Issue: April/May 2006
IN HIGH DEMAND
Game fishing workhorse or family cruiser… the choice is yours.
WORDS + PHOTOS KEVAN WOLFE
The Cummins QSB 425s were barely ticking over at 850rpm as we idled out of the marina at Scarborough, just north of Brisbane, at the mandatory six knots. It was obvious from the throaty exhaust note that there was some get up and go down under the cabin floor just waiting to be let loose.
Anthony Skillon released his first Capricorn 40 at the 2005 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. And it’s taken since then to get our hands on one for testing, because as soon as boats have been completed, they’ve gone out the door to an expectant owner.
We were lucky that this boat was being shipped to Tasmania, as we had a small window of opportunity before it headed south on a truck.
The main cabin, the accommodation and the flybridge are the same design as the original 38. But there’s now an extra couple of feet (all in the cockpit), which has made a big difference to the boat.
With the bigger cockpit there’s now room for a game chair, or if game fishing is not your bent, a folding table and deck chairs would fit in nicely. The lockers are bigger and there are now two 200lt storage bins in the sole. The boarding platform is also about 100mm wider and includes an integrated ladder.
Entry to the engine room is by way of the swing away sink next to the freezer on the cabin bulkhead. Open the door and there’s the battery management system for the six 200 amp hour batteries, two for the engines and four house batteries, all neatly laid out and very accessible.
The entrance to the engine room wouldn’t bother a young fellow but for us oldies it is a fairly tight squeeze, but once inside there’s plenty of room to work around the engines. It’s also handy for service technicians, because they can access the engine room without tramping work boots into the main cabin.
The ladder to the flybridge is now mounted straight onto the bulkhead and with its angled-out handrail, is easy to climb. The Capricorn is also the only flybridge cruiser I’ve seen with a clear canopy over the ladder. If the weather is a bit ordinary, people coming outside to go up to the flybridge won’t get wet.
Inside the main cabin the layout is the same as the 38 and retains the galley aft on the port side. This idea is unique and instead of the hostess spending her time downstairs in a midship galley, she is right in the middle of the entertainment area.
Given our Aussie culture it’s a sure thing that when the boat pulls up at an anchorage, the boys will congregate in the cockpit around the fridge and the built-in Miele barbie and the girls will get together in the cabin. It’s a simple matter for the hostess to feed the boys through the rear galley window. And the girls over the galley servery top will still be in on the party.
The galley is one of the best fit-outs on a cruiser this size I’ve seen. The ladies will love it. It’s U-shaped with teak woodwork finished with Laminex bench tops and a teak floor. On the aft side is the recessed two-burner cook top and an LG all-in-one microwave, convection oven and grill.
The fridge, icemaker and bottle storage are opposite. All the holes in the rack are round, but Anthony assures me that all the square ones fit in as well. It wouldn’t be an Aussie boat without a bottle of Bundy onboard!
The microwave door folds down instead of opening sideways and cramping the cook. This makes it easier to get hot dishes out as well. A big drawer for pots and pans is under the microwave. The two stainless steel sinks are big and there’s a waste bin with a lid on one side.
On the other side are four drawers, one with a cutlery divider. Open the cupboards under the sink and there’s a rollout rack for plates, bowls and cups, which come standard with the boat.
The TV screen is still up in the starboard aft corner, but due to new electronics, it can be set up with a split screen to watch TV and keep an eye on the engine room and plotter too.
The main cabin is tastefully finished with suede panels and pelmets and blinds.
Up front, the owner’s cabin is well appointed with hanging lockers, six deep lockers around the sides and drawers under the double bunk.
The second cabin has two bunks with plenty of room to sling a couple of sea bags out of the way up one end.
People who own flybridges tend to spend much of their time up top and the Capricorn has been designed for socialising and to keep the driver in on the action. Where there is a void space at the front of most flybridges, there’s a central fridge that divides the two lounges.
The helm is well laid out and with the Cummins engines comes a Smartcraft electronic package and electronic controls.
A Raymarine E120 plotter is standard. This has a split-screen capability that can display four screens at once. The engine room monitor, plotter, sounder and TV can all appear on the screen at the same time. Also standard is a VHF-radio, autopilot and a searchlight on the bow.
The finish on the hardtop is neat. It has a solid stainless steel frame with not a PK screw to be seen anywhere. Everything is through bolted. Anthony jokes he has had to employ a skinny young fellow to get up into the space to tighten the bolts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The Capricorn 40 is a smooth boat to drive. The Cummins 425s drive 23in by 28in pitch bronze props on 11-degree shaft s through ZF 2:1 gearboxes. We found it comfortable cruising at 24 knots on the GPS at 2700rpm with the engines using just 47lt per hour per side. In full song it gets along at 30 knots at max revs of 2950.
Something I don’t do very oft en is put a cruiser into a tight turn at full speed. I started slowly and continued to wind on lock until I had full lock on. The boat just kept turning in a wide circle without any fuss. It was all the more surprising because the boat does not have a keel as such. But it just sat there unperturbed ? no worries about spilling the chardy.
In a tight marina situation it handles just as well with the electronic controls.
One thing I thought strange at first was that the owner had opted to mount the bow thruster controls on the overhead console. It works well if the boat is being docked bow in, but takes a little getting used to when reversing in.
The boat will back up as fast as it goes forward well not quite. But back it up hard and the water that comes into the cockpit through the door drains out quickly when the boat is going forward again.
Capricorn cruisers are not rushed out of the factory and the finish and workmanship is a credit to the Aussie boat builders. Some of the imports could learn a thing or two.
The Capricorn 40 can be what you want it to be a very capable game fishing platform or a fun family cruiser. It has a lot to offer, even the plates, cutlery, bunk sheets and towels come as part of the standard package.
Watch out for the Capricorn 52 to be launched later this year.
The Capricorn 40 was powered by Cummins 425hp QSB electronically controlled diesels with a Smartcraft engine management system. The ZF 2:1 gearboxes drove 11-degree shafts with 23in by 28 bronze propellers.
KNOTS – RPM
6 – 850
24 – 2700
30 – 2950
+ Value for money; Quality workmanship
– There’s a waiting list