Trade-a-Boat Blog - August 17, 2010

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Ralfy IV's big trip + cruising the Harbour with a pair of Princesses

Trade-a-Boat Blog - August 17, 2010
Trade-a-Boat Blog - August 17, 2010

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Welcome to our new Trade-a-Boat blog. It’s not before time. After all, no magazine crew in this island nation test drives as many boats as we do. Then there are the trips away for work and pleasure — Trade-a-Boat writers are boat owners who live the dream — the cruising destinations, the new-found backyard boltholes and the adventurers on new waterways. Which is to say nothing of our exciting projects like Ralfy IV.

In case you missed the boat, Ralfy IV is the cute name of our 1976 Mariner 760 project boat that we’re rebuilding, remodelling, repowering and will ultimately give away to one lucky reader. After back-loading Ralfy on a truck just before the Sydney Boat Show in late-July, our beloved boat is now at Maritimo’s sheds on the Gold Coast. The boat’s father and builder, Bill Barry-Cotter, has already jumped aboard and began his mental plans. Tradeaboat is now heading north for a meeting of minds and the ensuing planning of our rebuild project. Watch this space. We are about to get our hands dirty. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…
With spring in the air, the major east coast boat shows behind us, and rafts of new craft, we've been spending more time on the high seas than on terra firma. If pleasure boating is an economic if not fun barometer then clearly the worst of times are behind us. How else can you explains the amazing new boats making a splash in Australia this year and, moreover, the sales and sails. It does seem like those with deep pockets and the wherewithal to buy new boats are jumping back aboard. Some incredible deals from boat builders and importers have helped the market along.

So it was for the owner of the Fleming 65 long-range cruiser that we tested prior to the Sydney boat show. A West Australian of 79 years standing headed down from Hamilton Island to take delivery of his wonderful new boat. We met up with the chuffed man one stormy Sydney day back in July. Despite the towering waves, the boat and its owner were right at home. Last we saw of them they were making a beeline north.

A few days later we were battling big seas off Botany Bay in the ever-green Caribbean 35, now in MK III guise with sweeter mouldings and a new flybridge, and the new Caribbean 49 sister ship, which is just a huge amount of cruising boat for your buck. See issue 405 on sale September 1 for our sea trials on the unstoppable Fleming 65 and the new Caribbean 35.

Then things got even more hectic after the Sydney show when we did our best to catch all the cool cruisers and yachts as they headed for their new berths. The Darwin-based owners of the New Ocean 640 Sports Yacht, a new marque from Taiwan, had driven their Porsche from the Top End to take delivery of the boat in Sydney. He was taken by the build quality, she had lost too many friends in the past few years. So they bought their dreamboat and, like the aforesaid Fleming owner, high-tailed it back home on the ocean road (after our sea trial during a gale off Sydney).

Maritimo is another motorboat on the march these days and, just days later, we luxuriated aboard the new Maritimo C47 Sports Cabriolet, Bill Barry-Cotter’s first pod-driven boat, and a real winner thanks to its huge full-beam stateroom. Then came the big-little 440 Offshore Convertible, also with IPS but also an enclosed flying bridge, internal staircase, and three cabin layout. If you want to cruise the coast, the new Maritimo 53 Motor Yacht has longer legs and even greater comfort. Naturally, we headed offshore and had a whale of a time amid the breaching humpbacks heading north.

There have been Trade-a-Boat tests of the new Bavaria 38 sports cruiser with designer interior from BMW Designworks, the Boston Whaler 370 Outrage with triple 300hp Verado outboards, the Sea Ray 470 Sundancer with Zeus pod drives, and the Sea Ray 270/280 pocket cruiser. But the $8 million Princess V85-S (and 78 Motor Yacht sister ship with stabilisers that we used as a test and camera boat) takes the cake.

The highlight of our boat-test fest’ was a dawn assault on Sydney Harbour in this elegant pair of Princesses, sashaying before the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as a city of lights blared down behind in preparation for the office workers. We, instead, kicked back in toasty air-conditioned comfort and marvelled at the heady power of the twin 2400hp MTU engines on the big 85. We have some extraordinarily stirring video and photographs from this exclusive test. Keep an eye on Tradeaboat 406 for the test.

Meantime, your editor is heading for Queensland to meet with Bill Barry-Cotter and plan our project boat. Despite modest dimensions, our classic 1976 Mariner Pacer 760 is no less exciting. Before long, spring will have sprung and boats, big and small, will be gadding about our harbours, bays, rivers, and coast. I might even slip in a boat test on the Broadwater. After all, there are oodles of new craft to tempt you afloat this summer.

It’s rich pickings in powerboats. And the crop of hot new yachts has got more comfortable than ever before. Keep your dreams alive.

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