This big cat does 6.4lt per hour on a trip from Sydney to the Whitsunday’s. Most boaties like to get out of the rut. So, when the team got the chance to get out on a different waterway, in a different powerboat, with different engines, it was ‘count us in’ all around.
Seawind Catamarans are one of Australia’s marine industry success stories. Established several decades ago to produce smaller cats, the company has gone from strength to strength on the back of a few very successful cruising sailing cats. They recently built the 150th Seawind 1000 Cruising Cat and are recognised as one of Australia’s largest exporters of yachts. In fact, half of Seawind’s production goes offshore to markets in the USA, Europe and South East Asia.
Brent Vaughan from Seawind explained, “In developing the range of powerboats we found that there were a lot of sailors out there wanting to get rid of the ‘rag and sticks’, but still enjoy all the benefits of economical cruising, so Venturer Cats were born.” The Venturer 38 flybridge powercat we tested had three double berths, a huge cockpit and saloon, walk-in bathroom and a gourmet galley. But even with all this she drank only 6.4lt per hour at an 8 knot displacement cruise speed.
From a Sydneysider’s point of view, that translates to less than two hours from Port Jackson, north to Broken Bay with a 12lt/$20 fuel bill. That’s about what your kid’s tinny would consume per hour! “We calculated that this vessel could do Sydney to the Whitsunday’s voyage for around $1500,” said Brent.
But wait, there’s more
Say you’re feeling a bit rich, or you want to get away from those pirates chasing you during your trip over to Indonesia, the twin six-cylinder Steyr diesels will get this 38-footer wound out to 20-21 knots and you can hold her all day at 16.5 knots. At fast cruise speeds the vessel consumes 2.25lt per knot, which is why this craft will have such appeal to the frequent user.
These statistics really make sense to people who have had a few boats and realise the journey is often more fun than the destination. Ross Wilson was the owner of the test boat that took us out for the day on Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney. He explained that he had more than 10 yachts and powerboats in his time and he found his way onto this vessel when he discovered its space and efficiency. And while this boat was being built, he visited the plant frequently and appointed naval architect, Peter Lowe, to advise on the expected performance from the Steyr engines he had sourced.
The Austrian-built Steyr engines are tidy six-cylinder powerpacks that weigh less than a lot of other fours in that power range. The owner’s research paid off. These units are ideal for this vessel. Eight knots is an appealing speed, but when the power’s on, the craft turns like she’s on rails, while maintaining a flat attitude like all cats.
Getting at the aft-mounted engines looks a bit complicated, but it turns out to be a rather simple process. The starboard engine is located beneath a berth, while the port engine sits under a large cockpit storage area. Other large ‘powered’ Venturers, lose the aft berth to make room for bigger engines, but they only gain marginally on top speed. But thanks to this innovative layout, removing the engines from this boat for a major service will only involve removing the headliner for the starboard berth.
Rarely does any vessel have so much available space that the builders can afford to reserve cavernous zones for storage. The two bow lockers on the Venturer 38 are so large that (after modifications) they could be used as kid’s berths, or even dive prep rooms. The portside cockpit locker was almost as large. The vessel has a balanced use of timbers inside and out, which adds a touch of class, as does the use of durable ‘UltraLeather’ on the lounges.
The helm is located on the covered flybridge, where there’s enough room to supplement the fixed seating with deck chairs and opening clears are used for good all-round visibility. The Raymarine GPS/chartplotter and auto helm, combined with engine revs and fuel data, proved to be useful tools during our short voyage on the open expanses of lake Macquarie. Interestingly, the Raymarine Autopilot had a lower deck repeater, so on long passages the vessel can be controlled from the saloon.
Energy efficiency also applied throughout the house systems on the Venturer 38. This vessel has no inverter, or generator, because the owner opted for three 200amp-hour house batteries and four 80watt solar panels to supply the energy for lighting and refrigeration. Also her large opening saloon windows give excellent cross ventilation, so there’s no real need for air-conditioning and the galley runs off gas.
Simplicity is the key to this luxurious but efficient vessel. The bright interior flows seamlessly to the exterior, where you find wide walkways, a huge foredeck, teak-laid swim platform and covered aft cockpit areas. With so much room, stairs leading up to the helm might appeal to the less nimble and, because these vessels are custom built, I am sure it could be an option.
The Aussie-built Seawind Venturer 38 is a vessel perfectly suited to local conditions. She boasts bright open spaces and economical performance, making her ideal for the long voyages between east coast ports.
WORDS: ANDREW RICHARDSON