Not strictly speaking a charter yacht review but nevertheless a long journey worth following.
Kangaroo first came to my attention in around 2011 when it was up for sale after having made quite a splash in the media at the time – before Instagram and YouTube got started.
I was looking to purchase and this cat ticked all the boxes I thought needed ticking plus it had a really cool paint job.
Alas, circumstances changed and a purchase didn’t eventuate but Kangaroo kept hopping about, ploughing the oceans many times over.
Eventually, I lost sight of her until last month when I was invited to go for a two day cruise in the waters off Adelaide, Australia. The Kangaroo has made it home.
CRUISING OFF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Fast forward to 2020. A little less worldly, our overnight trip was in the waters of Adelaide in South Australia. I have always seen this stretch of ocean as a slightly limited cruising ground due to the perceived lack of protected anchorages in the area, cold water and sharks. I was going to be proven wrong.
We started off from the Wirrina Cove Marina, a somewhat failed development approximately 1h30min drive south of Adelaide. The advantage; it’s close to beautiful Kangaroo Island and only a short, 35nm hop across to Edithburgh and the Eyre Peninsula beyond.
With 20-25kts of SSE winds, heading NW made for some swift and comfortable sailing on this 40ft cat. First reef in the mains and full self-tacking jib gave the boat a good balance at a max speed of 12kts with almost no tide.
The sails were reasonable new, so trimming was straight forward. We used the Code 0 earlier on in the day but as the apparent wind speed climbed past 18kts we thought it was time to give it away.
Our destination for the night was a large anchorage just south of Edithburgh near Sultana Point. There are some large shoals off the coast, so accurate navigation was required, but the area is well marked. The anchorage was surprisingly calm throughout the night with predominantly southerly winds at around 15kts. The Cruising Yacht Club provides numerous mooring balls, giving peace of mind during the night.
The evening was spent off the generously proportioned and protected rear deck with the upstairs galley close by. No Australian boat would be complete without a barbecue on the rear, so steak and red wine were in order.
I never spent a night on one of these rather light-weight Fusion Cats before and am used to my much heavier Fountaine Pajot Helia 44 No Shoes. There was an expectation of some noisy bobbing around, but not so. I slept like a brick in the midship cabin on a large double bed, facing in the direction of travel.
Comfortable double cabin; For wet and rainy days – saloon with a view.
Even though Kangaroo is only 4ft shorter than my Helia, there is substantially less space inside. Compared to the large bathroom I am used to, this was a somewhat cramped experience. This cat is set up with an owners hull on the port side, so their bathroom is a little more comfortable. Maybe two owners hulls would be the answer.
Whilst on the topic of size and space, I feel it’s necessary to point out that this cat is by no means small. There is ample of room for storage and visitors.
At just above 5T, these cats are a compact, fun machine which are easily single handed. It’s responsive with a good motion in the water and minimal (almost none) slamming under the bridgedeck as we found out the next day, sailing upwind on our return to Wirrina Cove.
We decided on a quick stop at Troubridge Island to have a look at its historic lighthouse. There were a bunch of kite surfers having some fun on the island the previous day, so what could go wrong …
Well … you have to remember; Australia runs on rules. Many rules. And if you miss one, you will be told. Now, there are always a number of ways you can be told that you might have missed a rule. Unfortunately in this case ‘people management’ apparently wasn’t in the training manual. We thought we were infiltrating an area of national security.
Calm prevailed, we were allowed to take a picture of this beautiful lighthouse and the resident seal (not navy) and left on amicable terms. For future reference, Troubridge Island is National Park, no secret there, but you will need prior permission to go there and the approval process takes 10 day.
At the caretaker’s defense, we could have read the fine print prior to departure!
So, onwards with the sailing. Another day of good, steady winds, building up to 18kts. Even though it was straight on the nose for the course we wanted to take.
Room for four.
Falling off 40° quickly made the Kangaroo jump across the pond at 8kts, the daggerboards certainly help reduce the drift substantially. Before we knew, the cat was tied up again at Wirrina Cove.
How did the Kangaroo shape up after 11 years at sea? Not bad at all.
Structurally it’s a very sound yacht. The shell held up extremely well and will for a long time to come. At the time, many ‘experts’ questioned the wisdom of gluing prefabricated panels together but alas, not a single crack anywhere. Gelcoat still in good shape. The saloon windows all needed replacing recently; most hatches are still the original ones.
Electrically, the current owner told me, it was a disaster when they took over the yacht and needed a lot of fixing within the first two years. They used some type of early C-bus system but its didn’t really last the distance. I didn’t get a chance to ask the question if a more trained service agent would have been able to rectify the issues.
Like any yacht that’s not being used frequently, the Kangaroo suffered from a lack of TLC at times when work-life gets in the way. This can quickly catch up, however the current owner is making a great effort to get back on top of things.
So apart from some cosmetics and electrical issues, this little cat held up pretty well. It certainly sails very nicely and I am hoping for another invite …