Mainship Pilot 30 II Review

Issue: December 2003
Manufacturer: Mainship

The Mainship people call this a ‘downeast, inboard boat’. By downeast I assume they’re referring to the US East Coast, which has a great tradition of trawler-type yachts adapted from wooden workboats of the first half of the 20th Century. I’m a longtime subscriber to Wooden Boat magazine, which tells me more than I need to know about traditional craft in the US, but that does not qualify me to comment on whether the Mainship 30 II is derived from a Maine lobsterboat, a Nantucket Hobgoblin, or a Narragansett Boondoggle. 

The hull certainly has classic lines; this is the Sedan model, but the Pilot (same hull, open cockpit) is even more reminiscent of workboats of decades ago. The traditional ingredients are a warpedplane hull (flatter deadrise at the stern than forward towards the bow), which also features a skeg and what the builders call a ‘full sandshoe’ for prop protection. You have a choice of three engines ‘ single 220hp Cummins and single Yanmars of 240hp, or 315hp. 

The joy of warped-plane hulls is that they never feel underpowered, because there is no planing transition the hull feels comfortable whether it is using 100 or 300hp. The Mainship is happy at any speed and any throttle opening. The test boat had the 240hp Yanmar, which is good for a top of 21 knots and a cruise of 15-16. I assume this hull would be equally happy with the Cummins. This boat is fitted with the optional bow thruster, which should eliminate any doubt you may have about dealing with prop-walk while docking a single-screw boat. The layout is unusual. 

Downstairs you have a central double berth, which folds out for use. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. You lift the (folded) bed with the aid of gas struts; the front half of the mattress folds out from beneath and rests on a sliding aluminium frame, which stiffens the structure. Her saloon is also a bathroom and shower and there’s a single-burner electric stove, microwave and fridge. An inverter was being wired in at the time of the test. You can seat four around the table, which has four folding leaves to save space. The cockpit/cabin is enclosed by roll-down clears aft. 

There are chairs for the helmsman and the observer and two longitudinal settees for anyone else. These also provide the backup beds. Helmsman’s seat swivels and is adjustable fore and aft, a good idea because the pedestal is set well back from the wheel. You sit high; the standard footrest is essential. The engine hatch is long and narrow and also lifts on struts. The boat is delivered with two batteries, one for starting and one for the boat. The importers fit four extra, bringing the total to six. 

The interior is trimmed in cherry; there is not a lot of trim, but externally the Mainship has no timber. In fact, there is nothing that is not essential; this is a straightforward boat with no hidden tricks and would be easy to own. So how does she handle ? You push the throttle forward and the turbo Yanmar wakes from its sleep and the boat accelerates. As it does so the bow lifts, in the style of all warped-plane hulls, but the bow does not rise far enough to obscure the helmsman’s view, which is not always the case. 

The trim tabs were out of action on the day of our run, but they were not needed. Usually their job is to lower the nose when cruise speed is reached, but the boat’s handling did not seem to be impaired by their absence. The Mainship corners flat, which I always reckon is good for safety and for not scaring the kids. Deepvee hulls counter centrifugal force when they lean into a turn; a warped-planer subjects the occupants to centrifugal force and the occupants have to learn to lean when the boat turns. 

There is a step, or lip in the hull topsides, which throws the bow wave down and away at all speeds. The Mainship does this better than most, whether the bow wave starts at the cutwater when she’s moving at jogging speed, or further aft when she’s up and running. We could not find a seaway to test the ride, because offshore winter westerlies had flattened the seas inshore and all the way to New Zealand as far as I know. 

The guys who delivered the boat to and from Sydney for the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show found the Mainship to be a good offshore boat. Warped plane boats are good offshore, because you can dial up the exact speed you want for comfortable cruising as the hull does not drop off the plane when it buries the nose into the back of a wave and has to be coaxed up to speed again. 

This boat is for sale at $260,000. The importers had ticked quite a few boxes on the options list, including the 240hp Yanmar, bow thruster, electric anchor winch, electric sump pump-out, dripless shaft log, swim platform and the extra batteries. The Mainship Pilot 30 II is a likeable boat. In concept and handling it is very much like the French ACM series, but in style and execution it is different, this is a more traditional-looking boat with simpler detailing. 

The open-backed cabin, with clears to keep out the drafts, is a sensible setup for Australian waters. The open boat too is really pretty (especially in dark hull colours) and it would make sense in our climate. It’s a lot warmer chasing the bream Down Under than chasing those lobsters off Maine, New England, whatever the time of year. 

Words  by Barry Tranter