Home' Afloat : AFLOAT July 2015 Contents 44 AFLOAT.com.au July 2015
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
BOATING WITH PURPOSE
SALES • SERVICE • INSTALLATION
• Servicing from Hawkesbury
River to Port Stephens
• Fully licensed and insured
• 24/7 emergency service
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Boats that stand the test of time don’t deviate
too much from tradition. They have a timeless
line, a practical layout, a sense of purpose
and poise. Their raison d’etre still remains today:
fishing, boating, coastal cruising, liveaboard sailing,
something other than just parading.
I was reminded of this very fact after a recent
virtual-boating voyage through my hard drives. The
old images with nigh a grey hair seem like yesterday.
So too the boats. I can remember with clarity how
they performed, their strengths and weaknesses.
There was a lot of enthusiasm as evidenced by the
energetic boat tests.
So many of these boats du jour are now long dead in the
water. You have to question whether they ever had a purpose and
a future beyond just-add-water gratification. Back in the pre-GFC
days a lot of the attraction of boating was all about flaunting
your wealth and keeping up with the Joneses.
In that heady era, I’m not sure that pleasure boating grew its
support base much at all. The fly-by-night boaters have moved
on, the showboats are noticeable by the absence, and the way
we go boating is changing. Or is it?
This brings us to the enduring craft that didn’t so much jump
out from my 1998-2002 hard drive but cruised into view with the
same grace, stature and presence they had more than a decade
ago. These are boats built on a recipe for recreations that still
hold sway today.
Of course, economics had a lot to do with the survival of
some boat brands. Even Australia’s biggest, Riviera, had to work
its way through receivership. In the wake of the clean-out, the
multi-nationals have started to lay claim to more of our new-
boat market, especially those from Europe building a boat to
a keen price.
It’s now a struggle to find an Australian yachtmaker. Photos
from the aforesaid hard drive of the Northshore 369, a fine club
racer based on the 370 with lines from Scott Jutson, point to
how hard it has become to compete with the likes of Beneteau,
Jeanneau, et al. The catamaran scene has also shifted offshore
and is largely European.
So what has survived the passage of time? It’s a good question
as we head this month towards the Sydney International Boat
Show, widely regarded as a boat-buying opportunity, where the
latest and greatest from the big overseas marques mixes it with
our local yards.
What are the timeless craft that will be around in another 10
years? I think it gets back to that key word: purpose. The days
of sitting idle on a boat haven’t really returned. Sure, rusted-on
boaters raft-up with friends and share lunches and dinners aboard.
But new boaters are looking for a compelling reason to get afloat.
It’s now all about active pursuits: fishing, watersports like
wakeboarding and wake surfing, cruising on fast catamarans,
long-range motorboating, using joysticks and pod drives around-
town, and buying value-driven European craft at the bottom end
of big-boat town. Then comes the 50+ footer market.
For my money I’d part with $10K for a driveaway 4.2m or
slightly bigger dory with a flat floor and 20hp outboard or more.
The backyard would be the place for a fitout creating rod, tackle,
live-bait and fish storage. Inshore, harbour and estuary fishing
is firing on recreational-only waterways like Sydney Harbour.
The American-made offshore centre consoles still rule the
sportsfishing waves, only outboard engines have improved
radically. Four-strokes and the new ETEC G2 from Evinrude have
boosted small-boat range, while affordable big-brain electronics
are making navigation a snap.
My hard drive tells the story of enduring local trailerboat
builders like Cruise Craft and Haines Hunter with their honest
fibreglass cuddy cabin boats. There are many more plate-
aluminium fishing boats these days, especially Kiwi imports.
The advantage is low maintenance, but glass has more class.
The tow-sports market has lured the younger generation
pulling off hitherto new moves on boards. They don’t know how
to ski, but with GoPros and social media the visual sports like
wake surfing are go. Combining the best of both worlds, crossover
fishing and watersports boats are gaining traction.
Meantime, sportscruisers, runabouts and performance boats
seem to lack a clear direction in today’s pared-back boating
world. There’s quite a dearth of new motorboats in the 30-40
foot range. New blood to the luxury end of the market is looking
at boatshare to share the costs.
If you intend to upgrade after three or five years then that
opens up a whole lot of other fashionable options. Who cares what
your boat looks like in 10 years? Our Riviera 42 just turned 10 and
it only seemed like yesterday. A timeless, practical, purposeful,
much-loved and lived-aboard family boat. h
Some things never change. Classic Sea-Al open tinnies like this one from a 2001
test are timeless boats in the extreme.
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