Issue: October 2003
Winter is a special time for Sydneysiders. It’s a time of year when you can almost be assured of bright sunny days, average temperatures of around 21 degrees with little wind. Who was it that said Queensland had all the good weather ? During the last 20 years there has been a noticeable change in weather patterns. Where Sydney used to have cold wet winters and hot dry summers, we now get warm dry winters and wet humid summers. For boat testing its almost perfect, too perfect if fact, because you don’t get the seas to really test out a vessel’s rough water handling capabilities. But boy, oh boy, isn’t it pleasant out on the Harbour. Having said that, the conditions for the vessel being tested on this day were nigh on exceptional.
A light nor’easter ruffled the water’s surface on the run down the Parramatta River, but there was so much boating traffic out on Sydney Harbour it was churned up like the inside of an overused washing machine. The boat in question was a new Seawind Venturer 38 catamaran, a semi-displacement vessel that has already proved itself a winner with the charter boat industry. But she’s also a vessel that’s well suited to the older cruising set and those yachties that may be getting a bit long in the tooth to be bothered about setting sails.
And while the Venturer 38 has a top speed of 25 knots she’ll cruise around all day at 3000rpm doing 19 knots without burning gallons of fuel. There are two models of the Venturer 38, a Cruiser model, powered by twin 56hp shaftdrive Yanmars that has a top speed of 10 knots, or the Sports model, powered by twin 256hp Yanmar diesels that does 25 knots flat out. We tested the Sports model. To give you a clear picture of these two boats, the Cruising model carries 480lt and burns 9lt per hour cruising at 8 knots, while the Sports model carries 1160lt and burns 50lt per hour (25lt per engine) cruising at 19 knots. This gives the Cruising model a range of 780km and the Sports model 850km, albeit while using more fuel.
Being a semi-displacement boat, a lot of fuel is saved by not having to put the hammer down to get the boat up on the plane. Gentle acceleration up to cruising speed is the way to go. Apart from this vessel’s long range capabilities another reason for it popularity is its stability at rest. No rocking and rolling all night when you are trying to sleep, which is a great help for those who may get a bit queasy below decks at rest. Catamarans are also well renowned for their excellent sea-keeping ability. The extremely sharp bows slice through the water cleanly and air trapped in the tunnel between the hulls generates lift and helps soften the ride. These cats will run flat and smooth across choppy water that would normally have a mono-hulled vessel bouncing from wave to wave. And in rough conditions they’ll leave monos well behind in their wake.
During this test the Venturer 38 Sports returned the following performance figures: 4.5 knots at 1000rpm; 8.5 knots at 1500rpm; 9.1 knots at 1800rpm; 9.5 knots at 2000rpm; 13.5 knots at 2500 rpm; 23 knots at 3700rpm; and 25 knots at WOT. Following these speed trials I pointed the bows towards the Heads and threw the boat through a few hard turns en route to the open sea. The boat turned precisely, reacting quickly to the helm without generating the feeling that the boat is trying to throw you over the side in tight turns as smaller cats do. Out through the Heads the seas were calm, but there was a gentle swell rolling past South Head. So it was around this area that we put the Venturer through her paces. Head on the vessel sliced through the 1.5m plus swells like a hot knife through butter. But on the run back in with the sea at her back she tracked straight even at slow speeds, showing no tendencies to want to broach.
The overall ride and handling was impressive. Sure she’s no speed demon, but she’s not designed to be one either. She’ll get you from point A to B in comfort, style and more importantly safely. As far as liveability goes I suppose the best way to living areas is ample, but in levels because of a catamaran’s configuration with the accommodation, galley and bathrooms down in the pontoons. The main saloon is dominated by a large L-shaped lounge and a beautiful myrtle and birdseye jarrah dining table. There is a small settee to port and an entertainment unit including TV, VCR and stereo system on the starboard side up against the aft saloon bulkhead.
The saloon is also surrounded by tinted glass, but the team agreed some form of curtains might be required to ward off the sun in tropical climates. Step down on the starboard side into the wellquipped galley. Two benches run parallel, one features a two-burner stove, oven, ample open bench space and plenty of storage cupboards. The opposite bench features a dual sink unit and even more storage cupboards and shelves. Because of its design it really is quite a large galley.
Sleeping accommodation for up to six people includes forward staterooms with full sized beds and hanging lockers. An en suite bathroom adjoins the master on the port side. A second bathroom, aft of the galley, is easily accessible from the saloon and starboard stateroom. Wander out to the cockpit and the luxury of space provided by the Venturer 38’s 17′ 3″ beam, will be appreciated by entertainers, alfresco diners and avid fishermen. Moulded sun deck with padded vinyl coverings bordering either side of the cockpit are ideal for lazing and sun bathing.
The starboard sun deck tilts for ease of access to engine and generator. Teak treaded steps lead up to the flybridge and centrally positioned upper helm. Here, the skipper enjoys excellent 360-degree visibility, while all the guests are accommodated with padded bench seats to port and starboard. The wide-open foredecks are surrounded by a high bowrail making it another ideal place to soak up a few rays. The self-draining anchor locker is enormous and will accommodate more than enough anchor rope and chain. Options include autopilot; solar panel; air-con; 7.5Kva generator; DVD; VHF radio; BBQ; clears; internal helm station and more.
The Venturer 38 is built by Seawind Catamarans, builder of the popular world-class Seawind racing and cruising cats since 1980. This wealth of multihull experience is your guarantee that the new Venturer is built to world-class standards and offers excellent handling characteristics and exceptional long-range cruising capabilities. This boat can literally do anything “catcando” get it. As tested, the Venturer 38 cost $469,000, but prices start at $398,486 for the base model.
Words by Ian Macrae