A cruising boat demands a cruising test, so we recently joined Len and his partner Jane for a shakedown cruise on Sublime – a brand new Clipper Cordova 45 of which the couple had just taken delivery. Then, with 16 other boats, we joined the Clipper Fraser Island 2013 Regatta – a 10-day cruise from the Gold Coast to Fraser Island and back.
The Clipper Cordova 45 is a trawler-style boat. It’s the smallest in the Cordova series, but still fits in two cabins, a bathroom and spacious living areas inside and out. Clipper builds 10 different models from 28ft to 65ft across four series – Hudson Bay, Heritage, Cordova, and Explorer.
At the Coomera River’s six knot (11.1km/h) limit she tracks well and is an easy drive, thanks in part to her full keel, which also protects the running gear. Before long we were merging with the rest of the regatta fleet at the Broadwater.
Travelling north along the Broadwater we were now cruising at eight knots (14.8km/h), the boat burning a frugal 2lt/nm. At that speed she has a range of over 1000nm (1852km).
The starboard forward helm has a sliding door out to the walk-around side decks, while the well-appointed galley is directly adjacent. The large, airy aft saloon incorporates U-shaped seating around a table to port, with full-length seating opposite. Large side windows and a tri-panel glass sliding door lead out to the fully covered cockpit, giving the boat a spacious feel.
We went ashore at Peel Island, where the folks from Clipper Motor Yachts were awaiting us. All the crews enjoyed sunset drinks and then a sumptuous seafood feast before retiring to their boats.
The master stateroom in the bow features an island bed with drawer storage in the base. The guest cabin has twin single beds (convertible to a double), with a set of drawers between. Both cabins have generous head room and storage. The well-appointed bathroom is spacious, with a separate shower.
The next morning we enjoyed coffee on the expansive flybridge. There’s a second helm, plus a table, guest seating, a wet bar, fridge and barbecue. After bacon and eggs on the barbie it was time to head for Mooloolaba, nine hours away.
Cruising at 8-9 knots (14.8-16.7km/h) the timber ship’s wheel at the main helm looks good and feels precise. A full suite of electronics is well laid out on the dash. By 5.45pm we were safety tucked in to our marina berth for the night.
FEEL THE SERENITY
We spent the next six days cruising, enjoying beautiful waters by day and plenty of camaraderie by night.
The Clipper 45 is well-equipped for getting away. An icemaker, two fridges and two freezers carry ample provisions and it carries 1330lt of fresh water.
The twin Cummins QSB 305hp engines have good access for servicing and the fuel tanks feature sight gauges (as well as a fuel gauge at the helm).
When crossing the Wide Bay Bar on our return, a 2m swell with 1.5m of sea made life interesting, but the Clipper took it in her stride, feeling solid and secure.
Still, this is a semi-displacement boat – while you can cruise economically at around 8-10 knots (14.8-18.5km/h), she can manage 16 knots (29.6km/h) if need be.
This is a classy, comfortable cruising boat, with many standard inclusions. She handles well and exudes quality. She’s also economical, but fast enough when required and, most importantly, she suits her role to perfection.
SPECIFICATIONS: CLIPPER CORDOVA 45
Displacement: 16.5 tonnes
Twin 305hp Cummins QSB 5.9 in-line, six-cylinder, turbocharged diesels
Engines: Generator: Onan, 7kW
Price as tested: $892,000
Priced from: $795,000 (with single engine)
Built to last
Club Marine takes a behind-the-scenes peek at the Clipper factory.
The Clipper brand has been around since the late ’70s, but it’s come a long way.
This Aussie company has its boats built under licence by the Ningbo Fuhua Boatbuilding Industry Co in Ningbo, China – a relationship that goes back to 2001. We recently visited the factory and came away highly impressed.
Expatriates Marc Campion and Steve Fitch, both experienced boat builders, are based at the factory and oversee new product development plus quality control, with Australian-based Managing Director Brett Thurley (above right) making regular visits.
A semi-custom design, Clipper is only too happy to make modifications provided they don’t require the relocation of bulkheads. Everything is hand-built in-house, even down to casting bronze fittings. And the timberwork is superb, the teak aged and milled on site before being hand-crafted by the factory’s artisans. The whole process is very labour-intensive – these are real craftsmen using traditional hand tools and old-world techniques to produce a modern boat.
The hull is solid fibreglass and all laid up by hand, while the superstructure comprises Nida Core sandwich and fibreglass, combining enormous strength with light weight. The hull lamination process is carefully monitored and tightly controlled.
Well-known and reputable brands like Aritex stainless steel, Trident fuel lines, Racor filters, Muir winches, Vimer light switches and Marine Tech helm chairs are used, while every boat meets Australian standards.
During our visit there were 12 boats being fitted out in the main production hall – one of five buildings on the 24,800sqm site. The company spent over $3m expanding its facilities last year, when it exported 24 boats.
The shipyard was much bigger than I’d imagined, but I was pleasantly surprised with how the boats are built: by old-fashioned craftsmen using tried-and-true methods to build a contemporary product, without a CNC machine in sight. ¿