The trend started about three or four years ago: increasing numbers of buyers became interested in traditional trawler-style sedan cruisers. Originally favoured by older boaties whose ageing hips and knees didn’t appreciate flybridge stairs, or those who simply wanted more comfort than their sportsboat could deliver, these days younger buyers and especially young families are discovering the pleasures of life aboard a trawler-type cruiser.
The market began to show signs of a preference for trawler-style pilothouse cruisers over older displacement hulls about 10 years ago. It was a gradual change that was slow to get going, but nevertheless it was the start of a new era. While customers wanted a boat that was easy on fuel and could comfortably cruise at 10 knots (18.5km/h) all day, they still wanted the added security of a boat that could display a respectable turn of speed when needed. In other words, they wanted the best of both worlds.
This new era also marked the return of the iconic Clipper series, particularly the Clipper 34, which was popular as a charter boat with holidaymakers on Sydney’s Pittwater and in Queensland’s Whitsundays in the ’70s and ’80s.
Darren Berry and his team at Clipper Motor Yachts were quick to spot the trend. The Taiwanese factory that produced the original Clippers still owned the moulds, so he set about designing a boat for himself based on the Clipper 38. The 38’s cockpit was extended and the vessel became the Clipper 40. It had a semi-displacement hull, a classic teak interior and a contemporary design, but it also retained that ageless look that’s synonymous with the breed.
The design proved popular and was the start of a new Clipper range that includes the single-engine Heritage 36 and 40 and single- or twin-engined Cordova 45, plus the twin-engined Cordova 48, 52 and 60.
And now there’s a brand new design, the first of which was unveiled to the world at this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show – the Hudson Bay 50.
Why is the vessel designated a Hudson Bay, especially when it has been configured for the Australian market? We don’t know either, but we understand the design names are chosen by Clipper Motor Yachts’ parent company, and it is probably because there are plans to market the boat in the northern hemisphere – and the spectacular waterway of Hudson Bay is located in north-eastern Canada.
For the Australia market, the Botany Bay, Moreton Bay, Ringarooma Bay, or any of the many bays in Sydney’s Pittwater or along the Hawkesbury, where the original Clipper made its name, would have been eminently more fitting.
Although the Hudson Bay 50 hull shares many of its design features with the Cordova 48, in particular the double-chine configuration, it was more than a year in the design and testing at the company’s factory in Taiwan.
The double-chine design has two main advantages for a semi-displacement vessel. It allows the boat to have a wider planing surface with the stability of a displacement cruiser at around 12 knots (22.2km/h) and under, while creating a second narrower running surface with hard chines when coming onto the plane for cruising above 14 knots (25.9km/h).
More stability is achieved in the turn as the vessel has two hard chines and ‘walls’ that stop the boat from rolling; even at full lock the turn is flat, like a small direct-drive ski boat. Although the 50 doesn’t turn like a ski boat, it will spin in its own length, but it takes its time in one flat, smooth motion, even in a confused chop offshore. It won’t have your friends grabbing each other for support as they get thrown off their feet.
The vessel is also designed to have more weight down low under the waterline. That’s why the optional twin Cummins 600hp diesels are mounted in the centre of the boat under the main cabin. This also allows space for a huge lazarette under the cockpit.
The hull is solid hand-laid fibreglass with a solid keel in keeping with Clipper’s penchant for building things strong without worrying about weight. The only concession to the weight factor is the cored fibreglass above the waterline and the infusion-moulded honeycomb core deck and topsides.
The result is a vessel that feels safe and strong underfoot in a seaway; even with 16 adults and a bunch of kids partying in the cockpit in an anchorage there is little perceptible movement.
THE SWEET SPOT
The sweet cruising spot comes in at about 22 knots (40.7km/h) with 60 per cent trim to bring the bow down, so the hull rides flat. Top speed is around 26 knots (48.2km/h) at 3800rpm, although the 50 is equally comfortable at 8-12 knots (14.8-22.2km/h).
As with all Clippers, the helm is fully equipped as standard with an adjustable Marine Tech helm seat, a complete set of engine instruments, electronic throttle and gear controls, hydraulic steering, and engine and bilge alarms. The helm has a sports wheel; while looking upmarket, it is probably a tad small for less robust skippers to hold the boat into a tight turn easily – a bigger wheel would take much less effort.
This boat came with the new Simrad NSS12 multi-function display with touch-screen technology, and of course ports for iPhones and iPods.
The helm position of the Hudson Bay 50 depends on the accommodation layout. This model offers two accommodation options – a three cabin/two bathroom or a two cabin/two bathroom format. The three-cabin option has a central companionway and starboard helm position while the helm in the two-cabin option is in the forward centre of the saloon with a starboard-side companionway.
“We are truly excited about this new range,” said Clipper Motor Yachts Australia Managing Director, Brett Thurley. “The company has spent a great deal of time and energy to ensure it has combined the classic lines for which Clippers are renowned with the relaxed lifestyle aspects of a sedan cruiser.”
While many sedan cruisers on the market are designed for day or weekend excursions, the Hudson Bay 50 is designed around a single-level family sport yacht layout, with entertaining area stretching from the swim platform and aft cockpit through the galley, saloon and dinette.
The hopper window opens the aft galley to the cockpit to provide a virtually seamless transition through the saloon to the helm station and down to the three-cabin accommodation below.
“We have combined layout and features that will focus on families getting away and staying on board while offering a comprehensive range of contemporary features,” Thurley says.
And contemporary features it has. None more so than the optional Hydra-swim hydraulic swim platform and tender lift that have been borrowed from superyachts. The lift doubles as a launching platform for the tender or PWC, or a swim platform for the kids to jump off when anchored.
The centre section arcs on hydraulic arms to reveal three foldaway steps that create a diving platform about a metre off the water. As it continues to roll out the section submerges to form a swim platform or to lower the tender or PWC into the water. Recovering the toys is as easy as positioning the craft over the platform and simply raising it up. No cranes or struggling with hauling the boat onto the platform.
It was such a drawcard that during the test people going past in other boats pulled up to have a look. For sure your kids will very quickly make new friends when it’s deployed in an anchorage.
And how often have you seen beanbags on a boat? Few if any manufacturers have thought of that before, but what better way to relax on the swim platform or on the foredeck as the kids play with the toys or on the rear platform. The beanbags are stowed in the huge lazarette under the cockpit when not in use.
SHADE AND SHELTER
The cockpit is well shaded by a long hard-top overhang and there is an optional European awning held in place by two stainless steel outriggers that are stored in the transom locker. The awing shades the cockpit lounge and even the swim platform when anchored up.
With so much space, this boat is ideal for families with kids, and it must be great to wake up in the morning in the owner’s mid-ship cabin and look straight out those big ports.
“We believe this new sedan range will offer Australian families the perfect blend of indoor and outdoor living and accommodation for cruising weekends away or longer,” says Thurley. “It combines gorgeous exterior styling that exudes class and timeless elegance with Clipper’s bluewater cruising credibility,” he adds.
This boat came with many must-have options, including the upgraded Cummins engines, a Bose surround-sound system, a Pantograph watertight side deck door and the electric sunroof with Ocean Aire blind and insect screen. The options added some $140,000 to the base price of $1,049,000.
Summing up, it’s simply difficult to fault Clipper’s Hudson Bay 50. With luxurious appointments and a spacious layout, supremely comfortable living quarters and timeless style, it’s a wonderful example of the breed – it’s no wonder the Clippers are making a mighty comeback.
SPECIFICATIONS: CLIPPER HUDSON BAY 50
Length Overall: 16.02m (incl. swim platform)
Displacement: 19 tonnes
Engines: 2 x Cummins QSC8.3 600hp diesels
Sleeping capacity: Six in three cabins (eight using drop-down dinette)
Fuel capacity: 1892lt
Water capacity: 567lt
Price as tested: $1,199,555
For more information contact Clipper Motor Yachts, tel (07) 3890 5000, or go to www.clippermotoryachts.com.au