Elite 16m Pilothouse
The latest Elite 16m pilothouse, Boudica, meets diverse cruising, fishing, chartering and promotional needs. Geoff Green interviewed designer Bill Upfold and builder and part owner, Lloyd Stevenson, about the boat's concept and delivery.
Boudica's genesis was Night Mover, an Upfold pilothouse design Auckland boatbuilder Lloyd Stevenson built for a client in 1996. "My father [John Stevenson] and I were quite taken with it," he says.
"We decided to build one after I participated in the delivery of Alodium [a 14m Upfold pilothouse] from Auckland to Wellington. It was economical, a lovely sea boat and since I had an excellent working relationship with the designer, there was no need to look any further." Now Lloyd, John, Kel Griffin and their wives are partners in Boudica.
Bill says his designs are good sea boats because they have a fine entry and flatten out aft, and this means they can be driven hard into a head sea without pounding. "Boudica also has generous water line beam and this makes it a stable platform that resists rolling in a following sea." Measured in terms of height off the water, he says the centre of gravity is relatively low. "If you compare Boudica with a similar sized flybridge launch its overall height is half a level lower."
Bill also says that, from a sea-going aspect, a pilothouse offers many advantages. The working and sleeping areas - cockpit, galley, dinette, cabins and toilets - are basically on the waterline. "If you need to cook, eat, sleep or shower you are as low as possible and therefore the acceleration and movement is minimal."
Lloyd says the pilothouse concept suited all the partners. They took the best from Night Mover and adapted the layout to meet their individual needs.
Those needs included family cruising with individual and combined families aboard, gamefishing, corporate chartering and promotional duties for Lloyd Stevenson Boat Builders.
"It is a boat builders boat and potential clients will inspect it. I needed to produce a special product that people would admire, but at the same time the partners wanted a boat that was practical and easy to live aboard."
Lloyd started Boudica in 1997 and progressed it as other work in his yard allowed. "But you reach a point where there is serious time and money invested in the partially finished project and it becomes a priority to complete it. We allocated more time to it in 1999 and 2000, and launched it in December."
While he was building Boudica, two other Upfold designs - the 14.8m Argonaut and 15m Brave Heart - were launched by other yards. They incorporated Bill's latest design features, including a big dinette window that hydraulically lowered into the bulkhead cavity and two-stage sliding doors and improved overhead clearance that improved the flow from the cockpit into the dinette.
These features were also incorporated into Boudica.
But Bill says Boudica differs from his other pilothouse designs because it is more open plan in the dinette, galley and lounge areas. This was achieved by offsetting the aft cabin bulkhead a little more to port, keeping the servery a little lower and incorporating radiused corners to provide better flow into the different areas.
The cockpit is also bigger than found in most of his other designs. He says that feature was driven by John's game fishing requirements and general corporate charter considerations.
By nature, pilothouse designs are divided into different levels and it is the way in which the areas are optimised that adds to the boat's flexibility.
"Having the galley, dinette and one bathroom adjacent to the cockpit provides excellent day facilities, and having a double cabin and en-suite at either end of the boat maximises privacy," Bill says.
Lloyd says the family uses the dinette area a lot when they are cruising. "We have a folding cockpit table that matches the level of the dinette table.
This maximises the dinning capacity and provides the outdoor experience most people enjoy on a nice night. It's a convivial spot because the boat swings to the breeze and it's always sheltered. We've spent many an hour socialising there after dinner."
Directly across from the dinette is the aft double cabin and en suite. The en suite - because it is also accessible from the companionway - also doubles as the day head.
To achieve an upmarket but practical décor, the owners selected off-white paint and light cream vinyl covers highlighted with burr elm cabinetry and teak trim. Soft furnishings with a strong Egyptian theme were used on the headboards and cushions in both cabins. Exterior wise, the hull is finished in white and the cabin sides and superstructure are painted a light cream to match the interior.
The double bunk in the aft cabin runs athwartship and there is plenty of cabin space, many drawers and a hanging locker. The house batteries are under the double bunk - because they have to be above the waterline to meet survey requirements - and Bill says it is preferable to keep them out of the engine room.
The U-shaped galley has a Corian bench top and is equipped with a four burner gas cooker so hot drinks and meals can be made without running the generator.
An inverter can also power the electric jug and toaster. The generator is required to run the Bosch combination microwave and convection oven, however. It is also the only source of power for the refrigeration systems (two fridges and a freezer) other than shore power. The 8kva Onan generator is in the lazerette and Lloyd says it can be heard running but it's not intrusive.
The integrated Fisher and Paykel dish draw, as well as a small air conditioning unit in the pilothouse, also run off the generator. "We wanted a demister on all the windscreens and the best solution was conditioned air," he says.
From the galley it is four steps up into the saloon. The entertainment centre (19in TV, Sony DVD and CD player) and BEP electrical switchboard are concealed in the bulkhead between the stairways leading up from the galley and into the pilothouse.
The TV is integrated with the PC-based Seamation navigation system and all navigation functions can be displayed on it. The saloon features generous seating on two L-shaped settees, a moveable coffee table, cocktail cabinet and fridge.
Skylights are set into the dash under the windscreen and they provide diffused natural light into the ensuite and starboard cabin.
The starboard cabin has two parallel bunks, one above the other. The bottom bunk is set aft and makes use of the space under the saloon settee. This allows space for a three-draw cabinet at the head of the bunk. The upper bunk spans the two bulkheads and two hull ports, the skylight and a Lewmar Coastal Series hatch provides light and ventilation.
A large weaver hatch in the aft bulkhead provides dedicated access to the engine room. The hatch was selected because it is watertight (for survey) and was easily resurfaced to blend in with the cabin décor.
The engine room is finished in off white paint and is crisp and clean. It houses two 450hp Cummins Diamond Series engines, each driving 2:1 gearboxes, shafts and Briski 26 x 31 propellers.
Moving out of the engine room and into the forward master cabin I noticed that the bulkhead corners were rounded to open up the cabin and create easy egress to either side of the island berth.
One thing was very noticeable by its absence in the forward cabin - chine slap. The chine is clear of the water and this allows wavelets to pass along the hull without causing the annoying slap generated by other hard chine boats. Bill says a silent hull is standard on all his designs now.
The lines are the sleekest I've seen in a pilothouse and Lloyd says they limited the pilothouse headroom to 1.88m (6ft 2in) to achieve this. "In practice, 1.88 metres headroom is sufficient for 95 percent of guests, and 95 percent of the time they are sitting down."
The feature he likes most is that the pilothouse can be transformed into an open area in seconds. A large hatch - covering about one third of the bridge area - slides back to let the sun and sky in. Two aft sliding doors can be progressively opened until two thirds of the aft bulkhead is open to the breeze, and the side windows also open.
"On a sunny day it's like living outdoors and I've only twice driven with the sliding doors shut. There is no suck-back to drag in moisture or fumes," he says.
The dash is extensively equipped and Lloyd says they went overboard with the electronics. "The PC based Seamation navigation system hasn't missed a beat and, although I wasn't that experienced with computers, it has been easy to learn and no problem to operate."
Access to the large cockpit from the helm is quick and easy and the large sliding transom doors are designed so that the dinghy can be pulled into the cockpit. "However, it gets in the way when fishing and on the marina so it has a secondary position on the foredeck."
A removable Elite game chair is the cockpit centrepiece and the cockpit has relatively wide side decks with toe kicks under. If you want to work a fish you can get right to the side and retain your balance while bracing yourself across the upper thighs. The cockpit side decks are capped with teak (the remainder of the side decks are painted) because it doesn't show the wear and tear inflicted by rods, sinkers, jigs and lures.
The transom is angled at 45 degrees below the water line to lift the boat when reversing. Although the transom doors are large, they are captured at the base and fit snugly against the cockpit edge (180mm higher) and Bill says this supports them when the water level climbs up the transom.
Boudica has been in the water for six months and its been well used by all the partners. Lloyd says he would build the same boat again tomorrow. "There are a few minor details I would develop but 99.9 percent of the boat would remain unchanged. All the partners are thrilled with it."
I thought the finish and presentation was very crisp and suitably high-end. The design was also stylish, but practical and well suited to it the clients' multi-purpose brief.
Boudica is a special boat.
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