Cruising goes for comfort

Now with added power, Maritimo's M45 caters for every seafarer's desires, writes David Lockwood.

Now with added power, Maritimo's M45 caters for every seafarer's desires, writes David Lockwood.

Steaming under the towering sandstone sentinels guarding the entrance to Sydney Harbour, the new Maritimo M45 motor yacht is staging a powerful homecoming. Its builder, Bill Barry-Cotter, started out in Mona Vale with Mariner Cruisers in the 1960s, before establishing Riviera in 1980 in Queensland, selling both boat brands for a motza and relaunching with Maritimo in 2004.

Plenty of water has flowed under the bridges in the 50-plus years that Barry-Cotter has been at the pinnacle of production-boat building in Australia. Tellingly, today's buyers are more discerning, better researched and boast greater owner experience than ever before. So Barry-Cotter has refocused on creating class-leading, long-range motor cruisers for those with the time and money to go places.

The owner of our test boat was a case in point. He was preparing his new M45 for the long run north to Hamilton Island from Sydney after taking a month off work.

His motivation was to find that unbeatable seafaring combination of world-class fishing, diving and on-water adventure. His ultimate ambition was to reach the boating zenith of Lizard Island before turning for home.

But it's taken until now for the M45 to gain the cruising legs necessary for such an odyssey. When the boat was launched last year, it had Volvo Penta's IPS 600 propulsion system. The twin 435hp diesel engines boast articulating pod drives with forward-facing propellers and a fly-by-wire joystick to help newbies dock at the marina.

The M45 has now undergone a heart transplant and re-emerged as a better motor yacht for running a marathon. With twin Cummins 480hp QSB5.9 diesel engines with traditional shaft drives instead of pods - and bow and stern thrusters to assist docking - the M45 is now built to go the distance.

Despite the appeal of pod drives, the advantages of traditional shaft drives haven't been lost on Sydney Maritimo agent Steve Batton. All four of the M45s he's sold locally since the boat's launch have been shaft drives because, he will tell you, their time-proven reliability means fewer hassles for owners.

Standard displacement is about 16,000 kilograms in both engine variants, but this shaft-driven boat had an optional 554-kilogram Seakeeper gyro stabiliser in the lazarette. Once engaged, the $70,000 gyro uses centrifugal force to create an uncannily steady motion at sea and while fishing. It also adds to the sure-footed ride.

Stability is further enhanced by the M45's big footprint.

The impressive living spaces, walk-around decks and an internal staircase are usually the preserve of much bigger motor yachts. And thanks to the internal access, the three-side-enclosed, airconditioned flying bridge doesn't suffer the detachment of traditional fly-bridge helm stations with external ladders.

Outdoors, the teak-laid cockpit caters for water sports and, in keeping with the lifestyle bent, the transom boasts an inbuilt island amenities centre with a moulded sink with hot and cold water, electric barbecue hotplate (optional), top-loading fridge-freezer, 240V GPO and storage space.

With an aft galley and bi-fold doors, Maritimo effectively merges the outdoors with the indoors to create a single-level living space. The aft galley has a four-burner electric cooktop, microwave, dishwasher and upright fridge-freezer.

Meanwhile, Amtico flooring in the high-traffic area becomes carpet, denoting the forward saloon living space, with dinette and L-shaped lounge, settee and wet bar with television.

The new layout of twin cabins and bathrooms is a vast improvement on the 440 Convertible, with three smaller cabins, that the M45 now supplants. The stateroom with island berth is in the bow, while there are sleeping options for the aft cabin - three singles or a double with separate portside single bunk.

Maritimo's supplied official sea trial data says the M45 with twin 435hp IPS 600s or 480hp Cummins returns top speeds of 29.7 knots and 29.5 knots, respectively. But pull on the reins and the Cummins with shaft drives gives 23.95 knots for 126.85 litres an hour, equating to 5.30 litres per nautical mile, and a range of 306 nautical miles. This is similar to the pod drives' cruising sweet spot, but with more horsepower and gear-carrying torque in reserve.

With all your cruising kit, the M45 is ready to hit the ocean road. The boat feels headstrong, purposeful and, as a special $960,000 turnkey bundle for a limited time, it's raring to go. Details: SBM Maritimo Sydney,

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