The Maritimo 550 Flybridge Convertible announces the return of Bill Barry-Cotter to the sport fishing market after an absence of four years.
While Maritimo’s cruising range has been an outstanding success, sportfishing fans were not particularly enamoured with the appearance and style of those first models. Bill Barry-Cotter has for a long time been regarded as the doyen of Australian sportfishing boat designers and when the first Maritimo models were introduced, none were sportfishermen because of the restraint of trade clause in the deal he had concluded to sell his previous company, Riviera. Now that the specified period is over, it’s business as usual for Barry-Cotter, who admits he is back in his comfort zone. The market has waited in anticipation to see what the company would unveil as its first entry into the very lucrative ‘sportfisherman’ market. From the overwhelmingly positive reaction at the recent Sydney International Boat Show launching, it would seem that the wait has been worthwhile.
The Maritimo 550 is a classic battlewagon designed specifically to claim top honours at Australia’s premier game fishing tournaments and to go head-to-head with similar US sportfishing boats. Shortly after the release of the first boat, it was doing what it was designed to do – fishing – at the Port Hinchinbrook Classic. Over the first few days of the tournament the decks were blooded with two marlin and the boat performed above expectations.
The schedule was tight, with the Townsville and Cairns tournaments to follow soon after, but fate stepped in. On the Tuesday after the tournament, while 23 nautical miles offshore, Maritimo’s #1 550 suffered a catastrophic electrical fire and was completely destroyed and subsequently sank. Maritimo CEO Bill Barry-Cotter took the news of the vessel’s loss calmly.
“These things happen,” he said, “it amounts to a setback for us with regard to our plans to contest the top game fishing tournaments, but it’s only a temporary bump in the road. Importantly, the skipper and crew acted appropriately and all survived without serious injury.”
Maritimo plans to build another 550 and fit it out to the identical specifications as the lost vessel, and although time will prevent its entry into some of this year’s game tournaments, nothing else has changed as to the boat’s tournament schedule.
So it was in some ways ironic that due to time constraints I was unable to take advantage of Maritimo’s offer to attend the Port Hinchinbrook Classic and spend the last few days fishing aboard. Instead, I chose to go to the Maritimo facility at Hope Island and take 550 #2 for a run in the Broadwater and off the Surfers beachfront.
With a standard power option of 2000hp, provided by C18 Caterpillars of 1000hp each, you know this boat is going to perform. What impressed me was the ability of the 550 to achieve planing speed so easily. Push the throttles hard down and it leaps ahead like a gazelle, reaching 30 knots in less than 12 seconds. The variable deadrise hull boasts a fine entry, flattening aft to a minimum deadrise. Beam-to-length ratio might be described as on the lean side, but it will definitely enhance performance. The prop shafts are on a shallow 7-degree angle and run five-blade Teinbridge propellers.
Maximum speed is 35.5 knots and in the 2m swells off Surfers I had the 550 powering through the deep troughs in absolute comfort. It’s an amazingly responsive hull that laps up rough water. To illustrate the fishability of the hull we backed up into the swells hard and fast. Water poured over the semi-submerged transom, filling the sole of the cockpit, only to be expelled in seconds through the trio of wide transom scuppers when the boat was brought to a stop. Wet feet but nothing more.
Back in the calm water of the Broadwater, I found a comfortable cruise around 24.8 knots @1700 rpm at which according to the on-board fuel computer the diesels were burning a total of 218L/h and based on 90% of the 5400-litre fuel tankage gave the 550 a range of 553 nautical miles.
At the other end of the rpm range figures of 8.5 knots @ 700rpm / 25L/h (1652 nautical miles range) and 11.8 knots @ 1100 rpm / 89L/h (644 nautical miles range) were recorded. Maritimo also offers a smaller engine option with twin C12/700hp Caterpillars, which trims the top speed back to around 30 knots and sees a reduction in the purchase price in excess of $A100,000. Currently, the base price of a Maritimo 500 is $A1.61million with the twin 700hp option and $A1.73million with the C18, 1000hp engines. Soon to be added as an option are the new 850hp Caterpillars which should see a speed maximum around 32 knots.
The lack of bulkheads and an open tread flybridge staircase provides uninterrupted views from the cockpit to the galley and dining area. Maritimo has focused on comfort and the fact that you are probably going to do a lot of entertaining aboard. The galley for example is huge, with a generous composite top servery and food preparation area. Standard features include a two-door fridge/freezer, four-burner cook top, range hood, microwave, dishwasher and even a coffee maker. A dedicated wine glass storage rack is situated under the servery extension and there is a second fridge below the staircase.
Opposite, the L-shaped dining area has a highly polished folding table surrounded with leather lounges. In the rear the area is set aside for relaxing with another deep cushion leather lounger and an occasional folding dining table. This is a great place to sit back and watch the 105cm LCD or listen quietly to a DVD through a myriad of hidden speakers. Blinds are hidden out of sight behind pelmets until required, with the high and wide side windows providing plenty of natural light. The rod rack and switch panels are alongside the alloy framed glass sliding cockpit door and within easy reach when required.
The layout provides accommodations in three cabins serviced by twin en-suites. Conventional in its plan, there is spaciousness about the area that provides a warm and relaxing atmosphere. All cabins have zone-controlled air conditioning. The main port side stateroom has a queen size berth that lifts up to reveal a step-down storage locker – excellent use of space and a great area to keep stuff that you don’t need in a hurry. As in the other cabins, high gloss beech timbers and panels are used, with concealed lighting enhancing the ambience.
The bathroom en-suite is complete with large vanity and separate shower.
The forward cabin complete with an island berth and the guest cabin with fore and aft single berths plus an athwartships single bunk share the same en-suite. Full-height hanging lockers and storage drawers are plentiful throughout the accommodation areas. There is also an option of four bunk berths in the forward cabin rather than the single double.
While the 550 is currently available only with an enclosed flybridge, Maritimo is producing an open flybridge primarily for the US market. The layout features a forward control station to starboard, with a pair of Australian-made Navigator helm chairs and multiple facias designed to accommodate a variety of large screen displays and control modules. The electronics package is mostly optional, although a VHF and autopilot are included. Depending on your taste, the facia is available in a variety of colours or timber finishes.
Directly opposite is a small lounge, plus a refrigerator and cocktail cabinet built into the bridge forepeak. The port side stairway that leads to the saloon is the only access to the flybridge.
Guests can relax on a soft red leather lounger curved around a highly polished teak table. Teak is used in the flybridge, with myrtle or beech throughout the remainder of the boat. Owners have the choice also of satin or gloss finish.
There is an optional dedicated second helm station on the aft deck with enough duplication of controls for the skipper when gamefishing. Plus, if you are really serious, then the optional stainless steel game-tower comes with a third control station.
The cockpit features a large lazarette, wet locker and access to the machinery area. There is loads of fender and rope storage around the padded coamings, which have been set up at the right height for stand-up fishing and are free of any deck fittings. Provision has been made for a game-chair to be mounted between the two cockpit sole hatches and access to the engine room is also from the cockpit. A bench seat forward is the ideal place to be when the fishing action is all on and this doubles as the cover for an external freezer and further storage areas. A bait station is also available as an option, as is a BBQ and live bait tank.
The Maritimo 550 is only the spearhead of Barry-Cotter’s plans to “take on” the sport fishing market. It will be followed by a 50-footer (15.24m), the Maritimo 500 and later by a 63-footer (19.20m), the Maritimo 630. Like the Maritimo 550, the succeeding craft will be similarly set up and designed specifically for wide-ranging sport fishing expeditions.
- Design Name: Maritimo 550 Flybridge Convertible
- Builder: Maritimo
- Designer: Bill Barry-Cotter
- Interior Designer: Helena Johnson
- Year Launched: 2007
- LOA: 17.8m
- Beam: 5.2m
- Draft: 1.3m
- Displacement: 26 tonnes
- Max Speed: 35.5 knots
- Cruise Speed: 25 knots
- Fuel Capacity: 5300 litres
- Water Capacity: 800 litres
- Construction: GRP
- Engines: C18 Caterpillar @ 1000hp
- Gearboxes: ZF
- Propellers: Teinbridge 32 x 42
- Drive Train: Conventional
- Base Price: $A1.73m (with C18 Caterpillars)