and a slightly higher ledge in front of that can be used to install an optional toilet. Then there’s another panel, slightly higher again and with a non-slip surface, that makes it easier to stand and work the foredeck through an opening hatch in the flow-coated overhead. On each side of the cabin are crescent-shaped portholes so that plenty of light streams in through those as well as the hatch. There is provision for an optional lockable sliding door for the cabin.
The 595 is also available without the hard top and is just one model in a fleet of outboard powered Explorers that range from the 485 up to the 685. HT versions apply to the 595, 625 and 685 so overall there’s an Explorer to suit every size and budget requirement. Interestingly though, at present it is the three largest Explorers that are the top sellers for Cruise Craft. The 685 is particularly popular and owners are specifying extensive options including up to five transducers in the hull, radars, satellite navigation aids and even pie-warmers! The majority of boats are fully factory-rigged with outboards and electronics, and are shipped with Cruise Craft branded trailers.
Overall, this is a top-class fishing boat that will additionally appeal to ladies and families; it shows the experience and high reputation of Cruise Craft in its design, construction, fit-out and attention to detail.
Length (overall): 6.35 metres
Beam: 2.43 metres
Deadrise: 20 degrees
Weight: 1,600 kgs (aprox boat and outboard with fuel)
Fuel: 190 litres
Power as tested: Suzuki four-stroke 175 hp
Top Speed: 71.5 kph
2015, September; Sydney Harbour: In a genuinely exciting move for the hitherto rather conservatively-regarded Caribbean brand, the company has released its first-ever sedan cruiser in the 420 Express. Using the proven hull from its 40 Flybridge Cruiser, brand-owner International Marine has created a showcase for the craftsmanship its talented workforce is capable of producing. From the moment you step onboard, the quality of the materials used and of the workmanship in the cabinetry and overall finish is immediately noticeable.
Well-known and highly respected by knowledgeable boating enthusiasts in Australia, the Caribbean range has had a comparatively low market profile and is perhaps overlooked and under-rated by many seeking to buy a thoroughbred. Established way back in 1958 and based ever since in Scoresby (Melbourne), the company is now run by the third generation of the founding Spooner family.
Through all the highs and lows of the Aussie boating industry over nearly six decades, and with all the technology changes in that time, Caribbean boats have survived and thrived with a current range of runabouts to flybridge cruisers from around 6 to 15 metres – a boat for anybody and everybody.
The parent company is International Marine which built world-famous US-designed Bertram boats under licence for quite some years in which time that brand and Caribbean became almost synonymous. Partly because of that association, but more so because of its constant attention to build quality and its reputation for seaworthiness and longevity, Caribbean craft are highly regarded by those in the know.
However, until now, the focus of the boats has been more on practical simplicity in fit and finish, and the larger flybridge cruisers have been oriented more toward serious offshore fishing, rather than attempting to move ‘upmarket’ with higher levels of interior design and materials to attract buyers looking for more luxurious family cruising.
That’s not to say that other and previous Caribbeans have not been well built and finished – they indeed have been, but this 420 Express just takes everything to a new level in the way that the quality is presented. New interior design and fabrics along with designer-selected fittings make the difference and match the best of interiors from other Australia boatbuilders.
Competitive pricing has been in kept in mind though, and the target market will appreciate investment levels being kept below that of brands such as Riviera and Maritimo. Pricing starts around the $690,000 mark and this heavily-optioned first 420 is around $820,000 (including a desalination unit required for South Australian waters); more typical optioned-up 420s will be just under $800,000 (all pricing at time of writing).
Inspirational in the creation and development of the 420 Express have been Andrew and Mary Craddock. Andrew owns Marina Adelaide and the associated Marina Boat Sales South Australia; when he again took on a Caribbean dealership, he suggested that the sedan style of cruiser with an upmarket finish would meet a growing market trend. International Marine responded enthusiastically and worked with Andrew to produce this resulting achievement as the first of a planned range of such designs – a 510 Express is the likely next model with perhaps a smaller cruiser after that. Mary is an interior designer and selected the pleasing fabrics and finishes that have been used, with several optional colour schemes available.
The layout remains practical and adopts the growing trend toward single-level living as opposed to the split-level style of flybridge accommodations. A large extended boarding platform and the generous open cockpit are both teak surfaced for gloriously traditional appeal. Although not as dedicated toward angling as Caribbean’s flybridge models, that sport is still well catered for with a live bait tank in the transom (or it could be used as a cooler) and with side lockers that leave space below to tuck under toes when working close-hand across the aft side decks.
In the port forward quarter of the cockpit is a large wet bar with eutectic fridge/freezer and good storage space, and there’s massive under-sole stowage. A neat aft-facing seat to starboard would be handy and other casual seating could be spotted around in convivial fashion. A sliding door leads into the main saloon with a leather-upholstered lounge to starboard that converts to a three-quarter berth beneath a fold-up bunk. To port is the dinette with U-shaped seating around a beautifully finished table; optionally the dinette can be another convertible double berth.
The galley is forward of that with plenty of workspace; its features include Metaline splashbacks, polished teak drawers, a sink with flick-mixer tap, microwave, fridge and freezer plus a four-burner induction cooktop usefully protected with a fiddle rail. Opposite the galley is the helm with a superb chair for the skipper behind a stainless wheel and a large dash panel dominated by two Raymarine 12-inch touch-screen nav-aid displays.
Large windows all around bring scads of light into the whole area, and the close association of the helm and galley will keep cruising couples in loving communication as one steers and one cooks, with easy swapping between roles for those respecting gender-tasking equality.
Down a few steps heading further forward finds a guest cabin to port with extra-wide under-and-over berths. That’s across the companionway from a large bathroom with separate shower stall. A second door into the bathroom gives direct access to/from the owner’s stateroom right forward with an island double berth, hanging lockers and provision for a TV should the gentle lapping of water heard as background serenity through the strong fibreglass topsides lose its never-ending appeal.
All the fabrics, surface finishes, overheads, carpeting and carefully chosen fittings work together with fine craftsmanship to exude a sense of relaxed luxury that will be easy to maintain. There’s good access to the engine room under the saloon sole and the visible engineering is top class.
Externally, the deck hardware is just as good with sensibly-high stainless guard rails around the foredeck and side passages; a good bowsprit carries the anchor secured by a power windlass and then there are well-sized cleats, bollards and fairleads intelligently located around the 420 Express. Grab rails along each side of the cabin top aid safe movement fore and aft, and moulded steps make it easy to get into and out of the cockpit – a door in the transom connecting it to the boarding platform.
The helm position shows Caribbean’s experience too with an excellent layout and a very comfortable fore-aft-adjustable seat. The latter has a flip-up bolster and a neat swing-out foot rest so either sitting or standing to drive is equally gratifying. The twin Cummins QSC 500-hp diesels make easy work of idling the 420 along and then smoothing it up on plane.
There’s surprising punch for such a large cruiser with a real jump-out-of-the-hole initial acceleration that continues relentlessly so you’re at 24 knots or more before you know it. That level of thrust and nimble handling with responsive steering make the 420 Express feel almost like a skiboat to drive – it’s a real pleasure at the helm.
With a top speed of 32.2 knots at 2,650rpm and easy cruising in the 22-25 knot bracket (1,900 to 2,100rpms), the 420 is an ideal passage-maker for offshore running, and even more so for enjoying Australia’s countless inshore waterways. It’s a snap to handle so newcomers to waterborne weekends need not worry about getting it in and out of marina pens, although the optional bow thruster sure helps in that regard.
Throughout the 420 are many thoughtful touches such as doors with magnetic catches and fold-down hanging hooks, self-closing drawers, an engine room video feed, powerful trim tabs, dipstick for the fuel tank (as well as a fuel gauge), remote control saloon blinds and so on. The only way you can fully appreciate the boat is to be onboard and that’s well recommended if you’re at all thinking of investing in the multiple benefits of a sedan-cruiser lifestyle.
Length: 13.16 metres
Beam: 4.30 metres
Draft: 1.15 metres
Net Weight: 11,200 kgs
Sleeping Capacity: 4 -7 persons
Fuel capacity: 2,000 litres
Water capacity: 650 litres
Power (as tested): Twin Cummins QSC Diesels 373 kW (500 hp) each
Top Speed: 32.2 knots
1999, April; Sydney Harbour: Four decades of French tradition and style have produced these new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey yachts.
Australia is one of those fortunate markets that attracts the best products from all around the world. Although our total market size is relatively small, in areas as diverse as yachting and computers we have a wealth of international manufacturers competing for our business. Australia’s healthy and stable economy is probably one factor that helps to encourage overseas companies to bring their products all the way to (what is, for most) the other side of the planet. It would also be a positive point that our “multi-cultural” population has a variety of tastes to give worthwhile market opportunities for products with any of the individual “styles” associated with Europe, Asia or the USA.
From a boating perspective, the international diversity of craft that graces our waters means only good news to anyone fortunate enough to be looking for a new boat. You can shop around and select the particular style that appeals most to you personally. And, if true “style” is at all one of the requirements on your shopping list for a new yacht, then Jeanneau will undoubtedly be a manufacturer with which you’ll be talking.
Actually, “manufacturer” is not an appropriate term here, for it creates an impression of production-line automatons churning out products lacking any character or soul, albeit though they may be of high quality. “Boatbuilder” or even “craftsman boatbuilder” is more like it, with an immediately-implied tang of products braced by salt-water tradition and showing classically-appealing lines fairly imbued with those yachting necessities of character and soul.
The name leaves no doubt as to the country of origin, and Jeanneau first came to market in France with timber dinghies and runabouts from 1957. Today the company has a vast production facility totalling 60 thousand square metres. Along the way, the company has built nearly 60 thousand boats that have been sold through more than 235 dealers and distributors around the world. Best known in Australia for its yachts, Jeanneau also builds a range of power boats. Experience with fibreglass construction dates back to 1960, and years of experience and research have led to Jeanneau holding numerous patents as well as being recognised for quality with ISO 9002 certification.
Earlier this year, Jeanneau’s distributor, European Marine, launched a number of new models within the cruiser-racer Sun Odyssey range (there’s another fleet termed Sun Fast that reverses the emphasis to be racer-cruisers). The four yachts now available in Australia share a similar style, and range in size from 10.3 metres through 14.15 metres with pricing from just under $200,000 to around $550,000 (at the time of writing). Curiously for a company based in the home country of the metric system, the yachts actually carry imperial-type designations of Sun Odyssey 34.2, 36.2, 40 and 45.2 with the numbers fairly obviously referring to overall length in feet.
Of the four, the 34.2 is the latest design and comes from the drawing board of Jacques Fauroux. It has typically sweet lines with uncluttered decks and a spacious cockpit. Accommodations are also roomy with beautifully finished Burmese teak cabinetry highlighting all the facilities you’d expect in a yacht of this calibre. Jeanneau actually has its own teak forests, and this must help with the quality evident in the lustrous glow of the timbers throughout the yachts. A straight-line galley running down the port side makes the most of the available floor space aboard the 34.2, with a curved dinette opposite (optionally convertible to an extra double berth). The main double-berth cabin is forward and another double cabin is set back under the cockpit. The bathroom is aft of the galley and, a bit surprisingly for a 34 foot yacht, there’s a separate navigation station more or less opposite the bathroom behind the settee of the dinette. There’s an alternative three cabin layout that has another double under the cockpit to port; the two cabin approach uses this space as a huge lazarette-style stowage area under the cockpit seating.
The 36.2 and 40 Sun Odysseys use their extra length to give more room below, especially in the saloon area where an L-shaped galley is located to starboard at the foot of the companionway (which, incidentally, has the most delightfully scallop-shaped timber steps). A more expansive dinette is forward of the galley with a navigation station across to port. The same double staterooms are forward and back under the cockpit.
The 40 uses its extra beam and size not only to enhance the below-decks areas, but also to place a twin-wheel set-up in the cockpit. This looks very professional and makes time at the helm even more delightful. All the yachts are designed under the auspices of the Jeanneau team, but the naval architect for the 40 is Daniel Andrieu whilst the 36.2 shares the same designer as the 34.2.
Moving up to the 45 Sun Odyssey, the forward main stateroom becomes even more impressive with an island double berth. An alternative layout has two smaller cabins in this area, and these can be cleverly arranged so that the intervening partition can be removed and the two single berths made into a double - very versatile indeed, perhaps particularly for a charter yacht. As might be imagined, the saloon is larger than for the smaller Odysseys, and there’s a navigation station the size of a compact office aft to port behind the settee. There’s an even larger 52.2 Sun Odyssey if you truly crave room to cruise.
All the hulls are completely hand laid with strength and safety as primary considerations. A framework of stringers and cross frames is bonded to the mouldings with structurally reinforced bulkheads adding rigidity and further fortitude. High-tech, high-strength and light-weight kevlar is used in the lay-up of all these Odysseys. Whilst there’s no doubting the craftsmanship that completes the interiors, the fit and finish is aided by computer-controlled equipment that cuts the timber pieces to accuracy within one tenth of a millimetre. Computers are also used in the design process to efficiently explore optional layouts and to refine each design for both hulls and deck layouts.
The Sun Odyssey hulls have easily driven lines, although with quite full volumes to provide the extra space that makes cruising more comfortable (the Sun Fast hulls are less beamy and sacrifice some room for greater speed). The Odysseys are nearly all sold with just the main and a furling genoa, although spinnakers (with extra winches) are readily available as an option. Masts and booms are anodized aluminium, with stainless steel shrouds. The rigging is neatly arranged for carefree, but responsive, operation with lines running cleanly aft along the top of the cabin to the cockpit. Side decks (optionally teak laid) are wide and clear with non-slip surfaces aiding fast movement around the boats.
Jeanneau yachts are popular not only with private owners, but with charter operators as well. That makes possible interesting finance packages that can be negatively geared to give both the enjoyment of sailing and the potential for financial rewards.
SPECIFICATIONS – Sun Odyssey
Length (metres): 12.20
Sail Area (sq. m.): 76.10
Displacement (kgs): 7,250
Price (approx): $315,000
Note: Images of Sun Odyssey 40
1996, August; Lake Macquarie: I've had the pleasure of testing several of Larry Wiltshire's Spacecraft fishing boats over the last couple of years, and have always come away impressed with their strength and practical design. Larry makes a point of understanding the use to which his boats are being put, and invests extra effort to accommodate the everyday, real-world demands of those uses in each boat.
Spacecraft boats are good looking in a serious sort of way, with a high quality (but not overly flash) finish. The hulls are built up to their gun'ls in a jig for accuracy, and then Larry finishes the cabin and interior as required for the owner's purpose. Larry designs all his own boats, and construction is carried out in his factory at Toronto south of Newcastle.
On a grey and rainy day, Larry took me for a test run in this 5.2 metre Spacecraft and, despite the weather (or even perhaps because of it), we had a great time as I put the boat through its paces and waited in vain for the sun to emerge so that the photos could do justice.
Spacecraft boats are built more strongly than most, and Larry used very solid 5 mm plate for the undersides of this 5.2, with 4 mm in the hull sides and 3 mm for the cabin. That helps explain what at first appears to be a quite heavy bare-hull weight of 650 kilograms, and it also explains the rock-steady stability of the boat in the water. For even further stability, Larry can build the boat with a centre tunnel that floods at rest. The bottom carries a constant 17 degree deadrise over the aft third or so of the hull, with a 650 mm wide planing plank to help get the craft quickly running over the surface.
On board, the cuddy cabin has a recessed footwell for extra leg room, and is fitted with upholstered seats and storage to each side. The helm position is reasonably forward to make possible a larger cockpit area, and is covered by a very well secured hardtop. Clears bridge the gap between the hardtop and the screen, and that was just as well on the day, as they kept us quite dry despite the rain all around. Two swivelling chairs with arm rests and pleasantly padded upholstery made Larry and I feel securely comfortable, and were positioned so that driving was just as good whether standing or seated.
The cockpit featured a huge insulated kill tank (or a monstrous cooler if you wanted to cater for a party on board) with a padded seat on top. Under the floor in front of the transom was a big live bait tank, and storage pockets ran down each side of the boat. Also under the aft floor were the oil containers for the two Evinrude 70s, while the batteries were properly mounted in their own boxes to either side at the transom. Not to waste any of that underfloor area, forward of the kill tank were two 150 litre fuel tanks.
The self-draining cockpit is quite deep so you'd feel secure even when lifting a big one over the side, and there are hand rails down each sidedeck along with rod holders and, in each stern quarter, good-sized bollards. Vertical grab rails come down from the back of the hardtop, and they are just where you'd want them to hang on whilst running offshore through lumpy waters. An eight-pack rocket launcher runs across the back of the hardtop, so there's no shortage of spots to keep the rods.
A baitboard is mounted at a practical working height above the transom. There is a boarding platform on the starboard side of the transom and a burley bucket to port. Between these were mounted the two Evinrude 70 outboards looking, like all twin-rigs, very serious and offering safety through resilience. Up front, the foredeck has its own rails and a nicely sized anchor locker in the forepeak.
The helm position suited me, with gauges clearly displayed to starboard of the wheel, and a very workmanlike relationship between the latter, the seat, and the throttle/shift controls on the side of the boat. There's a big flat area behind the screen where you can put all your electronics, with this boat having a Raytheon EchoStar 790 GPS Navigator Echo Sounder. This, together with a GME 27 Mhz radio and a Codan 8121 marine transceiver that were mounted in the side of the companionway into the cabin, showed the owner of the Spacecraft was quite serious about his navigation and communication facilities. It was pleasing, but not surprising in one of Larry's boats, to find a strong grab rail across the port side of the cabin top so the first mate could get a good grip.
At the wheel, you have the classic alternative of looking through the screen while sitting, or over the top of it when standing. The screen itself has a substantial frame, with toughened glass in the front panels and acrylic in the sides.
The owner had just re-rigged his Spacecraft with the two Evinrudes, replacing a pair of 50 hp engines. Larry recommends a minimum of a single 90 on the boat, but the design can take up to twin 90s if you want the extra grunt to haul big loads back home after each fishing expedition. The Evinrudes were still tight and running standard 17 inch props, but they quickly ran the 5.2 metre boat on plane and cruised with relaxed style. The Spacecraft swept through the wind-blown chop with a soft and predictable ride. Turns were smooth and as quick as you like, and the twins as usual made low speed twisting and backing very easy. Top speeds range from around 56 kph with a single 90 through 70 kph with twin 70s up to around 74 kph with two 90s on the back.
The only thing I didn't like at the helm was the trim button for the starboard Evinrude which, in the top of its throttle arm, was too close to the side of the boat for easy operation. Actually, I'd suggest wiring both trims through the port button so using it alone would get the outboards to the angle you want, then the starboard button could be used only if needed to correct any slight trim misalignment between the two engines.
Larry has a range of Spacecraft from 2.9 through 8 metres, and he can supply each craft at any stage from bare unpainted hull through to a fully finished, rigged, sea-trialed and ready-to-go boat. The 5.2 is more or less mid-range and typifies the style of boat that Larry produces. Strong and practical with sweet-handling performance, the 5.2 gave me a pleasurable run and that big kill tank in the cockpit personified the great fishing you could have on board.
Length: 5.2 metres
Beam: 2.1 metres
Weight (approx): 650 kilograms boat only
Power as tested: Twin Evinrude 70 hp
Top Speed: 74 kph
1999, June; Parramatta River: Combining a modified version of one of the best Australian ski boat hulls with the extra versatility of a bowrider layout, the Lewis Outback makes good sense for family skiing.
If you’ve been into skiing or boarding for a while, you’ll no doubt have heard about Lewis boats. With a long tradition of proven performance and quality construction, the Lewis fleet covers quite a few different models so you can choose the one that best suits your own needs. I recently had rather a super morning on the river testing three of the models from the Lewis range, and this one is the bowrider-style Outback.
The “classic, top-of-the line” Lewis design is the Prestige with which I’ve always been impressed. It’s a very attractive ski boat with unique undersurfaces that work exceptionally well to deliver a super wake, soft ride and marvellous handling. Many of the other Lewis models retain the Prestige running surfaces (as they work so well) and combine them with different decks and interiors.
The Outback takes this general approach too, although it has a wider beam (at 2.32 metres versus 2.03 metres for the Prestige and Millennium) for extra room onboard. The underneath of the hull is still essentially Prestige with a fine forward entry leading back to a quite complex combination of a moderate vee centre, aft planing pad and tunnels either side effectively formed by angled chines. For the Outback, the tunnels are more rounded as the design is “spread” to provide the extra width. The modification works well with retention of a soft ride, a good wake shape and virtually flawless handling.
Whilst other Lewis hulls have a single turn fin, experience has shown that the Outback can get loaded aft to kick up a bigger wake for boarding, and that can result in the fin lifting partially out of the water with the potential to reduce tracking precision. To ensure that this doesn’t affect the boat’s handling, a second fin has been fitted.
The very noticeable difference with the Outback compared with other Lewis models (and with most other ski/wake boats) is the transom, and the way the rear of the cockpit has been set up. The external shape at the back of the boat is quite sensual with a smoothly rounded transition from the sides to the transom rather than the more common sharp-edged angular look. A quite large boarding platform gives plenty of room for boards, and it can be taken off if the extra length makes stowing the boat a challenge.
Perhaps to match the transom shape, on the inside the rear section of the cockpit doesn’t have the usual full width lounge, but instead has two curved quarter lounges that can be easily removed if you’d rather have more floor space and an uncluttered area to work with skis or boards.
A clever idea is the provision of an aft-facing seat on the back of the engine hatch. It gives somewhere different to sit and you can stretch out your legs in comfort, have a great view aft as you’re cruising along and, so long as you’re towing your water sports enthusiasts from the transom and not from the forward mounted ski pole, you could sit there and watch all the action back on the wake.
The effect of the extra beam is quite obvious with more room to move around than in most ski boats. The passages beside the engine hatch are roomy, emphasised even more by the absence of any sidepockets, although there’s plenty of space to lay items along the hull sides under the gun’l.
Opposite the helm position is a comfortable observer’s lounge that, like the back of the boat, is sweetly curved. The lounge base lifts to show storage below, and the back of the lounge hinges inwards for access into a large storage locker under the portside screen console. The flat area in front of the lounge under the screen could hold a few casual items, and there’s a convenient couple of drink holders there too.
The screen has a flowing curve and rake with a centre-opening panel across the passageway leading to the forward cockpit. Braces either side keep everything nice and taut. Up front, the seats are beautifully upholstered, and all three seat squabs lift out for carpeted storage below. Bearing in mind that the Outback is very much a “true” ski boat, the forward cockpit is surprisingly roomy and matches most “social runabout” bowriders in this regard. There are grab handles either side so you can keep a safe hold while enjoying the ride up front, while drink holders in the seat bases just in front of the screen will keep the liquid refreshments handy at all times.
Standard power for the Outback is the trusty 5.7 litre MerCruiser Competition Ski V8, but we had the extra 40 ponies (300 hp vs 260) of a 350 Magnum MPI in our test boat. Neatly installed under the hatch, the Merc V8 sang its usual song of easy power, with loads of torque to sweep the boat out of the hole and haul a couple of heavyweights on lines astern. Driving through a Borg Warner FNR 1:1 transmission, the Merc was spinning a custom built 3-bladed 12.25 by 12.625 (diameter by pitch in inches) LT2 prop that the Lewis crew had developed in conjunction with Dave Porter. Over a six month trials period, it was found that a prop with more diameter and blade area, but with a bit less pitch, gave the best results. The props are made from bronze manganese and each is blueprinted with an emphasis on performance rather than show - it being felt better to spend money on the blueprinting process rather than on polishing which tends to last only for the first couple of runs in the water anyway.
This power train combination had the Outback rocking along in fine style and well established on plane at 2,500 rpm with 45 kph on the speedo. The latter was a bit optimistic, as our Garmin GPS 48 was using data streams from multiple satellites to more accurately record our velocity at 41 kph. Mid-range acceleration was hefty and we quickly saw intermediate speeds of 48 and 56 kph at 3,000 and 3,500 rpms before opening the throttle further sped us up to 62 kph at 4,000 and 70 kph at 4,500 rpm. Wide open throttle had the Merc correctly in its optimum power band at 4,800 rpm with the GPS digits settling at 72.9 kph for a quite handy top speed.
Because of its extra beam, and the impression of additional length from the big boarding platform, the Outback looks as though it would carve a larger wake. Whilst the wash did in fact look to have a good shape and height for boarding, those modified-Prestige undersides were leaving a wave pattern that would be fine for just about any skiing style - with the usual variances at different speeds.
From a driving perspective, the Outback displayed the same traits I’ve come to expect from Lewis with precise placement and impeccable response. Through a few wakes, the ride was gentle and stable, and the tightest of turns and full-reverse-lock figure-eights failed to unsettle either prop or hull. Low speed manoeuvering was just as pleasing, whilst more usual curves and turns were faultless. Lateral balance was good, and forward visibility was retained as the bow came up over the hump from rest on to plane. The Outback accelerated in a straight line with no noticeable torque on the wheel, and hauling off the throttle produced the same result as the boat rapidly slowed.
The driving position proved to be a winner with an excellent layout of gauges and controls. The seat held me firmly and comfortably (it would be good for long sessions I reckon), and I could slide it fore and aft to get the right distance for me from the wheel. The screen gave thorough protection from the slipstream yet did not restrict my all-round vision.
The gauges were contained in a carbon-fibre style panel that looked rather high-tech and positioned all the dials so that they could be easily sighted above the wheel rim (which had a smart carbon-fibre finish too). The gauges, by Faria, were attractive and very easy to read with white markings and pointers on a black background. A GME stereo radio-cassette unit was mounted behind a splash-proof panel to the right of the wheel, with a small bank of turn-style (rather than click up/down) switches to the right for the bilge pump, blower, navigation lights (there’s a combined unit at the stem), and so on. A padded arm-rest helped me feel even more comfortable.
All the interior was very nicely finished with quality materials and good workmanship. Hull and deck construction uses bi-axial sewn cloth for strength with encapsulated timber stringers and floor.
Like every Lewis I’ve driven, the Outback was perfectly behaved and good fun. It’s a first class social ski/board boat with the added space and flexibility of a good-sized forward cockpit.
Length: 6.71 metres
Beam: 2.32 metres
Fuel: 112 litres
Power as tested: MerCruiser 350 MPI V8 300 hp
Price as tested: $34,000 on trailer, ready to go.
Top Speed: 72.9 kph
2015, June; Cowan Waters: With safety and versatility as key attributes, this Nautilus 17DLX Widebody Bowrider (to use its full branding) from AB Inflatables is right at home for anything from diving, cruising and emergency services to being used a tender for a luxury yacht.
The RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) market is booming these days with the benefits of light weight, excellent stability and high load-carrying capacity. Another feature is that the inflatable tubes have a certain amount of ‘give’ and so are unlikely to cause any scuff marks or damage when coming alongside another boat. For all these reasons, RIBs are very popular as tenders for larger vessels, as well as finding wide acceptance in other areas from rescue boats through to general purpose family runabouts.
AB Inflatables is one of the premier suppliers of RIBs with South American manufacture and world-wide distribution backed by a 44-year heritage of quality and success. That background was easy to accept when inspecting this Nautilus 17DLX Widebody Bowrider that was immaculately presented by the company’s NSW distributor Boating Connexions. Everywhere I looked were examples of thoughtful attention to detail and consideration for the end user.
There is something like 70 different models in the AB range from 2.4 through 9+ metres and ranging in price from $4,000 to $199,000 (the latter with twin 250 or 300hp outboards on the transom – pricing at the time of writing). So you’ll certainly find a size and style to suit your needs. This 5.2 metre 17DLX (the 17 is for 17 feet) is amongst the most popular size range.
On its trailer, which is included in the package with a 115hp Yamaha four-stroke, a few features of the 17DLX’s fibreglass hull were readily apparent. It carries quite a deep vee with a deadrise of around 25 degrees for a soft ride. There are three strakes either side of the keel for good stability and control, and the large-diameter tube collars effectively form strong chines that would help further with handling, and with controlling the wake and spray.
The hull carries further forward than on some RIBs to also benefit ride and handling, and it overlaps the tops of the collar tubes to provide more internal space and a more user-friendly style. For example, aft on the port side there’s a non-slip-surfaced step on the fibreglass side deck. The interior too has a strong non-slip surface pattern for its self-draining sole with vee-shaped seating forward for which there are in-fill panels to convert the whole area into a big sunlounge.
All the seats have lift-up bases with neatly upholstered closed-density foam cushions for good comfort and support, whilst below them on both sides are insulated coolers and a large anchor locker centre-forward. If you didn’t need that much cooler capacity, they could easily be used for general stowage. Space for that was extra generous with more room inside the helm position console and then a true cavern of capacity down into the back of the DLX under the full-beam aft lounge which lifted on gas–support struts.
That cavern gave good access to the battery and its master switch as well as to the fuel filter and into the aft bilges. Both the fuel and fresh water tanks are under-floor to keep them out of the way; and a shower is standard at the transom. The visible engineering is well designed and installed. The helm console is on the starboard side and is neat, simple and effective. A carbon-fibre style dash panel carries a stainless tilt-adjustable wheel plus two Yamaha multi-function digital gauges with the usual variety of scroll-through data.
Switch panels for lights and accessories with matching circuit breakers are to either side of the wheel and a Fusion Bluetooth stereo head is positioned a little lower down. A cushioned panel in the front of the console forms a backrest for the starboard side front seating and hinges open for pleasing access to the back of the dash and its associated wiring.
Hardware around the 17DLX is beautifully made in stainless with pop-up cleats at strategic spots and a combined nav light at the stem. Low profile guard rails run back along the tops of the forward gun’ls. Even at this size, AB Inflatables are often used as tenders on big cruisers and luxury yachts, so tie-down and davit-lift points are fitted as standard.
The driving position was quite comfortable although there’s not a lot of leg room between the aft lounge and the console. There was enough for me however, and I slightly tilted down the wheel for a clear view of the gauges; all-round visibility was of course perfect! The throttle and shift were ideally positioned on the fibreglass side-deck and I had a comfy reach to that and the wheel.
The 17DLX handled just great and was a real pleasure to drive. The 115 Yamaha gave all the power you’d need with plenty of push away from rest and with solid mid-range acceleration. We had three people on the lounge as well as a near-full under-floor fuel tank, so that gave a fair bit of weight right aft. The result was some noticeable bowrise getting on plane, but that could have been reduced with some of the crew seated forward. In any case, the AB quickly settled to a good running angle and fairly scooted across the water.
From planing at 3,000 rpm and 25 kph we cruised through 4,000 and 44 kph to a top end at 5,900 rpm of 73 kph which is very good for this set-up and showed that the four-blade stainless Solas 17inch pitch prop was a good choice. The hull held on well through turns and was rewarding fun to skipper.
AB Inflatables is one of few in this market segment that has CE, NMMA and ISO 9001 certification to prove that these craft are built to the highest world-wide standards. The inflatable tubes are made from a 5-ply Orca Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene fabric designed to provide durability and to resist scratches and UV damage; it must be good as the company guarantees it for ten years. Seams are overlapped a full inch (2.5cms) and tape-reinforced on the inside, while multiple air chambers use a special baffle system to equalize pressures across the individual chambers.
SPECIFICATIONS: AB INFLATABLES NAUTILUS 17DLX BOWRIDER
Overall Length: 5.18 metres
Beam: 2.46 metres
Weight (boat, dry): 537 kgs
Capacity: 10 persons
Fuel capacity: 125 litres
Water capacity: 38 litres
Power (as tested): Yamaha four-stroke 86 kW (115 hp)
Good skippers are democratic, inclusive, coaching, and occasionally authoritative. Vision, charisma and a sense of fun also help.
As in the business world, it is apparent that on the water there is no single universally successful approach to leadership, with many of the most effective sailing leaders able to change their style to suit the situation at hand. Clipper Race skipper Wendy Tuck describes different crew members responding differently to different styles and explorer Tim Jarvis suggests that leadership really should be situational.
However, the styles that I’ve found to be the most commonly credited with success at sea were those that could be described as coaching, democratic or inclusive. America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill takes a coaching approach, giving responsibility and accountability to others, allowing them to grow. ‘If you’ve hired people with skills and talent, then let them take it on,’ says Jimmy.
Another Cup-winning skipper John Bertrand says that he would like to think that his leadership could be described as inclusive. Reflecting on his re-enactment of, as well as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1916 original survival voyage, Tim Jarvis also recognises the effectiveness of an inclusive approach. Wendy Tuck cites the effectiveness of a democratic approach. And in maritime survival situations, Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakof (1) also credit democracy in the form of shared workloads and an accountable democratically chosen leader, as essential to group survival.
But despite singing their praises for inclusive leadership styles, there is also a consensus that in fast-paced and dangerous situations, a more authoritative style of leadership is also required. ‘The bottom line is that in times of crises, you need someone to make decisions, rapidly,’ says John. ‘So it morphs from the team being inclusive to the team having trust in the various roles and responsibilities, including the leader. When the proverbial hits the fan, the leader can make a decision, and the crew doesn’t have to second guess.’
Although it’s also clear that the overuse of an authoritarian style can limit a team’s potential by stifling diversity and constructive conflict (covered in this earlier post), John believes there’s plenty of examples of ‘underperforming organisations, whether it’s a sailing team or a company or a sporting team, where things are too dictatorial, and they’re underutilising the potential of the people involved’.
Finally, and in addition to democratic, inclusive, coaching, and occasionally authoritative approaches, John also stresses the importance of visionary leadership. While Wendy Tuck suggests that ‘charismatic leadership always helps’, in what may be a reflection of Australian culture, both John and Jimmy Spithill also impress the importance of allowing teams to have a little fun. ‘Life is too short not to!’ says Jimmy.
A few words about this blog series:
Sailing, whether for survival or competition, is an unforgiving business. The teams that excel in such environments provide a multitude of learnings for leaders back on dry land. So through this blog series, I’ve set out to explore some of the most important and universally applicable leadership lessons from the oceans.
Based on existing research, interviews with some very well-credentialed sailors and my own observations, I’ll be posting weekly, covering trust, communication, diversity, culture, leadership styles and team formation. I wanted to include a breadth of insight from the different extremes of sailing, so you’ll be hearing from legendary America’s Cup winning skippers, a skipper charged with leading largely amateur crews through some of the world’s most dangerous oceans, and a man who re-enacted one of history’s greatest survival voyages.
Occasionally I still see some of the concepts that will be covered in this series – such as trust and diversity – considered ‘fluffy’, nice ideas, luxuries that are secondary to a team’s core business. So by showcasing their importance in such punishing, competitive, life-threatening, and typically masculine environments, I hope to prove their worth.
1. Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff, No Mercy – True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality, 2013
1994, June; Sydney Middle Harbour: Refined design and quality are the essence of Sea Ray, and the 230 Sundancer complies completely. It is the smallest in a series of Sundancer models that go up to 13+ metre luxury cruisers. All are sportingly styled with comfortable accommodations for family cruising, plus the performance and versatility to handle water skiing and fishing along the way.
It all started with a boat built by C. N. Ray in his Detroit garage in 1959. Today Sea Ray, along with MerCruiser, is part of the Brunswick Corporation which, founded in 1845, is America’s seventh oldest company and is the world’s largest producer of boats and marine engines. Collectively, that’s a powerful heritage.
The Sundancers have sleek lines with balanced and pleasing integration of hull, deck and superstructure. Keeping the appearance streamlined for the smallest member of the family is tough where the height and beam to length ratios are greatest, but Sea Ray designers have done a great job with the 230. Clever use of colour trim and mould lines visually lengthens the boat, and the effect is enhanced with a smoothly rounded foredeck that flows up to the curved safety glass screen.
It is the accommodations that have been designed into the 230 that are so remarkable. Here is a boat of just over 7 metres with a legally trailerable beam of 2.43 metres that has standing headroom in its cabin, a separate toilet compartment, seating in the cockpit for seven or eight, and sleeping accommodation for four adults.
The cabin has a dinette that seats four around a removable table. The seating becomes a vee berth, or a double with infill cushions, for overnighting. A small galley to port features pressure (cold) water into a sink as well as containing an icebox, a single burner stove, and several stowage areas. Opposite the galley is a head compartment that is (just) large enough in which to stand, and that has a Sanipottie toilet. Cleverly tucked back under the cockpit is another full sized double berth with a privacy curtain and a sliding, screened porthole for ventilation.
Four steps lead up to the cockpit; with detail typical of Sea Ray, the top one has a lip and is self-draining to help prevent water dripping down into the cabin. A double seat with stowage beneath is at the helm position, and has another double behind it for very comfortable seating facing aft. Across the back of the cockpit is a full width lounge that takes three or four people; it can be easily removed for more space on, say, a fishing trip. A second demountable table locates in the centre of the cockpit.
Across the transom is an integral boarding platform with a stainless steel drop-down ladder for climbing out of the water. The back of the aft lounge has a gap to facilitate moving into the cockpit from the boarding platform; a safety chain protects the gap when the boat is under way.
The cockpit carpet clips out and rolls away to reveal a large hatch that gives access to the engine compartment and bilges. Neatly and strongly mounted are the twin batteries and their master switch, the bilge pump and blower, and an automatic fire extinguisher system.
The helm position is comfortable with excellent 360-degree vision. The throttle and gearshift are on a single lever mounted to the cockpit side that has a good relationship with the wheel. The latter is relatively low, so that knees need to go to either side, and I would have preferred a little more footroom. The instrument binnacle is stylish and sets out all but the trim gauge in excellent line of sight over the wheel rim. A compass is mounted further forward, and a VHF radio had been located under the dash to starboard of the wheel.
There are several power options of MerCruiser petrol or diesel engines; this 230 had a 5.0LX MerCruiser Alpha 1 Sterndrive - a 5 litre V8 petrol engine that develops 205 horsepower to be a mid-range unit for the boat.
Power steering keeps effort on the wheel light, and the hull is nicely responsive to directional and trim controls. With a new engine to be respected, the throttle was used carefully but a top speed of between 65 and 75 kph is likely. Cruising at 3,000 rpm was most pleasant and the 166-litre fuel tank would allow a reasonable range.
Accelerating from rest resulted in little bow rise, but it was necessary to have the Alpha 1 leg trimmed right in to avoid prop ventilation. The same was true for turning where the best (and quite usual) technique was to trim in the leg just before turning the wheel, and to then trim it back out as soon as the 230 was steady on its new course.
Running the 230 Sundancer out toward Sydney Heads encountered quite large swells topped by some wind induced chop. The hull handled the conditions admirably, landing softly and displaying plenty of forward buoyancy when sweeping down the face of the rollers. The chines pushed displaced waters away from the boat, and only an occasional spot of spray was caught by the wind to splatter the screen. The tabs were useful to keep the boat laterally balanced, although the 230 needs less trimming than most to stay level.
Back at the marina, the comparatively high helm seating with its unobstructed vision made it easier to position the boat whilst reversing into the Sundancer’s home berth. Directional control when going astern was good.
The hull undersides are conventional with a deadrise of 17 degrees on a sharp vee keel, devoid of any planing pad, and two planing strakes each side. The boarding platform projects out from the transom to partially conceal the Alpha 1 drive leg below.
The level of inclusions is high and provides good value in the pricing which starts from around $65,000 depending on power and options. The 230 is a versatile boat that would suit experienced boaters seeking a refined quality craft as well as first time buyers looking to try different aspects of having fun afloat. The accommodations allow six to eight people to enjoy the cockpit, and the two sleeping areas do mean that four adults could comfortably overnight on board. Extended trips or holidays for a couple or a family of four would be delightful with economical performance, relaxed cruising and easy handling.
Length: 7.06 metres
Beam: 2.43 metres
Draft: 0.84 metres
Weight (dry): 1,950 kilograms
Fuel: 166 litres
Water: 41 litres
Power: MerCruiser V8 205 hp
Top Speed: 75 kph (estimated)
Pricing: from $65,000
1996, August; Georges River, Sydney: It's tempting to classify this Brooker runabout as an excellent first boat for a young family, as indeed it is, but that really would be too sharp a focus on a craft that has broader appeal. This bright and breezy Brooker Sea-Al Runabout is a smart rig offering good value for money and plenty of fun for cruising, fishing and just lazing around.
I wouldn't be surprised to find some owners who have downsized from a bigger boat - they still want the fun of getting out on the water, but have decided they want to do that in a compact boat that's a real snap to handle in the water and on/off the trailer. It's also a good step-up for those coming from an open dinghy who are looking for either or both of a bit more space or a bit more style. And it's smart enough to attract a young blood who might want a racy speedboat but who doesn't (yet anyway) have the cash to buy and run a bigger boat with a more powerful engine.
The 4.7 metre Brooker is toward the top end of their range which covers a variety of styles from 2.1 metre dinghies through punt-style craft, centre-consoles and simpler runabouts up to their 5-metre cuddy cabin. The company, based in Sydney, exports to a number of countries and consequently has fairly high production volumes, and this helps in its objective to provide cost-effectiveness along with durability.
The driving position kept me happy at the wheel with an easy reach to the throttle. A small bulkhead was positioned such that I could hook my toes under it or brace my feet against it - both of which alternatives were relaxing and gave support when turning tightly. The floor just in front of the seats drops down a bit, and that gives an extra amount of legroom. Vision forward through the screen was clear and unrestricted. I'd have preferred some gauges to monitor engine operations, but at least there's lots of space to have some fitted. We used our hand-held GPS for speed readings.
Mounted on a half pod, the Brooker had a very smooth-running Mariner 40 which gave admirable performance to the hull with lively acceleration up on plane and pleasant cruising at about 40 kph. There was a bit of torque on the steering wheel, but that could be minimised by trimming the Mariner to its optimum position.
Turns in both directions were sharp and clean, with the hull coming around smoothly and with no ventilation on the prop. The Mariner was new and tight, but a short full throttle run had the GPS reading 52 kph which I thought was a good result for a 40 and I'm sure that, when run in, the Mariner would have the Brooker scooting along even faster.
There wasn't much bow rise under initial acceleration, so vision forward remained unimpaired as the Brooker slipped on plane. Using the Mariner's power trim made it easy to get the best performance out of the boat, and the power tilt was useful at the ramp. Trimmed right out at full throttle, there was a bit of porpoising, but a touch on the down trim control and the hull settled to a well-balanced attitude.
Response to the wheel was quick and quite precise. The water was very calm during our run, so we slopped up the surface with quick figure eights and then ran down the middle to find that the hull slipped easily through the turbulence without any dramas at all. Most importantly, the Brooker was good fun to drive.
Starting up the front there's a short foredeck with a good-sized anchor well complete with a solid tie-off for the end of the anchor line. Hand-rails either side of the deck are smaller than some but still big enough to give a secure grip when holding the boat alongside or when getting it on or off a trailer or beach. There is a small bow roller to guide the anchor line, and plates at the aft end of the rails are provided to mount navigation lights if you plan some after-dark running.
The screen has an opening centre panel to aid working the forward lines from inside the boat, but the top of the screen frame is fixed, so you have to duck under it before you can lean forward. I found that a bit tricky, but it's still a handy facility and you'd probably get used to it after a while.
There's quite a broad expanse of dash and, although our boat was bare in this department, there's lots of room to mount gauges and electronics if you want to do so, and you could position them so they'd be well clear of the wheel and in easy line of sight. The panel between the screen and the dash is flat enough to hold small odds and sods while you're out for the day, and a moulding running across the top of the dash forms a lip to help keep things from falling off. A lockable glovebox enables valuables to be kept out of sight.
The skipper and first mate have swivelling and upholstered bucket seats that I found comfortable and that were nicely positioned in relation to the wheel and to the side-mounted throttle and gear shift controls. Under the dash, and forward of it, the mini transverse bulkhead that I mentioned makes a good footrest and creates a storage area in the bow - just right for the lifejackets.
The floor is carpeted which improves appearance, makes it nice and soft under(bare)foot, and which provides a secure grip as you move around. Behind the seats is a big open area to keep things uncluttered, with side pockets to stow emergency paddles and other bits. On either side under the aft decking are two platforms, one each for the battery and oil container. A fuel tank sits neatly in the middle, and there's an optional removable aft lounge if you'd like more seating.
There's a good depth to the cockpit sides, so kids would feel safe (but keep the young ones in lifejackets all the time anyway), and grab rails run along the last metre or two of the gun'ls back to the transom. Both these and the forward rails act as tie-off points for mooring and anchor lines as there are no cleats or bollards. Boarding platforms project aft either side of the engine, and have curved rails to help you climb on board. Construction uses 1.6 mm alloy in the hull sides, and 2.5 mm in the bottom panels.
At rest, drifting and when idling along, the Brooker felt stable and secure. The cockpit is quite big for the size of boat, and gives a feeling of spaciousness. The painted hull looks smart, with the side colour flashes and the blue canopy brightening the appearance too.
Overall length: 4.65 metres
Beam: 1.95 metres
Weight (approx): 225 kgs boat only
Power: Outboard to 50 hp
Power as tested: Mariner 40 hp
Top Speed: 52 kph
2014, December; Broken Bay: This is a top line offshore fishing mini-battlewagon with all the experience that long-time builder Quintrex (since 1945) can pack into it. Matched with a potent new-release 250-hp Evinrude on the transom, it delivers impressive features and performance.
From the visual-appeal angle, it’s a personal thing of course, but I do like to see a bit of colour on a boat and this Quintrex 690 Trident not only offers some brilliant green graphics on its topsides, but they are matched by the exchangeable colour panels on the side of the mighty 250 hp Evinrude G2 outboard that dominates the view from astern.
A quick summary of the G2 will help position the engine in the context of this review of the Quinnie itself. Evinrude started the G2 program some five years ago and developed a totally new design. It retains only the V6 configuration and the basic injectors of the advanced direct-injection fuel delivery system that gave the first-generation E-Tec outboards such a revolutionary balance of performance, economy and environmental friendliness.
Essentially, only recently developed computer simulation programs enabled more precise evaluation of how the fuel-air mixture ignited inside the cylinder, and that led to new porting and ignition design for higher efficiency. The new injection/combustion design is called ‘PurePower Combustion’ and offers claimed improvements of up to 20% in torque and up to 15% in fuel economy over rival four-stroke outboards.
Practical aspects of owning the G2 Evinrudes have been considered too, with the first service not required until after 500 hours or 5 years operation; other neat touches are an integral oil tank that gives about 100 hours running and a tube running up from the gearbox into the engine area that allows easy checking of the gear oil.
Apart from these powerhead developments, the G2 outboards offer a stronger, simpler, cleaner mounting and rigging system, an hydrodynamically superior gearcase shape (it’s asymmetrical to offset engine/prop torque), lower-level water pickups for improved cooling, and integral hydraulic or power steering.
With initial G2 models offering power levels at 200, 225, 250 and 300 hp in a 3.4 litre 74-degree V6 configuration, the new Evinrudes also carry a striking external appearance that looks both aggressive and contemporary. The quite tall powerhead side panels are exchangeable and come in a variety of colours so you can match them for blending or contrast with your boat. Custom colours or graphics are possible too.
And that was done on this Quintrex with the green graphics of the hull extended and complemented by the green side panels of the outboard. The overall effect was quite an eye-catcher and typically draws admiration anywhere the boat goes. Of course, if you prefer a more traditional look for your boat, other panels will tone down the visual impact.
Spinning a four-blade 18-inch pitch prop, the 250-hp G2 fairly hurled the big Quintrex on plane and ran it out to an impressive 78.4 kph at 5,440 rpm. From an on-plane 37.8 kph at 3,000 rpm, the Evinrude gave particularly strong mid-range acceleration as the improved torque of the new powerhead design showed its mettle. Fast cruising at 65.8 kph and 4,500 rpm would run you home or out of trouble real quick, and at all speeds the steering was light and responsive.
The G2 comes with standard integrated hydraulic steering (about a $1,500 option for an add-on after-market equivalent) and is also available with optional power-assist for the hydraulics at about $500 (an after-market version could be around $4,000). This 250-hp G2 had the power-assist and it certainly made steering light and easy for such a high level of power. It still had a good level of ‘feel’ though, so you could sense the 690’s reaction as you carved through turns or just cruised along.
Swooshing through turns was the most fun though, and it was remarkable how well the hull, engine and prop partnered for turns that were far cleaner and tighter than I’d expected. There was no slipping or lurching even when I had the wheel held for exceptionally close turns; the prop held on perfectly with no ventilation and the hull retained its grip in quite extreme situations. That’s all and well for having fun, but it also means the overall rigging and set-up are excellent and give full confidence that the Quintrex would behave itself in just about any conditions. It’s one of those sought-for combinations where adverse circumstances would have the crew crying for mercy long before the boat.
The power-assist can be turned on and off and, even with it off, the ‘native’ hydraulic steering remained relaxed to use. On long days at the wheel, it would stay pleasurable to steer the Quinnie. The overall driving position was good too; the seat is adjustable fore/aft and has a flip-up bolster. Sliding the seat forward allowed me to sit back with my spine supported by the backrest whilst retaining a relaxed reach to the wheel. The throttle/shift controls were also well placed – and that remained true when I slipped the seat aft a bit and stood to drive for a while.
I prefer standing to drive in many conditions and, especially with a boat like the 690 that’s designed for offshore work in rougher waters, you can better brace yourself with your feet apart and your posterior firmly planted against the bolster when the boat is moving around as it reacts to swell and chop. Having all that power at my fingertips was re-assuring and would mean in coastal waters you could position the boat at any instant exactly where you wanted on a wave or when running a bar.
There was a pleasing response also to use of the G2’s trim; it wasn’t finicky at all and the hull would behave at just about any prop-thrust angle, but equally it wasn’t difficult to sense the angle that gave the best performance at various speeds. Helping to trim the boat, the 690 had a set of Volvo trim tabs fitted.
These work differently to most tabs in that they do not have the usual plates that extend laterally aft from the transom to form an extended running surface and that trim the boat by angling up and down. Instead, Volvo uses much smaller plates that extend vertically downward to deflect the water streaming back along the hull’s running surfaces. The deflection of each tab provides added lift that raises that side of the back of the boat, and pushes down the opposite bow side.
With either approach to trim tabs, you can quickly trim the boat side-to-side by lowering either tab. The Volvo tabs did the job well on the 690 and it quickly became an automatic reaction to use them to keep the boat level as the crew moved around or as the boat was affected by cross-winds. In combination with the G2 trim, you can keep the hull perfectly balanced in all conditions – and change it as often and as rapidly as required.
Visibility all round was good and the helm position was well protected behind a screen on top of the cuddy cabin. The dash panel was well laid out and featured a Lowrance HDS12 colour display which combined a GPS chart plotter and a fish-finder sonar - with optional (not fitted in this case) radar. It’s NMEA 2000 compatible and so can be integrated with other similar standard onboard systems.
To the right of that was a smaller Evinrude digital display which is also to NMEA 2000 standards. Evinrude offer these displays at various sizes – 3 inch (as on the 690), 4.3 inch and seven inch – and they can present either digital or analogue readings such as rpm, speed, engine water temperature and/or pressure, oil level, fuel consumption, engine trim, external air temperature, and even more including onboard engine diagnostics.
Both the skipper and first mate get comfortable seats that swivel and which are mounted on top of lockers that have recesses on their inner sides for items such as a fire extinguisher or EPIRB, and with drop-down hatches facing aft that reveal tackle storage drawers. Behind the seats, a large open cockpit has a non-slip patterned alloy sole with spacious storage side pockets and a large kill tank underneath a hatch at the rear of the floor.
Across the back is a clever arrangement that makes great use of the space. There’s a fold-away three-quarter-width lounge behind which is a large hatch to storage under the aft deck including access to the battery; above that is another useful open storage slot and then to starboard is an entry passage from the boarding platform that’s equipped with a drop-down swim ladder and grab rail.
Centrally above the aft deck is a bait prep workstation with five rod holders, and there are more holders in the side decks along with strong bollards in the transom quarters. A hatch in the port aft deck is for a live bait tank which features a clear viewing panel so you can readily check the condition of the bait from the cockpit. Throughout the 690 were plenty of storage spots including large compartments under the cabin floor where carpeted panels lift out for easy access.
The cabin on this 690 was bare although neatly finished with side storage pockets. There’s enough room for camping overnight or for shelter in bad weather – or for kids to rest or play. Long side ports admit plenty of light. A bimini above the front of the cockpit provided welcome shade, and a tubular targa arch carried a set of rocket launcher rod holders.
A centre screen section folds forward on top of a large hatch in the cabin roof that in turn hinges to starboard so you can quickly and safely move forward and handle mooring duties that were assisted on this 690 by a power anchor winch. The anchor locker is big enough for serious chain and rope lengths and the deck hardware upfront is strong and intelligently located.
The hull itself is made of serious stuff too with 5-mm plate for the bottomsides and 3-mm for the topsides. The stem carries a quite sharp entry to cut through the swells and pressed-in strakes and pronounced chines are key factors in the good handling. This is a big boat at just on seven metres and has high topsides with plenty of forward buoyancy for a safe, dry ride in most conditions.
Anglers will quickly identify and appreciate all the thoughtful touches that are either standard or available as options. To obtain the full details you really need to see the boat, so contact your nearest Quintrex dealer and discover how this famous Aussie boat builder really does live up to its tag line of ‘Boating Made Easy’.
SPECIFICATIONS: QUINTREX 690 TRIDENT
Length: 6.96 metres
Beam: 2.48 metres
Weight (boat only): 1,030 kgs
Capacity: 8 persons
Fuel capacity: 200 litres
Power: Evinrude G2 E-Tec 3 250 hp
Top Speed: 78.4 kph
©ACEA/ABNER KINGMAN. Two-time Americas Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill.
A culture of success on the water is supported by group ‘norms’ and requires team members to fully buy into the collective vision.
Harvard Business School Professor Richard Hackman (1) expresses what is now a widely held belief, that a vision or ‘compelling direction’ energises, orients and engages a team. Statements of such a vision or mission are commonly presented as an expression of a company or team’s culture. But when it comes to high-achieving teams on the water, it isn’t enough to simply have a stated vision; team members also need to fully buy into it.
Two-time America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill believes that a ‘successful culture’ is only achieved when the team’s vision is prioritised over the individual's ego, when ‘all actions and decisions are based on what will help the team win, regardless of who is on and off the boat or what role they are playing’.
The importance of this commitment to a collective vision is also evident in Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff’s (2) investigation of maritime disasters. They found that survivors who were able to ‘fight the mindset of individual self-preservation’ and commit themselves to the group’s collective survival drastically improve their odds. Tim Jarvis and his crew’s successful re-enactment of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous 1916 Southern Ocean voyage is another demonstration of commitment to group survival, with crew members willingly risking their own lives while helping to better the odds of the group’s collective survival.
When it comes to building commitment to the collective vision, both Jimmy Spithill and Clipper Race skipper Wendy Tuck suggest that the entire team’s involvement in the initial development of the vision is beneficial. The process of involving the entire team in the formation of a collective philosophy was also used by the successful 2003 America’s Cup challenger Team Alinghi (3), who prioritised this before their intensive training programme began. However, in circumstances when the collective development of the vision is not possible, such as the late induction of a new crew member, Jimmy suggests that it is still possible for the new member to ‘buy in’ if the team’s philosophy is well explained.
With a vision set and the team’s commitment to it established, culture is then reinforced through what Richard Hackman (1) describes as ‘group norms’, or the behaviours that are deemed acceptable. An example of the policing of such norms for Team Alinghi (3) was the policy of removing ‘high-spirted’ or ‘trash-talking’ sailors from the boat. Or, for Tim Jarvis, a committed work ethic and the constant re-evaluation of processes during expedition preparations were established norms.
A few words about this blog series:
Sailing, whether for survival or competition, is an unforgiving business. The teams that excel in such environments provide a multitude of learnings for leaders back on dry land. So through this blog series, I’ve set out to explore some of the most important and universally applicable leadership lessons from the oceans.
Based on existing research, interviews with some very well-credentialed sailors and my own observations, I’ll be posting weekly, covering trust, communication, diversity, culture, leadership styles and team formation. I wanted to include a breadth of insight from the different extremes of sailing, so you’ll be hearing from legendary America’s Cup winning skippers, a skipper charged with leading largely amateur crews through some of the world’s most dangerous oceans, and a man who re-enacted one of history’s greatest survival voyages.
Occasionally I still see some of the concepts that will be covered in this series – such as trust and diversity – considered ‘fluffy’, nice ideas, luxuries that are secondary to a team’s core business. So by showcasing their importance in such punishing, competitive, life-threatening, and typically masculine environments, I hope to prove their worth.
1. Richard Hackman, Leading Teams, 2002
2 .Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff, No Mercy – True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality, 2013
3. Wolfgang Jenewein and Christian Schmitz, Creating a High-Performance Team Through Transformational Leadership: The Case of Alinghi, 2007