The return of the Kiwi Icon - Boating NZ - August 2005

Dean and Bob Salthouse have taken a seminal Kiwi motor launch, the evergreen Corsair 36, and reworked it for 21st century boating. The new Corsair is longer and boasts a thoroughly modern, new millennium interior while retaining the family-friendly, versatility that made Corsairs Mk I and II so popular with the New Zealand boating public. Bob Salthouse has had more than 700 boats built to his designs and this is a new model Corsair 44, designed by Bob and built by his son, Dean Salthouse. The 44 is an extended version of Bob’s Corsair 36, one of the most popular production boats built in New Zealand in the 1980s.Dean initially pursued an independent streak and resisted joining the family business. Instead, he served his apprenticeship as a marine cabinetmaker and joiner. However, he could not ignore his calling and joined his father in Salthouse Marine where he learned boatbuilding, including work on the Corsair Mark II in the 1980s.

“I grew up in Greenhithe, with views of the water, surrounded by boats,” Dean says. “As a kid, I played in and around boats and in the boatyard. The family business was boat building. I seemed destined to become a boat builder myself.”

After building a family boat he decided to establish Dean Salthouse Next Generation Boats. Bob offered him the mould of the Corsair 36 as a starting point. The Corsair Mk I and Mk II were extremely successful models. Secondhand examples remain popular. The hull’s reputation for sea kindliness, coupled with Salthouse build quality and a versatile ‘Kiwi-style’ family-friendly layout, ensure strong demand for old Corsairs. Salthouse reasoned that the Corsair concept would be equally attractive today. Dean Salthouse lengthened the moulds to 41ft, with a length overall of 13.5 metres (44ft 4in), and updated the boat’s interior.

The new design became the Corsair Cabriolet 44. The Corsair 44 is a sedan model with a light, open interior. The helmseat, galley and saloon area are one level, providing a social configuration that maximises the boat’s 4.12 metre (13ft 6in) beam. Charisma’s beamy cockpit and easy flow, open plan saloon/galley encourage indoor/outdoor living. Wide doors connect the galley to the cockpit. Wrap-around leatherette cockpit settees create a comfortable outdoor living area. A stow-able table converts the port settee to an al fresco dining area. The cockpit is well protected with removable clears on either side and is comfortable, even in inclement weather.

The transom door is 1.5 metres wide. When at anchor, the skipper can remove it for stowage in the starboard locker, creating an even more expansive outdoor living area that blends the spacious cockpit and wide duckboard. There is room for at least four burly anglers here and a fish tank is conveniently integrated in the duckboard. With the safety lines down, the cockpit and duckboard can accommodate the 2.6-metre RIB for short runs between anchorages.

A large hatch in the centre of the cockpit sole provides access to the storage beneath – enough to take half a dozen dive bottles, the outboard and fishing gear. The 900-litre stainless steel fuel tank is in the forward section of the storage area. There is also storage accessed through the port and starboard settee seats.

The saloon detail reflects Dean’s background in cabinetry. The interior is light and spacious, thanks to an abundance of windows. The décor includes soft upholstered overhead panels and leather settees with traditional, teak wood cabinetry providing the contrast.
Large sliding saloon windows offer good ventilation and access to the side decks when handling dock lines. The side windows and two large, sliding skylights in the cabin top mean the saloon can be opened up completely, letting sunshine and breezes in, transforming the saloon and fully justifying the boat’s Cabriolet moniker. Underway, the helmsman can sit on the seat back with his head through the hatch, bridge-decker-style, for unobstructed, all round vision.

The galley, aft in the main cabin, has plenty of storage and is adorned with many big boat features: the large slide-out pantry locker, the purpose-built crockery and glassware drawers, a waist-high, front load refrigerator, a separate top load freezer, four-burner gas hob and oven. The twin basin, stainless steel sink is integrated into the stainless steel bench top, and sets off the cabinetry.

A leather settee to port has a drop-in table and convertible pedestal to form a double bunk. A second leather settee lies to the starboard side of the saloon, just forward of the galley area. This settee pulls out to form a convertible single bunk. The wide, overstuffed, comfortable helm seat is big enough for two adults or more often in this case, one adult and two kids. A drawer below the helm seat has compartments for bar beverages. Visibility from the helm seat is excellent at all speeds. When berthing, or for quick access to the foredeck, the boats large side windows can be slid back allowing easy egress onto the side decks. With the window open the helmsman can sit in the helmseat and swing his legs out onto the side deck in one easy motion.

Passengers can enjoy the expansive views from anywhere in the saloon, even while sitting at the table, thanks to raised seating and a low dash. The saloon is surrounded by glass – large, deep windows and skylights – ensuring plenty of light and giving the boat a spacious, open feel.

Forward of the saloon, down the steps and through a narrow companionway lie the sleeping accommodations and the head. The master’s cabin lies to port. Opposite is the modern vanity/head and separate shower. The cabin forward has four single bunks, but options in the configurations are available. Both cabins are well appointed, with plenty of ambient light provided by large opening Lewmar hatches overhead.

The Salthouse, big-boat experience is evident throughout the engine room, which is under the saloon sole, although we accessed it by lifting the companionway steps. The large area under the saloon floor is divided into the engine room and a tank room, which houses water tanks and fresh and saltwater pressure water pumps with accumulator tanks. These are easily accessible for maintenance and the fresh water system is identical to the saltwater wash down system, so parts are interchangeable. The tank room isolates the engines from the living areas, which helps make for a quieter boat when underway. The spacious engine room is well soundproofed. There’s enough space for optional genset or other machinery.

After admiring Charisma’s appointments, we fired up the VM diesels and headed out to take some photos. The inline four-cylinder diesel engines develop 200hp (147kW) at 3800rpm. The boat handled nicely in the marina, pivoting smartly in her length even without a bow thruster, which is optional. After clearing the breakwater, we notched her up to a comfortable cruising speed of 17 knots at about 3000rpm; top speed of 23 knots is reached at 3800rpm. These are the first Detroit’s of their type fitted to a boat in New Zealand and their performance and relative fuel efficiency impressed. Dean Salthouse resisted the temptation, and some urging from Bob Salthouse, the boat’s designer, to fit sternlegs, reasoning that there is a pool of old model Corsair owners who prefer shafts for their relative low maintenance. Future versions will include a single screw option. At cruising speed, the engines are fairly economical to run and burn 43 litres or 9.5 gallons per hour, combined. Running them at top speed will nearly double fuel consumption. The 900-litre fuel tank gives a cruising range of about 300 miles.

max speed 23 knots
cruising speed 17-20 knots

Salthouse commissioned John Menzies from Dieselcraft Evaluations to undertake fuel consumption trails. Charisma has the latest Raymarine electronics: C80-colour GPS/plotter/ radar, Tridata speed/depth/temperature display, Autohelm autopilot. The VHF radio is discreetly located overhead and behind the helm seat in earshot of the skipper with other electronic devices also mounted high up for easy operation. The windscreens are equipped with AFI wipers. Controls are convenient and well positioned. The day of our review gave us calm conditions, so we had to find some wakes to see how the Corsair hull cut through the seas; she felt comfortable and dry. Anchored, the boat was stable. We moved easily from the saloon to the cockpit to watch Dean’s girls try some fishing off of the duckboard. The duckboard greatly extends the boat’s usable cockpit space and also incorporates a central, pullout dive-ladder.

Communication between the duckboard and the cockpit is excellent, thanks to extra-wide transom doors. Railings and yacht-style wire gate keeps the kids safe on the duckboard, while the rest of the family watches on from the comfort of the cockpit’s leather settees. A removable canvas canopy keeps the sun off and gives some protection from rain.

The Corsair 44 incorporates many positive features that made the Corsair 36 so popular for many years. With a tried and proven hull design, Dean and Bob Salthouse have developed the next generation Corsair and it looks set to be a great success. The Corsair is a vessel of real quality and craftsmanship. It seems an ideal family boat, and may even be passed on from father to son, continuing