BOAT TEST: TERRARA 18 OPEN LAUNCH

By: David Lockwood


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Forget thirsty V8s roaring about at 100kmh - this little riverboat has more character than a ute-load of kelpie pups, sips its fuel politely and lets its passengers absorb the subtle rhythms of life on a river. David Lockwood reports.

BOAT TEST: TERRARA 18 OPEN LAUNCH
Terrara 18 Open Launch

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #177, March 2004 

 

 

Sydney's Parramatta River is to boating what George Street is to motoring. Fast ferries hurtle down the impossibly-tight channels like buses down a one-way street. Workboats race from one bank to the next like working dogs, and everywhere there are anglers  either drifting or anchored in boats, or hurling great lumps of lead from the shore.

Lining the river are more structures, wharves, bridges, parks, waterfront homes, factories and concrete than you will find in Long Island. It is very easy to flash past and think, well… nothing much at all. Most local boaties in Sydney have trouble seeing past watering eyes and crammed leisure schedules.

Getting a fast boat to outrun the pack is one approach. But another is taking a slow one for a change of pace. A slow boat lets you see things that would otherwise pass as a blur.

On a big river, a slow boat is conduit to local culture. You can't escape the osmosis and you invariably absorb the real rhythms of the river.

This is why I silently thrilled at the chance to take to bustling Parramatta River alone in an 18ft putt-putt with a 10hp inboard diesel motor. The nice big tiller sat under my arm like the weekend broadsheet I picked up from the front yard. The lazy mutter of the two-pot Nanni motor counted time like a metronome on adagio rather than allegro.

The leisurely pace of the Terrara 18 Open on the fast-paced Sydney river was wonderful. A lot of madcap, modern-day trailerboaters would do well to take a trip in this displacement boat. The potential of this traditional putt-putt launch is limited only by your imagination.

 

 

HANDMADE LAUNCH



The Terrara 18 Open is hand built by Paul Kennedy on the NSW South Coast. This open-boat version follows the original Terrara 18, which has a cabin and provision for a portable loo and vee-berth. So why an open model?

"It came about after a buyer at the Sydney Boat Show said he would take one if I removed the cabin," Kennedy said as he peeled back the boat's big cover draped over a custom-made optional alloy boom.

The story behind the hull is somewhat more involved, however. It came about after a long search by Kennedy on Sydney's waterways.

He told me he scouted Sydney Harbour from top to bottom noting all the classic craft swinging on moorings, looking for a jaunty little dayboat to resurrect the joys of slow boating.

But the classic craft he was seeking sat right under his nose. A Nowra boatie had an original clinker-sided river-fishing boat called the Terrara Queen that was about 65 years young. The boat was named after the old commercial centre of the area, Terara (with one "r").

Apparently the owner had grown tired of maintaining his old timber boat, so Kennedy did the logical thing: he made the owner an offer and flopped a mould. He bogged the hull to change it from being clinker-sided to a carvel boat with smooth sides. And there began the first steps towards the Terrara 18 as you see it today.

 

 

BUILT TO LAST



The round-bilge hull was given some ballast. This was necessary because the hull is made from fibreglass and is lighter than the original timber boat. Some 230kg of lead was added to the keel to create a low centre of gravity, better stability and quicker righting capabilities.

While the boat pictured is kept on the water, Kennedy supplies his Terrara 18s to the trailerboat market too. You can tow the boat on a single or dual-axle braked trailer. On road, the rigs weigh about 1350-1400kg.

The demo boat also had a few options - namely that excellent cover, a coloured hull, real teak decks and seat cushions.

Still, $35,900 represents good buying in today's 18-footer market. You'll need to add $4100 to $4800 for a single or dual-axle trailer.

If it were my boat, I'd also order a period-style canopy, an insulted icebox so I had a cold drink and sandwich at hand, and a pair of rodholders so I could troll up a tailor or salmon when they were running or perhaps dangle a line for flathead at anchor.

At rest, the round-bilge hull is surprising stiff thanks to that aforementioned ballast.

Whether you keep the boat on a mooring or trailer, the solid-'glass hull should be around for a good many decades. It would sit nicely in a hire-boat fleet on, say, Gippsland or the Hawkesbury. The boat's engineering has been made with survey standards in mind.

The shaft-driven diesel engine, PSS shaft seal, bronze through-hull fittings and vinylester resins in the tie layer will help with longevity. The Nanni has a wet exhaust and is freshwater cooled, too.

The 50lt fuel tank is a stainless-steel number, as is the tiller, pintles and gudgeon. The tiller is removable for beaching, and the prop - a three-blade 14 x 17in bronze number - is protected by the boat's keel.

A central bilge compartment with automatic pump with float switch allows you to leave the boat on a swing mooring come rain or sunshine. The battery is fitted with an isolating switch and is connected to a small 12V switch panel for activating things like the navigation lights.

 



DISTINCTIVE DAYBOAT



The Terrara 18 certainly looks the part with a smart Oxford Blue hull, teak decks, timber bowsprit, quaint timber handrails, rubbing rails and toerails. There cutouts in the timber toerail up front that make cute little fairleads. The deck fittings are stainless steel or chromed brass or bronze.

Full marks for the full-sized anchor well and hardwood jarrah bowsprit with roller and big cross-bollard. The boat has a lot of freeboard and buoyancy up front, so there's no chance of shipping water over the bow. This also augurs well for carrying a big payload.

I mentioned the potential for the Terrara 18 being limited only by your imagination. Putting that to work, I believe this would be a nice boat in a charter fleet, or a performing-dog boat if not for picnic-boat duties.

Unlike the cabin version, the open boat doesn't have a forward bulkhead. It does have forward seating that, without the veil of a bulkhead, relates with the aft seating.

Tucked behind the big bow, it means you get excellent protection from spray. Add a cover and you could camp aboard or provide privacy for a marine toilet.

The forward L-shaped lounge has sufficient seating for four to six people. The moulded seating encircling the cockpit can cater for five to six more. Unlike many go-fast pleasureboats, this boat has a lot of seats and deck space.

The two-pot Nanni diesel is under an insulated hatch, and the engine control panel with key-starting and pull-toggle stop is alongside. The throttle and cable were from Morse.

Last but not least is the transom. It has a swim ladder and pop-up stainless-steel cleats. Thanks to rolled edges, the transom makes a mighty-fine bumrest. It is here that one assumes the position of skipper - one hand on the tiller, the other twirling the grey beard - enjoying the improved view over the high bow. Quite by design, the engine throttle is at toe level.

 

 

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE



Piece it all together and the Terrara 18 Open must be considered a practical boat in which you can do a lot of things except waterski. I certainly took the chance to disappear up the river for the best part of an afternoon like a duck to water. A lovely afternoon it was, too.

En route, I was impressed by the Terrara 18's surefooted motion through the water and the way in which it sneakily reels in the miles. Despite the passing ferries and not-inconsiderable boat wake, this boat felt like it was the guardian of the river.

Unlike most of the boats buzzing past I got to take in the ambience, views and vistas during my upstream adventure. Top speed of about 14kmh sees the 10hp two-pot Nanni diesel burn less than one litre of fuel per hour.

Fuel consumption was among the thoughts occupying my mind as I flashed a wry smile and waved to the various madcap boaties. I think it was The Eagles who sung the line "life in the fast lane surely makes you lose your mind". You can be the judge of that - but this launch is a ticket to a more peaceful time.

 

 

TERRARA 18 OPEN LAUNCH

 

Price as tested: $35,980 plus $4100 and $4890 for single or dual-axle trailer respectively
Options fitted: Cockpit cover, Oxford Blue hull, teak decks and seat cushions
Priced from: $29,990

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Solid-'glass hull
Type: Round-bilge displacement hull
Length overall: 5.60m
Beam: 2.15m
Draft: About 0.6m
Deadrise: Flat aft
Weight: Hull only 965kg
(1350-1400kg on trailer)

 

 

CAPACITIES


Berths: Possible 1-2 on seating in bow
Fuel: 50lt
Water: n/a

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Nanni 2.45 HE Eco (10hp) marine diesel
Type: Inline two-cylinder four-stroke diesel
Rated hp: 10 @ 3600rpm
Displacement: 0.245lt
Weight: 91kg plus gearbox
Gearbox (make/ratio): Technodrive
Twin-Disc 2.6:1
Props: Three-blade 14 x 17in bronze

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Kennedy Shipwrights, South Nowra, NSW, tel (02) 4422 8023 or visit www.kennedyshipwrights.com.au

 

 

HIGHS


Simplicity, space, seaworthiness, economy, comfort and style
Family-car towing 
Good for fishing or cruising
Easily handled

 

 

LOWS


Needs a canopy and a portable loo with a privacy curtain 
Timber trim will need six-monthly maintenance

 

Story: David Lockwood Photos: John Ford
First published in TrailerBoat #177

Find Terrara boats for sale.

 


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