New Zealand’s Dickey Boats has developed a reputation for building semi-custom aluminium cruisers to a standard not matched in the aluminium boat sector, so I was keen to get behind the helm of its new Semifly 45 at the company’s home base at Napier, on the North Island’s east coast.
A prerequisite of all Dickey Boats is their offshore capability, with a low centre of gravity (no flybridge options), long-range ability, excellent performance, efficiency, finish and – above all – the highest standards of engineering.
The Semifly 45 is intended as a versatile boat, perfectly suited to family cruising and entertaining, as well as serious gamefishing. The owner of our review craft, First Edition, said he was looking for a boat that would give him the right platform for social and family boating, as well as for towing lures and serious fishing. The Dickey Semifly 45, he says, does all that and more.
Company director Jason Dickey says buyers have plenty of scope for customisation.
“Owner input is very much part of the design process,” explains Dickey. “Owners work in close collaboration with our designer, using 3D drawings so they can see what the finished layout will look like.”
It’s a few steps down a wide companionway, naturally lit by an open atrium, to three cabins and one large shared bathroom. The forward master features a queen-size berth with storage drawers and hanging lockers on the portside aft, and a deep open storage area under the berth. There is the choice of a writing desk and stool or more drawers, and a mirror on the portside aft bulkhead.
In First Edition, the twin-bunk guest cabin has a draw curtain for privacy, although owners can stipulate a solid bulkhead. There’s the choice of a child’s berth above and a full-length one below or, by moving the forward bulkhead, owners can have twin 2m berths. This does take a little space from the shared bathroom, but it’s hardly noticeable.
The aft guest cabin has a large berth under the saloon sole and a single berth forward. This also doubles as a place to stow bags or as a handy changing seat. Storage is provided under the berths and in bulkhead drawers.
There is no timber joinery or cabinetry in the Dickey Semifly 45, with the company using high-pressure composite plastic panelling and laminate. The benefits are not only strength and weight saving but, from a cleaning point of view, it’s a simple spray and wipe job.
The saloon is split into three distinctive areas – a helm to starboard with a trio of 21in Furuno enhanced MFD screens (which include the Furuno WASSP system), a well-equipped L-shaped galley aft with Corian surfaces, and a U-shaped dining lounge to port with a fixed table. An Eberspacher diesel heater keeps the saloon and cabins warm and dry.
With the use of bifold doors and no bulkhead, the cockpit and saloon morph into one space so that, no matter whether you’re at the helm or hanging onto a rod on the boarding platform, everyone is brought together in a very social atmosphere. In the case of First Edition, this is enhanced with an island barbecue station and bar leaner. An interesting feature is the cavernous storage space under the bar, which runs back 2m under the dinette seating. In First Edition, it’s used for tackle storage and a fridge/freezer, but it’s also a great place for a roll-up dinghy and outboard.
As the owner of First Edition is a keen angler, it was no surprise to see the cockpit fully fitted out with 25 rodholders in the coamings and above in the rocket launcher. Taking centre stage is a Chatfield fighting chair, while there are tuna tubes, bait storage and a livebait tank in a central bait station, plus a pair of Kilwell game poles. Due to be added sometime soon is a gamefishing tower on the saloon roof.
There is plenty of storage under the side coamings, with a portside transom door leading to the boarding platform. The platform has been heavily gusseted for strength when backing up hard on a fish. Buyers have the choice of a platform, a rise and fall, or nothing at all.
QUICK, ECONOMICAL HULL
The Dickey Boats distinctive plumb-bow design is not just a visual enhancement; it’s designed to give maximum hull length and an excellent entry. The 45 is built using a spaceframe-type construction, combining full-length girders and transverse frames. This gives it an incredibly stiff and solid feel at speed. The running surface is constructed of 6mm plate on a 16-degree-deadrise hull.
Like the rest of the Semifly range, the 45 is quiet when underway, even with the rear doors open. There is no noticeable hull noise and, according to Dickey, it’s all about the structure. To eliminate any condensation, but also for sound deadening, the boat has sealed air gaps between the interior spaces and the hull. There is no solid foam anywhere within the hull.
On our test day, the waters off Napier were quite moderate, with just a small lift and little swell. While it was enough to get a feel for the boat’s handling and agility, I can only go by Dickey’s comments as far as its capability in rougher water goes.
“We were over 60 miles offshore during our initial sea trials and, when coming back in some reasonably big seas, I was very impressed with the ride, as well as the high speed we could maintain in even the worst conditions,” says Dickey.
While Dickey says he’s not focused on top speed, the Semifly 45 still does a very respectable 34 knots (63km/h). It accelerates like a runabout and, if you work the trim, there’s no excessive bow lift. From idle to (maximum) 3630rpm was exceptionally quick and the boat felt so good as we headed offshore from Napier that I didn’t want to slow down.
The pair of Volvo IPS600 engines uses a maximum of 169lt/h for a range of around 380nm (700km). However, what is really interesting is the fuel-flow curve – there is very little difference between 2000rpm and 3200rpm. At 2000rpm, it uses 4.4lt/nm, which only increases to 4.5lt/nm at 3200rpm. So it’s easy to see why the owner of First Edition does most of his cruising around 3200rpm at 29 knots (54km/h), which still gives a range of around 440nm (815km).
The Semifly 45 is built tough, yet is reasonably light. With a displacement of 12,500kg (dry), the benefit is a more efficient hull, using less fuel and giving a greater range. Standard tankage is 2200lt, with an additional 700lt bladder-tank option.
The Dickey Semifly 45 exemplifies excellence, quality and craftsmanship. It combines classic Dickey Boats design elements with the finest construction and engineering in a manner that sets it apart from any other boats in the aluminium-cruiser category – it’s that simple.
DICKEY SEMIFLY 45
Displacement (dry): 12,500kg
Fuel capacity: 2200lt
Water capacity: 400lt
Power as tested: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS600
More information: Dickey Boats, tel +64 6 834 1310. Web: dickeyboats.co.nz.