As a general rule I do not write design reviews for my own work, out of respect for those involved with this project and to help out Paul and the team at Multihull World magazine who are always encouraging and very supportive so I will give it a go!
At the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in 2012 I had one of my powercat designs on display, a 17m high speed planing cat with hydrofoil – Voodoo – that had come over the Tasman for the show. It was a popular exhibit with many people coming through, very hard to keep track of everyone that speaks to you, lots of faces and names that not always line up later on.
We must have made a good impression with some and later on I was contacted by a Sunshine Coast couple who were very keen on building something similar. So after a few emails and discussions, another meeting in Auckland, a brief was formed and the design process began.
The design that evolved was similar to Voodoo in layout and on board living arrangements, the ‘style’. The hull form was changed to a semi displacement type as it was determined that high speed was not a priority, more long range cruising at a moderately low speed, and the external styling was a bit different as well with an open flybridge and a different profile.
The preliminary design stage is always interesting, especially the first time you table a drawing and see the reaction from your client. It is why the brief is so critical, the ‘word picture’ needs to be accurate otherwise a lot of time and energy can be wasted. I can’t remember if we nailed it that first presentation but it was not too long before all parties were happy and satisfied and the detailed design process could begin.
The clients had originally intended to build the boat in New Zealand, had established a relationship with a very good builder over here, but subsequently found a builder much closer to their home and after due consideration made the decision to go in that direction. It enabled the clients to visit the boat at will and as often as they liked, from experience, this is not always an ideal situation but it worked out extremely well for all parties involved. Speaks volumes for Julian Griffiths and his very able team at Noosa Marine. I have had many, many projects built and it is always an interesting situation, this relationship between the client, the builder, and the designer. Sometimes it does not work out so well for various reasons, communication difficulties are the usual underlying cause, but in this instance it was brilliant, one of the best projects I have been involved with. Julian is a class act, his leadership skills and example he shows earns the respect of all those involved, the client, the designer, and the guys on the tools.
Using Noosa Marine to build the boat naturally lead to choosing the ATL Composites ‘Duflex’ building system for the project. The builder and the designer both have long experience working with ATL and their products and the support from Lorraine Murray, Nick, Michelle, and the rest of the ATL team throughout the project was outstanding. The quality of the panels, the dimensional accuracy, the superior material properties all work together to produce a very high quality composite package, a very strong and light weight structure ensuring a very efficient performance, the top speed was 2kts higher than predicted. The finished loaded displacement was 30.216kgs and the calculated loaded displacement was 30.284kgs! How often does that happen? Any other designers or builders reading this will appreciate how difficult it is to achieve that sort of result. Again a lot of credit to Julian as well who is very experienced with building lightweight high performance sailing boats and understands what is required to achieve that sort of result.
This is a ‘live aboard’ boat in every sense. The clients moved onto the boat the first night it was out of the shed and placed outside on the road ready to be moved two nights later to the launching site along the Noosa river bank and they have not yet moved off! It would be the understatement of the year to say that they are happy with the end result. It is an advantage of size and the catamaran plan form to be able to fit in such spacious cabins and living areas with the associated amenities of full size laundry, bathrooms and galley at domestic scale, all the normal land bound appliances and fixtures.
Eighteen months after starting to build the boat Noosa Marine has it sitting on the edge of the Noosa River ready to launch. It is actually on the edge of the beach! Remarkable, a 19 ton (light ship weight) 19m cat being launched off a beach, first for me. It looked like most of the population of Noosa was watching, lining the bridge, adjoining jetty, the area behind the beach, out on the water, the local TV crew where there, no pressure! Very happy to report that it all went like clockwork, the crane crew were exceptionally competent and Julian was completely in control. There was a bit of an anxious moment when it looked like the tide might come in too far before lift-off but it all went very well. The Noosa Marine community were incredibly supportive of the whole exercise of launching, trialling, and getting out of the river and into the ocean, an excellent example of collaboration and help between industry and community with the common understanding that this sort of thing is good for all concerned.
With the tankage available and the efficient hull form the boat has range to travel long distances between fuel stops, potential to go anywhere on the globe with a very high degree of safety and comfort. As their experience, competence, and confidence grows the Bajaca crew will enjoy cruising all around Australia and the Pacific over the coming years, sharing the experience with family and friends.
Finally, congratulations to Gary and Lisa, the best sort of client a designer could ever wish for. Good on you for having the courage, the imagination, and the conviction to see your dream becoming a reality. And to Julian and the boys, Brad the sparkie, the chap that laid the flooring and shower lining in the boat, what a trooper and an amazing job, and all the others involved with this project, you can all be proud and pleased with you contribution, well done.