Bluewater 450m Review

Issue: March 2006

Friday’s Child

Here a 45-footer that can hold her head high moored beside any Oyster or Swan.


Lake Macquarie boat builder David Bradburn knows this could be his best commission ever. The owners of Friday’s Child wanted a boat that could hold its head high if moored next to a Swan or Oyster. This meant the proposed boat had to give the owners exactly what they wanted, with no compromise in style, layout and quality.

After looking at a number of ideas, David suggested the foundation of the new boat could be an existing hull design, a Ron Holland original, modified for cruising by local naval architect Peter Cole. “This combination would seem to make very interesting bloodlines,” said the owner.

This was possibly the easiest decision. The rest of the boat is the result of painstaking conception and design in which every detail was mocked-up and modified until it was right. The boat is called Friday’s Child, because the owners travelled to David’s factory near Newcastle each Friday to review the week’s work and discuss the next move. The boat was launched on a Friday.

Are the owners happy with their new toy? Yes. Has the team achieved its objective of building a world-class, long-distance cruiser that would not be embarrassed if it was asked to race?

We are doing 7.1 knots over the ground, going to windward in 25 knots under main and jib with the staysail furled. In the cockpit we’re completely comfortable, protected by the unique dodger and curtain structure. The smell of fresh bread is wafting into the cockpit from the bread maker baking away in the galley.

I suspect the answer to the question posed in the preceding paragraph is yes. It’s difficult to know where to start when discussing the complex mechanism and habitat that comprises the modern yacht. Let us look at random at some of the detailing on Friday’s Child. We can’t discuss it all; there’s way too much!

The raised bridgedeck configuration gives room below decks for the owner’s stateroom to be aft, behind the main bulkhead, instead of in the bow (the norm in modern production boats). This means the owner’s cabin is the full width of the full, so the double bunk is on the centreline. There’s a seat either side and a vanity and mirror are mounted on the main bulkhead.

The forward cabin has a double bunk and two bunk beds. The top bunk can fold down to form a settee. The lower one lifts up to reveal storage for tools. A vice can be bolted to the bunk base if needed.

The saloon features two armchairs which face the settee and the fl at-screen TV, which can also be swivelled to face the cook. The navigation station is big and has everything an owner could need, including a computer (running MacSea) and printer. All the ports and hatches can be opened, the latter have screens and blinds. The owners don’t like aircon, so fans cool the owner’s cabin.

The decor is gorgeous! American white oak veneers and solid timber have been chosen to match grain and colour. The Microsuede upholstery is attractive, soft and comforting.

Bathrooms are the best place to judge a boat’s detailing. Friday’s Child has two. Neither is big enough to contain a separate shower area, so to keep the room dry a sailcloth curtain runs on a near-circular track to surround the shower and keep the water where it belongs. Because it’s sail cloth and fairly stiff, it won’t wrap itself around the person in the shower.

The toilet rolls are covered, just in case. The soap holders are also covered, so even the soap doesn’t accidentally get wet. Plus, there are handholds everywhere for when it gets rough.

The door in the forward bulkhead is watertight, so if you whack a semi-submerged container hard in the middle of the night, the ingress of water can be controlled by the three pumps (two electric and one manual). As a last resort a tap can be opened allowing the 75hp Yanmar to pump water from the bilge through the cooling system.

The 60lb CQR anchor is mounted in a pivoting arm. It can be lowered from the cockpit and is retrieved by a Lewmark electric windlass. The keel-stepped mast is supported by two sets of spreaders with lowers fore and aft, and continuous intermediate shrouds lead to the deck for easy adjustment. The headsails are mounted on manual furlers; the main is power-furled into the boom.

Rainwater which falls on deck runs through drains set inboard, so the topsides are not stained. When the deck has been washed clean of salt and dirt, you switch a tap and the rainwater drains into the two integral tanks.

The boom cover has clip-on tap fittings, which drain into the two large stainless steel tanks.

The owners chose a 75hp Yanmar, driving a two-blade folding prop, which pushes the boat to 9.3 knots. This amount of power means an easy cruise of 7.5-8 knots. The engine is revealed by swinging the companionway and is accessible from the front, sides and back. “On the front of the battery box David put a little shelf to hold tools,” says the owner.

Enough details; my head is hurting. The Bluewater 450’s steering has a solid system, which, to my mind, is the right compromise between weight and gearing (i.e. reaction speed). The helmsman’s seat is humped and comfortable. Under staysail and main, in up to 27 True knots of wind, she reached what must have been hull speed. The sail reinforced the wisdom of the cutter rig. As the breeze built the husband and wife crew adapted easily by furling the staysail.

The next stage, rolling away a bit of the main (using the powered system) would presumably not be essential until 30 knots or more.

Under main and self-tacking jib, Friday’s Child marched upwind without feeling the strain. In a very solid breeze (strong-wind warnings south of Seal Rocks said the forecast) she was completely unruffled, showing no sign of putting the gunwale anywhere near the water.

In conditions like this, the self-tacking jib is a jewel; spin the wheel, the sails flap briefly then they are drawing on the opposite tack.

Even in the relatively smooth waters of Port Stephens you can feel that this 15-tonne hull moves more easily than her later, lighter cousins. The motion and lack of heel disguise the fact we’re moving at near-race speeds.

Owners and builders are both happy with their Friday’s Child. I ask David if he would like to build more Bluewater 450Ms. “I’d love to build nine or 10,” he answers. And if Friday’s Child was the only one? “I’d be happy with that, too.”

Ron Holland’s hull has not only been modified by Peter Cole, David Bradburn’s team has changed the bow a little and added length to the stern, so that the profile, particularly aft, is far more balanced and pleasing than the original.

The hull is built to Australian USL survey requirements. The lay-up is solid fibreglass with a layer of Kevlar forward of the main bulkhead to resist collision damage and balsa coring has been used to stiffen the bow.

The 4800kg lead keel is bolted on with 13, 25mm stainless-steel bolts set to varying depths to avoid weak points.

There are 16 floors in the area around the mast and all flanges are made of solid ‘glass about 20mm thick. Continuous stringers lock into the chainplate structures.

A 75hp Yanmar diesel spinning a two-blade folding prop powers the Bluewater 450M.

LOA: 13.725m
LWL: 12.20m
BEAM: 4.20m
WEIGHT: 14,170kg
BALLAST: 4820kg
MAIN: 64 sq m
GENOA: 41.3 sq m
FUEL: 560lt
ENGINE: 75hp Yanmar

+ Watertight bulkhead; Easy to sail
– Nothing to report