If you get a pot and call it 'Port Jackson', add perfect weather, a pristine new sport boat, fish and chips from Doyles, a beer or two and stir in a visit from the QEII, you'd have an extraordinary brew
Two visiting Queens steal the scene during this test.
If you get a pot and call it 'Port Jackson', add perfect weather, a pristine new sport boat, fish and chips from Doyles, a beer or two and stir in a visit from the QEII, you'd have an extraordinary brew.
The alchemist behind this concoction is Sydney's Andy Howden from Bavaria Sports Boats and his piece de resistance is the latest twin-engine Bavaria Sports 32 Hard Top.
The Queen Mary II joins visitors to Sydney Harbour on the day, so like the thousands of other Sydneysiders, we have to take a look. As we approach the huge ship on our German reconnaissance vessel we fall under the spell of this beautiful English ocean liner. This is not the time to mention the war.
Breaking the trance, we're up and away from the crowds and heading down towards Middle Harbour. Once the shackles are broken the BMB hits 31 knots at full noise. Next stop is the fuel wharf to give the beast a drink. Here Andy asks, "Are you up for a bit of propeller testing?"
"Why not," I reply. Soon we're powering around Middle Harbour with a mechanic onboard, calibrating the tachos and optimising the DuoProp combination. This gives me time to have a good look over the vessel. And what I find, I like.
The $298,000 BMB 32HT is loaded with many standard features, which are often classed as 'extras' on other vessels. They include a bow thruster, a teak-laid swim platform and an electric sunroof in the hard top.
Hard tops offer good protection from the sun, but the trade off is that it can get a bit hot and noisy in the cabin.
Fortunately for us, the HT32's combination of sunroof and side windows give good cross-ventilation to keep things cool.
There's a single-bolster seat at the helm and the dash has all the required engine instruments including a depth gauge. There's a control panel to manage the electronic systems and the only thing missing is a freshwater wash for the windscreen.
Trim tabs, bow thrusters, CD stereo system, a windlass and electric engine hatch lifters are good features to have as 'standard' on this vessel.
The cockpit layout will keep both sunworshippers and shade masters happy, because most seats are shaded by the hard top, but the aft bench seat flips over to form a sunpad. There's also a bow sunpad with drink holders. Other 'top-side' goodies include a wet bar, removable carpets, aft fender holders and a teak-laid swim platform with outdoor shower.
The Bavaria's wide walkways, full-length stainless steel bowrail and easy side 'step-ups' have always impressed me. Once forward, the Bavaria's non-skid decks are level and the pulpit is open, so it's easy to drop off and pickup passengers over the bow.
Below decks, the Bavaria's two-cabin layout ensures privacy for all onboard. Bavaria has moved toward lighter timbers which, combined with the use of white fabric and upholstery, produces a saloon with an air of contemporary opulence.
Curtains separate the cabins and the aft double berth has a small changing lounge. The amidships starboard side head and shower is serviced by a modest 20lt of warm water and has a porthole for natural light.
The saloon and galley get plenty of light and ventilation from three deck hatches (with louvre screens) and four portholes, so the saloon remains very inviting both day and night.
The galley has ample storage and an electric cooker and fridge, but most of the drinks will probably find their way into the cockpit from the wet bar. Overall, the Bavaria 32HT has a lot to keep everyone very satisfied ? above and below decks.
It's thirsty work doing boat tests, so once the prop testing is finished, we farewell the mechanic and dash back across the harbour for beer and seafood at Doyles in Watsons Bay.
During this trip I put the Bavaria through the hoops and find the twin petrol 4.3lt 235hp Volvos deliver good cruise speeds from 24-26 knots running between 3500-4000rpm. There's no fuel-usage data available, but let's just say that the mid-range speed will probably be kinder to the hip pocket.
The vessel's reasonable beam and modest deadrise make her easy to trim and once set, there's very little tweaking required. At around 26 knots the 32HT takes on the slop and slush at Middle Head with vigour and there's no need to ease back as we hit the bigger stuff.
A good sign of build quality is demonstrated as the hull comes off the back of a few steep ones everything sounds nice and tight down below. Visibility through the screen is a bit hard because of the glare off the water and dash, but a pair of trusty polarised sunnies will improve through-screen visibility.
It's a wrap
The toggle-controlled bow thruster makes the Bavaria 32HT extremely manoeuvrable in the hustle and bustle of Watsons Bay it's mid-week, but the visiting Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II make it feel like Australia Day.
The boat is tied up at the wharf and here we are, sitting at the famous Doyles seafood restaurant, enjoying the classic Aussie lunch fish and chips. There's little doubt we're the envy of the crowds queuing for the ferry at the wharf, but all too soon it's over and it's almost time for all of us to head off for our afternoon appointments...
Ah, bugger it! Let's have one more beer if not for the Queen, at least for the Queens.