Eureka 42 Blue Water Fly Bridge Review

There’s a new boat causing a stir amongst those looking for a gameboat that doubles as a cruiser.

Laurie Toms says that during his many years in the boatbuilding industry he has seen what to do and what not to do when building a boat. He started out building timber boats before spending seven years at Riviera and then Black Watch.

Laurie has now put together a team of shipwrights from the old school and set up his own boatbuilding yard “Eureka Cruisers” in his hometown of Murwillumbah. 

The first boat to come out of the yard is the Eureka 42. It’s essentially a gameboat design that can double as a cruiser. The boat is also an example of how Australian boatbuilders can take on the imports and match them, or in this case, better them, for quality and price. 

The Eureka is a traditional gameboat design with a big 10.2m2 cockpit, which is graced by a top-of-the-line Reelax game chair. It’s so well built that it’s almost a shame to use it.

The sides of the cockpit are padded for when the crew wants to do some bottom fishing and, while they were not included on the test boat, there are moulds for a live bait tank and a tuna tube in the big transom to complement the lift-out kill tanks in the teak cockpit floor.

The deck wash is unique. It’s virtually a modified 40mm fire hose that makes short work of washing any debris outthrough the scuppers.

The 750mm high gunwales have teak infills and provide 430mm wide side decks, it’s an easy stroll to the bow.
The standard freezer and sink sit at the back of the cockpit on the saloon bulkhead, with the walk-down access to the moulded engine room beside it. 

How often have you gone into an engine room for normal engine checks at sea and been unable to find a pair of earmuffs ? Laurie has positioned a pair on a special bracket at the top of the companionway. It’s only a small thing, but it shows the attention to detail and thought that has gone into this boat.

The boat is powered by a couple of 575hp C9 Caterpillar ACERT electronic marine diesel engines mounted in a neat fully-moulded engine room with all wiring, fuel and water connections colour-coded. The Cats drive a pair of bronze 26 x 31.5in props.

There is also the option of C12 Caterpillars or twin Cummins QSM 11s.

There is nothing particularly new about the boat, as Laurie says. He has stuck to proven boatbuilding principles. The saloon, finished in warm teak, includes a pull-out bunk that, when not in use, sits under the settee. The dinette sits opposite the midships galley and up front there are three Pullman bunks and an owner’s cabin with a separate head. The bunk arrangement sleeps seven in total.

Lift up the hatch in the Antico-finished galley floor and it reveals a huge machinery storage room. One thing this boat doesn’t lack is storage space.

The driving position under the flybridge hardtop, which has been moulded in one piece, has a good all-around view with enough room to walk behind the driver’s Reelax seat to get to the passenger seat without disturbing the driver. The controls are mounted either side of the wheel in true gameboat style, in front of a Simrad electronics package and there is a built-in pod ready to take Palm Beach controls.

“It’s surprising what we have managed to fit into a boat this size,” says Laurie.

If you like driving boats, you will love this one. The design gives the hull a big flare in the bow that has a sharp entry and a variable deadrise that flows to 14 degrees at the transom to give it a bigger planning area, making it nimble and better when backing down on a big fish. Combined with the wide 4.55m beam, which gives it stability at trolling speed and at rest, the Eureka is designed for the open ocean.

There are trim tabs fitted but unless there is a decent crosswind working on the flybridge they are not needed. The boat rises up on the plane smooth and then settles down to run flat with an easy entry through the water. This translates into good fuel economy and range of around 423nm at a cruising speed of 22 knots.

Open the throttles up to the maximum 2550rpm and the boat is charging along at 33 knots and using 216L of fuel per hour, both sides. Drop the speed back to, say, a 7-knot trolling speed and the fuel usage drops to a miserly 8L per hour. The boat has a sweet spot at 2100rpm and will run all day at 22-24 knots. Weight doesn’t seem to make a difference to the performance of the boat. On the day of the test, there were four people on board and a full load of fuel.

The Eureka 42 is designed for commercial as well as recreational use this is a big plus. All it needs to meet the USL Code is to fit a liferaft and add some extra safety equipment.

The Eureka 42 certainly turned heads on the Tweed, and at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show where it was unveiled in May. So much so that one prospective buyer is flying down from Darwin to have another look at it.

“We pride ourselves on the quality and workmanship,” says Laurie. “We set out to build a good, all-round, Aussie product, as good as the US imports.”

The team of seven shipwrights and a couple of contractors have worked for some 18 months to develop and build the prototype. Now the pace is ramping up, and Eureka plan to build six boats a year. 

Sadly, the original engineer on the project, John McCabe, died the day the first boat hit the water and didn’t get to see it running. However, an indication of the engineering expertise that has gone into the boat was seen when the new engineer went to align the shafts that had been installed a month or so before. He found them to be in perfect alignment. 

The price is also surprising for a boat that has so much in it. The base price is $858,000 plus GST. The test boat had a few options, including the Reelax Maxi 2000 outriggers, the 81.6kg (180lb) game chair, teak cockpit floor and the Simrad electronics package.