BOAT TEST PELORUS 44
Does the crowded trawler market need another entrant? Pelorus Marine obviously thinks so and ALLAN WHITING agrees following an assessment of the new Pelorus 44
As with an increasing number of new boats on the Australian market the Pelorus 44 is also made in China, at the same boatyard that has produced some Halvorsen and Navigator boats for Norman R Wright. Poly Marine is an experienced and well-respected builder of commercial and pleasure craft, with several manufacturing facilities that total some 300,000m2 of under-cover production area. Our tests of Poly Marine boats show that fit and finish can be as good as it gets.
Pelorus Marine's market R&D indicated a need for a boat that offered comfortable sleeping accommodation for a family of four, or two couples, along with the ability to be a day entertainer for up to 16 people. Pelorus' director Andrew Murray has been around boats all his life and knows that there's always demand for a fully-equipped cruiser at the right price. He also knows that nothing annoys prospective boat buyers more than a starting price that grows exponentially as 'extras' - items that everyone needs - are added to what started out as an attractive price.
"The difference that buyers need to note when checking out comparative equipment levels and pricing is that the Pelorus 44 comes with virtually everything we reckon 90 per cent of buyers will need," Andrew Murray told Trade-a-Boat.
Examples of this on the equipment list include forward and aft thrusters, a pair of Raymarine C120W widescreen chartplotters, three air-conditioning units, three LCD TVs - one pop-up whopper in the saloon - and a 2.4m RIB tender. Construction is handlaid FRP.
The navy and white Pelorus 44 cut a smart figure among the mainly-white cruisers at d'Albora Marina, Cabarita, in Sydney Harbour's eastern reaches. A wide swimplatform, with sturdy handrail, made stern-to or side boarding very easy and safe. The aft-end picture is completed by a drop-down telescopic swimladder and a transom gate atop a step-over bulwark that provides protection from a following sea.
Bulwarks extend both sides of the Pelorus 44, as far forward as the chain locker in the bows, topped with a handrail for the full length and beam of the boat. Fishing from this perch will be quite safe for several groups at a time. As we discovered during our test, generous bow flare and freeboard keep the forward-deck sunlounge area free from spray and the only wet-deck spots in a seaway are at the leading edge of the cabin.
The basic boat is available in other markets, but there are individual touches in the Pelorus 44, including moulded drinkholders beside the sunlounge. Another Aussie-market initiative is a semi-spiral staircase to the flybridge. This design takes up some cockpit space, but makes ascending and descending much easier than is the case with a straight ladder. We checked it out while carrying a glass of life-preserving fluid in one hand and had no difficulty. The flybridge is well-equipped with dinette and fridge and sink unit.
At the top of the staircase are ample handholds for those venturing to the steering station and there's also a secure gate with latch at the top of the stairs, plus a drop-down clear panel to seal the stairway. You'd have to be very careless to fall down the chute.
We moved all around the Pelorus 44 during a test that included punching through lumpy stuff off Sydney Heads and felt secure at all times.
AT HOME AT SEA
Large, stainless steel-framed cabin doors slide open from the cockpit, revealing a spacious saloon, with cupboards to port housing a pop-up TV screen and a U-shaped dinette to starboard. The test boat's arrangement was fixed, but an optional dinette conversion to a double bed is available.
Forward of the dinette is a starboard steering station, with high-set pilot's chair and an electric control panel underneath. To port is an L-shaped galley featuring electric fridge, hotplate, oven and microwave.
By including a generator as standard equipment Pelorus Marine has avoided having any LPG onboard - even the optional cockpit barbecue is electric. When you want to cook, the generator starts automatically and is barely audible.
From the saloon, steps lead to the forward vee-berth cabin, the twin-single-bed family or guest cabin and the bathroom. The steps lift up, revealing a storage area with dedicated wine-bottle rack.
The bathroom comes standard with electric-flush head and a separate shower with clear door. Entry doors from the forward cabin and the companionway can be locked. Both cabins and the head have opening side ports and the forward cabin has a roof hatch as well. The cabins have individual air-conditioning units, with separate controls, as does the saloon.
The Pelorus 44's cabins are roomy, but not as spacious as those in some competitive boats. Also, under-bed storage in the vee-berth cabin is somewhat restricted, but these apparent negatives are positives for people who have lived with, or on, boats for some time. The reason that there are cabin-space compromises is apparent when you check out mechanical access.
The forward vee-berth has some under-bed storage space, but is restricted by the fact that the Cruisair air-conditioning unit is located under the bed, with easy, lift-up access for servicing.
Enginerooms in most modern cruisers seem to have been designed as afterthoughts, but the Pelorus 44's under-saloon-floor mechanical heart is magnificent. Large panel access and a mini spiral staircase allow ready access to all service items and the Onan 9.6kVa gennie is easily reached.
The test boat was fitted with twin Volvo Pentas, but the next one on order is coming with Yanmars. Transmissions are ZF, with shaft connection to four-blade props.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The new Pelorus 44 is described in the Pelorus Marine press release as "a gentleman's cruiser with a young man's heart'". It will top 20kts at WOT, but is happier cruising at around 16kts and, while it can be thrown into a tight turn at speed and responds quickly, the Pelorus 44 is a trawler-style cruiser, not a sportsboat.
Twin Sidepower thrusters made light work of manoeuvring the Pelorus 44 in and out of tight marina berths. The control module for the thrusters is more intuitive than a joystick, being a boat shape that moves on a background pad: whatever the skipper does with the little boat control translates into movement of the vessel. With the main engines idling in forward or reverse the thrusters could do the rest, including holding the boat against the dock while lines were attached. Shorthanded and elderly crews should love this system.
Value for money
High level of standard equipment
Ease of access for maintenance
Low vibration levels
Safe flybridge and forward deck access
Intuitive bow- and stern-thruster control
Comparatively small cabins
AT THE WHEEL
What sets the standard Pelorus 44 apart from most flybridge cruisers is the fact that the upper and lower helm stations are virtually identical, down to fully duplicated instruments and chartplotters at both positions.
Vision from the upper deck is excellent with no blind spots; a deflector screen and rail making a windscreen unnecessary.
The saloon steering position is complemented by a comfortable, high-set chair and sliding door.
Few seafaring terms evince more controversy than the word pelorus.
The several certainties are that a pelorus is a navigation instrument defined in British Patent 2652 (1854); the name given to at least two British warships; and the name of a famous Risso's dolphin - Pelorus Jack - that piloted ships through a treacherous narrows in Cook Strait, New Zealand, around 1890 to 1912.
The pelorus instrument is a compass card with sights, arranged to allow it to record relative bearings. The modern hand-bearing compass is more commonly used, but a pelorus is useful for judging vessels on a collision course.
Pretty much everything else to do with the origin of the word pelorus is open to conjecture.
Cape Pelorus, in north-eastern Sicily, is often said to be named in posthumous honour of Hannibal's navigator, who was killed on suspicion of treachery for leading the Carthaginian fleet into an enclosed bay rather than through a narrows that later became evident. However, historians doubt the truth of this tale, on several grounds, including the improbability of Hannibal's return to Carthage via the Straits of Messina and the fact that the most respected historians of the age make no mention of said Pelorus. As well, Cape Pelorus was already known as such, centuries before Hannibal's time, most likely in memory of the nymph, Pelorias.
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL: Handlaid FRP
TYPE: Semi-planing monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 13.38m
HULL LENGTH: 10.85m
BERTHS: 1 double, 1 twin
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta D6-370
TYPE: Electronically injected turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 370 (each)
Unit 5/7 Millennium Court,
Silverwater, NSW, 2128
Phone: +61 2 9737 0692
Fax: +61 2 9748 2604
The Pelorus 44 is a classically-designed, extremely well-equipped cruiser that should be very easy for shorthanded crews to live with. It's a great entertainment platform, with a safe, useable foredeck lounge and flybridge, and comes standard with most of the equipment buyers could want.
Performance and handling aren't quite in the sportsboat class, but that's not this boat's mission.
Unlike many modern boats, the Pelorus 44 offers excellent mechanical access for easily carried out maintenance.
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 424, Mar 2012.
Want more? Find another trawler review below
More from Poly Marine, from two years ago.
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