Dickey Semifly 28

By: Steve Raea

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Winner of the Aluminium Fishing Boat of the Year Award (Open) at this year’s Hutchwilco Boat Show, the Semifly 28 brings a fresh design to market; a clever package that somehow meets the legalities of trailer legislation.

Dickey Semifly 28
Dickey Semifly 28
If big is good then the Dickey Semifly 28 is about the best thing around in its class, offering an accommodation plan, layout and standard of finish and function that would seriously rattle many 'name' brands.

The Semifly is nothing if not original, and yet it is an amalgam of design philosophies garnered from past and present. This is abundantly evident in its retro-style Chris Craft sheer, contemporary plumb stem, sport-fisher transom and semi-raised flybridge.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about this vessel on first inspection is that it is entirely crafted from aluminium. While there is no skill shortage among Kiwi sheet metal workers and fabricators, the Semifly 28 lifts the bar inexorably higher.

Builder Jason Dickey and his production team are justifiably proud of their first build project and are not afraid to drop the now familiar 'super yacht-finish' into their vernacular when describing the Semifly 28.

And given the luxurious rich gloss finish on the topsides and the curvaceous and shapely super structure immaculately finished in crisp two-pot coatings, the super yacht description is not too far wide of the mark.

It is little coincidence either. Dickey knows a thing or two about super yachts, having spent a number of years working as a mechanical engineer on some the world's largest motoryachts.

A large part of his brief during his time on motoryachts was servicing and maintaining large expedition-style tenders that could be used for transferring passengers and crew to the ice one day and exploring jungle rivers the next.

"I learnt the value of simple and reliable systems. The best-looking tender on the water is only as good as its reliability. Reliability and safety go hand in hand. Every fitting on the Semifly has been proven at sea and installed for a long and serviceable life."


Dickey and his partner Tristin approached the design and build process in a calculated and clinical way, taking their design concept to Auckland-based marine architect Denis Harjamaa. Their design parameters were specific: "We wanted to combine a classic look with an efficient hull design, but without compromising internal volume.

"We wanted a boat that would provide genuine live-aboard comforts. This included long-range tanks, comfortable purpose-built berths, a full-size and enclosed shower and toilet and a functional yet stylish saloon with reliable refrigeration. The cockpit had to reflect the boat's sportfisher pedigree without compromising comfort and layout."

Somewhat unusually, Dickey purchased every boat fitting – from the engine to water tanks to the upholstery – and carefully calculated the combined weight. Harjamaa factored this into his design calculations.

"It was a time consuming and exhaustive process, but it has paid off. By having all the boat's gear and equipment in front of us we were able to get a much better picture of the function and look of the layout. It meant we could strengthen construction in high-stress areas and work to tight weight tolerances. As it was, the Semifly 28 came in within 100kg of the design weight."

A similar exacting approach was adopted for the build. Every panel of the boat, including the floors, stringers and bearers, were computer-designed and CNC-cut. "The tolerances are within a millimetre. The whole boat came together like a giant jigsaw."

The real benefit of CNC machining, says Dickey, is that the alloy work does not have to be bent, pulled or stretched in the weld process. And because each piece of metal work interlocks, inherent hull strength is markedly increased. It also reduces the amount of fairing work required to get a superior topside finish.

There is no question that the Semifly is very strongly built using traditional methods that include full-length hull girders and welded frames at narrow centres. Design calculations have been factored on a theoretical service speed of 50 knots to ensure the topside panel work does not form or stress around bulkhead frames or ribs, resulting in an unsightly ripple effect common to alloy boats.

Salient construction details include a 10mm vertical keel supported by two full-length fore and aft girders and flanged outboard girders that collectively form a rigid self-supporting internal structure.

The totality of this structure is clearly evident with the boat imparting a sense of stiffness and strength more in keeping with heavy fiberglass construction. But strength carries a price, and this is measured in weight. The Semifly tops the scales at three tonnes light and 3.4 tonnes on the trailer. This has its own implications, but for now it is enough to know that even the most demanding skipper is not going to break the boat.

A keen sports fisher, Dickey worked hard to blend a sportsfisher cockpit design within the parameters of a modern luxury sports cruiser. This has largely been achieved through good design and careful construction.

The cockpit is fully coved for easy cleaning and the sole and combings have been laid in hard-wearing Tek-Dek for a luxurious yet low-maintenance exterior finish. The cockpit combing and transom are deliberately wide and full and upholstered at thigh level for comfort and style.

The Semifly was built from what Dickey describes as a three-tier layout comprising the cockpit, open semi-raised flybridge and the forward cabin. The cockpit has been cleverly designed with an aft camber in the sole to allow runoff to find its way overboard quickly through open transom scuppers.

In its entirety, the Semifly melds cockpit fishibility with a comfortable yet practical flybridge design that brings the boat together without any obvious or annoying demarcation. From the semi-flybridge helm station and bench settee opposite, guests have a bird’s eye view of proceedings in the cockpit without any sense of feeling removed from proceedings.

Dickey says guests often comment that they get a disproportionate feeling of space from the flybridge and quite literally forget they are cruising on a trailer boat during the course of an afternoon outing.

Cockpit King

The raised engine box dominates the cockpit sole but it is low enough not to be too intrusive. and there is easy walk-around access to the transom door set off-centre on the starboard side. A stainless steel pedestal is centrally mounted to the engine cover for a game chair or bait station. Live bait tanks are recessed into the sole at the aft corners and are large enough to be useful. Standard cockpit fit-out includes fresh and saltwater wash down pumps.

The Semifly 28 does not have a boarding platform or swim-step, but Dickey says this is available as an option and will be a standard item on the larger Dickey 10m currently under development.

The teak-laid cockpit combings are wide and comfortable and fitted with ample rod holders and complemented with a stainless steel rocket launcher built into the aft end of the bimini top.

As mentioned, the standard and level of coving within the cockpit and flybridge is impressive. Not only does this provide for a quick and easy clean, it guarantees better paint adhesion and a much longer paint life. It also gives the boat a production fibreglass look.

Beneath the engine box is an immaculate engine installation flanked by the engine-heated hot water cylinder, freshwater and saltwater pumps and the holding tank.
The standard of mechanical engineering is excellent, with generous service access to the 320hp, 4.2-litre Cummins-MerCruiser turbo-charged diesel. Engine cooling is ducted from the flybridge and passes through internal baffles to reduce air induction noise levels.

Flybridge Helm Station

The flybridge is only one step above the cockpit but the change in attitude is marked. And while not large, the flybridge makes maximum use of the boat's 2.8m beam without encroaching on the side decks which carry their full width forward to the foredeck. The foredeck itself is wide and clutter-free and with little rake is the perfect place for sun worshipers to throw down a towel or a deck chair for evening sundowners.

The helm station is centred around a fully-adjustable single helm seat on a gas pedestal and flanked by a two-seater bench settee positioned fore and aft, providing comfortable seating for three and easy walk-thru access to the central companionway.

Below deck, the internal saloon volume belies the boat's overall dimensions and can only be described as roomy, comfortable and very well-appointed with a sensible and functional layout. This has the enclosed walk-in head and shower unit immediately to starboard of the companionway, with the galley opposite. It's fully featured with dedicated storage cabinets, hanging locker, small sink and two-burner hob and electric under-bench fridge. Headroom in the main saloon is reasonable but restricted to sitting headroom further forward.

The dedicated double berth is mounted athwartships under the cockpit, but it is light and airy with good sitting headroom. The continuous V-berth forward forms the main saloon settee and this has been cleverly suspended from the hull structure to provide storage options under. Finished in hard-wearing marine fabrics and a vinyl headliner, the cabin is cosy and attractive and meets its expectations as a weekend live-aboard cruiser.

Our sea-trail at Napier was conducted on a breathless Hawke's Bay day, so we can only take Dickey's word for the Semifly's offshore manners, but what we can say is the boat feels remarkably solid, stiff and willing. And for all its weight it is a nimble performer, turning out a top speed of 35 knots.

The helm position is comfortable and well protected by the Taylor-made windscreen. Quick out of the hole, the Dickey Semifly 28 trims out beautifully, even at trolling speeds. The hydraulic steering is firm and positive and the hull has a determined grip on the water when put through fast full-throttle manoeuvers. Dickey says, at a fast cruise of 20 knots, the boat has a range of about 300 miles and a fuel capacity of 380 litres.

Dickey says the trailer's electric over hydraulic brakes on twin axles delivers plenty of stopping power and says his Toyota Landcruiser copes with the tow easily.
At $335,000 as reviewed (including a full Raymarine electronics package), the Dickey Semifly 28 is not cheap, but so often what you pay for is what you get and, in this case, you get a lot of boat.

More importantly, what you get is quality, and no one ever regrets that. The physical size of the boat on its trailer could be disconcerting, but in many respects it is the ability to travel with the boat that makes it so attractive. The Semifly is unique in many respects and sends a clear message to the market that Dickey Boats is serious in its pursuit of excellence. We look forward to the launch of its next project – a 10m raised flybridge.

Specifications Dickey Semifly 28 (Price as tested $335,000 , priced from $295,000)

Construction: Aluminium
LOA: 8.5m
Lwl: 7.85m
Beam: 2.8m
Deadrise: 18° at transom
Engine: 4.2-litre, 320hp Cummins-MerCruiser
Fuel capacity: 380 litres
Trailerable weight: 3.48 tonne

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