Author : Barry Thompson
From the moment I stepped aboard the Outer Reef 63 I could sense that this was a boat honed from a commitment to excellence and a focus on getting the details right. A passagemaker that has all the right boxes ticked!
The Outer Reef brand was borne out of one man’s vision. Jeff Druek, who not being content with boats designed and built by others, longed for his own creation. A boat that he could conceive and bring to life – a boat that would reflect his own beliefs in what he wanted in a serious passagemaker.
So in 1996 he started a company called Outer Reef Yachts, and contracted the Tania Yacht Company in Kaohsiung, Taiwan to build them. The first Outer Reef was a 73, but today the range has expanded to include six standard models through to 26.3m (86ft) and a custom range through to 35.35m (115ft). The company is now dedicated solely to building boats for Outer Reef.
Druek is not only the owner of Outer Reef Yachts but also the designer and draftsman. Tania’s Chaucer Chen is the engineer and naval architect for all of Outer Reef’s models.
All Outer Reefs Yachts are built to Open Ocean, category “A” (wave heights 5.8m-6m and sustained winds to over 40 knots) for stability and safety. The shipyard is ISO 9001 certified, which guarantees the highest quality design and quality control measures. As well, all Outer Reef yachts are built to ABS (American Bureau of Shipping) guidelines for pleasure craft.
Outer Reef’s construction technique isn’t groundbreaking by any means. Rather, it is a tried and true approach toward quality boatbuilding. The hull is hand made, uses a cored composite construction technique which is vacuum-bagged, to ensure a strong, light, void-free laminate with a specified resin-to-glass ratio and Divinycell PVC foam core material is used between inner and outer layers of GRP. The construction is noteworthy in the respect that the outer fibreglass laminates from the bottom of the keel to 150mm above the waterline, are “skincoated” with vinylester resin, the primary advantage of which is resistance to osmosis and the resulting blisters. Outer Reef Yachts offers a five-year “hull defect” warranty, which appropriately covers osmotic blistering.
The emphasis is on strength without excess weight, which gives this twin-engine cruiser a substantial leg up when it comes to fuel consumption. A full keel extends below the arc of the props to help protect the running gear in case of accidental grounding. The deck and cabin structures are constructed in virtually the same way as the hull: PVC core, polyester resin, and vacuum bagging.
Speed is not Essential
The Outer Reef 63 is a trawler/passagemaker in every sense and everything about the boat has been designed with that fact in mind. This is a boat that has the words ‘enjoy me slowly’ stamped on it and it is easy to see why. I had the opportunity to experience the Outer Reef 63 on a beautiful clear but slightly chilly winter’s day shortly after the Sydney International Boat Show.
We picked up the boat at The Quays Marina, Church Point and along with Australian Outer Reef agent, Andrew Coffey, spent the morning cruising on the Pittwater as far as Barrenjoey Headland.
While this was a brand new boat, it did already have a few delivery miles when I stepped aboard. More accurately boat show miles to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show earlier this year where it was displayed in Australia for the first time.
Andrew explained that the first big trip for the 63 was from Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Pittwater, to Sanctuary Cove, a distance of around 400NM, which took just under 48 hours. The engines were run constantly at 1330 rpm @ 8.5 to 9.5knots with a fuel burn total for both engines of 23L/h. With a fuel capacity of just over 5000 litres, that gives the Outer Reef 63 a range of around 2000NM.
On the return journey after the storms from Sanctuary Cove, Andrew says he pushed the boat a little harder at 1550 rpm @ 10 – 11 knots and burned 38L/h, which overall produced some very reasonable fuel figures for a boat that displaces 33 tonnes.
Power is provided by twin Caterpillar C-9 ACERT engines producing 503hp, which is the standard power option for the Outer Reef 58, 63 and 65. You also have the option of Caterpillar C-12s @ 700hp if you are looking for a higher top speed of 20 knots.
In fact there are quite a few engine options available if owners require them, including 375hp John Deeres, and even the 1000hp C-18s which, surprisingly, fit into the engine room very well. With the 375hp John Deeres the 65 returns a top speed of 12.5 knots and a cruise of 10 knots, burning 22L/h total for the two engines.
Caterpillar C-18s @ 1000hp or C12s are fitted to the Outer Reef 73, 80 and 86. There is also soon to be released a new Caterpillar C-13 with just over 800hp, which will also be an option.
Our leisurely cruise on Pittwater at 7 knots @ 1000 rpm (7.0L/h per engine for a 2500NM range) certainly makes you understand why this style of boat has become so popular. At 11 knots @ 1750 rpm our fuel burn per engine was 31L/h. It’s not about where you are going so much as having the time to enjoy the journey. The Outer Reef 63 has a top speed of 16 knots that we ran up to briefly, checked the indications on the speedo and then dropped back to our sedate pace. Bow and stern thrusters are standard, and help to make the boat so easily manageable by a couple; something I noticed when we manoeuvred in and out of our tight marina at Church Point. Although we didn’t encounter any rough seas, the highly respected Passagemaker magazine says of the Outer Reef 63 after a recent review: “When the wind speed indicator started climbing precipitously from below 10 to 25 knots, with gusts of 30 knots, whitecaps appeared, changing the surface of the northward-flowing Gulf Stream from a mild chop to a seemingly endless procession of steep, compact 4- to 5-foot waves on the nose. And the ride changed from comfortable to – well, just a little bit more active, made more stable by the broad surfaces aft and by the big TRAC stabilisers swinging into action. A good handhold here and there, thoughtfully placed by Outer Reef, made moving around inside the boat effortless while the air conditioning serving the pilothouse kept us dry and comfortable. It was not a bad day to be on the Atlantic in an Outer Reef 63. I expected no less from a classic pilothouse trawler built by the company founded by Jeff Druek.”
The Outer Reef 63 takes its lines from the extremely popular 65 and 80 series and uses the same hull platform as the Outer Reef 58, with a 5.11m beam. The difference is the 63 is 19.20 LOA as opposed to the 58 which is 17.37m LOA, the extra length mainly being taken up by the extended cockpit. You can also take the hull out to a full 19.81m (65ft) that adds even more to the cockpit and flybridge. The current Outer Reef 65 has a wider 5.60m beam, with the 73, 80 and 86 out to a 6.40m beam.
All Outer Reef yachts are highly customised, so the layout of each can be very different. However there is a basic format with all accommodation forward lower, a mid pilothouse, galley and saloon at deck level and a spacious open flybridge and aft deck.
Our test boat was very much off the standard plan, with a three-cabin arrangement, including a full-width master with large en-suite, VIP cabin forward and double berth guest cabin to port. A medium teak has been used throughout the interior so it is not too dark and you have the option also of timbers such as cherry, mahogany, maple and beech.
The VIP cabin has a queen size island berth with steps either side and to give some relief from the timber, the cabin is finished with light textured vinyl fabric divided by full-length shelves. There are plenty of storage lockers and cupboards and all have the cedar-lined option. Side-opening ports and an overhead hatch let in natural light and ventilation and the cabin, like all the accommodation, has its own air conditioning.
The en suite is shared with the port side guest cabin and features solid granite surfaces, Tecma head and teak and holly sole. The large shower cubicle has a separate seat, glass doors and a nice feature is the mosaic tile base.
The side cabin in our test boat has upper and lower single berths, but with some modifications to the laundry area – recessed behind louvered doors in the companionway – Outer Reef can offer this with an athwartships double. Again, the ability to customise the layout makes personalising the boat that much easier.
The Outer Reef 63 has an impressive full beam master stateroom amidships with an equally impressive en-suite, which carries many of the same features as the guest’s en-suite. There is copious storage throughout the owners’ cabin, including a walk-in wardrobe and hanging lockers. It is an elegant, spacious area finished to an exceptionally high standard, from the intricate timber panelling to the sliding Shoji screens which diffuse the natural light through the side ports.
Aft is the engine room, closed off from the master by a solid teak door and a watertight aluminium door. Building on the custom platform, all this can be changed and in an Outer Reef 65 currently under consideration for a client, the extra 600mm in the aft deck area allows for a larger utility room, repositioning of the fuel tanks and even stairs from the saloon to the master cabin. Again, you make the call!
The pilothouse is intelligently planned and perfectly executed in all aspects. From the long term cruising comfort of the Stidd helm chair to the 180-degree viewing for the skipper to the large rear raised settee for the guests, it’s hard to fault.
The split fascia provides ample space for large screens and all the necessary instrumentation and other navigational, engine and systems controls you need in a boat of this calibre. The electronics package is at the behest of the owner.
Twin watertight doors allow easy access to the wide side decks on both sides, with a stairway to starboard leading up to the open flybridge.
The galley is situated on the same level as the pilothouse, divided by a solid bulkhead, plus there is an optional door that can totally close off the pilothouse from the saloon and galley areas. Countertops are black granite, with ample backsplashes where appropriate. The cabinetry overhead doesn’t hang down so low as to obstruct the view of the saloon from the galley, which is a feature that lets the chef and guests converse.
To starboard, full household-size LG stainless twin fridge & freezer units are within easy reach of the galley that is also packed with LG’s latest kitchen appliances.
Drop down a few steps to the open saloon and you get the feeling you could be in your own lounge at home. A soft leather L-shaped lounger occupies most of the port side, facing across a multi-height table with a starburst inlay, to two loose leather armchairs and an ottoman.
There are generous lockers and cupboard space available and separate areas for the drinks locker, entertainment systems and an LG 37” flat screen TV takes pride of place forward. If you don’t want the TV then in its place Outer Reef can build a breakfast bar with stools.
The interior craftsmen also paid lots of attention to fit and finish in the teak joinery, with beautifully book-matched panels lining the sides and bulkheads, creating window boxes for elegant Roman shades. Natural light floods in when they are raised, and the views out the sides are easy to enjoy even when sitting down. The saloon is fully air conditioned for extra comfort.
The Outer Reef 63 has either double opening doors through to the split level cockpit from the saloon or an optional slide-back arrangement. The full-beam aft deck is well protected by the boat deck overhang and has twin bench seats with a fixed height gloss teak table and wide bulwarks either side leading through to the Portuguese bridge and another forward outdoor seating option. The high sided coamings add a feeling of security when going forward and come complete with gate doors either side.
The aft cockpit provides access to a huge storage area under the upper deck and via a swing door to the full-beam boarding platform that adds versatility and convenience, particularly for those into water sports or fishing.
Above, the boat deck aft of the flybridge helm area comes with a Brower davit crane with a 550kg lifting capacity and will carry an optional dinghy either fore and aft or athwartships, and there’s still plenty of real estate for bikes, kayaks, and other toys.
The upper helm is protected with a large fibreglass bimini with optional clears for better weather protection. There is massive storage in the flybridge brow that is at such a steep angle the skipper has clear sightlines to the foredeck. The moulded helm is complete with just the necessary controls and a single multi purpose navigation screen. With cabinets including a wash basin, icemaker and BBQ grill behind the port side seating, the Outer Reef 63 is ready for summer entertaining.
The Outer Reef 63 is the sort of boat that will appeal to owners who are looking for peace and contentment while boating. It’s a boat that can be easily handled by a couple, doesn’t require a crew and is well suited to those looking for serious passagemaking. Its long-range capability is ideal for Kiwi and Aussie owners who are looking towards the South Pacific as their next boating playground.
- Design Name: Outer Reef 63 Raised Pilothouse Motor Yacht
- Builder: Outer Reef Yachts
- Designer: Outer Reef Yachts
- Interior/Designer: Outer Reef Yachts/Argonautica Custom Yacht Interiors
- Year Launched: 2009
- LOA: 19.22m
- LWL: 17.65m
- Beam: 5.23m
- Draft: 1.47m
- Displacement: 33,181kg
- Max Speed: 16 knots
- Cruise Speed: 8-12 knots
- Fuel Cap: 5154 litres
- Water Cap: 1208 litres
- Construction: GRP
- Engines: 2 x C-9 ACERT Caterpillar
- Base Price: US$1.7m (plus duty & taxes)