BOAT TEST: FERRETTI 881 RPH
A stunning Italian-designed and built private luxe liner calls remote Western Australian home. BARRY WISEMAN explains
Cruising Australia's remote and rugged Kimberley coastline, not another boat in sight for days on end, dwarfed by the majestic cliffs in the many gorges and rivers of this ancient land, fish a plenty for the table, and a cool white wine as you watch another magic golden sunset over the Indian Ocean.
Australia's natural wonders are still fresh in the minds of West Australian big-boat entrepreneur John Farrell and his partner John Silverthorne as they fasten their seat belts jetting off to Rome for their appointment in northern Italy with Ferretti Yachts.
Brothers Alessandro and Norberto Ferretti founded Ferretti in 1968 and three years later their first 10-metre wooden motorsailer enjoyed great success when presented to the Genoa Boat Show. In 1982, Ferretti built its first motoryacht and the rest is history.
The Ferretti brothers had a deep love and passion for the sea and their story is not dissimilar to that of John Farrell. Readers will remember him as the man responsible for designing, building and marketing internationally sought after Oceanfast boats, luxury superyachts built at Henderson, just south of Fremantle. The company was later taken over by Austal Ships building international high-speed passenger and vehicular ferries plus military patrol boats.
Farrell also has a deep respect for the ocean and as a boat engineer has much in common with his host Norberto Ferretti, who is still very much at the coal face of his empire. The former likes to spend more time cruising Australia's coastline these days than being at a desk, and he and his partner have just spent eight months in the Top End in another top European-brand vessel. But his thinking is still locked into that "superyacht mode".
"Australia is a big country so you need a big boat," says Farrell. "Unlike the Mediterranean, where you can motor port-to-port in a short time, Australia offers magnificent destinations, which are beautiful but remote. To do this properly we needed a craft that, until now, was not on available in Australia.
"It's no good if you're days from your nearest port and something goes wrong or you're getting low on fuel and you want to explore up that river, round the next bend. Or head off to some promising looking coral reef to throw a line in. You need to 'think big' and that's where the Ferretti 881 RPH comes in," Farrell said.
So when he and Silverthorne decided to open JW Marine Western Australia they wanted one of the world's biggest and best on board - the Ferretti Group.
Ferretti Yachts' flagship, the 881 RPH made its Australian debut at this year's Mandurah Boat Show. The boat was sporting a price tag of $8.5 million.
JW Marine is a long established major boat distributor in Sydney and has made a name for itself during the past eight years with the French brand Beneteau. The WA branch recently opened a Fremantle office in Mews Road, joining other big-brand names in the marine precinct on the shore of the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour. The company has invested $10 million in new stock from the Ferretti Group, including the 881, the Beneteau Monte Carlo 42, and the Pershing 64 in Sydney.
As part of the promotion of the 881, interested parties will have the opportunity to be flown to the Kimberley for a few days to experience life aboard this magnificent vessel. The timing for that project is during the dry season, around June next year.
"The Ferretti Group is now recognised as the top producer of luxury maxi-yachts in the world and we are very proud to be associated with their products," Farrell added, as the 881 RPH was manoeuvred into her berth at the Mandurah Ocean Marina.
RPH stands for Raised Pilot House, making the flagship bigger than the standard 881. The helm position is roomy with L-shaped lounge seating for at least five people. There's a single leather armchair for the skipper and the instrument panel resembles that of an international airliner. The raised pilot house gives the skipper commanding views over the forward section of this 27-metre luxury boat.
More welcome, though, is the greater space it has created elsewhere - namely the galley, one of the most used areas on any craft. And it, too, also enjoys the same panoramic views as the pilothouse above.
Much of this motoryacht is very impressive, but because this is far from your regular food preparation area let's start here.
The galley takes up the whole six-metre-plus full beam and is fitted with the latest equipment, doubling up on stoves and refrigeration. As you enter on the port side there is a spacious breakfast bar with an L-shaped leather settee seating. With great vistas and natural light, what a great place for breakfast - lunch and dinner for that matter.
Heading down three steps brings you to the main deck and the 'official' dining area, this nine-piece suite located on an electrically operated sliding floor. When not use, there is more space in the main walkway from the saloon to the galley. For that formal occasion a flick of the switch moves the whole floor and setting out allowing greater access around the table. Conveniently located nearby are the starboardside day head and the six stairs leading to the pilothouse above.
Walking astern and past a central entertainment cabinet housing the large flatscreen television and yet more storage, you enter the huge, uncluttered saloon, with white leather lounge settees port and starboard blending in against the light oak grain lining the walls and vinyl ceiling. The timber really only goes to waist height because huge rectangular windows grace both sides of the saloon flooding the area with natural light and creating nearly all-round views.
STAIRWAY TO LUXURY
Down a curved staircase to the lower deck and turning left towards midships is the master stateroom, flooded with daylight from large tinted glass side windows. The incorporated twin portholes can be opened for ventilation if you don't need to run the air-conditioning.
The king-size bed runs athwartships facing the windows and there's heaps of storage, plus the walk-in wardrobe. The bathroom is located on the starboard side and comes with a huge shower and his-and-hers facilities.
Towards the front of the Ferretti 881 and down a couple of steps are twin single-berth cabin to port and queen berth quarters to starboard, each with its own bathroom. The main VIP guest cabin is located at the bow.
The light oak timber and beige fabric theme continues below deck. Extra refrigeration has been added down here in the walkway so you don't have to go upstairs to the galley during the night.
Back on the main deck, a rear staircase leads to the two crew cabins, each fitted with their own head. There's also a galley and dining area. Some owners in Australia would elect not to have a crew onboard so these rear quarters could be used for additional visitors or would be a big hit for teenagers wanting their own space.
In keeping with his previous shipbuilding days John Farrell has doubled up on vital operational hardware - dual Furuno navigation systems, twin stainless steel anchors, dual tropical air-conditioning plants, two generators, extra fridge/freezers, additional lights and two sidedeck doors to name a few.
The Ferretti 881 RPH is a "go anywhere" boat and to suit Australia's remote locations he ordered more fuel capacity. An additional 1500lt gives this boat a total of 11,500lt.
"With the amount of remote coastline in Australia I think a vessel should be able to comfortably cruise 900 nautical miles and still have plenty of fuel, particularly in the Kimberley. You don't want to have to worry if there's a river you want to explore," Farrell adds.
The engineroom on this 27m boat is spacious and to get there you walk through an air-conditioned workshop, complete with bench and vice. The hub of the electronic monitoring system is also housed in this temperature-controlled area.
I came aboard the Ferretti 881 through the marlin board, six steps leading to the large rear deck and outdoor entertaining area. Another staircase on the starboard side leads to the open flybridge deck - although not included on this boat, there is the option for a spa to be fitted up here; which would be very handy in the tropics, where the ocean is so inviting but you don't know what's beneath the surface watching and waiting you.
In more friendly waters, a garage is located aft and the hydraulic door lowers to form a big teak-decked wet area and access to the PWC stowed inside.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The Ferretti 881 RPH is fitted with twin 2200hp MTU engines capable of pushing us along at 31kts. However, with a 3.5 to 4m swell and stiff 18-knot southwesterly in our face heading from Fremantle to Mandurah, we travelled at a leisurely 14kts sitting on 1600rpm, using a combined 350lt of fuel per hour. For maximum long-distance cruising we would reduce the throttle to 11kts consuming 120lt/h.
The pilot house is located a good 6m above the waterline, but we still took a few greenies high over the flybridge above forcing us to batten down the hatches as we increased the throttle to 20kts sitting on 2200 revs, heading across Comet Bay just north of Mandurah.
When the tinted glass and stainless steel doors opened to reveal the interior of the main deck, it was so refreshing to be welcomed by a huge, open-plan living area featuring light-grained oak timber panels and matching fabrics. Complemented by the white leather settees, the surrounds resembled a luxury waterfront apartment. Of course it comes down to a matter of taste but so many boats feature the dark polished timber look whereas this one goes against the trend and does it in style. The manufacturer makes use of natural light, not just in the main living areas but in the cabins below, including the en suites. While the big windows are tinted to suit the Mediterranean and Australian heat, they allow the right amount of light into the boat, which helps give that "wide open space" feel. And, of course, that same feature is found in the full-beam galley with is majestic views ahead. No hint of claustrophobia here. Food and drink preparation would be a joy, unlike being sent to the dungeon as on some vessels.
FERRETTI 881 RPH
BEHIND THE WHEEL
At the wheel and adjusting the course direction while still on autopilot, the Ferretti 881 RPH responds immediately and you're were really oblivious to the true conditions on the water, thanks to the twin Mitsubishi ARG 4000 gyro stabilizers fitted below the engine room. They reduced the rolling motion of the sea, both underway and as well at rest.
PRICE AS TESTED
There is a long list of non-standard options fitted to the boat - 56 in all, according to the stats sheet. They include electric sliding rear doors to the saloon, two Kohler 28kW generators with two smoke separators, additional fridges and freezers, the two stainless steel anchors, doors to the sidewalks, side and aft floodlights, two barbecues on the flybridge, centralised vacuum system, the list goes on.
LENGTH OVERALL: 27.07m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 22.35m
PEOPLE (NIGHT): 8 + 2
MAKE/MODEL: MTU 16V 2000 M92
RATED HP: 2200 (each)
REC. MAX SPEED: 30kts
REC. CRUISING SPEED: 25.5kts
The Ferretti 881 RPH is very impressive, there's no doubt the Italians have style. It was the biggest vessel at the Mandurah Boat Show and attracted much attention. This motoryacht has been Australianised to suit our remoteness and conditions. In keeping with John Farrell's big-boat thinking, major components have been beefed up to cope with long-distance travel in luxurious surrounds.
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