Bridge brings out the best

Sunny days are here again with a new cruiser built for pleasure boaters, writes David Lockwood.

Sunny days are here again with a new cruiser built for pleasure boaters, writes David Lockwood.

Your boating scribe has spent an inordinate amount of sea time cruising in flying bridges. You can't beat the "outposts" for their commanding views of the coast.

Spot fish-trap floats and fishing boats, whales and sea life, or pick your way through the Sunday sailing fleet on Sydney Harbour. I have even sat with a crew and devoured a memorable roast lamb lunch while cruising in a flying bridge.

I mention this because the Belize 52, a cruiser designed from the keel up to sate Sydney pleasure boaters, has been released as a Day Bridge variant. The sense of escapism and sheer excitement is as immediate as the wind in your face when you advance the throttles.

Unlike the enclosed airconditioned flying bridge found on most long-range cruisers, or those surrounded by clear curtains, the Belize 52's Day Bridge is designed for fair-weather boating. And when things are not so agreeable, there is always the internal helm. Thus, you get the best of both worlds.

Some effort went into shaping the sweeping ladder for easy access. Once up top, you realise this is more than just a new lid - it is a destination in itself. The helm is centred, with a long L-shaped lounge along the entire portside, set around a teak lunch table and shaded by a fold-away bimini top.

The lounge faces a dedicated moulded amenities centre with fridge, sink with hot and cold water, top-loading garbage bin, drink holders and teak-topped servery. The stage is set for a buffet lunch.

When not in use, a weather-protected cover is provided for the entire Day Bridge.

The warped-plane hull with half tunnels was tank tested in Tasmania before being hand-laid from fibreglass. The deck moulds are more complex than your run-of-the-mill production boat, while there are elements that take cues from the auto world. The leather-and-carbon dash was inspired by Bugatti, the electro-polished stainless-steel fins adorning the tender garage suggest Audi R8, and the hip line might hail from a Bentley Continental.

Marine interior designer Giorgia Drudi added Italian fittings and fabrics indoors, along with leather, marble and American walnut. Oak or teak joinery is available.

The aft galley is located for entertaining and the big covered cockpit comes with a lunch table and lounge. A second lounge and table take centre stage in the saloon, while the internal helm has sufficient seating for two couples to cruise in company before the big wrap-around windscreen.

Each of the three cabins has an en suite with shower and marble-topped vanity. But for volume, the full-beam aft master cabin wins out. The king-size bed is flanked by a lounge before picture windows with opening portlights. Think views and fresh air while reading a book.

VIP guests get the obligatory queen-size island berth in the bow, while the third cabin with twin two-metre-long bunks can be optioned as a media room or lounge room.

A lot of thought went into the Belize, with Riviera chief executive Wes Moxey, a boat builder by trade, and Sydney Riviera retailer Lee Dillon creating the brand during a lengthy sabbatical. They established a virtual boat-building model using the Kha Shing yard in Taiwan.

Back at the helm, twin Cummins QSC 600hp Zeus pod drives provide the latest in propulsion systems. With fixed Interceptor trim tabs and a Zeus auto-trim function, the boat does not need a lot of driver input. Joysticks make docking a snap.

I can vouch for the reassuring motion in the Day Bridge during our time cruising before the towering sandstone cliffs to Manly. The Zeus system includes an inbuilt autopilot and Skyhook station-holding function, too.

Cruising at low-20 knots sees a 480 kilometre-plus range, while top speed is around 29 knots. Thus, this is not so much a long-range boat as one for gadding along the coast on a sightseeing trip to a nearby port of call. And when the sun is shining, the Day Bridge is the place to be.

The Belize 52 Day Bridge was selling for $1,577,290 with Cummins QSC 600hp Zeus pod drives and options. We tested the boat through R Marine Sydney.


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