Pre-loved boats: 1963 Clem Masters Bridgedeck Cruise

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford

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  • Trade-A-Boat

This 1963 Clem Masters Bridgedeck Cruiser is a gorgeous and thoroughly modernised timber cruiser.

Dolphin is a timeless timber cruiser from master Brisbane boat builder Clem Masters. Launched in 1963 from his Deagon, QLD boatyard on Cabbage Tree Creek with a hull solidly constructed from hardwood, this twin-helm bridgedeck cruiser was originally conceived as a recreational fishing vessel.


Clem Masters timber cruiser

 Clem  Masters Bridgedeck Cruiser

Its early years were spent on the QLD coast, including extended ventures to the Great Barrier Reef. With a hull design not dissimilar to a deep-keeled sailing yacht, the hull has a round bilge, wineglass shape and a draft of 4ft10in (1.48m). A length of 44ft (13.4m) combines with a relatively narrow 13ft4in (4.11m) beam to deliver a slippery and easily driven hull.

The hefty 86hp Gardner 6LW engine is a slow revving, naturally aspirated six-cylinder of 8.3lt. These best-of-British workhorses are regarded as very reliable, frugal and long lasting, so many would consider with 8500 hours it’s just been run in.

Four years ago, its current owner bought it from MDBS brokers in Pittwater and shipped it to Perth by road, although dealer principal Tim Stranack was so confident in its seaworthy pedigree that he offered to deliver it to WA by sea.


No expense spared

86hp Gardner 6LW marine engine

Since 2011, Dolphin has undergone a refit and upgrade that goes beyond extensive. Timber boats can do that to you and the passion and expense poured into her is obvious from a quick glance at the inventory of new equipment and refurbishments.

Respected marine tradesmen have carried out all engineering work to commercial survey standards. Much of the timberwork, including a new beech deck, new floors throughout, redesigned galley and table in Huon pine and new headliners have been undertaken by the owner, a skilled woodworker.

The engine was removed and fully reconditioned and tested before being reinstalled along with a new hydraulic gearbox.

Stainless steel fuel and water tanks of 1000lt each were constructed and fitted amidships along the sides in the engineroom. Rather than replace any worn wiring or plumbing, these systems have been renewed completely and an Onan 6.5kVa generator installed (new, of course).


Restored classic

Helm of 1963 Clem Masters Bridgedeck Cruiser

Contemporary Raymarine navigation equipment has been installed at both helm stations: a C120 plotter in the saloon and a C80 on the bridge, and both connected to a Raymarine autopilot. Communication is via Sailor and Raymarine VHF radios.

Work completed, the boat has been returned to the East Coast and back to Pittwater in search of a new owner.

Anyone with an appreciation of timber boat design should be impressed by Dolphin’s shapely lines and gleaming white paintwork. A blunt bow and raised front deck lead back to a saloon and roomy rear bridgedeck.

It’s three steps down from either the back deck or the saloon to the rear cabin where there’s a single and a generous double, as well as storage cabinets and a separate manual head. Three round ports either side provide lots of natural light.

Forward of a small utility room and bathroom with shower and electric head is the bow cabin with loads more storage and vee-berths, convertible to another huge double bed.

Generous storage options and refrigeration mean Dolphin is setup for long range cruising.

New 12V Vitrifrigo stainless steel units include a drinks fridge on the bridge deck, a combination fridge-freezer in the galley and separate fridge and freezer in the utility room.

Clem Masters Bridgedeck Cruiser interior

Solar panels and the generator keep the batteries charged and the Gardner started with a healthy rumble for our tour around Scotland Island. The deep keel and heavy engine help give the boat a smooth, soft action through the water. A staysail forward will help stability at sea. Noise suppression is good, even with both genset and engine running. Maximum speed was 9kts, so expect an average cruise around 7kts.

One of the most attractive features of a boat like Dolphin is the frugal fuel economy. Expect about 1lt/nm at 7kts for a range of 900nm with 10 per cent reserve. That’s impressive.

Timber vessels like Dolphin are not for everyone. They require dedicated owners who recognise their unique nature and who are prepared to make a commitment to their upkeep, but the rewards are there. It’s not that often I feel a serious yearning for boats I review, but this boat tugged at my heart strings!


The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Clem Masters 44 classic motor sailer

Despite the years of work and the considerable cost involved in bringing Dolphin to such a high level of presentation she is for sale at $298,000 including a Zodiac tender and near-new 5hp Yamaha outboard.

Call Tim Stranack on 0418 619 700 for a test drive.


1963 Clem Masters Bridgedeck Cruiser specs

PRICE $298,000




MATERIAL Hardwood hull below waterline; beech decks TYPE Displacement monohull

LENGTH 13.42m

BEAM 4.11m

DRAFT 1.48m

FUEL 1000lt

WATER 1000lt

ENGINE 86hp Gardner 6LW



Tim Stranack, MDBS Broken Bay, Church Point, NSW

Phone 0418 619 700




Originally published in Trade-A-Boat #470, October 2015. Why not subscribe today?


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