As is invariably the case following any intense build-up to a new model release, that first definitive emotion/reaction when you finally get your very first glimpse of the real thing will be one of either disappointment, or as in the case of the Belize 52 Hardtop Motor Yacht – one of sheer delight, elation, adulation, pride!
It is reasonable to assume the end result of a vessel design and build collaboration between two of Australia’s leading marine industry identities, former Riviera CEO Wes Moxey and broker and fellow Riviera board member Lee Dillon, would be something quite spectacular. In short, it was, and no-one including myself quite expected an end result like this.
From a distance certainly the profile was very different; a touch of old world tradition dished up in a very modern package, but my biggest surprise was reserved for the moment I stepped aboard. It literally stopped me in my tracks, my eyes transfixing from one incredible feature to the next. Quite simply, the brand brought a whole new meaning to the word ‘luxury’, elevated it to a whole new level of quality, attention to detail (what I will label ATD) and unwavering commitment to excellence.
I’m sure if you asked the pair three or four years ago what they would be doing in 2011, this would surely have been the last thing on their mind, but times and situations change. Beginning as a quest to occupy their idle time immediately following their reign at Riviera, the pair proceeded to put together a plan to offer boaters an unprecedented boating package that would be as user-friendly and practical, as it was eloquent; in short their idea of the ultimate boating package!
Systematic in his approach to the exercise, the two critical components from Moxey’s perspective (as the pseudo production manager) were initially a designer and a builder who recognised the job ahead. The search for a designer was easy; satisfied by former Sunseeker and Riviera designer Stephen Ford, who worked in conjunction with Belize’s external consulting partner and former Ferretti Yachts interior designer, Giorgia Drudi; hence the Italian connection, the futuristic look and style of Italy.
The manufacturing side was not so easy for Moxey searched the world before he found an appropriate builder. “Eventually I discovered the ISO-certified Kha Shing yard, a Taiwanese custom boat-builder with over 35 years experience building vessels from 45 feet to 185 feet. Dealing with this yard turned out to be a marriage made in heaven,” Moxey enthused. “We set out to build an authentic, exceptional boating marque, grounded in tradition and forged for the modern era. Kha Shing had the craftsmen, and they had the focus to adhere strictly to the basic luxury principles of a ‘no shortcuts; no compromises’ – style of boatbuilding.”
“This Belize 52 is perhaps best described as a timeless and ageless classic, but at the same time bringing the past into the future by offering a high level of comfort, individuality and performance. In time the range will be expansive but at this early juncture we at Belize Motoryachts have chosen to debut the range with a limited-edition, semi-custom, 16.1-metre ‘Belize 52’ model,” he stated.
An elegant cruiser with definite aesthetic detail gleaned from the luxury automotive industry (even down to the ‘Mercedes grey’ paintwork), this 52 is available in either a flybridge or sedan configuration. Stepping aboard for the first time, it didn’t require a brain surgeon to appreciate this boat was unashamedly all about lifestyle. I just shook my head in disbelief as I soaked up each and every feature, some subtle, some obvious – but all very special in their own individual way.
It wasn’t so much the obviously luxurious way it was presented either; as satisfying as that aspect was, it was also the innovation, practicality and user-friendliness of these ‘standard’ features which so impressed. And when I say standard I am referring to the more obvious features such as the S/S protection plate to the bow, the LED lighting throughout, a sun-bed on the foredeck, the SmartCraft read-out in the engine room, the teak decking, the electric Hi/Low riser table leg in the cockpit, the electric BBQ and servery at the transom.
Inside, standard creature comforts included such items as the Ericson W35 Marine Wi-fi system, electric slimline concertina blinds throughout the boat, the bedding and décor pack, the custom-fitted galley gear, the heated towel rail in the ‘master’ head, and the comprehensive owners manual on hard copy as well as iPad.
As with most hardtop models, the lifestyle flowed eloquently through from stem to stern, commencing at the boarding platform where the moulded cover on the top outer face of the transom beam lifted to reveal an electric BBQ and beside it a mini kitchen sink complete with ribbed draining top. Below this BBQ level was the electrically operated garage door that lifted to reveal a garage complete with 3m Brig RIB tender. Removing the tender from this garage was an easy exercise thanks to the rise and fall central section which lowered to below water level – great for swimmers and divers also.
Accessed via impressive steps and S/S gates each side of the transom beam, the cockpit level continued the ‘entertainer’ theme. The transom-beam bench seat, the huge teak folding table, the rather artistic anchoring cleats and fender lockers, and against the aft saloon bulkhead the refrigeration and settee module to starboard and the breakfast-bar setting to portside, were all straight out of Italy! As if the attention to detail wasn’t spectacular enough with these, the teak boat hook (with non-slip fabric covered handle) and the flag standard that would have taken a week to build on its own – were the absolute icing on the cake. The scene was set.
Continuing the teak floor theme of the cockpit, teak walkways off each side of the cockpit led forward to the bow area where taking centre stage on the cabin top, was a large sun-pad. The walkways, with incidentally teak capping also on the low bulwarks, gave way to a ‘special’ anchoring area right at the bow; special because the barrel of the winch and two fairleads were the only evidence of this feature. Even the specially built anchor was secreted, appearing well below the coaming top level, out of the S/S protection plate on the stem – practicality, innovation and ATD – personified!
Flowing through on the same level as the cockpit, the functional and certainly ‘classic’ saloon was where the ‘Drudi’ influence was most obvious. Contemporary satin varnishes, leather lounge, leather-topped storage module, teak floors, two-pack finished panelled cupboard doors, panoramic windows, electrically operated blinds, overhead roof-windows and of course the generous lashings of walnut and American oak furniture and cupboards – were all certainly very ‘Italian-inspired’.
Maintaining the luxury ideal, the galley immediately to portside as you entered through the Aritex saloon doors and lift-up hopper window, was something very special. Running virtually the entire length of the wall, this well-equipped gourmet galley boasted features such as a Miele induction cook-top, range-hood, copious numbers of overhead storage cupboards, a combination oven/microwave, two sinks, Grohe tap-ware and a side by side refrigerator/freezer combo. Included with the Belize galley was a set of S/S culinary accessories – toaster, jug, sandwich-maker and coffee-maker – just part of the friendly service, the ATD!
Opposite this was the L-shaped dining setting cum formal lounge. What a setting within the context of this very European fully air-conditioned room. Capable of handling six people in supreme comfort, again it was the uniqueness of this particular feature which appealed moreso; the two-pack finished base module complete with custom-made drawers for the crockery, cutlery and glasses, was as practical as it was a fashion statement.
The other fashion statement in this most ambient saloon was the helm area. Earlier Moxey had emphasised the fact this boat embraced the best technology, appointments and styling the automobile industry had to offer, with Bentley-like features; all of a sudden that statement rang true. Complete with two side-by-side Italian Trebin electric helm chairs, CMD (Cummins MerCruiser Diesel) Zeus tilt-steering and a comprehensive G-Series glass-screen Raymarine electronics package networked to the BEP Marine CZone vessel management system, this helm setting very much epitomised the sporty feel and appeal of this facet of the Belize 52. Roll the huge electrically operated overhead sun-roof back into the roof structure, and there was my convertible Bentley!
In keeping with Belize’s emphasis on appeasement, personal options ranged from décor and timber choices of walnut, American oak or teak, and to general colours and aspects within – as well as a broad choice of the number of cabins, cabin sizes and layouts. In other words, the Belize philosophy is that you can have what you want, as long as it fits within the bulkhead parameters. In this instance the portside satin-finish teak staircase in the forward corner of the saloon led down onto a companionway (with laundry), which in turn fanned out into three staterooms and a house bathroom.
To portside was the third ‘guest’ cabin, complete with upper and lower twin-single berths. The VIP guest cabin was in the bow; a queen-size island berth adorning what was a very spacious cabin. Special features included alcove windows, bed-base storage, vanity setting with stool, television and overhead hatch. Off this room was the two-way VIP and ‘house’ bathroom, complete with very contemporary vanity, basin, and separate shower and head. The teak floors and the draining slats in the shower were typical of the Belize ATD philosophy.
Two steps down off the aft end of the companionway was the full-beam master stateroom, a magnificent room in anyone’s language. Like the other two rooms this master boasted features such as plush carpeting, fabric panel walls, extensive storage, LED lighting throughout, innerspring mattresses, cedar-lined wardrobes, TV/DVDs and air-conditioning. In addition, this ‘master’ room enjoyed lifestyle luxuries such as a portside lounge, window alcove with feature porthole window, blinds, feature head-board and bedside tables. And, literally a house-size bathroom in a separate room off the starboard side of the master, which came complete with separate head and shower, large vanity and bench, extractor fan and teak floors.
The sound of the engines bursting into life enlightened me to one other most important aspect of the Belize 52 Hardtop – power. Accessed through the hatch in the cockpit was what could only be described as a huge underfloor area. Traditionally there is a bulkhead between engine room and lazaretto but in this instance, in order to accommodate the carbon-fibre jackshafts which join engines to pod drives, it was the one big room.
Very tastefully presented, if I may use vernacular seldom if ever used to describe an often-agricultural engine room, taking pride of place in here was a pair of inline 6-cylinder, 8.3 litre, 600hp Cummins QSC8.3-600 diesel engines and Zeus pod drive packages. And that, my friends, is your lot; just like Henry Ford who offered just the one colour scheme with his Model T’s, ‘Henry’ Moxey offers just the one engine package. “We offer our owners the perfect boating package and an integral part of that package is power,” Moxey explained, “From a space perspective we of course accrue more space by using the pod drive configuration. Aside from that though, in our mind and certainly from past experiences, this is the best engine package for this sized vessel.
“Add to that the fact that the Zeus pod drive system is a complete drive system which comes with steering, trim tabs, drive train, gearboxes and drives – everything in between the steering wheel nut and the propeller nut – and it means we only need to deal with one supplier.
“Our boat, which incidentally was tank-tested by the Tasmania-based Australian Maritime College, is very performance orientated and that is surely confirmed by the fact this 24.5-tonne boat enjoys a top speed of over 30 knots and a brisk yet economical cruise speed of around 22-24 knots – where it has a range of approx. 360NM (with the mandatory 10% fuel safety margin in reserve). I feel that more than vindicates our power choice,” Moxey enthused.
Within the engine room also, was an impressive mechanical inventory which included long-range cruising prerequisites such as a 17.5kW Onan genset, a 2.5kW inverter, two battery chargers, very good sound-proofing (you could barely hear the engines whilst underway), air-conditioning, the four house, four engine battery banks, the 700-litre water tank and the two 1200-litre fuel tanks. And of course, one other very special feature seldom found on a 16m vessel, the garage which housed the ‘float-in’ 20hp Yamaha outboard-powered 3m Brig RIB tender.
We have seen over the years many and varied interpretations of a ‘luxury’ motor vessel. To me, this Belize 52 Hardtop justifiably carries the mantle of a ‘true’ luxury vessel; it has taken luxury boating to a new level and how the hell they brought this boat to market with a price tag of just $A1.44-million defies belief. It would take a week and a volume of encyclopaedias to accurately describe each and every feature of this boat, and the level of specification of each of the plethora of special ‘attention to detail’ features on this boat. End of story, this was the best all-round, value for money, 52-foot boating package I have ever tested!
- Design name: Belize Motoryachts
- Boat name: Belize 52 Hardtop
- Builder: Kha Shing Enterprises
- Country of origin: Taiwan / Australia
- Designer: Belize Design Team
- Interior designers: Belize DT / Giorgia Drudi
- Year launched: 2011
- LOA: 16.1m
- LOH: 15.35m
- Beam: 5.03m
- Draft: 1.1m
- Displacement: 24,500kg (heavy ships)
- Max speed: 30 knots
- Cruise speed: 22 – 24 knots
- Fuel cap: 2400L
- Water cap: 700L
- Construction: GRP composite
- Classification: CE Cat B / ISO0992
- Engines: Cummins QSC 600hp
- Gearboxes: Zeus pod drives
- Drive train: Zeus pod drive
- Propellers: Cummins Zeus
- Generator: Onan EQD 17.5kW
- Inverter: Mastervolt 2.5kW
- Battery charger: Mastervolt 100amp
- Air conditioning: Cruisair
- Rise & fall swim platform: Davco hydraulic 200kg
- Tender: Brig 3m RIB
- Trim tabs: Zeus
- Lighting: Hella 24V LED
- Underwater lights: Aqualuma
- Anchor winch: Muir VRC-2500
- Anchors: Ray S/S 35kg plough
- Steering: Zeus
- Engine controls: Cummins
- Wipers: 3 x Exalto
- Paint (topsides): White gelcoat/Awlgrip
- Paint (antifouling): International
- Stainless steel fabrication: Aritex
- Saloon doors: Aritex
- Windscreens: Alfab
- Deck hatches: MAN SHIP
- Portholes: MAN SHIP
- Heads: Tecma Silent Flush
- Wood finish: American walnut
- Upholstery: Italian leather/fabrics
- Helm chair(s): Trebin
- Entertainment system: Bose
- Autopilot: Zeus/Raymarine
- GPS/plotter: Raymarine G-Series 15″
- Depth sounder: Raymarine G-Series 15″
- Radar: Raymarine 4kW / 48 mile
- VHF: Raymarine Ray 55E
- Sat dish: Raymarine Sat TV
- Engine Instruments: SmartCraft
- Software system: Raymarine
- Switch panel: BEP Marine
- Vessel management: BEP Marine CZone
- Base price: $A1,395,000 (ex Coomera)
- Price as tested: $A1,440,000