|Southbeach goes diesel|
By Bob Wonders
The boat builder, the boat broker, the media and assorted onlookers and prospects were among those who turned up at Mariners Cove Marina on the Queensland Gold Coast last weekend to see the first diesel-powered Southbeach Vacationer.
Previously only available with outboard power, the diesel version of the innovative craft sports a 120hp, 1.7-litre turbocharged engine from MerCruiser. It may be small in capacity, but it offers a top speed in the region of 30kts and a comfortable cruise speed around 20kts.
Ken Blacklock, CEO of the Southbeach Vacationer Kencraft Marine, said the diesel-powered option had attracted interest from both recreational boaters and commercial operators.
The Southbeach Vacationer certainly rates as an innovative design. Ken Blacklock cleverly markets the craft as an alternative to a caravan.
It even boasts the ‘pop top’ made popular by caravan designers; electric motors raise or lower the top which, when fitted with side curtains or clears produce a caravan effect enabling the unit to be used on land or afloat.
“We developed the Southbeach Vacationer to meet the needs of both boating and touring enthusiasts, offering quality production methods, comfortable cruising and outstanding fuel economy,” Ken explained.
“While we’re delighted with the performance of the MerCruiser diesel, it in no way diminishes the performance we achieved with a four-stroke Suzuki outboard. “We’re simply giving buyers the choice between outboard and stern drive options,” he added.
The Southbeach Vacationer is a spacious boat, easily capable in cruising mode of accommodating up to 10 adults.
As a ‘caravan’ it can comfortably accommodate a party of four for a weekend or more. It certainly qualifies as ‘well equipped’.
Galley, cooler bins (or an optional ‘fridge), marine head, unique change room, a four-speaker sound system and a DVD player. With its 150-litre tank, the boat should have a cruising range of about 700km with the 1.7-litre diesel.
Underway, thanks largely to its flared bow and high freeboard, the Southbeach Vacationer proved a very dry boat, responsive to the helm and easily handled through the speed range.
When the boat is stored or being towed, the electrically-operated roof (or pop top) retracts snugly to the coaming, effectively reducing windage when under tow and virtually eliminates dirt, damage and even theft and vandalism when stored.
The boat is 7.36m overall, with a 6.65m hull length and 5.60m on the waterline.
It has a spacious 2.48m beam which meets Australia’s legal towing width eliminating the need for a wide load permit. Towing weight, depending on fit out and power option, is around 2350kg.
For the ‘grey nomads’ thinking of caravanning Australia, the Southbeach Vacationer makes an ideal alternative.
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