By Hamish MacAdie of HTM Services
On 1 April I flew to the Gold Coast to deliver a 2013-built Salthouse Cabriolet 49 to Tutukaka Harbour. This is a distance of around 1350nm. I had been commissioned as Skipper for this journey by Dean Salthouse - the builder of the boat. Having never been aboard a Salthouse boat before, let alone taken one across the Tasman, I was pleased that Dean, who had built the boat to Lloyds’ specification, would be aboard along with Brett Millikin - About Marine, a marine engineer.
Features and interior
My first impression of the boat was how elegant she looked, long and slender. It made one think of her as the Mercedes Benz of the water. The finish on the exterior was excellent, the paint job mint. Dean told me all the boats are faired after being removed from the mould to remove any imperfections or potential bleeding through of the fiberglass cloth and then spray painted.
The interior was no less impressive. All leather custom made furniture, satin finished varnished wood and a distinctive textured, stainless steel kitchen bench top with a finish that looked like woven fabric. The helm station was extremely comfortable with amazing visibility. The setout on the console was simple, yet there was everything you could ever need.
The transdiesel engine management computer was most impressive, with the fuel burn figures spot on. There was also plenty of lighting and lighting modes to give you as much or as little light as needed in every nook and cranny - including neon night lighting in key areas.
One of my favourite features of the boat was the forward ensuite. It had a sit down shower, which was an absolute delight to use at sea, with a teak floor and opaque roller screen cover that self cleans itself as it retracts away.
Our first challenge was to address fuel capacity ahead of the long trip to New Zealand, with the boat having a capacity of 1300 litres. We bought two additional 1000L reinforced fuel containers to give a total of 3300L and fed these directly into the main tank via a dedicated fuel line and an inline fuel pump.
Due to the rigidity and size of the tanks, the only space available was right at the stern of the boat, with one tank even on the duck board. What was unknown was the effect this would have on the performance and structural characteristic of the boat. Firstly, the boat’s ability to trim with nearly 2T of extra weight in the worst spot. Secondly, with almost a tonne of weight on the duck board, could it structurally hold the load in potentially rough seas?
We tested this on run down to Coffs Harbour with full fuel to see how the boat would perform. The conditions weren’t perfect but this gave us great chance to test the boat's performance and structural integrity in its new configuration, while still being close to the safety of shore.
We did the 150nm run down to Coffs at 11-12kts and arrived shortly after dawn. After an inspection of the boat, particularly the structure of the duck board, I decided the boat could handle a Tasman Sea crossing in the forecast conditions.
The performance on the trip to Coffs was a pleasant surprise, even with the extra weight. Although we couldn't hold the nose down low enough even with max trim tabs to make efficient use of the long slender hull form, we were still able to get up onto the plane with ease and maintain this down to 9 kts. Effectively we were motoring on the rear flat portion of the hull pushing a lot of water even creating our own rooster tail. Looking out the back we made a good wakeboarding boat.
Our fuel figures suffered and the noise from bashing against waves made for less than ideal comfort on the trip down. Once the fuel tanks were topped up, I was able to confirm that the engine management system’s fuel figures were correct. This higher fuel burn would mean we would now have to make a stop at Lord Howe Island to refuel or run at 10kts rather than 15kts as we had planned. (Refer to Appendix 1 for fuel figures)
We departed Coffs Harbour just after midday on 2 April bound for Opua. The weather was clear skies, sunny 10-15 SE and 1m swell/waves. After evaluating the weather window and determining there was insufficient time to make the crossing at 10kts safely, it was decided that we would run at 15kts and make a fuel stop at Lord Howe Island, at which time we could either head back or take shelter, depending on the weather.
We arrived safely at Lord Howe Island shortly after midday the following day after covering 312nm in 23hr 30min, giving us an average of 13.5kts and consumption of 43L/hr. What a beautiful place! The performance of the boat on this leg again showed this boat has no problem in the ocean. During the previous evening the weather had worsened. Well offshore at this stage, the wind had increased to 20-25 SE and sea 1.5-3m, coming from two or three directions with the occasional backless wave. This made for a bumpy ride and required, at times, good hand control over the throttle to stop the boat falling off the waves. At some points we had to reduce speed to 8-9 kts. Sleeping aboard, however, was very comfortable as all the mattresses were spring, and felt like sleeping on a pillow of air as you floated over the waves.
As there was no cellphone coverage on the island we had to make all arrangements for refuelling via VHF. We found out from locals that the fuel truck was filling a Qantas plane and we would have to wait our turn but also, being low tide, there would be insufficient depth at the public jetty for three to four hours. I decided to launch the tender and go ashore to check the depth myself. The boat draws 1.1m together with the extra weight on the transom, maybe 1.5m. At the jetty I checked the depth with the 1.6m oar from the tender which didn't touch the bottom. We then manoeuvred the boat alongside the public wharf. The Fuel Price on the island was only AUD $2.85/L!! We took on 1000L, giving us a total of 3100L aboard. With 810nm to Opua we now had enough fuel to keep going at a minimum speed of 15kts with fuel to spare.
It was 1530 when we left Lord Howe Island, three hours after our arrival. Near perfect conditions prevailed, with flat rolling seas and under 10kts of wind. We put the throttle down and as long as the fuel burn was 60L/hr we took whatever speed we could achieve, as the rear tanks emptied the speed got higher and higher. Starting at 15/17 kts, by the end of the trip we were averaging 18/19 kts. The conditions were so calm I was even able to cook a Japanese curry on a non gimballing stove with the sauce full to the brim.
After a short pit stop, trawling (unsuccessfully) for Kingfish and Tuna around the Three Kings at lunchtime the net day, we docked in Opua, less than 3.5 days after leaving Coffs Harbour. The following day we cleared Customs and Immigrations and made our way to Tutukaka Harbour for the handover to the happy new owners. The final short leg was a great chance to finally open up the throttle and experience the boat in its prime. We trimmed the bow down, eating up the short sharp 1.5m waves, slicing through them like a knife through butter as we left The Bay of Islands heading East. Heading south we were able to surf the waves. The boats top speed is 26 kts and 140L/hr at 3600RPM.
All in all a great trip in a fantastic sea boat. Well-built and comfortable, The Salthouse Cabriolet 49 handled all the conditions without missing a beat.
For more information on boat deliveries, training or boat management and maintenance, please contact Hamish MacAdie, of HTM Services, on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 (0)402 343 694.