In a world of norms, Bliss strives to be something different.
We were trucking along at 7 knots in about 20 knots of apparent wind off Airlie Beach. It was relaxing sitting back in the sun, the boat virtually sailing herself as we headed out towards Hayman on the wind.
Darvo switched on the autopilot and there we were sitting up on the jump seat across the pushpit, Bundy and coke in hand, like we owned the yacht.
Darvo is the full-time skipper and everybody around the Abel Point Marina knows him by name. He hails from the Brisbane suburb of Sandgate, where his family have been active in the local yacht club for three generations.
Darvo admits he wasn’t very interested in sailing as a youngster, he just wanted to go surfing and play cricket.
He was dragged along to the yacht club anyway and after some eight years of racing in Australia and overseas, became a charter skipper I never did find out his real name.
“This is the way to go sailing,” I thought. Even though we were pointing at 28 degrees to the wind, the boat was sailing fairly flat with a very gentle heeling angle.
Sir James Hardy once said that, “gentlemen don’t sail to windward”. It doesn’t matter in this boat whether it’s sailing off the wind, or pointing into it, it is a very genteel way to go sailing. Maybe that’s why the owner has called the boat Bliss.
SCOTT JUTSON DESIGN
Bliss is a 60-foot Scott Jutson design built by Azzura Yachts on the Gold Coast. It has a distinctive Jutson cabin profile and if ever a yacht deserves to be called ultramodern, it’s this one.
Built for exclusive charter work, the team at Azzura displayed their innovation and craftsmanship at last year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. Bliss is unique, as you are about to find out, and has raised the standard for charter boats in the Whitsundays, or anywhere else for that matter.
Given its wide beam of 5.3m, it has two dagger rudders controlled by twin helm stations in the cockpit. The consoles are festooned with rocker switches and electronics including a Raymarine L770 plotter, Coursemaster autopilot, a Brookes and Gatehouse Hydra, bowthruster and ZF controls for the Yanmar 180hp diesel.
The temptation was too great. I couldn’t resist trying one or two switches and seeing what they did. I flicked one and the Targa roof over the cockpit started to roll back. “What’s this one do?” I asked as I pressed another one and the main started to roll down and disappear into the boom. No lazy jacks to catch the battens in the main on the way down, or up. It all just rolled neatly into the boom. This top idea was designed by David Lambourne from Brisbane who also built the swept back, four-spreader mast.
This was starting to get fun. It was time to come about and I instinctively reached for a winch handle to wind in the headsail. There was not one to be found. I should have twigged, the primary and secondary Harken self-tailing winches are also operated electrically from the helm. The only negative is that someone has to let the sheet off the windward winch as the sail comes across. When the headsail is set the sheets are stowed away in covered caves in the coamings, so there are no stray lines to tangle in people’s feet in the cockpit. The main is adjusted electrically and even the boom vang is operated from the helm consoles. One person can sail the boat single-handed without any trouble. It’s that easy.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to take over the helm and sail the boat without the help of the electronics. My timing was off and I took over right opposite Funnel Bay. Everyone in the Whitsunday’s knows why it got that name. The wind funnels out of the bay between a couple of rather large hills, doesn’t it?
After bearing away for a couple of knocks, I soon had Bliss in the groove. With cracked sheets in 17 knots of apparent breeze we were doing a comfortable 8.5 knots. Not bad for a boat that weighs in at around 40 tonnes and when you hear what’s below you’ll understand why it is so heavy. Darvo says that Bliss loves a breeze. Bring on a 30-knot nor’easter and the boat is off, leaving many of the retired ocean racers that now make their home in the Whitsundays in its wake.
The centre-piece of the cockpit is a magnificent, folding-leaf inlaid table. But it doesn’t give the slightest hint of what awaits as you step into the main cabin. There is no other word for it but stunning, and in all the years I have been around boats, I haven’t seen one like it. It almost takes your breath away.
It has a clean, modern finish with two-pot silver automotive paint (instead of the usual woodwork) and is highlighted with a contrasting, patterned grey fabric. The big dining table features a solid marble top imported from Brazil ? that’s where the best and most expensive marble comes from. The teak saloon floor has been designed so the retractable keel can be raised from 3m to 1.8m without it intruding into the space.
If you think that’s impressive, the galley will blow you away. It is finished in a blue automotive paint and features a centre island. And with its down-lights mounted on stalks overhead, it could have come straight out of an elegant Gold Coast apartment.
There’s a four-burner stove and a couple of big fridges. All the crockery and glassware is stowed in specially designed cupboards finished with an unusual, rigidised metal veneer. There’s not one, but two dishwashers.
Six guests can be accommodated overnight in three double cabins, one up front and two either side of the garage for the toys under the cockpit, and each with its own en suite.
There is another cabin with a couple of bunks for the crew.
No need to hang wet towels over the rails up top and make the boat look untidy, each bathroom has its own heated towel rack.
An unusual feature at the base of the double bunks is a series of small green lights that give the effect of looking through a clear panel into the water under the boat.
When it comes time to put the boat away in the pen, it’s probably the easiest and most simple to pack up.
PUT TO BED
The boom is centred and as the main is lowered, it disappears into the boom. There’s no lazy jacks or canvas covers to zip up and the headsail is electrically rolled back onto the furler. Then it’s just a matter of starting the motor, driving into the marina, and putting the boat away with the help of the bow thruster.
It may be a 60-footer but one person has no trouble handling it. Bliss is a fine example of what an Australian builder can do if allowed to use some imagination, and it has certainly been the case here. It is almost too good to be put into charter, but then the people who charter Bliss will appreciate it.
THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE
BLISS is an Australian-designed Jutson 60 luxury cruising yacht available for sailing holidays in the beautiful Whitsundays, heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Aptly named for the experience it provides, Bliss sets a new standard in luxury yacht charter in Australia.
Bliss provides luxury crewed charters, skippered by Paul Verdon, an internationally experienced captain with a wealth of local knowledge. Bliss also boasts a fully qualified chef, indulging guests with the delights of local produce and freshly prepared gourmet meals, allowing the taste of the Whitsundays to tempt even the fussiest of connoisseurs. Features include minimum six feet headroom and climate controlled air conditioning throughout, foredeck sun lounge and panoramic views from the vessel’s luxurious saloon.
A 140Kw Yanmar diesel powers this Scott Jutson designed 60-footer.
BEAM: 17′ 6″
DRAFT: 5′ 10″ (lifting keel)
ENGINE: 140kW Yanmar