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Dayboating for 410 nautical miles

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 10 Jan 13:00 PST
Back Cove 34O can certainly skip along. © E Marine

Closer to a year ago than not, I learned of a good tale. The conversation was with our friend Jed Elderkin, whom we've chatted with a bit, and featured in these miscellaneous ramblings from time to time. Nearly always we can get into being in Miami in the 80s for him, and 1990 for me. So the juxtaposition of go-fast boats to dayboating in classically styled, outboard powered, resin-infused vessels served as a marvellous exclamation mark for the passage of time.

Jed's company, E marine, are the Australian agents for Sabre and sister brand, Back Cove. The vessel in question was the first 34O, as in OH for O/B, that had arrived Down Under, and the trip was Jed's delivery from Sydney Town to Sanctuary Cove for the latter's annual boat show in May. And there's the explanation of the headline. Dayboating is where everyone is at, given time pressures, and lumps off the transom can now be found on anything from a tender to a 70-foot CC Sportsfisherman and chase boats for foiling yachts/sailboats. Now that's a wide and varied range!

The questions really remained, what was it like, what was the fuel burn like, how did it feel, what's the new world of outboard power on larger vessels like to live with, and would you do it again?

Elderkin elaborated, "The route from Sydney Harbour to the Gold Coast by powerboat is about as straightforward as it gets for a navigator. Clear Sydney Heads and point northward is, perhaps an oversimplification of it, but it is not far off."

"For those of us that do the trip with any frequency, it is generally a predictable trip aside from the weather variables and stops along the way that are generally determined by vessel speed, range and weather conditions."

"I've done it more times than I can count, and generally enjoy what many would perceive as the monotony of the journey, and watching the miles run off en-route to the next waypoint."

The why and how come

"We launched the new Back Cove 34O model, which is the first outboard powered model from this Maine, USA builder of high-quality, high-performance cruising boats traditionally well known for their industry leading single diesel-powered shaft drive models. With a cruising speed envelope of about 10 knots higher than a comparable Back Cove shaft drive model, the opportunity to run up the coast at a fast clip proved very alluring indeed."

"Departing from our home at Clontarf Marina at 5:00am we were under way and outside the Heads as dawn broke on the horizon. Near perfect conditions were forecast, with a light Southerly and a moderate swell. Dialling in the course on autopilot it was just a tad lumpy as we passed Barrenjoey Headland and across the mouth of Pittwater at 30 knots on the GPS, as the sun rose for the day."

"Passing New South Wales' Central Coast, the seas flattened as forecasted, and we wound up the twin 300 Yamaha outboards to a cruise speed of 32 knots, settling in to enjoy the ride. Calculating our fuel burn and range in real world conditions, we headed into Port Stephens at about the time the marina was opening up the fuel dock for the day, topped up the tanks, grabbed fresh coffees, and dashed back out to sea. Calm conditions continued and we maintained our 32-knot cruise speed travelling the outside route past Broughton Island, and then before we knew it Seal Rock was in our wake. We had our next fuel stop at Port Macquarie in our sights."

Marching on

"Steaming in the seaway at 32 knots in a traditional looking vessel garnered a few looks from the folks fishing off the rocks and the caravan park at the entrance to Port Macquarie, and after a quick refuel we were blasting out past them again as we determined that we were Yamba bound rather than stopping at Coffs Harbour for the night."

"I was comfortable we had the range, and at that speed with continued calm conditions, it was easily achievable in daylight, even on a short winter's day. We firmed up berthing arrangements at Yamba Marina, and arrived just on 5:00pm to tie up to the fuel dock for the night. They had gone home for the day, and we would have to wait to refuel in the morning."

"In a traditional diesel inboard powered vessel, this would be a time to have a quick inspection of the engine room (hot), and wait until pre-departure in the morning after cooling down overnight to do oil level and more exhaustive checks, before heading to sea again. This is where the benefits of outboards really cemented themselves to me. Nothing to do here! No through hull or shaft and rudder gland inspections or worries. No oil level or coolant checks. No hot engine room. So good!"

"Instead, we just enjoyed some showers and an early cheap and cheerful Chinese meal at the local haunt, before heading to our own berths for the night."

"Normally, on a delivery trip of this nature it is customary (for me at least) to depart at, or before the first light of day. As we needed to wait for the marina to open to refuel and settle for the overnight berth, we didn't get away until just after 8:30am. This meant we had the opportunity to walk to the village and have a nice coffee and good breakfast beforehand."

"Another calm day offshore awaited, and we wound her back up to 32 knots, steamed past the Tweed River, and had the Southport Seaway behind us about 11:30am, where we arrived at our good friend and customer's home and dock in Runaway Bay at noon, where we would leave the boat and head back to Sydney until the Sanctuary Cove Show."

"In summary, any misgivings or entrenched beliefs about diesel shaft verus outboard power have certainly been negated in my experience. The high horsepower modern outboard is transforming the way boats are built, and the performance characteristics they offer to the boat owner. It is, after all, meant to be a pleasure boat. If ease of maintenance, performance and reliability equal pleasure in your boating, then the new outboard models from Back Cove are not to be missed and are here to stay."

Back Cove's 39O is on the way, so standby for that...

Time for data

Refuel @ Nelson Bay - 502 litres @ AUD 1.84/l = $936.34 - Cruise speed approx 30 knots

Refuel @ Port Macquarie - 514.6 litres @AUD 1.67/l = $859.40 - Cruise speed approx 31 knots

Arrive Yamba. Fuel: 737 Litres Cruise speed 32 knots

Arrive Destination Runaway Bay - Total trip data: 409NM, 2389l used, Running time of 14.5 hours approx, at and average speed of 28 knots (includes fuel stops and idle zones). Equates to 5.84l/NM or 164.75l/hr.

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Right oh. Let's make 2022 happen!

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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