This robust bar buster crushed the Southport Seaway. It's this pride in workmanship that puts Barton Thomas' team at Australian Master Marine ahead of the pack
This robust bar buster crushed the Southport Seaway.
If the little things are done well, it's a sure bet the rest of the boat is well built. Take this vessel. It's got nylon screws in the wood surrounds of the rod holders in the gunwales, which line up with the slotted heads facing the one way and the hand-fared welds on the two-pack finished bowrail.
It's this pride in workmanship that puts Barton Thomas' team at Australian Master Marine ahead of the pack. For some years, the Brisbane-based company has enjoyed a reputation for building semi-custom boats with quality and finish not normally seen in Australian plate-aluminium boats.
The AMM 3300 is a fine example of the boat builder's art.
The owner's brief was for a fishing and cruising boat to accommodate four people that could be left in the water.
The hull shape (which features a raised knuckle that brings the bow up), was designed by Adelaide naval architect, John Kemp. It was computer cut at the factory with bottom plates of 6mm and a 10mm keel. It has frames of 6mm, the topsides are 5mm plate and the superstructure 3mm.
The hull and superstructure have the profile of a small patrol boat and as I was to find out, she has impeccable manners at sea. While the hull and superstructure of the 3300s may look similar, no two boats are built the same.
One gets the impression Barton wouldn't be happy pushing out a series of similar production boats. It would not appeal to his boat building philosophy. Building semi-custom boats gives him the flexibility to tailor-make a boat to suit the individual customer.
"The attention to detail is what the customer is paying for," he said.
The 3300 has a large cockpit, but on this one the owner has opted for a massive icebox that just about fills it up. He spends a couple of weeks at a time on the boat, so he wanted the big box to keep fish and bait in. The box is divided so the bait (kept in a separate box) doesn't slop around with the fish he's caught.
A live-bait well with a glass front is built into the transom, with two KVa gensets and the main battery switches in lockers. Another example of the thought that's gone into this craft is the deck wash hose which is neatly stowed in a bracket under the port gunwale.
Tackle box storage, a deep freeze and a sink with hot and cold water are built-in and the cockpit floor is finished off with flexi teak.
The main cabin is entered through a glass panel door and is a fairly standard AMM fit-out. An L-shaped lounge built around a metal table with a lip around the edges and a non-slip mat take up the port side. Opposite is a small galley with a double stainless sink, fridge and a small two-burner gas stove. A microwave is built into a cupboard under the dinette table.
A couple of steps lead to the big head on the left where the floor is finished in river pebble tiles. Most unusual for a boat, but according to Barton, they are rated the highest non-slip tiles for outdoor areas. The forward cabin sleeps four with two yacht-style fold down bunks above a big veeberth that takes an infill to make a double bed. Unlike most forward cabins in a boat like the 3300, it's not dark and stuffy - two overhead hatches make it light and airy.
What's been done with the void space in front of the helm station? The team has built in a pantry, leaving enough room to stand up and remove a large panel to get to the helm station wiring loom. Perfect.
The helm is neat with the standard instruments for the twin Suzuki 250hp four-strokes on the back. A Raymarine C80 plotter and Sounder have been built in, along with VHF and 27Mhz radios and an autopilot.
The outboard engines are not only about $50,000 cheaper than inboard diesels, but they leave a lot of room in the hull for storage.
Lifting a hatch in the centre of the cabin reveals a huge storage area. It's like an Aladdin's Cave down there! Along with the 350lt freshwater tank is a 60lt hot water system, black-water holding tank, charger/inverter, three by 200amp/h batteries, a rack for the dinghy outboard (a small inflatable dinghy could probably be shoehorned in here too) and a heap of odds and ends that find their way onto a boat when people live on them for a while.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The Gold Coast Seaway had been at its unsociable best for about a week, so it was a good opportunity to find out just what this craft could do.
As we motored out at about 20 knots, the boat rose to the swell almost as if it was saying, "come on, have a go! Let's see what you can throw up at me". And we didn't need the windscreen wipers once. Outside on the open sea the 3300 loved it, even though the sea was confused. The boat cruised at a comfortable 23 knots (that's 4200rpm), using only 15lt of fuel per motor. Set the autopilot and the boat will cruise all day at this speed.
Not bad for a boat that tips the scales at 6.5 tonnes. With a full 500lt tank of fuel the boat has a cruising range of around 370 nautical miles.
At rest and side on to the swell the 3300 is stable and doesn't try to lift out of the water as a wave passes underneath. It doesn't like tight turns, instead preferring nice, big, smooth, open turns - which is what it's designed to do.
The trip back in was just as uneventful with the 3300 taking the bar in its stride. It made short work of the Seaway crossing in conditions that would have sorted many other boats out. It would take a lot to trouble this craft and in flat water it gets up and boogies at 35 knots with a full load. In light ship configuration AMM has recorded 37 knots.