Home' Afloat : AFLOAT August 2014 Contents Take monthly with water August 2014 59
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
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They arrive with their puny outboard engines whirring like a
couple of stick blenders, carrying a team of football players
chanting “There’s a mooring, there’s a mooring,” as the driver
struggles to see from the internal helm, jams the throttles in reverse,
and the bowman with the boathook lunges for the loop to secure
Finally, when the engines are silent they sit there in their floating
brick, an image as nautically inspiring as a barracks barge, and they’ve
remained this way, contrasting with the surrounding natural beauty
shaped by Mother Nature over millennia, for far too long.
Enter a whole new concept set to inspire the dissonant and
inconsonant world of houseboats. The so-called MotherShip is a
clever Aussie-designed and -built floating holiday abode conceived
to swallow a typical nuclear family or two and all their must-have
“ She’s never going to be built in China,” s ays the managing
partner behind the MotherShip project, Tim Knox. “ To be honest
I’m fed up of folk saying we can’t manufacture here in Australia,
it’s defeatist and just plain wrong. We just have to build innovative
products in smart ways.”
Knox says his Eureka moment occurred some years back when he
made the observation that most boats on Sydney’s waterways were
hardly used. Why? After research, he believes he found the problem:
women. Or, to be more precise, men buying boats that women didn’t
like and that didn’t suit the ongoing needs of their family.
The Upper North Shore resident, who lives not far from houseboat
central on the Hawkesbury, set about creating a contemporary Aussie
craft that does things better, in a more environmentally – and family-
friendly way than the present-day clunkers.
The MotherShip’s styling cues draw on timeless Aussie
architecture: the rustic tin ‘house’ cladding and deep glazing are
features of note, while the first-class timber joinery imparts a natural
aesthetic. That Melamite, Hawaiian print and fluoro dunny lighting
found on hire houseboats, are noticeable by their absence.
From concept to her just-launched state, the MotherShip was
always a holistic design conceived to perform underway and at rest.
Top naval architect Andy Dovell, the pen behind a raft of successful
yachts and retro motorcruisers including the award-winning Palm
Beach, applied his nous to the project.
“I immediately felt Tim was on to something, spending time on
the water is great for families, but you do need space,” Dovell says.
“ Then the brief got really interesting, as Tim wanted the boat to be
eco-friendly and solar-powered.”
With a need for space and stability as well, a catamaran
became the obvious choice. But Knox says that thinking outside the
[houseboat] square has been the key to the MotherShip’s outcome.
“ Sometimes industries get set in their ways. If you don’t innovate
you might as well throw in the towel. We’ve got bags of ideas,” he
The MotherShip measures 45 feet long and will sleep 12 in comfort
in four cabins located in the hulls, as per a sailing catamaran, thereby
freeing up deck space. There are two bathrooms each with a shower
and abundant living room for another family, friends, and importantly
children’s friends. This bodes well for charter, too.
Each hull is powered by a 20kW electric motor, from the American
electric-motor manufacturer Elco with a 120-year history, producing
equivalent grunt to twin 40hp diesel motors, it is claimed. The electric
motors are quiet, producing no fumes or greenhouse gasses, and with
the efficient low-drag hulls it is hoped top speed is around 10 knots.
Batteries to power the motors are charged by solar panels. As
a back-up there is a 12kva diesel generator. When fully charged,
the batteries provide enough power to cruise at 6-7 knots for six
hours. When the generator is switched on, cruising speed can be
maintained indefinitely. The main helm is on the upper deck but
there’s a nifty fold-down helm station that drops down from the
saloon roof back inside.
“If you take the distractions of modern life away, it’s amazing
how quickly families come together,” Knox adds. “ Simple pleasures
like swimming, fishing and kayaking followed by a meal around a
big table are the stuff that builds family bonds.”
The MotherShip was recently launched in Nowra, where it was
built between two different yards, and the houseboat costs $799,000
with a luxury fitout and stunning joinery.
Hopefully, this is the catalyst for more aesthetically pleasing,
intelligent and agreeable houseboats in future. But what will you
do about those end-of-season football crews?
More at www.MotherShipmarine.com.au.
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