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What better time than now to escape winter in a long-range motoryacht. DAVID LOCKWOOD rounds up 10 of the best passagemakers that the <I>Trade-a-Boat</I> team has tested in recent years


To buy or build a seaworthy boat, pack your belongings aboard, and sail off into the sunset is one of life’s great dreams. Mosey about the Med’, cruise the Caribbean, and most definitely embark on a Pacific odyssey.

Take inspiration from Herman Melville or Joseph Conrad. Or maybe Jessica Watson. Or go no farther than the unchartered islands of the Great Barrier Reef, where the fishing and diving really are the stuff of dreams.

Naturally, you need a serious boat for reeling in the sea miles, beating back the ocean, and living aboard. In fact, what you need is
a private adventure cruiser, a purpose-built passagemaker kitted out with everything including a deeper level of thinking than you will find on your average off-the-shelf production craft.

Trade-a-Boat has tested rafts of serious passagemakers in the last little while —
those grey nomads have been keeping the dream alive —
and as ever, we’ve kept pace with the big-name world-cruising boats that have gone the distance.

Here are 10 exemplar liveaboard boats built for the seven seas that have proven their mettle miles from care. Cast the lines and live the dream. Bon voyage…


About: $3.8 million loaded
Range: 1500nm at 9 to 10kts
Best features: Proven world cruiser with superior seakeeping and engineering systems; great finish and ambience for living aboard; sought-after on the preloved market

UK-bred Tony Fleming likes nothing better than to test his boats. First it was a 20,000nm-plus odyssey around the North and South Americas in his namesake transoceanic cruiser, the Fleming 65 (hull number one), dubbed Venture. Considered by Fleming as a "voyage of personal discovery", that adventure led to the finely tuned Venture II, (65, hull number 24) upon which he negotiated the West Coast of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and Faroe Islands before arriving in Iceland just after the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano spewed forth its plume of ash last year.

But Graham Young (80) is a young-at-heart local cruising buff who is also living his dream. He has owned a Swan 53, regarded as the cream of cruising yachts, then a Fleming 55 and now a Fleming 65. Hull number 25 was the next boat off the Taiwanese yard’s floor after Fleming’s aforesaid craft, but each boat is uniquely geared for its liveaboard owner. And with more than 200 Flemings cruising the world today, the long-range boats are tried-and-tested.

With 6435-litre diesel capacity, the Fleming 65 has a range of 1500nm at its hull speed of 9 to 10kts. That’s easily Sydney to Cairns or Lizard Island. But the Fleming 65 is no slouch, either. Flat out, the semi-displacement hull hits 20kts during our sea trials. At more than 300lt/h, you won’t run those twin 800hp common rail engines that hard for long. But the turn of speed will be appreciated when crossing bars, where you should sit on the back of a wave, and perhaps for out-running storms.

Water is carried in 1550lt wing tanks but our Fleming 65 also had its own 100lt/h watermaking unit. As for power, the boat is a real home-away-from-home. Although there are twin Onan generators, high-capacity alternators let you engage the reverse-cycle air-conditioning in the pilothouse without them, while twin 3000W inverters run the fridges, cooktop elements and entertainment systems at night on anchor when in silent ship mode. Your neighbours at the anchorage will wave.

Underway, the Fleming 65 is also uncannily quiet and vibration free thanks to underwater exhausts and a special drive system that allows the engines to sit on soft mounts. The shafts spin in oil-filled tubes and there are rope-cutters before the four-blade propellers in case you pick-up a lobster pot mid-passage. The owner added a CCTV system and for night boating, a FLIR thermal imaging camera that makes traps, trawlers and tinnies show-up on the screen as though its daytime.

There’s just so much to the Fleming 65 and its sister ships that you could write a book about them. Indeed, this is pretty much what founder Fleming has done with his adventures in his 65, dispatching newsletters, running blogs, compiling DVDs and feature stories. A boat for the motorcruising connoisseur.

Price as tested: $3.8 million
Material: Solid handlaid GRP
Type: Semi-displacement modified monohull
LOA: 21.7m
Beam: 5.7m
Draft: 1.5m
Weight: 60,550kg (dry)
Berths: 6 + crew quarters

Fuel: 6435lt
Water: 1514lt
Engines: 2 x 800hp MAN R6-800

Details: Fleming Yachts. Contact: Egil Paulsen. Phone: 0414 233 030. Fax: (02) 8920 1411. Email: Website:


About: $4 million loaded
Range: 800nm-plus at 10.5kts
Best Features: Great motion through the water; handy coastal-cruising range; capacities for true liveaboard boating; wonderful attention to detail; full-beam stateroom with king-sized bed; famous badge with good resale value

The Grand Banks 65 Aleutian is a first-class passagemaker designed to wing it to far-flung corners of the globe. Aboard this baby, you get to keep company with cruising buffs who travel first class, in high-style on the high seas. So long as you have a cool $4 million in your kick, why subject yourself to anything less?

Since 1964, soon after American Marine launched the first timber Grand Banks 36 trawler, these revered passagemakers have been coveted by wayfarers who love nothing better than to reel in sea miles and discover new places. However, it took more than 30 years for the Malaysian and Singaporean yards to answer the call for a bigger class of boat.

The Aleutian series is named after a faraway archipelago of 300 islands in southwest Alaska kissed by the far North Pacific Ocean, with the Bering Sea nearby and the Russian Komandorski Islands just a Vodka bottle throw away. There are snow-capped mountains, 57 active volcanos, whales and seals, great kelp forests, and salmon that spawn in the sapphire gin-clear streams. Chickens are raised in covered barns and the only crop is potato.

Such are the destinations on the horizon for those aboard the new Aleutian 65. The boat enjoyed a world release at the 2008 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show after which we leapt aboard. She replaced the inaugural Aleutian 64 launched to great fanfare Up Over in 2001, a boat that introduced the pilothouse genre for GB and soon won adoring fans.

The GB 65 is certified by Lloyds to CE Category A for ocean travel in weather and waves to four metres and above. There’s a forest of warm honey-coloured and homely Burmese teak joinery, but she takes the relative brave step of introducing freestanding furniture to the family. The Tom Fexas-designed hull remains, but it's been stretched by an extra 30cm to provide a bigger cockpit for doing what we cruising types love best — eating King Neptune's offerings in the great outdoors.

There are twin wing doors blocking off the deep bulwarks from the cockpit, thereby providing extra weather protection for your lunch setting — doubly so with the clear curtains scrolled down — and improved engineroom access through a dedicated side door in the cockpit that leads down into accommodating crew quarters.

A watertight door opens into the engineroom, with alternate access from the amidships stateroom, while the boat comes standard with all manner of essential cruising gear such as a separate crew cabin, washer and dryer, and popup vertical range hood in the galley counter. The optional pushbutton drop-down overhead cupboards was another first, designed to maximise the gourmand's views when cooking up a storm.

Naiad stabilisers with fins, each measuring 9ft², will help keep the 65 on an even keel and the soup in the pot. A pack of wild horses by way of twin 1015hp Caterpillar C18 engines give a 23-knot top speed and an 18 to 20kts cruise in case you really want to, well, fly. The standard engines are detuned C18Ds that produce 875hp. Either way, you get Twin Disc gearboxes with electronic shifts, a matching remote Power Commander so you can dock from the cockpit or aft bridge, and hydraulic bow and (optional) stern thrusters to shunt the 50-tonne ship off the fuel wharf.

The beauty of a floating house like this is that you can drive from the pilothouse while living aboard. The central helm seat was set before an impressive dash with two more Raymarine E120s, autopilot, VHF radio, twin ST290 multifunction displays, twin Maxwell chain counters, Naiad hydraulic thruster controls, twin Cat displays, Quickshift throttles, and remote Smart Controller with extra-long lead.

Behind the helm, the galley stirs the imagination and some pots. The Corian counters will come in handy for making pasta or pizza, while the four-burner induction cooktop, combination convection microwave oven, and dishwasher are from Miele. There are twin Vitrifrigo fridge drawers and separate freezer drawer, trash compactor and InSinkErator, and twin deep sinks. And let's not forget pushbutton vertical range hood and retractable overhead storage cabinets — cupboards aplenty, too.

As with all pilothouse boats, the accommodation is forward, down six steps that aren't too steep, and through three cabins each with an en suite. Layout options include moving beds about or, a preference for some, creating an office below decks. Personally, I'd rather work from the dinette before the stirring views.

The owners stateroom is decadent, as it should be, with a king-sized bed lying expectantly, but to starboard and athwartships, which is a little different. The VIP guest's cabin is forward with an island double bed on the centreline. The third cabin has twin single beds and another private en suite.

With 8328lt in her belly, you can most certainly go places in the 65 Aleutian. According to my calculations, maximum displacement speed of 10.5kts at 1270rpm costs 90lt/h. Leaving 10 per cent of the fuel supply in reserve, your safe passagemaking range is more than 800nm uphill.

Like a Rolls-Royce on sea, the new Aleutian 65 continues the GB tradition of building first-class cruising boats. The motion with the stabilisers deployed is to die for or, rather, liveaboard. And with the docking remote, dab hands will be able to berth this baby on their own.

Price as tested: About $4 million w/ upgraded Caterpillar C18 diesel engines, and options
Materials: GRP hull, and foam-cored decks and grid stringer system
Type: Modified deep-vee monohull with keel
Length overall: 19.91m
Waterline length: 18.42m
Beam: 6.05m
Draft: 1.63m
Weight: 48,308kg (dry w/ standard engines)
Berths: 8
Fuel: 8328lt
Water: 1666lt
Engines: Twin 1015hp Cat C18
Details: Grand Banks Australia, Suite 1A The Boardwalk, 1 Rialto Quay Drive, Hope Island, QLD, 4212. Phone: (07) 5530 8872. Website:


About: $4.25 million loaded
Range: 3200nm at 9kts
Best features: Big cockpit for fishing and diving; great engineering; split-chine hull that travels fast or far and slow

Captain Glen Woodbridge’s eyes light-up when he unfurls the charts at the breakfast tables. But they don’t tell the full story. It’s only when he pulls out the Google Earth Pro aerial photographs that the unchartered coral atolls and islands in the Swains Group, 140nm off Gladstone, reveal their beauty and, ahem, potential treachery.

Parts of The Swains are still unchartered, necessitating that the adventurous skipper fly-by-the-seat-of-his pants, with the aid of aerial maps these days, and a good watch to ensure you’re safely anchored well before nightfall. When you’re this far from terrestrial home, a lot else can go wrong, which is why the Hampton 750 Endurance has redundancy systems for its complex engineering, watermaking and power-making equipment.

Although you must fish by strict size and bag limits, the outer reefs in The Swains are teeming with tasty fish. This is why refrigeration comes in spades on the purpose-built Hampton 750 Endurance passagemaker. The tender is a big tinnie for catching even bigger fish, the barbecue is a $10,000 outdoor kitchen for cooking up a storm, which is to say nothing of the stabilisers that ensure you sleep soundly after a long day of watersports.

As Captain Woodbridge says, people pay a fortune to travel to remote locations, overseas and abroad, yet some of the most pristine, bountiful and stirring destinations lie right on our doorstep — or at least that of the Hampton Endurance 750. Having proved its mettle on a number of adventure trips, this long-range liveaboard cruiser was put up for sale with an asking price is $3.85 million through Leigh-Smith Cruiser Sales. It originally cost about $4.25 million fully loaded.

Cruising options fitted to the test boat included Raymarine E140 hybrid touchscreens with GPS-plotter (split into two independent systems), 72nm and 32nm radar systems, depthsounder with dual transducers, VHF and HF Icom radios, dual M9 satellite TV with Foxtel, telephone/data facilities for use with wireless laptop, redundancy systems (for fresh and seawater pumps, livebait pumps, hydraulic pumps and engine fuel filters), Hynautic fully hydraulic steering with inbuilt redundancy system, Onan 23.5kW and 17kW generators.

There were also TRAC hydraulic stabilisers, Idromar 130lt/h fully automatic watermaker, RFD 8-man liferaft, Steelhead 1500lb hydraulic davit, Quintrex 4.7m tender with 70hp Yamaha outboard, Caribe IRB with 15hp Yamaha outboard, dive compressor and dive gear (by 4 sets), granite galley benches, marble-lined bathrooms, custom-made wine racking and refrigerated storage, Gaggenau outdoor barbecue and steamer, upgraded refrigeration system, Geneico LED lighting, and more.

Meantime, we tested a subsequent Hampton Endurance 750 Skylounge, with extended enclosed flying bridge, in the last issue of Trade-a-Boat. It was a no-less capable passagemaker, priced at $4.325 million with all the long-range liveaboard gear, including twin 873hp Caterpillar C18 ACERT engines that give a stunning 3200nm range at 9kts. The owners plan to range throughout the Pacific and along the Australian coastline.

Price as tested: $4.25 million
Material: Handlaid fibreglass with vinylester resin for the first five layers, two layers of Kevlar chine to chine and three layers of Kevlar in the forward collision zone
Type: Split chine monohull
LOA: 24.75m
Beam: 5.69m
Draft: 1.52m
Weight: 50,450kg (dry)
Berths: 8 (inc. crew quarters)

Fuel: 11,400lt
Water: 1893lt
Engines: 2 x 873hp Caterpillar C18 ACERT

Details: Leigh-Smith Cruiser Sales, Box 1, 76-84 Waterway Drive, Gold Coast City Marina, Coomera, QLD, 4209. Phone: (07) 5502 5866; 0408 758 88. Fax: (07) 5502 5832. Email: Website:


About: $US1.05 million plus duty and GST
Range: 1390nm at 9kts
Best Features: Efficient full displacement hull with vee’d aft sections and a sharp entry for a smooth ride; bilge shape and ballast to dampen rolling motion; solid engineering and great access; functional foredeck; bullet-proof construction, and liveability.

We haven’t tested a Kadey-Krogan —
yet —
but the namesake trawlers are a big hit among discerning American motorcruising buffs, completing many a long voyage, winning accolades and attracting serious liveaboard boaters. The big news is that the badge finally has some local representation here following a joint venture on the international sales front.

Outer Reef Yachts of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, whose 70 is included hereabouts, and Kadey-Krogen Yachts of Stuart, Florida, entered into an agreement in which Outer Reef Yachts will represent Kadey-Krogen via its established international sales and service locations.

"With Outer Reef offices and service centers in Sydney, Australia, and seven locations throughout Europe, Kadey-Krogen is poised to hit the ground running as we launch into the international market. Partnering with a company with an established international sales and service network made good business sense for us, but it was even more important to find a company like Outer Reef that shares our vision of customer service," says John Gear, president of Kadey-Krogen Yachts.

"We see the representation of Kadey-Krogen Yachts as a great opportunity to offer a very high-quality product to our international clientele in the under 60ft range, a size range that Outer Reef Yachts currently does not offer. Kadey-Krogen is synonymous with high-quality and exceptional service, a characteristic that embodies the Outer Reef philosophy and business model," says Jeff Druek, president and CEO of Outer Reef Yachts.

Kadey-Krogen Yachts currently builds long-range trawler yachts from 39 to 58ft in pilothouse and trideck configurations. The company built its first boat, the legendary 42, in 1976. Eventually, there were 206 of these boats built before the moulds were scrapped in 1998. More than 550 Kadey-Krogens are on the water today.

The new Kadey-Krogen 48 North Seat AE, which is short for Advanced Ergonomics, is arguably the most interesting boat in the range today. The trawler was built on the back of customer feedback to provide hitherto new levels of user-friendliness and liveaboard comfort.

As with its predecessor, the Kadey-Krogen 48ft North Sea —
it became the yacht of choice for experienced trans-Atlantic voyagers and passagemakers —
the new 48 AE offers a high standard of liveability in the trawler market.

The fully covered aft deck leads to the saloon where either an L- or U-shaped settee is starboard, with an expandable table that raises or lowers for dining or cocktails, says the builder. The expanded galley has household-size appliances complemented by a nearly floor-to-ceiling pantry.

Moving up to the pilothouse there are real steps, deep and wide, with a rock-solid banister for safety. The ergonomic application continues through the pilothouse and out the portside welded aluminium weather-tight doors leading to the boat deck and up to the flybridge via moulded steps with accompanying handrail.

Owners have a choice of two- or three-cabin arrangements with the master forward to maximise light and ventilation. The starboard cabin in either arrangement has an inbuilt desk that can double as an office. Two heads are standard, each with a separate shower stall.

The engine/machinery room is ventilated by two axial fans with moisture eliminators. At 7kts, the single 201hp Tier II John Deere diesel engine offers a safe working range of more than 3000nm at 7kts, says Kadey-Krogen. At 9kts, the boat will cover 1390nm.

Price as tested: POA in USD
Material: Deckhouse and hull topsides are of cored laminates for reduced weight, lower centre of gravity, thermal insulation, and strength. Solid fibreglass hull underbody for robustness and longevity. Hulls are reinforced with a unique aramid/fibreglass mat containing the same fibre used to give body armour "bullet-proof" capability.
Type: Full-displacement hull
LOA: 16.06m
Beam: 5m
Draft: 1.5m
Weight: 25,606kg (half load)
Ballast: 2000kg (lead)
Berths: 7 + 2/3 crew in separate quarters

Fuel: 3785lt
Water: 1514lt
Engine: 201hp Tier II John Deere 6068TFM75
Details: Outer Reef Yachts, Quays Marina, 1856 Pittwater Road, Church Point, NSW, 2105. Phone: Andrew Coffey on 0416 045 142. Email: Website


About $2.86 million fully loaded in 2007, some $2 million now. Test boat for sale second-hand for $1.7 million.
Range: 1100nm-plus at 9kts
Best features: A true long-range liveaboard built to the highest standards; ability to outrun a storm and cruise at 18 to 20kts; abundant outdoor and indoor living areas on a huge 57-footer by any measure; timeless and tasteful teak interior

A sea chest — a giant central intake for all your raw-water pumps that won't get blocked by weed or jellyfish — is just one feature that separates the Marlow from your average pleasureboat. And the more you look into this well-thought-out boat and the reams of literature supporting it, the more ready you become to set sail or cruise.

Following the release of the impressive Marlow 70E in 2006, the 57 Classic tested in 2007 was considered by us as a more manageable owner-driver cruiser that a couple with itchy feet could maintain. While big enough to cross oceans and cruise around Australia, it's not so big that you won't want to take it out on weekends with the family.

Sidepower bow and stern thrusters (hydraulic on 78-footers and above) make decamping a snap and they are part of a separate remote aft docking centre in the cockpit. This, among many other things, will appeal to the retirees for whom this boat is obviously pitched.

Hard chined, the hull can be driven as fast or slow as time and the depth of your pockets allow. Motor options range from the base twin 575hp Caterpillar C9s to twin 715hp Caterpillar C12s (as per the demo boat), all the way to 1015hp C18s for the American market. But even with the twin 715s the boat gets up and boogies, clocking a top speed of more than 20kts and, during sea trials, surfing to 26kts.

Not that high speed is the intent of the Marlow Explorers. The boats are more about savouring the comforts. Spanning eight classically-styled motoryachts from 53 to 82ft, the Marlow Explorers are the brainchild of David Marlow, 68, an American cruising buff whose many feats include selling more Grand Banks than any other dealer in America, retiring at age 43, and returning to make his dreamboats. He used naval architect Doug Zurn to help with the hull shapes.

After searching the world for a suitable site Marlow settled on Xiamen in China, which is about 800km north of Hong Kong. The yard was built from the ground up, with up to 500 employees making about 20 Marlows in a good year. The boats can be built to Lloyds Certification Ocean Class Category One, which is for deep ocean waters far from a safe port and in winds of Force Nine (strong gales to 47kts) and waves to more than five metres. The 57 Classic here was built to ABYC, CE and Bureau Veritas, with Lloyds certification and the paperwork an option.

Marlows are built from just three major moulds for the hull, deck and liner; using Kevlar, vinylester resin, closed-cell Corecell foam and vacuum bagging. A Marlow Explorer struck a semi-submerged ferrocement boat at 22kts, but damage was limited to the leading edge of the strut keels and repairs were effected in 24 hours, boasts the yard’s blurb.

Instead of a central keel, the two so-called Velocijet Strut Keels on each Marlow hull act like feathers on an arrow. Together they protect the running gear and bearings, which is important when cruising in skinny waterways where the boat draws 1.63m, while aiding tracking and directional stability, reducing rudder size, dampening roll and pitch, and reducing wake and drag, claims Marlow.

What we can say for certain is the 57 Classic certainly tracked well offshore and didn't bury its bow downsea at displacement speeds like some go-slow boats we've driven. The water also peeled off the bow for a dry ride in the five-star pilothouse, behind 16mm-thick laminated armour-plate glass panes and pantograph wipers, it was all smooth sailing. Besides the keels there are half tunnels to lower shaft angles and a flat run aft for lift.

Interestingly, Marlow uses Aquadrive marine couplings, a system that claims to reduce noise by up to 50 per cent and vibration by up to 95 per cent. And, with that, it can use soft engine mounts to further dampen the Cats, which were indeed purring rather than pounding. The Northern Lights gennie was quiet, too, and most of the plumbing lines enter a common outlet on the port and starboard side, lessening the need for skin fittings.

Back aft in the lazarette is a crew or kids quarters, with two bunks, a microwave oven, TV/DVD/CD and fridge, plus a Vacuflush loo, extractor fan, storage for long-term provisions and one of the boat's many ducted-vacuum outlets. Hey, I'd be happy living back here. The pump room, meanwhile, is back under the accommodation in the bow, but even it has teak trim, a light and ventilation.

Things get even more interesting when you look inside, with details from grain-matched Burmese teak joinery —cherrywood, maple and birdseye optional, but specify it up front as each log is specially milled — to a dedicated biscuit bin in the galley with heat lamp to stop the dreaded soggies, a humidor for the Cuban cigars, and hatches that grant access to every single servicing item and wire. Marlow has made doubly sure of that.

The three cabins and two heads are all forward down a starboardside companionway leading off the pilothouse. There's a small foyer at the foot of the steps with a Miele washer and dryer, and clever double doors to the twin-bunk cabin immediately ahead, adding to the sense of space here.

This third cabin, whose bunks are gargantuan, has a dresser that can be used as an office, which is what many Americans do. The VIP cabin up front features an island berth and headroom is huge. The full-beam, timber-planked master cabin is back aft, featuring a queen bed with innerspring mattress traced by a forest of teak joinery including hanging space, drawers, a hive of hatches and oodles of room to stow clobber. Headrooom is a high point.

However handy this boat's 20-knot top speed and 18-knot fast cruise may be in adverse weather, or a bar crossing, the Marlows are built for long-range cruising foremost. Think port-to-port along the coast and many an island odyssey in-between. With 6041lt of fuel and a displacement speed of about 9kts, where the motors are loping along at 1160rpm and sipping 44lt/h in total, the boat has a safe range in excess of 1100nm in one hit.

Price as tested: The Marlow Explorer 57 Classic, hull No. 14, sold for $2.86 million fully optioned and cruise ready
Material: Vacuum-bagged hull and deck with Kevlar and closed-cell foam coring
Type: Monohull with half prop tunnels and twin strut keels
Length overall: 20.19m
Beam: 5.5m
Draft: 1.63m
Weight: 37,500kg (dry w/ standard motors)
Berths: 8 + 3
Fuel: 6041lt
Water: 833lt + 235lt drinking water + desal
Engines: Twin 715hp Caterpillar C12s
Supplied by: David Ratcliff, Explorer Marine Australia, North Narrabeen, NSW, 2101. Phone: 0408 405 065. Website:


About $1 million
Range: 5000nm at 6kts
Best Features: Fully equipped go-anywhere ice-strengthened exploration vessel built to our own adventure writer, Don McIntyre’s exacting standards.

The American owner of the Seahorse yard (, Bill Kimley, had been in China since the 1980s and with his Chinese wife, Stella, they knew what they were doing. So began an interesting relationship over the next three years, which included 15 visits to the country and around 45,000 man-hours building what has now become our own prototype of the McIntyre 50 Motor Sailor.

Don McIntyre’s boat dubbed, appropriately we think, ICE is the culmination of 30 years experience, with the new objective being to have a boat that can truly go anywhere, anytime, in five-star comfort, carrying plenty of toys, with just Don and wife Margie or a bunch of friends.

Among the "Duckers" (a cult following of those who have, or dream of having, a Diesel Duck built by Seahorse Marine), ICE has attracted a lot of interest. More commonly, people are just amazed at the systems and features. Often DDs are the essence of simplicity and built in someone’s backyard. With SHM you get a lot of boat for your buck and it will include a huge standard inventory.

The McIntyre 50MS is nearly double the price of a standard DD462 but even with all the mods, ICE remains incredible value for money. For 29 years in the marine industry, Don’s always said: "You get what you pay for" and in this case, you get a bit of him thrown in! There are no options on the McIntyre 50MS — it is all included, turnkey (except for the toys and electronics). Don will personally supervise construction with an independent surveyor and you will get an oceangoing SUV.

George Buehler is the master of simple, honest, solid passagemakers, with all the information at Diesel Ducks have made and continue to make some incredible voyages all over the world. I like everything about their heavy displacement and full-bodied design that carries the beam forward and aft. The huge buoyancy forward creates plenty of lift without being jerked up by extreme flare. I call it a modern fishing boat that’s hard to call a "she", as "it" is more akin to a workboat than a graceful yacht. Oh, a five-star workboat mind you, built like a ship and to megayacht standards. All 40 tonnes of it!

Ice strengthening came easy for this hull, as scantlings are way oversize from the start. Only the second highest grade of certified steel available in China is used (the highest is reserved for the military!). When the structure is complete, all welding is X-rayed by the China Ship Classification Society (CCS is equivalent to Lloyds), who also carries out a full stability check when launched. ICE is completely self-righting through 360 degrees.

Inside, there’s solid teak, hand-built with real care by craftsmen, insulated to Antarctic standards, with the three reverse-cycle air-conditioners, diesel central heating and engine-driven hot-air blowers to cover it all. Ultra leather and laminated foam keep you comfy and there’s enough storage space to supply a family for a year. You could let anyone loose with a sledgehammer inside this boat and it would take them some time to damage it.

The pilothouse defines the motorsailor and the McIntyre 50MS has an impressive one. You can cruise along in the helm chair with the windows, hatches, doors open, listening to music, or button everything down to crash through the worst of it happening before you on the other side of the glass. You are not in the bilge down below, which is the case on most yachts, and you are not in the cockpit getting wet. The chart table is big and will hold anything you need for a circumnavigation.

King in the engineroom is the 150hp freshwater-cooled turbocharged John Deere engine matched to a 3:1 Twin Disc gearbox. The drive-chain includes a PVC flex coupling to cover the ultimate prop ice strike, then a constant velocity joint and thrust bearing to help any alignment issues, all on a 2in shaft through a PPS dripless shaft seal. Start-up can be done from the helm position or in the engineroom to begin the engine checks.

Supplied by Allyacht Spars in Queensland, the mast is built to Southern Ocean specifications, double sleeved to the spreaders and designed for easy handling with a furling boom and batten cars/lazyjacks on the mizzen. Steps and a crow’s nest are good for The Reef, ice or just pure fun! One person can handle every aspect of this efficient sail plan. With only two tonnes of lead in the keel, ICE is incredibly stiff.

If you have never sailed with stabilisers before you don’t know what you are missing. They are great. These are exactly the same as used on Nordhavn and most other world-travelling trawler yachts. Jointly engineered by Allyacht Spars and SHM to my specifications, they are easy to launch and recover. When deployed the ‘Fish’ create drag costing less than half a knot, but the comfort factor is extreme. At anchor they will kill all rolling, so life is good!

Don says cruising is all about people, places and toys! "I have a big dive compressor, four complete dive sets and six cylinders (the dive buckets fit in the rack on the aft cockpit cover), underwater communications and metal detectors, a big black Zodiac, two long boards, a Walker 10 sailboat, inflatable kayak, folding bikes and my own Polaris flying Inflatable amphibious boat. (Google Polaris FIB). I hang the Polaris in the aft davit and then fit a second lower davit for the Zodiac. Did I mention the ice-cream maker?" enthuses the adventurer.

Price as tested: About $1 million cruise ready
Material: Certified steel with five epoxy coatings, filled and faired
Type: Chine hull, full-keel troller concept
Length overall: 15.55m
Beam: 4.75m
Draft: 1.85m
Weight: 41,000kg (fully loaded)
Berths: 6 + 2
Fuel: 7500lt
Water: 1000lt (plus desalinator)
Engine: 150hp John Deere 4045TFM
Details: Ocean Frontiers Pty Ltd, Hobart, TAS, 7051. Phone: (03) 6229 5460. Email:


From: POA in USD
Range: 3800nm at 9.5kts.
Best Features: True transoceanic passagemaker with serious sea miles under its keel; superb engineering and integrity; great backing, owner’s club, and resale.

Nordhavn is synonymous with transoceanic cruising. The trawler-style boats are built by Pacific Asian Enterprises in Taiwan, which has put more than 500 yachts on the water today. Underscoring the boats’ seaworthiness is the feat of a 2001-model Nordhavn 46 called Egret, which this year became the seventh of the specialist trawler-yacht brand to circumnavigate the globe, and the first small production powerboat to pass below the five Great Capes of the Southern Ocean.

Owned and operated by Scott and Mary Flanders, Egret arrived at the Canary Islands late in the evening on Thursday, February 10, 2011 — four years and five months after departing Gran Canaria bound for great adventure. And what an adventure it has been. That the Flanders did and saw things that one only dreams of — or is hardly even capable of dreaming of — is an understatement. Then again, Nordhavns are known for adventure. Vitamin king Marcus Blackmore is the latest local owner last seen diving off his Nordhavn 76 in Tonga.

Of course, few people have ever circumnavigated the planet — let alone in a production powerboat. But to our knowledge, Egret is just the tenth production powerboat to accomplish the task. And seven of those boats were Nordhavns. The Flanders world-odyssey took 1596 days between departing and returning to Gran Canaria. In fact, since taking delivery of the boat 10 years ago, they have amassed nearly 10,000 hours on the engine.

The Nordhavn 46 is no longer in production, although the yard offers a wide range of long-range trawlers from 40 to 120ft. Blackmore’s aforesaid 76 is an interesting example of these transoceanic motoryachts. An interior decorator was commissioned to up the degree of style most megayachts are known for — including crown mouldings, granite, leather, well-engineered lighting, and the finest appliances. At the same time, numerous handrails, half-inch tempered glass windows, watertight doors and bulkheads ensure safe operation offshore.

Standard on the 76 is chilled water air-conditioning, TRAC stabilisers, bow and stern thrusters, Marquipt davit, wing engine, dry exhaust, windlass and ground tackle, and a lot more. Simply add your electronics package, tenders on deck, personal affects and you’re ready to go.

The highly developed standard AC and DC electrical systems allow for semi-automatic operation of this feature-packed vessel by a small crew or even one couple. The standard is a single main 535hp MTU Series 60 with a 25,000-hour life expectancy. Dry exhaust and keel cooling are standard as is the Lugger 668 wing engine. The 76 is also available in a twin-engine configuration with twin keels and protection for the shafts and propellers.

Another choice that the buyer of a 76 is given is whether or not to have a bulbous bow or conventional bow. The hull mould has two different bow configurations that are interchangeable and set-up prior to hull lamination. With 15,500lt of fuel, the 76 has a range of between 3800 to 2400nm at 9.5 to 10.5kts. The N76 comes with a 14-page standard equipment list that includes products from Bose, RCL, Sony, Sub Zero, Thermadore, PCM, Exalto, Bosh, Cantilupi, Carlisle & Finch, Glendenning, Charles, Grohe, and more.

Price as tested: POA in USD
Material: Handlaid solid-fibreglass construction with cored cabin sides and deck
Type: Displacement hull with prop tunnel and stabilisers
LOA: 23.24m
Beam: 6.4m
Draft: 2.34m
Weight: 114,300kg (dry)
Berths: 6/8 and optional crew quarters
Fuel: 15,5201lt
Water: 3028lt
Engines: 535hp MTU Series 60
Details: Nordhavn Australia, Level 24, AMP Place, 10 Eagle Street, Brisbane, QLD, 4000. Phone: 1300 783 010. E-mail: Website:


From $US2.54 million ex-duty and GST
Range: 2800nm at 9 to 10kts
Best features: Semi-custom boat built to 2B survey for pleasureboating and serious business; huge-volume 70 for living aboard; loaded standard boat; strong product backing

A relative new player in the expanding pilothouse motoryacht market, Outer Reef builds a range of 58- to 115-foot semi-custom boats pitched chiefly at the American market, with various cockpit and layout, plus enclosed-bridge options. The factory is in Kaohsiung, the major manufacturing and shipbuilding centre of Taiwan. But where other more established boatbuilders go about modernising old designs, Outer Reef starts with a carte blanche and creates what could be considered modern classics with all the latest cool kit.

The Outer Reef 70 we tested was built to 2C survey as a try-before-you-buy charter boat operating out of Cairns and eventually the Kimberly (see To this end, the boat was the full package with everything from watermaker, twin generators, extra refrigeration, satcoms, wirelesss internet and Austar TV, as well as a full armoury of fishing gear, dive compressors and tanks, 5m side-console tinnie tender for barra fishing, Hobie pedal-powered kayak for ’yak fishers, and loads more.

Power came from a pair of 503hp Caterpillar C9 ACERT diesel engines that give a cruising range of more than 2500nm at 9kts. Top speed of 13kts means this is more of a long-range displacement boat than sprinter. The hull performed smoothly and quietly thanks to Outer Reef’s patented quiet spray rails, which also apparently stop that irritating and sleep depriving "slop slop" when anchored or moored.

"She showed no hint of slamming in the short, sharp swells and when running abeam, the Trac stabilisers eliminating any unpleasant rolling," reported an enamoured boat snob, Tony Mackay, in his test late last year. "It was all peace and quiet sliding along at 9kts and sipping the fuel… the Cats seemed happy to be of service at the skipper’s whim."

When not on the pegs or motor cruising there’s a lot to embrace. Standard accommodation includes a full-beam master stateroom, guest stateroom with double bed to port and another guest stateroom in the bow with island double bed and en suite. But the accommodation doesn’t stop there. Aft of the engineroom are more guest or crew’s quarters in either single or double cabins that doubles as additional accommodation when the extended family flies in… which they will want to do.

Standard specifications include twin 503hp Caterpillar C9 engines, TRAC stabilisers, twin generators, Glendinning electronic controls, fuel polishing and Cruisair chilled-water air-conditioning. You can option the standard 7570lt fuel capacity to 9841lt or 11,335lt. Engine options range from 375hp John Deere to 705hp Caterpillar C12 and 1000hp Caterpillar C18. Range with 9841lt of fuel is estimated to be 2200nm at 10kts, 2800nm at 9kts, 3800nm at 8kts and 4700nm at 7kts.

The Outer Reef 70 is also available with a fully enclosed, air-conditioned Skylounge in lieu of the open flybridge, and with extra guest or crew aft accommodation for up to four in addition to the standard three stateroom layout.

Price as tested: POA for 70 charterboat, from about $2.4 million
Material: Handlaid FRP with vinylester resin barrier laminate
Type: Semi-displacement planing hull
LOA: 21.33m
Beam: 5.6m
Draft: 1.52m
Weight: 50,500kg (dry)
Berths: 7 + 2/3 crew in separate quarters

Fuel: 7571lt
Water: 1514lt
Engines: 2 x 503hp Caterpillar ACERT

Details: Outer Reef Yachts, Quays Marina, 1856 Pittwater Road, Church Point, NSW, 2105. Phone: Andrew Coffey on 0416 045 142. Email: Website


About $950,000 loaded
Range: 2000nm at 8kts
Best Features: Practical and spacious layout for a safe and comfortable cruise; bang for your buck; a value-packed boat offering fuel economy and the legendary John Deere/Northern Lights reliability; impressive list of standard features.

Originally designed and built as a motorsailer, the Seahorse 52 Pilothouse has for some time been sold direct ex-factory in China for those well experienced and primed to glide into Asian waters before moving on to the Seven Seas. Up until now, its market has been Americans foremost. But a few years back the boat touched down in Australia.

Born from the passagemaker genre, our test boat (Seahorse 52 #24) had taken good advantage of design trends that have been tried and tested by other manufacturers in this specialised field. As with many of these smaller yards, Seahorse offers a degree of customisation to meet the requirements of most seasoned sailors.

The boat comes in two- or three-cabin variants, with a single 225hp John Deere high-torque diesel engine or, as per the boat driven hereabouts, twin 135hp John Deere engines for 11.5kts top speed. However, we’re told the Seahorse 52 Pilothouse has hit 17kts with twin 165hp John Deeres.

But we reckon the big-engine option defeats the purpose of this long-range trawler designed for reeling in the sea miles. And with 2950lt of diesel and the twin 135hp engines, the boat’s range is at least 2000nm at 8kts. Some 1000lt of water will keep the crew sated for a few weeks away from dock at least.

With the engines idling, the generator purring and the refrigeration deftly chilling the drinks, we slid down the Gold Coast Broadwater quietly and with a minimum of fuss. She responded well to the helm and an easy and economical 8kts was a pleasant speed with which to make tracks.

The hull speed is calculated at 9.1kts yet the John Deeres powered us to 11kts at full speed when "take charge power" is required. Although comfortable at all speeds, the purpose here is a leisurely cruise with life’s stresses sliding away in the wash, so we sensibly throttled back.

An 8hp Sidepower electric bowthruster assists manoeuvring; however, those not used to a full keel would require a purposeful push with the throttles to confidently berth or handle this boat in close quarters. Thankfully, the big four-blade props shunt the boat this way and that.

An offset companionway leads forward and up to the pilothouse, where our new skipper will be dusting off the charts. But before looking at the helm station, the sensible guest makes a beeline for the forward accommodation to ensure that the best bunk has been bagged.

A full-width owner’s stateroom with queen-sized bed looks very inviting and a vast number of lockers are ready to swallow the contents of your bags for an extended trip. The en suite was also most comfortable and included a shower with small bath for those requiring a little soak after a hard day’s cruising/eating/drinking or whatever. Ensure the watermaker option is ticked to make good use of this delightful option.

Forward is the twin-share guest cabin, with the ever-practical upper and lower bunks, plus the added benefit of a small desk, which might be handy to operate as an office. There was no proper hanging locker. This cabin is available with an island bed instead, however, not everyone travels as couples so the spacious singles are not a problem with me. As touched on, a three-cabin layout is available on request.

The guest head and shower are slightly smaller than the owner’s amenity but by no means cramped. They are also cleverly ventilated for those who detest smells or steamy showers with dripping walls. Tecma toilets could be operated with fresh or salt water.

In short, the Seahorse 52 Pilothouse is a value package for those wanting to reduce the initial outlay without compromising their creature comforts or cruising ability. A custom order would offer the ability to personalise the layout and equipment, and given that the manufacturer’s claims of seakeeping and structural integrity are correct, family and friends can plan coastal passages and the dreams of a lifetime.

Price as tested: $950,00 with twin 135hp John Deere engines, Glendinning electronic controls, Northern Lights 9kW generator, Raymarine electronics package, Reverso oil-change system, Griffin fuel-polishing system, washer-dryer, galley fitout, 3M RIB on demonstrator, and more.
Material: Handlaid fibreglass
Type: Round bilge semi-displacement hull with full keel
LOA: 15.75m
Beam: 4.54m
Draft: 1.35m
Weight: 20,000kg
Berths: 4 to 6 depending on layout.
Fuel: 1950lt
Water: 1000lt
Engines: Twin 135hp John Deere
Details: Seahorse Marine Australia. Contact Andrew Baumber, phone 0413 752 535. Email: Website:


About: $1.9 million as tested
Range: 2500 to 3000nm at 7 to 8kts
Best Features: Serious long-range liveaboard trawler with ship-like systems; ultimate in dockability thanks to an advanced hydraulic system; frugal cruising at 20-odd litres an hour; established brand with loyal global following

After taking delivery of their Selene 59 and a subjecting the boat to a shakedown cruise in Sydney a few years back, Aussie adventurer Dick Smith and his wife Pip set sail for Tasmania from whence they have just returned again. They plod along the coast — as you do in one of these trawlers — before crossing Bass Strait and ranging down to the pristine southwest corner of the Apple Isle.

What typically unfolds for the adventurous Smith is a three-month private cruising odyssey without the hassles of crew or the constant hum of a ship’s generator, both of which had plagued them aboard their former $6 million 104ft adventure ship, Ulysses Blue. Minus the human cargo, not to mention the onerous payroll, Captain Smith and his wife Pip are now able to go places as a footloose cruising couple in command of their own boat.

At 59ft, the Selene remains an owner/driver trawler yet it’s got all the qualities and amenities of a mini expedition ship. Not that the capabilities of the long-range Selenes are a well-kept secret, mind you. The boats are made by Jet-Tern Marine in China for the demanding American passagemaker market.

Company founder Howard Chen from Taiwan sent the first boat to the States in 1999 and, the following year, we tested the Selene 47 (rebadged as a Solo 47) in Sydney. In better times, production hovers around 35 boats a year.

While Selene trawlers can be found gadding about the world’s premier waterways, they do so at leisurely displacement speeds. The brochure talks of negotiating rapids in British Columbia, dodging icebergs in Alaska, if not cruising the wilds of Tasmania and/or New Zealand, where a number of Selenes are now located. That said, most of the 100 or so Selenes on the water are located in North America, where rendezvous are held and brand-loyal enthusiasts share their trials and tribulations on an owner’s forum.

Unlike a run-of-the-mill production boat, each Selene is a semi-custom cruiser tweaked to meet the needs of its owner(s). Enter John Bradley, whose Selene 55 pictured hereabouts was designed to have the ultimate in ‘dockability’. Like many Selene buyers, John is an avid sailor who jumped ship to motorcruising, aboard an Island Gypsy 30 and then a Grand Banks 42. He researched the long-range cruiser market for months before settling on his Selene 55.

The antipathy of a go-fast boat, the Selene 55 is round-bilge displacement trawler with a top speed of about 11.5kts. Power comes in the form of a torquey single diesel engine that lopes along rather than races and shudders. The idea is that you enjoy the journey, take your time, and liveaboard as you travel. At worst, engage a skipper to undertake the long delivery legs and fly in to the desirable ports of call.

But the impressive Selene 55 we tested, hull number 85, broke the mould. The boat was fitted with an optional upgraded turbocharged 525hp 6125AFM John Deere diesel engine instead of the standard Cummins MerCruiser QSL9 406hp turbo-donk. But the big difference between the engines is torque: the John Deere is a 12.5-litre block, whereas the Cummins has an 8.9-litre capacity. And the John Deere’s rapid torque curve sees it make maximum power at lower revs, where you want it on a displacement boat.

Furthermore, the 6125AFM was spinning a huge 43in four-blade propeller in a semi-tunnel for blade tip clearance. Put the engine into gear and the boat lurches. So there was a docking remote with 20m lead, then the owner went to all corners of the earth to get the best hydraulic crew.

Like Dick Smith, John plans to cruise the Australian coast as a husband-and-wife team. He is also cognisant of the fact that a 50-tonne private luxury liner isn’t something you want drifting out of control in a crowded marina. So he turned to Canadian company KeyPower, which specialises in small-ship solutions for private luxury liners and commercial craft including a number of trawlers operating out of Queensland.

The answer lay in a hydraulic docking system with four different stations at all four corners and twin helms on the boat. Each docking station has a joystick that engages the 121hp John Deere auxiliary engine and hydraulic coupling that spins the shaft and propeller (after the main engine is disengaged).

Importantly, the joystick and docking levers have proportional control, meaning you move them incrementally to adjust the amount of thrust and your manoeuvring speed. Suffice to say, decamping and docking the Selene 55 proved to be a fingertip affair.

Elsewhere, the Selene 55 boasts a full-beam stateroom with king bed amidships, where the motion of the boat is smoothest, and a VIP guest’s cabin with queen bed in the bow. There are two en suites with Tecma heads and shower stalls, but the optional third cabin was deleted to provide a gargantuan shower especially for the owners. Should grandkids want to stay over there’s a sofa bed in the saloon, not to mention the passage berth behind the helm.

Granite vanities, timeless teak joinery and planking, soshi screens in the stateroom and mood lighting add to the salty ambience of the Selene. Of course, storage space is in terrific supply and owners get vanity/dresser and quasi office space. Everything you need on a real liveboard.

What you don’t see counts for plenty on the Selenes. The factory has ISO 9001 accreditation and the boats are CE Certified by Lloyds for Category A, as in open ocean, transpacific, hey, wherever you want to go. The boat has some 3000kg of lead ballast to boost stability. Detailed hydrostatic data is provided by the factory if you want it.

Price as tested: $1.9 million
Material: Handlaid fibreglass with balsa-cored, vacuum-bagged decks
Type: Round-bilge displacement hull
LOA: 18.92m
Beam: 5.08m
Draft: 1.75m
Weight: 49,800kg (loaded inc. 300kg lead ballast)
Berths: 4+2 + (1 crew quarters)

Fuel: 4000lt
Water: 2000lt
Engines: 525hp John Deere 6125AFM
Details: Halvorsen Boat Sales, PO Box 21, Turramurra, NSW, 2074. Phone: (02) 9457 6725/0439 936 425. Email Website:


1.) Fleming 65

2.) Grand Banks 65 Aleutian

3.) Hampton 750 Endurance

4.) Kadey-Krogen 48 NS AE

5.) Marlow 57 Classic

6.) McIntyre 50 Motor Sailer

7.) Nordhavn 76

8.) Outer Reef 70

9.) Seahorse 52 Pilothouse

10.) Selene 55


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