The latest collaboration between designer Bill Upfold and builder Lloyd Stevenson is an Elite 16 with a very different interior
There are, to paraphrase the old saying, two types of boatbuilder. One builds what they like, often with input from previous customers, puts it on the market and, hopefully, sells it. The other offers his customers a fairly blank canvas, usually based on a proven hull design, and encourages them to give their input.
And then there is Lloyd Stevenson and his latest vessel, Maeve.
Maeve, named after the mythical Irish warrior princess, is, like many of the power cruisers that Lloyd builds, an Elite mid-pilothouse design from the pen of Bill Upfold.
And Maeve, in keeping with her very unconventional namesake, was no ordinary project. As Lloyd explains, he was building another 16 metre Elite mid-pilothouse and, being at the time boat-less, decided he might as well build two together and keep the second for himself. Thus Maeve started life as Lloyd’s own boat. Like any vessel a boatbuilder builds for himself, Maeve is a little different, although, from the outside, little of that is evident. The only noticeable change is an aesthetic one: the traditional radar arch has been replaced by a single mast.
On board, the changes are more obvious, especially in the accommodation plan. Up for’ard, the traditional arrangement of a “bunk room” in the fo’c’s’le and the main cabin to starboard has been switched.
Maeve’s owners’ cabin is now forward, with an island berth, steps on either side (that double as handy seats), a brace of hanging lockers on the flanks and two substantial drawers under the berth. Portholes and a good-sized Maxwell hatch ensure there is plenty of natural light. The latter comes complete with a Kiwi Yachting Consultants’ Skyscreen, a clever device that includes both a privacy blind and an insect screen as required.
The third cabin, designed primarily for the kids or mates on a fishing trip, is now to starboard and contains two single berths. It also features a large fireproof door on the aft bulkhead, providing easy access to the front of the engine room – and to the laundry (Lloyd has installed a Bosch front-loading washing machine here, just a few steps into the engine room).
The forward head is both an ensuite and able to be accessed from the walkway and contains a separate shower box, vanity and SeaLand head.
The second cabin (for those wondering about the quick transition from main to third) is well aft, providing great separation when two couples are cruising together. Unlike on previous Elite 16s, this is a stand-alone cabin, the adjacent bathroom being solely a day head (albeit complete with its own shower box), with no ensuite access.
The main berth here is an athwartships double with a fore and aft single above, against the exterior bulkhead. Recognising that this latter will not be required on many occasions (and instead will be something of a hindrance), Lloyd has ensured that it can hinge up and well out of the way.
For those not familiar with Bill Upfold’s popular mid-pilothouse designs, one enters the interior from the spacious cockpit in one of two ways. There is, on the port side of the cockpit, a curved companionway that leads up to the enclosed pilothouse, and the step down from the cockpit to the “main” entrance.
From here, one has the raised dinette and then galley to starboard; a handy broom-cum-rod locker, the day head and the second cabin to port. One then steps up to the saloon or day lounge, which is above the engine room and then either down again to the for’ard accommodation area or up and aft to the flybridge.
It is a practical and, as I said, popular design. Bill has, since starting his design business in 1986, seen around 60 of his boats built, 75 per cent of which have been of this mid-pilothouse design. Its obvious advantages are the separation of the two main cabins; the ability to have three quite separate living areas (the cockpit, the saloon and the pilothouse); the easy access to the engine room and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to have a large, totally enclosed pilothouse without it looking at all out of place.
Powerboat designers have long seen the sense in having the galley close to the cockpit, especially as we Australasians like spending most of our boating time in and around the cockpit.
Although there is some separation here between the cockpit and dinette, Bill and Lloyd have minimised it by installing a large drop-down window in the aft bulkhead, by the dinette, making it easy to pass food, plates and drinks backwards and forwards through the window.
The dinette, the only traditional eating area on board, is a compact affair, reached by a reasonable step up. It has L-shaped bench seating fore and aft and against the bulkhead and a novel swing-out seat that swivels over the walkway when in use. It is also handily adjacent to the galley and has good views out the starboard side.
The galley, sensibly sandwiched between the dinette and the saloon above, is well equipped, a fact sure to be welcomed by those required to produce meals or snacks while Maeve is underway. Cooking takes place in either the Parmco gas oven and hob or in the Panasonic microwave. There is lots of practical bench space, all of which is HiMac solid acrylic. The fridge is handily placed at eye level in the half bulkhead between the galley and the saloon, as is a small but practical pull-out pantry. The freezer is set into the far aft corner of the bench top. The main pantry is across the aisle, with a large pull-out pot locker beneath (this has cleverly been recessed under the main berth in the aft cabin).
The lounge features aft-facing L-shaped settees on both sides of the for’ard companionway, free standing oak coffee tables and a delightful oak and glass grog locker in the corner (by the stairs to the flybridge), complete with its own fridge.
Different Design Accents
It also features some breathtakingly different design accents (some of which are also evident up in the bridge and down in the cabins. To explain, we have to return to the period when Maeve was under construction. Lyn and Rebecca, owners of a previous Elite cruiser, had their vessel in his yard for a major refurbishment.
Knowing they were seriously considering selling their existing boat, Lloyd suggested they take a look at the fast developing Maeve. Long story short: after much discussion, they agreed to take a share, along with Lloyd.
“It’s a good arrangement, with lots of benefits for both sides,” he explains. “For a start, the boat gets used a lot, which is good; boats don’t like sitting on the marina for long periods of time. Costs are halved and, considering the price of a 16-metre berth, that is also a good thing.”
The arrangement has also resulted in the most unusual interior (in terms of those design accents) that I can remember. That oak timberwork, for example, was settled on before the partnership was formed and was something that really appealed to Lloyd.
“I wanted timberwork that reminded me of the furniture in my grandmother’s place,” he said. “We tried it on one of the previous models but the stain was too dark”. “This time we have got it right.” With such a traditional look to the furniture, one might imagine that the furnishings would follow a similar theme. Not so. Rebecca and Lloyd’s wife Tracey took over at this point and have, as I said earlier, created one of the most unusual interior designs I can remember. The settees, for example, are cream and fabric, not leather.
I can imagine the gasps of horror as I write this. But hold on a minute. Rebecca and Tracey are both experienced boaters and know what they are doing. The material is Unique Fabrics Bullet, a sort of wonder fabric that was thoroughly tested before being selected. The two scribbled all over on the samples with a ballpoint pen and then added a good dollop of red wine just to make sure.
“It all washed off instantly with just water,” says Lloyd.
However, as gasp-inducing might be white fabric, it is not this that sets Maeve’s interior so apart. Complementing the fabric and the oak (in the saloon) is a modern shag pile carpet and polka dot cushions. Up in the bridge, add black and white striped bench seats (with the stripes of different widths).
The unusual look in both these living spaces (and the equally eye-catching wall coverings in the double cabins) certainly set Maeve apart. And, while they are undeniably different, they are not unpleasant.
Lloyd admits that some of the designs, such as the striped flybridge seating, took a little while to get used to. However, having now spent several hours in their company, he finds them quite attractive. And, while shag pile carpet in the high use areas of a boat may at first seem a very silly idea, Lloyd knows of at least one other vessel with it on board, and says it is still looking like new after several years of hard use.
Décor aside, there are a couple of other noteworthy features in the saloon. One is the Samsung LED TV, which, when not in use, lies flat against the sloping bulkhead above the galley. When required, it hinges out, using a linear actuator, to sit at the perfect angle for viewing from the settees.
Another clever addition is the frosted glass panel on the flat area under the for’ard windows. This channels natural light into the for’ard head while still ensuring the privacy of anyone down below.
Apart from the striped fabrics and polka dot cushions, the flybridge is fairly standard, although there are some clever features. One is the way the leather helm seat can hinge forward when not in use, leaving a handy, flat, table-like surface on which to place drinks and nibbles. Another is Lloyd’s “natural air conditioning” system. This funnels fresh air from small openings at the top of the central windscreen mullions, into a sort of dorade box behind the helm station and out through vents in the dash. These latter can direct the airflow to where it is most needed or, if required, be shut off altogether.
Airflow to the bridge on hot days can also be controlled with opening side windows, another Maxwell hatch above the station and the large sliding sunroof.
Lloyd has also decked the dash and its surrounds, the mullions and the helm seat in an attractive Italia tan automotive leather, designed to reduce glare on very sunny days.
On the day of the test, Maeve’s helm featured a pair of Raymarine E140 MFD displays. However, as he explains, these are soon to be replaced with Raymarine’s latest 15” HybridTouch models.
As is usual these days, the pair of MFD screens dominate the dash, delivering the majority of the information the skipper needs. Complementing them are the digital engine panels for the twin Caterpillar 565hp diesels and control panels for the Raymarine autopilot, the Bennett trim tabs, the C Zone electronic control system, the Max Power bow thruster and the Exalto wipers. An Auto Anchor panel gives control over the Lofrans windlass, the rope/chain rode and the Manson Supreme anchor.
The engine controls are ZF and Raymarine instrumentation above the station shows both the true and the apparent wind direction and speed.
Stowage on the bridge is in two drawers under the helm seat and in a large locker (certainly big enough for a bevy of rods) under the port seat.
In cooler conditions, a large window on the aft bulkhead lets in plenty of light while, on hotter days, it literally folds into itself creating a huge doorway out to the poop deck and the stairway down to the cockpit.
The deck, in underway mode at least, is pretty fully occupied by the Steelhead Marine WD800 crane and Maeve’s tender: a 3.1 metre Southern Pacific RIB, powered by a 15hp Yamaha outboard.
Although I found it a little disconcerting to have little or no vision aft, for Lloyd it is clearly not a problem. There is a narrow line of sight from the helm to the aft port quarter and, as he demonstrates at the end of our sea trial, that is all he needs to safely return Maeve to her marina berth. For those perhaps a little less confident, there is a second set of ZF controls at the bottom of the stairway.
Maeve’s spacious cockpit has been set up to quickly switch between entertaining and fishing. For the former, there are those free-standing table and chairs that can be set up with a moment’s notice. There is also an attractive two-burner Plancha barbecue against the for’ard bulkhead. Hidden by a hinged cover when not in use, it has a handy light built into the top, a great addition for those tasked with preparing a late night feast.
There is a small sink on the port side, while, over on starboard, the built-in Fridgetec freezer has sensibly been split into two compartments: one for the food and the other for the bait.
Fishers are well catered for, too, with six rod holders in the coamings and two live bait wells, one set into each side of the transom. There are also two water outlets, one fresh and the other salt, set unobtrusively into the port side, and an outdoor shower in the transom.
With the engines centrally mounted, there is a welcome amount of handy stowage space under the cockpit in what is effectively two separate lazarettes. This is also home to the vessel’s genset: a centrally positioned 7.5kVA Nanni.
Maeve essentially runs a 24V DC system, apart from the VHF, complemented with 230V AC from the generator and inverter. As Bill explains, on a vessel of this size, cabling for a 12V system would simply be too heavy, with too much risk of a large voltage drop.
Maeve is the 21st Bill Upfold-designed vessel that Lloyd has built and it is clear that the pair work seamlessly together. Our test was conducted on a surprisingly windless day (for Auckland in October) and, as expected, Maeve performed flawlessly.
Once we were clear of the Orakei breakwater, Maeve’s twin C9 565hp Caterpillar diesels had her up on the plane and cruising comfortably at 20 knots. With a full load of both fuel and water (2500 litres and 900 litres respectively), the 19.5 tonne Maeve boasted a top speed 28.2 knots at 2540rpm.
Of course, at that speed the C9s are pretty thirsty, consuming a total of 220 litres per hour and limiting the range to around 320 nautical miles. At a fast cruise (2300rpm) Maeve covers the ground at a more than respectable 24.8 knots, using 182 litres per hour and giving a 345 nautical mile range.
At the other end of the scale, if one was happy to passage-make at a far more sedate 8.3 knots (at just 1000rpm) the C9s would require just 9 litres per side per hour and the range would jump to 1160 nautical miles.
Generally speaking, Maeve has a fairly standard Elite warped planing hull with a fine entry transforming into a relatively flat 11-degree deadrise at the transom.
However, there have been a few tweaks with the spray rails above the waterline and just a single spray chine below. The leading edges of the rudders are also slightly longer, making them better balanced. The result is a 16-metre monohull that stays very flat in the turns, with minimal heel, planes easily and appears relatively unaffected by such distractions as harbour chop, ferry wakes and the like.
Lloyd Stevenson started building boats almost 30 years ago and, from the beginning, gained a reputation for building very good craft. As at 2010, four of the first five boats he built were still with the original owners, one of the finest testaments a builder can have.
As with all his vessels, Maeve is a collaboration between him and the owners, with the owners very much involved with the whole build process (probably one of the key reasons they hold on to the boats for so long).
In an area where so much of what we see is popped from a mould and where interior designs tend to take a safe middle path, Maeve is delightfully different. Her polka dot motifs and strong stripes will not appeal to everyone. That is not important. They appeal to the only ones that matter, the owners. And they, deservedly, are very happy.