Seaquest 26m Catamaran


Arguably one of the most admired vessels in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, Seaquest blends sleek lines with large volume, outdoor entertainment areas that must be the envy of the surrounding apartment dwellers. Dene Priestley hitched a ride to savour a world of superbly appointed, luxury cruising.

Seaquest 26m Catamaran
Seaquest 26m Catamaran
After chasing Seaquest while she cruised sedately at over 20 knots through a choppy Rangitoto channel, it was a pleasure to actually board her. Jumping from our trusty photo boat to the port quarter boarding step of this stunning 26m catamaran - well, it was like climbing the campground fence and finding yourself in Club Med.

The luxury of a cat's wide beam - in this case 8.35m - enhances the sense of open space. Add to that fluid and seamless lines which help to blend outside areas with the interior, and blur the traditional lines between inner living areas. Sublime.

Collectively, the impression is of a large multi "split-level" interior rather than a three-tiered floating apartment, where entertaining and enjoying the surroundings are as important to the design as that of cabin comfort.

Constructed of High Modulus epoxy composite fibreglass and built by Tauranga's Pachoud Motor Yachts, Seaquest is the second of this particular Malcolm Tennant design to grace the sea. The design brief? A fast inshore cruiser with long-range offshore capabilities.

Proof of the cruising range and seaworthiness can be found in Seaquest's sister ship - Pacific Harmony - which was finished in time to make the 2003 America's Cup spectator fleet. She has sailed 7,000 miles from New Zealand to Fort Lauderdale in the United States. The twin 800hp Caterpillar 3406E diesels give a comfortable 20 knot cruise speed (maximum speed of 25 knots), and for longer ocean passages a 10 knot cruise speed will carry Seaquest an estimated 3,500 nautical miles with her 16,000 litre fuel capacity.

The crew that delivered Seaquest on her maiden voyage from Tauranga to Auckland also trailed single engine motoring and achieved nine knots in this mode. On our test - a full-throttle run back to Auckland with slightly grubby hulls - we sat on 24 knots, and impressively the engines were no more than a humble background rumble. The engines are situated well aft in the hulls beneath the lower deck, with a pair of Onan generators (11kw and 22kw) the only items between the engines and the stern.

Looking at the outdoor living areas first, the lower aft teak deck on the cat is huge, although split with the Nautica 15ft tender with 50hp, four-stroke Yamaha which nestles against a row of outdoor storage units. Investigation shows a very large BBQ cleverly hidden under the units' hinged bench top.

There is still loads of deck space beside and behind the tender for additional jet skis, dive gear, and dare I say it, fishing. If at anchor and entertaining a large group, the Marquipt 680kg davit would soon have the tender floating alongside.

Also sheltered under the upper deck is an outdoor bar complete with fridge and icemaker to starboard, with direct access into the inside galley for easy food serving. An entertainer's dream. To port there is a conveniently-located separate head, as well as a stainless railed spiral staircase making its way to the upper deck.

The upper deck is designed for lounging in the sun with the large, full-width seating lining the perimeter. Stepping into the cabin from the upper deck finds you in the bridge with its large helm display, helm seating for two.

Behind and on either side are rich, leather lounge-style seating for many guests, separated from the helm station by a cabinet which includes a sink and, I assume, doubles as a light bar. It only takes one step inside on this warm day to feel the effect of the air conditioning system that distributes cool air ship-wide with 11 units.

The helm station displays a mass of electronic systems including Furuno GPS, sounder and radar, Icom VHF and SSB, Cetrek Autopilot, as well as the screens for the PC based Nobeltek nav system. Under way the skipper selects the synchronise mode and both engines run balanced power using only one of the twin throttle controls. Steering is by way of the little toggle mid helm about the size of a pen. A nudge in either direction adjusts the vessel's course instantly.

Stepping forward down some stairs finds you in the main lounge area with a settee to comfortably seat eight facing aft. It curves round to follow the lines of the windows just above. Mid room and facing forward towards the settee is a 42-inch plasma screen, and sliding aside the wooden panels above finds the DVD and quality stereo components.

Splitting the settee midship and heading forward is another set of descending stairs which lead to the master suite and its king-size bed. Nicely appointed but not overdone, this room is finished in the same maple and maple burr finish used throughout the vessel.

The master cabin also features two ensuites, one to port and one starboard (his and hers), both complete with vanity, toilet, and shower. Plasma TV screens are a feature of every cabin on Seaquest. Lighting is by four, roof-mounted skylights with shade slides for privacy when required.

Heading back to the lounge, a port side set of stairs leads down to the main saloon which features a U shaped dining suite to seat and serve eight people. To starboard is a full home-sized and well-equipped galley, including dishwasher. Hot water is supplied by an instant hot-water system and the bench tops are finished in attractive granite.

To the extreme port and starboard are stairs heading to the guest cabins. Portside there are two: the for'd a double with ensuite, and aft a single over a double with ensuite. The cabin to starboard is identical but layout reversed, to the double on port, and again has its own ensuite and shower. From the saloon we step out level back onto the lower deck.

The remaining accommodation is the skipper's cabin - accessed from a starboard bulkhead door and again serviced by an ensuite. The layout design has all the bathrooms cleverly utilising the fairly narrow hull space, giving height, natural light via portholes, and technical ease of water supply and waste removal systems. Aft of the skipper's cabin is the starboard engine and generator.

Portside an identical bulkhead door accesses the electrical locker and Atlas Energy converter. This unit allows for plugging in at any marina or dock worldwide, and converts any shore power to the required current. Aft of this is the port engine and generator number two.

Back in the viaduct Allan Jouning of 37o South brokerage manoeuvred us back through the narrow and busy harbour from the upper rear deck using the extension plug in remote engine control unit that allows the captain to wander from port to starboard, even stand on the roof, while berthing. Seaquest showed great manoeuvrability while entering her corner, city-side berth using her two engines - more remarkable given there are no bow thrusters.

For an insight into Seaquest's hull design, I chatted to designer Malcolm Tennant. The hulls seem very narrow for carrying the 60-tonne motor yacht so easily, and yet the vessel only draws 1.85m. Part of the reason, explained Tennant, was that both Seaquest and her sister ship started life as a Deep Sea 72, and midway design changes requested by owners meant hull extensions to accommodate and to meet the correct performance/efficiency/draft balance.

This hasn't compromised the vessel in the least and Malcolm, who hasn't been onboard the finished Seaquest but spent time aboard Pacific Harmony, is pleased with the results. "The vessels are very efficient and the CS (canoe stern) hull form we pioneered in 1983, and have constantly developed since, features a super efficient shape under the water. It gives more speed for less horsepower, and obviously longer range also."

The hulls also steer easily and crosswinds don't force the vessel off course. Another gain is that even under one motor the boats will not try to turn circles. The CS Hulls also eliminate the need for counter-rotating gearboxes and propellers, which can potentially cause drive compromise, and also means on longer voyages you only need to carry one spare standard rotating prop.

Malcolm Tennant also points out the "Semi-raised Pilot House" split level flowing layout keeps the overall height down, especially with the fact that on a larger cat the base of the main accommodation can already be 6ft off the water, but while it suits some owners, many still like the three-storey style of accommodation.

For me the open, flowing interior and external sleek styling strike a wonderful balance. The subtle and light, modern décor is very appealing - more so than the sometimes heavy-handed and dark wood-panelled interiors of many vessels.

At around $6 million dollars Seaquest is just a few dollars off my budget. If this sort of money is within your budget, however, Seaquest is in fact for sale. The owner's needs have changed. Allan Jouning at 37o South is looking for interest in this stunning motor yacht. Contact him on 09 302 0178 or 021 764 744.

Seaquest Specifications
LOA: 26.45m
Beam: 8.35m
Draught: 1.85m
Displacement: 60 tonnes
Cruising Speed: 20 knots
Fuel: 16,000 litres
Water: 2,000 litres
Engines: 2x 800hp Caterpillar 3406E

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