Swell time in cruise control

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Chris-Craft 36 Corsair

Swell time in cruise control

November 30, 2005

Neat, sleak and chic dayboats are making a splash on Sydney’s waterways, writes David Lockwood.

Carpe diem. Seize the day. Suddenly, it’s a very Sydney thing to do. Forget taking the big cruiser with umpteen cabins and bunks, a gourmand’s galley, bottomless fuel tank and demanding crew. Skip the victualling, the big coastal passage and the dreaded mal de mer and grab a dapper dayboat to go.

Cruise the harbour, hit the fish markets, shush past the best waterfront digs, and entertain friends amid the heaving crowds at the sun-drenched anchorages. Think long Sunday lunches in the shade of a canopy, nothing more energetic than a swim to shore and a shower on deck. And hightail it home before the shadows lengthen.

What’s hot in dayboats this summer? In the yachting world, it’s one-design low-fuss boats such as the cute little Sydney 32 and popular 38s. In the world of power, it’s anything with a big motor that looks cool. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Cruise in style, past the hoi polloi, enjoy some water sports and swing gracefully at anchor in these three chic new dayboats.


Malibu is a famous US trailerboat badge associated with tournament skiing manly on freshwater lakes in America. But a licensed yard in Albury, which builds more than 300 of the boats a year, caters for a wider clientele. Models such as the Sunscape 21 LSV are multi-purpose boats that can carry the family in comfort and tow the tykes in craft.

Suitable for saltwater use, the boat has stainless-steel fittings wherever possible. The fibreglass hull has a built-in sound-suppression layer, fibreglass stringers for stiffness and a composite floor to cut weight. The rear engine bay was topped with a sun pad and had storage nets in which you can dry your swimmers and towels using engine heat.

Supplied on a custom galvanised tandem trailer with electric brakes, the rig tips the scales at 2200 kilograms and is 7.5 metres long. But with the clip-off teak boarding platform and folding drawbar you can get the garaging length down to 6.8m. The boarding platform laps the water.

The social seating layout centres on a U-shaped lounge that traces the peripheries of the cockpit for six adults around a lift-out lunch table. There are two more big seats in the bow that convert to a second sun pad. And there’s plenty of storage, including a built-in icebox.

The deep helm seat with lumber support fitted like the proverbial glove. The boat came up level despite the rear-mounted, 340-horsepower, inboard petrol motor with vee drive, while the vision through the pillar-less windscreen was clear.

The wind was pleasantly out of my eyes and there was no spray, just lots of driving joy and an amazing grip through the turns. Besides the handling and flat wake, the Sunscape is a great social day boat that would be at home on the harbour or Hawkesbury with a couple of young families, a carry-on cooler, a picnic basket and a program that involves getting wet. There’s no loo, but there’s always your wetsuit.

The Malibu Sunscape 21 LSV costs from $63,000, including the 320hp motor and trailer. Details: GRE Marine Sales, Rydalmere, phone (02) 9898 1010, http://www.malibuboats.com.au


Neil Webster is an avid Sydney boater who says he has owned some 30 pleasure boats since he was 16. His long-term business partner, David Sergeant, who used to sail 18-foot skiffs professionally, brought a commercial brain to the table. And by good fortune Christopher Hodges, one of the UK’s top boat designers and boat builders, had decided on a sea change and was living on the northern beaches.

The idea of the perfect dayboat was born as the troika sat in a cafe and the caffeine kicked in. Eighteen months later and the pretty Cabrio 30 appeared as well as the beginning of a new yard in China that is employing 70.

The Sirocco’s design brief included: no galley or beds; classic lines; cruising comfort for the often bumpy harbour; comfortable seats; and diesel inboard power for reliability, efficiency and low-maintenance.

The seating is nautical-blue cushions on a circular moulded lounge base in the bow. With a teak table, that seating becomes a lunch setting for six people. Importantly, there are two big built-in insulated iceboxes for food and refreshments and an amenities centre that includes a moulded sink and teak servery designed for a buffet. Set down inside the centre console is a handy day head. There’s 185cm of headroom and oodles of space around the electric loo and a second hand-held shower so you can spruce-up before dinner at some waterfront digs.

I noted a smooth cruise of 19-22 knots at 1800-2000rpm, extending all the way to fast and maximum continuous speed of 28.6 knots at 3600rpm. Top speed with the 315hp in-board, diesel motor was 30.2 knots, carrying six adults across the Heads.

Apparently, former yachties and experienced boaters with waterfronts are showing interest in this fetching boat. The Cabrio 30 costs $225,500 with the single 315hp diesel engine. Details: Sirocco Marine, Alexandria, (02) 9667 4422 or visit http://www.siroccomarine.com.


In the next Mission Impossible movie, Tom Cruise takes to the windy canals of Venice in a Chris-Craft boat. Yet this most illustrious of US marques harks back to 1874. Everyone from famous families to presidents and other Hollywood heroes have been seen aboard these cool conveyances over the years.

Chris-Craft says the Vanderbilts, Fords and Firestones, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley were among the many who have used its boats to escape and relax. Closer to home, Chris-Craft has made a splash in Sydney with well-heeled corporate bigwigs.

The Corsair 36 is one of the many models in the range of vessels from 6m-12m that causes boat envy. While built from fibreglass it features solid teak timber decks and trim, plush upholstery and timeless design lines with traditional tumblehome and a tucked transom.

Like all good social boats, life revolves around seated comfort. Ranging around the cockpit is a huge circular lounge for a dozen guests. The canopy is concealed in a rear boot, accessible at the push of a button, and the fridge and a drink holder are never far away.

Down below there’s a double bed back aft and a vee-berth in the bow, with a handy galley and obliging bathroom with shower in between. Oh, and air-conditioning.

Still, this is all about being seen outdoors. When not cruising, there’s a big teak sun pad on the bow and a deep boarding platform with hand-held shower back aft.

The pleasure from driving the Corsair is intoxicating. The twin eight-litre, V8 petrol motors sound sexy, as the deep-vee hull brushes aside the boat wash, ferry wake and wind waves with contempt.

The top speed of 36-plus knots lets you get the jump on the weekend fleet. Range to the fish markets and anchor at Store Beach to claim your place in the sun. The Corsair 36 is selling for about $551,000 with an accessory package included. Details: Chapman Marine Group, Rose Bay, phone (02) 9326 2867, or see http://www.chriscraft.com .

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