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What performs like a Porsche 911, rides like a Bentley, and looks like a super model, asks MATTHEW JONES. The latest Dickey Semifly 32 of course…

Dickey Semifly 32

Acclaimed Kiwi custom aluminium boatbuilder Dickey Boats is the brainchild of the husband and wife team of Jason and Tristin Dickey. The Dickey's share a long love affair with the ocean and are passionate about both their boats and their people.

As an experienced commercial skipper, boatbuilder and marine engineer, Jason's practical experience shows through in the high-performance hull forms, refined layouts and clever innovations that have won the company much adoration from the boating media and judges alike. Increased demand for its unique designs has prompted a recent move to a purpose-built 600m² facility at Napier on the North Island, with room up its sleeve for further expansion when required.

Our test boat the Semifly 32Tribal was one of eight Dickey boats in construction during the pre-Christmas rush.




The name Semifly comes from the raised helm position that forms a sort of low-profile flying bridge. "We keep the centre of gravity low by keeping the floors low; everyone is on the same level," says Jason. "We don't believe in flying bridges, because it puts the helmsman in the most uncomfortable seat in the boat and away from the action. All our boats have this flow, so the skipper is always part of what's going on in the cockpit."


Dennis Harjamaa was engaged to draw the plans, and when it came to designing the first Semifly the team started from scratch, with the goal of designing a completely new boat that is the full package. There would be no compromises made on any details and it had to look and feel right as well.


"Every little thing we've done is to improve the ride and sea-handling without sacrificing practicality, fuel efficiency and performance," explained Dennis. "It was extremely challenging to start with a blank sheet of paper and work out how we were going to achieve these things."


This painstaking design process had been underway for two years before the first Semifly began to take shape on the workshop floor. It took another year of construction before it was finally christened.




Ask Jason how they construct their masterpieces and he'll tell you: "We don't build boats, we build ships. Instead of coming up through small-boat manufacturing we've taken big-boat manufacturing and brought it back down.


"That goes all the way through our range; basically they're all built the same as ships, with full interlocking ring frames, stringers, girders and longitudinals right through. This allows us to get these very complicated hull forms in the bow, while giving the boat immense strength with the opportunity to fully utilise the space within," he said.


All components are designed in-house and in conjunction with the owner. Each individual piece of the puzzle is made before construction begins. "Everything is computer cut and laser levelled so that each section of the boat meets a 1mm tolerance," continues Jason. "They are absolutely perfectly balanced 100 per cent, and I can guarantee it. It's not about cutting corners, it's about doing it right."




Tribal was en route to her new owner when I met up with Jason and his dad Graeme to have a look firsthand before her delivery voyage north for the handover in Tutukaka on the North Island's northeast coast. I had already admired her stunning metallic bronze and white paint job from the dock, and stepping onboard only further inspired a sense of awe at how beautifully finished she is inside as well.


Innovation isn't taken lightly at Dickey Boats and the cockpit is somewhat of a gamefisherman's dream that boasts many clever features. The baitboard lids split and pivot open giving unrestricted access to the inbuilt livebait tank, tuna tube and rubbish bin below. As expected game poles adorn the sides, while foldaway cleats ensure a snag-free environment is maintained.


"…the sharp, wave-piercing bow, which Jason claims is three to four times finer than comparative boats, makes a real difference to the ride in rougher conditions"


Tackle boxes are neatly hidden behind plastic hatches in the gunwales and each rodholder is precisely positioned to entice a strike. Two further rodholders are cleverly located in the rear pillars for hassle-free lure changes. Overhead the rocket launcher is a stretch to reach but includes tie-down points to secure the gear in rough weather.


A rear facing seat provides a comfortable position to watch the lures or the sunset with a cold one in hand - whichever takes your fancy. Tek-Dek provides a low-maintenance, easy-clean alternative to real teak decking, while retaining the visual appeal. The cockpit sole is lowered for easier landing of a trophy winner, and Jason's time spent as chief engineer on superyachts is clearly evident, with excellent all-round access to the engine via the hydraulic-lifting cockpit floor.





The entire upper level can become an almost seamless entertainment area by simply opening the bi-fold glass door and window. An icebox is neatly tucked beneath the rear seat, and when the seat is not in use a Corian shelf lifts to provide a servery for drinks and nibbles.


Stepping forward into the saloon a comfortable couch, accessible fridge and Corian pedestal dining table lie to port. To starboard a functional and modern styled galley with a gas cooker and sink makes itself available. The Tek-Dek flooring is continued throughout to provide further flow between the cockpit and saloon, and facilitate easy clean-up of spills.


A short flight of stairs leads below to the comfortable and luxurious accommodation level. The cosy master cabin is concealed neatly beneath the saloon floor with a further double and two single berths located in the forward cabin. A large set of drawers occupies the common area to port with a private and spacious bathroom to starboard.





After our whirlwind photo shoot and race against the impending grey clouds, I eagerly took the wheel and felt instantly at home. The helm station is exceptionally comfortable and functional, with the view through the large glass windows inviting the skipper to engage full throttle and power over the horizon. And with the cruising fuel economy from the quiet Volvo Penta hovering around 2lt/nm and 640lt of diesel under the floor, that was an enticing possibility!


We had a 20-knot westerly on the nose at times but the angle of attack was inconsequential - the plumb bow slicing effortlessly through a metre of messy, confused chop at WOT (33kts). Once back at the marina Jason guided Tribal gracefully into the berth using the joystick-controlled bowthruster.




The two biggest criteria for performance and comfort are waterline length and weight. So with the plumb bow two things are created: firstly, the waterline length is maximised for the overall length of the hull, and secondly, the bow is much finer for an improved ride in rough conditions.


The Dickey Semifly 32's LOA is 10.2m with a waterline length of just over 9m, so it's almost all waterline length.


"A bigger boat always behaves better than a smaller boat in a sea," says Jason. "Our boat weighs what a boat this size should weigh and we've got a waterline length in a 10m boat similar to that of a 12m boat.


"So now, essentially, you've got a lightweight 12m boat, which is how the performance, greater fuel efficiency, and excellent ride are achieved," he said.


Additionally, the sharp, wave-piercing bow, which Jason claims is three to four times finer than comparative boats, makes a real difference to the ride in rougher conditions.


"Basically, we've pulled that bow out creating a greater distance between the helmsman and the impact zone, and the impact zone itself is sharper so the collision is softer," continued Jason. "It basically parts the wave before you ride over it and then the chines provide the lift. You cut and then lift, and it's the same in a following sea. There are no negatives to a plumb bow."




Sublime finish
Sports car-like performance, with a soft and responsive ride
Attention to detail
Innovations galore
A truly classy vessel




Bowrail-mounted fenders create a small blind spot at the helm







The Dickey Semifly 32's level attitude and smart hull design also meant it held plane at 12kts on test day, a feature that should see her comfortably handle shoddier conditions.






370hp Volvo Penta D6


RPM              SPEED      FUEL BURN     EFFICIENCY
600                3.8           1lt/h               0.26lt/nm
1000              6              3.9lt/h            0.65lt/nm
1500              8.1           9.9lt/h            1.22lt/nm
2000              11.5         23.2lt/h           2.01lt/nm
2400              17.9         34.2lt/h           1.91lt/nm
2800              22.2         44.8lt/h           2.01lt/nm
3000              25.5         50.3lt/h           1.97lt/nm
3200              27.6         57.5lt/h           2.08lt/nm
3400              29.5         69.1lt/h           2.34lt/nm
3550 (WOT)   31.2         78.3lt/h           2.5lt/nm


* <I>Figures supplied from the Volvo Penta performance report and are the average, with and against the tide. Top speed logged was 33kts.</I>




MATERIAL: 5083 marine-grade aluminium
TYPE: Planing monohull
LOA : 10.6m
BEAM: 3.3m
WEIGHT: 4900kg




FUEL: 640lt
WATER: 200lt




MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta D6
DRIVE: Sterndrive fitted with duoprops



Contact Jason at Dickey Boats
Phone: +64 6 834 1310



tradeaboat says…

Jason Dickey doesn't do compromises and it clearly shows - Tribal is quite simply stunning in every detail. The level of finish, performance and it's dream-like ride puts this vessel in a class above. In a perfect world I'd be handing in my notice and departing over the horizon in one of my own. The world isn't perfect but the Dickey Semifly 32 is very, very close…

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 424, Mar 2012.



Want more? Compare the Dickey Semifly 32 to the Jeanneau NC 11, reviewed last year by DAVID LOCKWOOD.

Find Dickey boats for sale.


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