Water enthusiasts will get more bang for their buck with the Maritimo M50, writes David Lockwood.
Motorboat buyers are demanding more these days. They want more living room, greater accommodation, extra storage space, a swankier finish, all the comforts of home and, of course, long cruising legs. But they don't necessarily want a bigger boat, the inflated sticker ticket and all the hidden costs such as steep marina charges.
Enter the new Maritimo M50, a seriously liveable long-range cruiser designed to sate the needs of footloose families. Replacing Maritimo's M48, its best-selling model accounting for 109 sales, the new M50 is a vastly superior live-aboard inside a longer footprint.
The M48 hull was extended, the freeboard raised and the transverse fuel tank amidships turned into integral fibreglass wing tanks in the engine room. This creates extra floor space, while ceiling liners were raised for headroom and the flying bridge reconfigured to make way for the accommodation gains.
The net result is an Australian-built cruiser that punches above its weight, breaks new ground in the 50-footer league and quite simply offers more. The full-beam master stateroom with headroom is the centrepiece, something previously the preserve of 60-footers, but it's an even bigger achievement considering traditional shaft drives rather than pod drives have been retained.
Officially launched at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, the M50 also marks Maritimo's 10th anniversary. Not that founder Bill Barry-Cotter hasn't made a name for himself. The boat-building doyen has been at it for more than 50 years, creating brands such as Mariner and Riviera, before his Maritimo venture.
But in today's pared-back market, Barry-Cotter will tell you he's been forced to go back to the drawing board to create a better boat. This began with a period of self-imposed navel-gazing whereupon a conscious decision was taken to build boats up to a standard rather than down to a price.
The improvements to the M50's engineering, construction, fit and finish stem from a new, independent six-stage survey process that checks everything from hull laminates to leather stitching. Leaks are eliminated via a vacuum process; each boat is water-tested and sea trialled, then checked off by the relevant dealer and new owner.
But, while M50 buyers pay a premium for a much-improved boat, Barry-Cotter has made a concerted effort to keep running costs, mooring fees and general maintenance in check. And the M50 is bigger than the model designation suggests.
Compared with the M48 it supplants, the M50 has a 4 per cent larger cockpit, a saloon that's 9.5 per cent longer, a flybridge balcony that gains 15 per cent in floor space, and a full-beam master cabin that is 230 per cent bigger.
With an enlarged fuel capacity of 4000 litres, 500 litres more than the M48, the M50 also has a bolstered cruising range of more than 500 nautical miles at 22 knots. In the signature airconditioned enclosed flying bridge, you reel in the sea miles in great comfort.
A fridge in the bridge is standard, but we'd order the optional convertible lounge/double bed for sleeping the kids, and add a television. Another M50 we toured had a safety gate over the staircase leading down to the galley.
The standout flybridge feature is the extended balcony that's 15 per cent bigger than the M48's. In fact, it's so spacious you could mount twin sun lounges, plonk a bottle of fizz in an ice bucket on a stand and kick back at anchor while taking in the superlative views.
Walkaround decks, an Australian-sized cockpit and plenty of refrigeration are other features. But you'll need to add a watermaker for autonomy, a tender to get to shore, and a cache of electronics to the $1.39 million base price. Standard engines are twin 670hp Volvo D11s, with upgrades to twin 800hp Volvos.
With a bunch of options including twin high-backed Recaro helm chairs, the M50 we drove cost close to $1.5 million. But the ride, comfort and amenities were commensurate with the price tag on a day when the Pacific was true to its name off the sparkling Gold Coast.
Meanwhile, an M50 is heading to Steve Batton Marine in Sydney, with optional Euro transom and Dancing Lady Blue hull to create something different again.
That boat will debut at the Sydney International Boat Show in late July, while an S50 sister ship has already sold to a local boater. Best-seller status looks guaranteed. See maritimo.com.au.
Riviera buys site
Gold Coast boat builder Riviera has announced a vote of confidence for Australian manufacturing after owner Rodney Longhurst said his family was buying the 14-hectare Coomera River site. The largest luxury-boat building facility in the southern hemisphere, Riviera sold 50 boats (including Belize) this financial year, with 56 per cent of total production exported. "I believe in south-east Queensland's and Australia's manufacturing future, which is why we have undertaken this considerable investment," Longhurst said.
No puff for Cup
America's Cup Race director and champion Australian sailor Iain Murray has announced changes after Andrew "Bart" Simpson lost his life after Artemis Racing flipped last month. Structural reviews of AC72 boats and wings, a 10-knot lower wind limit and enhanced safety equipment, including buoyancy aids, body armour, crew locator devices, hands-free breathing apparatus and high-visibility helmets are among the 37 recommendations.
Trailer boat show
Meantime, the national boat-show circuit continues around the country, with Melbourne Boat Show the next cab off the ranks at the Exhibition Centre from June 14-17. Considered to be the biggest indoor boat show in the country, it's shaping up to be a cracker, with rafts of new tinnies, plat-alloy fishboats and more refined fibreglass renditions, amid the watersports and tow boats, portables and kayaks. More at melbourneboatshow.com.au.
Organisers say last weekend's 25th anniversary Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show attracted 37,571 visitors, a 1.29 per cent increase on last year's overall numbers, for what was a greatly reduced
in-water marina display of luxury new boats. Satellite boat shows run by Riviera and Grant Torrens International Marine, which is now selling Princess motor yachts, helped bolster numbers.
This is the first weekend of winter, prompting a safety message for Sydney boaters. See the NSW government's maritime safety webpage at maritime.nsw.gov.au /campaigns/cold.html.