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It is a big deal…

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat-World 26 Feb 09:00 UTC
The first of the Wooden Boat Shop Deal Island 50's, 'Gina' glides along during sea trials © Photo supplied

Docked at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club during the recent 49er and Nacra 17 World Championships was this vessel. To be honest, it had me at Deal Island, which is quite possibly one of my favourite places on the planet, despite residing bang smack in the middle of Bass Strait.

Back in the day, Brumbies (wild horses) used to run around in utter joy, and the water was soooooooo clear (yes, cold too), and with the most gorgeous petrel blue colouring. You watched the fish swim across the mostly sandy bottom, and if you were lucky, they jumped onto your hook...

Now you had to look, but right there on her quarters, as the tumblehome met her teak transom was her model name. That had to mean she was the latest from the renowned Wooden Boat Shop (WBS). An introduction and chat with her proud new owner, as well as the man most responsible for her being created, Tim Phillips, confirmed it all. There are a few very cool things about the Deal Island 50, and we'll come to that in due course, but before we do so, there are a couple of things to explain why we got so excited.

Two sectors of the boating world are doing very well right now, thank you. They are the retro/lobster boat/Down East category, and then day boats. Here was the perfect example that could do both; whether it was two, four or six off on a delightful passage, or load up the football team and hangers on for lunch at your favourite anchorage, or a tour around the harbour.

The WBS was born out of the need to firstly restore, and then later on build from scratch, the Mornington Peninsula's famed Couta Boats. Originally these were the local fishing vessel, where the first home with the prized Barracouta, hence the boat's name, got the best price.

Today there is more than a vibrant scene both there, and also in Sydney for these classic racers, and yes, sheep stations (really large ranches for those in the Northern Hemisphere) have been know to be bet on certain championships. That all comes down to performance, not just from the crew, but also of the craft themselves, and one of the key determinants there is weight. Being light, but also strong and durable is how you win races, even in the classics.

The WBS twist on theme

With their launches, the WBS has remained true to all of that, but also ensured that these delightful motor yachts have a certain commercial edge to them, so that they remained anchored to their origins. The crayfish pot hauler fitted to the craft in question here is somewhat of an emphatic statement to that premise.

The WBS make bespoke vessels, albeit to a set platform. There are always tweaks, additions and customisation in all of their boats. The original, displacement Nepean 30, and express Cheviot 32, were followed up with the Shearwater 38 and Efficient 44. With the Deal Island 50, you had all that extra space for entertaining, significant ocean range at her nominated cruising speed of 15-18 knots, and then a more than brisk 28 knots when you give her 1000hp Volvo Penta D13 wide open throttle. Giddy up!

This particular craft is notable for her huge main saloon, helm, adjacent crew seat, inline galley, large settee (incl. table on ram), wet well under her cockpit sole, BBQ out aft, pot haul for crays, cockpit table and deck chairs, large Master Stateroom for'ard, large head and wet room to starboard, bunk to port, which doubles as a lounge, and that wood stove.

Efficient and Intelligent

Andy Dovell did her naval architecture, and she does have a significant keel that will protect her massive 37.5-inch diameter wheel downstairs when you are manoeuvring into your favourite anchorages or crossing a bar. Best of all, her running angle is in the 1-2 degree bracket, and by all accounts she is an absolute glider (read very efficient), so we look forward to investigating that one out for ourselves in due course.

Clearly the main is good at doing its primary job, but it also does another, which means she does not have to carry a genset around, and we're straight back to mass, which our girl comes in at something like 15 metric tonnes half load. And there's one of the big reasons why she can be so quick when needed.

That other mission is to run the hydraulics, which include the bow thruster and the anchor winch, as well as a 24V alternator that runs at constant speed and belts out 300 Amps. Take that on, and if you are old enough, think back to Mercedes-Benz's 600 Grosser that did the windows, the boot, the sunroof and the suspension off the same principal.

What it all means is that you can run the air-con for five hours or so off the 600AH lithium house bank, charge it all up again in less than three hours, and as you can see, there are solar panels to help kick it all along as well. Top up her 1900l and you should get really good bang for your buck, especially if you are moving around... As the WBS say, "It is able to store about as much energy as the average house uses in a day."

The team try to keep it all to under AUD2M, depending on what is installed of course, but do try to stress that simplicity is the key so that it makes for easy passage-making. Your Deal Island 50 will take up to two years to make, which you can instantly appreciate when you account for her fitted timber composite frames that are glassed in, strip plank hull in hardwood below the waterline with cedar topsides, and all the deck and cabin etc are made from sustainably sourced African teak.

Right now the team at WBS are busily working on Deal Island 50 #2, another Efficient 44, a traditional clinker-built pilot launch, and as Wayne Parr says to me, "We're all set for anyone who wants a Couta boat!"

Here, there, also off to another place, and now back here once more...

Chris Tilley from Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance is a very amenable and likable fellow, as well as one of those who enjoys both sail and power, just like the WBS above. He has even owned both kinds of vessels. A Canadian by birth, from up New Brunswick way, he came to Australia a few years back now, where he immediately started work with Pantaenius.

Now just like us, Pantaenius are a global entity and a family, only they also are a blood family, with Harald Baum's three children now running the organisation that is well over a century old.

I got to know and work with Chris a lot in his original stint here in Australia, and just like Pantaenius' staff and clients, was sad to see him leave to return home. Evidently the grass was not greener on the other side, even if the snow was definitely whiter, for he is back, which is good news, and ever-more experienced both at sea and with Pantaenius itself for his time away.

Firstly it was the draw of the sea, and he completed a trans Atlantic voyage on a custom Bill Tripp 88-footer, and that's a nice way to do it too, I must say (yes it is insured with Pantaenius BTW). They averaged 250nm days for like nine days solely on the Starboard board from St Maarten to Horta, catching plenty of Yellow Fin Tuna along the way. They did Horta to Barcelona in seven days, with an impressive 300nm 24-hour stint to kick them off, which I am sure was a lot better than 50 knots on the nose trying to get through the Strait of Gibraltar, which is what they got later on. He enjoyed a classic Mediterranean season after that, which included Amalfi, Positano, the Isle of Capri, Naples, the island of Ponza, Sardinia, the delectable Bonifacio, and glorious Barcelona.

Chris would then head to Pantaenius' HQ in Hamburg to develop and then implement a consulting role in the USA, before ultimately returning to Australia. Chris was based in Newport R.I., and travelled America to attend boat shows in Newport, Norwalk, Annapolis and Fort Lauderdale, where he met with Pantaenius clients from around the world.

Tilley said to me just the other day, "I'm back here working with the sales team, arranging insurances, as well as travelling the country for boat shows and events. I do look forward to speaking with clients about upcoming cruising plans and helping arrange the insurance for their trip, as well as getting out on the water as much as I can on my new boat." It just so happens that she is Canadian built funnily enough. Q.E.D huh...

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you about Bavaria's new SR41 that combines Bavaria's R and S Lines, which our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, spent a lot of time with at Boot Düsseldorf, Leen Trimarans, Novaluxe's electric cat, Otam's über-express bullets for Cannes, big boats from Feadship and Benetti, Enata's Foiler gets even cooler, Horizon's FD102, Beneteau's Flyer 11, Yanmar's X47 for the America's Cup, Thunderbirds are go with Codecasa, Princess firing on all cylinders, Pershing's get even sexier, Royal Huisman's slippery 55m alloy gem, awards for Volvo Penta, new 40-footers from Hinckley, the cool HCB 42 Siesta, Johnson 80 with all the trimmings, the glorious 48 Wallytender X at Miami, MJM 43z, Maritimo enjoyed Miami too, MJM 43z, Mark Jardine's interview with X Shore's Konrad Bergström, Maritimo to defend their XCAT World Championship, Sirena Yachts make it to Australia, as well as much, much more below.

So as you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other parts of the group, go to the top of the Powerboat-World home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the site you want to see and, voila, it's all there for you.

Speak with you again, very, very soon. Time to go boating now...

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat-World

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