Home' Afloat : AFLOAT October 2017 Contents Take monthly with water October 2017 57
ON THE WATER
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Afloat is free and so is the wind. So it
stands to reason that a big part of
our readership is setting sail. Most
crew on someone else’s yacht. Of the yacht
owners, most have a boat more than 10 years
old. Old yachts are omnipresent and remain a
cost-effective way to get afloat and go places.
This isn’t news, mind you. Cast your eyes
around Pittwater or Sydney Harbour and most
of the boats swinging on moorings are ‘classic’ fibreglass yachts.
By golly there is some good buying among them. With old diesel
engines and saltwater toilets, these are the real stinkboats of today.
Don’t take offence. As you start the mechanical naturally-
aspirated Bukh or Nanni diesel clanger when the wind has fizzled,
or charge the batteries at night, you are awakening a dinosaur
with a roar.
Then you flush your rotten saltwater head and grey water into
the anchorage, start up, clunk-up the anchor, and bear away. In a
pall of smoke and oil, the rigging vibrating like a weight-loss belt,
you tootle off home with a sail set somewhere along the way.
As most cruising sailors will attest, you tend to motor 50 per
cent of the time, motor-sail 25 per cent, and sail the remaining 25
per cent. The wind ain’t that free after all.
The old ‘stinkboat’ power cruisers with twin engines emit twice
as much fumes and filth along the way. It’s miniscule in terms of
overall carbon pollution and CO2 from industry, but relative to the
activity, old-tech marine engines are agricultural (and reliable)
Aboard the new-age yachts, catamarans and motorboats,
the experience is far more dignified. Today’s immeasurably more
pleasurable pleasure boats have morphed into sophisticated
craft with all the comforts of home. Heck, you can go boating in
air-conditioned comfort and not even cop a drop of salt spray on
your designer sunnies.
Boatbuilders are going out of their way to make boating less,
well, less like boating and more like float-homing. Miele appliances,
Zippo taps for soda water at call, washer-dryers, and staterooms
the size of bedrooms are par for the course. All this stuff is great
for your Hamilton Island seafari, but it’s more likely lugged to Store
Beach and back to Rushcutters Bay these days.
But in terms of engineering, the new-age boating experience
takes some beating. With common-rail low-emissions’ engines,
generators with underwater exhausts and gas splitters, silent power
production via inverters and battery banks, and digital switching
for all the latest electrical push-button gizmos, pleasure boating
has gone high-tech.
There are joysticks and articulating pod drives for ease of
docking, GPS station holding functions for maintaining your
position hands free while preparing the decks when shorthanded,
even gyro stabilisers to remove the rock and roll from the whole
Even if you can drive a boat and enjoy the motion of being at
sea, as I do, what you notice most is the lack of vibration, noise
and fumes. It’s that combination, an auto-like experience and with
less fuel burn, that is attracting new boaters to the fold. But you
need some folding stuff, too.
Softcore is the new hardcore and the more integration, creature
comforts and conveniences the better these days. The new badge
of honour is stepping off your 50-footer at the dock after some joy
sticking without an Ashley Martin hair out of place. Or sailing two-
up to Pittwater using the electric winches and autopilot.
The thing is, none of this new clean-running, low emissions,
push-button technology is cheap and the costs associated with
the transition from old to new are being borne by the consumer.
It’s not always up front either.
So the smart thing here is to let someone else pay for the new
technology and to carry on using what we have today. My boat
is 12 years old and the twin 480hp Cummins engines blow a bit
of smoke as they rumble along. The 11kW generator of the same
vintage pumps a bit of noxious gas down the portside. I’m a stink
boater and I’m proud of it.
If you’re new to boating and don’t have mega bucks, look to
the second-hand market for a 7-15-year-old boat. You get a lot of
uncomplicated engineering, loads of boating and sailing space,
and plenty of real fun. Buying second-hand is a solution to keeping
boating affordable. h
If you want to get afloat and save, then consider a fibreglass yacht or powerboat more than
10 years old. They aren’t as refined as today’s high-tech craft, but they are keenly priced
and simple enough to keep well serviced.
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