by Jeni Bone
A ground-breaking new boat is aiming to fill the niche in family sailing and reverse the tide, attracting modern, time-poor families back to the pastime.
Sienna 19-Ex gets about Moreton Bay
The innovative Sienna 19-Ex by Scruffie Marine is '20 years in the making', from research and development during two decades of manufacturing six main models under the brand.
The 19-foot dayboat, is bristling with innovative solutions to perennial problems, according to its designer and Scruffie Marine founder, Derek Ellard. 'You can rig and launch her single-handed in 15 minutes. There's dining space for six people? It's safe, stable, nimble, quick, versatile with a shallow draught. It's used for cadet training, a disabled friendly, family dayboat that is self-righting, with a self-draining cockpit and is offshore capable with a square sail.'
Ellard describes the Sienna 19-Ex as 'a good looking little yawl with a boomless brailing mainsail and a semi-displacement hull that boasts an electric outboard auxiliary'.
The appeal of the concept, says Derek Ellard, lies in its nature as a 'pared down, simple as possible, knock-about family sailing boat'.
She is just under container size, weighs around 600kg and number 1 is already in service taking Duke of Edinburgh Award students on five-day voyages of discovery in Moreton Bay, Queensland.
The Ex stands for 'Exploration, expedition, exhortation, exclamation and exhibitionism!' says Ellard, who spent three years designing and planning this model, and admits he makes a lot of extravagant claims about his boats, but they really do what they claim to.
Among its innovative features are stainless steel grab rails, which are not common on other small boats. As Ellard explains: 'It means that kids or older people, or if it's rough, you've got something to hold on to. It's also a rail to tie the back end of the canvas cuddy on. One simple thing, carefully tuned and thought out, has great practical use.'
With this little boat, Ellard aims to encourage families back on the water, by the simple expedient of having a boat that can be rigged and launched in just 15 minutes. 'People are getting out of boating because of the expense and the time and skills needed to rig boats. I aim to reverse that trend.'
25 years ago when Ellard was researching the segment, there were more than 20 trailer-sailor manufacturers in Australia. 'There is now just a handful,' he says, adding that he can only name three including Scruffie.
'The Sienna addresses every single one of the barriers to family sailing. You have to assess what families want in a boat, and ideally, it should be something small, compact, quick, easy and minimum maintenance so you enjoy your day out on the water.'
Based in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Scruffie Marine has been around since 1990, and since then has produced 112 boats sold to 10 different countries.
'At the first interview we ever did, the journalist said 'It's a scruffy boat', and that name stuck. Since those early days, the boats have been fine tuned and refined with customer feedback and the input of the Royal Australian Navy who runs our boats in their cadet training program.'
The hull of the new Sienna 19 is built by Light Wave in Coomera, and Scruffie Marine fits them out and sails made by Ben Kelly.
He continues: 'The boats now are very quick, easily driven, modern hulls which have a refined, traditional rig, from years of working with a racing sail maker, Ben Kelly based in Brisbane. Our fastest boat, the Secret 20, boat for boat, that will compete with a lot of 24-25ft conventional trailer-sailors. It will keep up with J24s!'
From January 2013 in Australia, new buyers can put the boat in the proposed hire fleet for a projected annual gross return of at least 50% of the purchase price. 'We are also seeking manufacturing partners in North and South America, the EU and Asia,' adds Ellard.
Sienna 19-Ex features:
* Built to survey standards
* Offshore capable
* Self-righting, self-draining
* Crew of 7 with 10 seating positions
* Cockpit awning
* Cockpit dining for 6
* Generous grab-rails for boarding
* Disabled friendly
* Canvas cuddy
* Sink in a drawer, slide-out port-a-potti
* GRP semi displacement hull
* Exotic timber trim
* Three quarter length fixed ballasted keel
* Draught 500mm
* Freshwater ballast (optional)
* Can be rowed
* Electric outboard or inboard auxiliary
* Retractable electric sail drive
* Developed for sail training or family expeditions
* Hired and delivered to your nearest boat ramp
* Rig and launch in 15 minutes
* Furling jib
* Brailing mainsail
* Storm jib (optional)
* Squaresail (optional)
All enquiries to info(at)scruffie.com
More at www.scruffie.com and www.facebook.com/ScruffieMarine