Often referred to as a utility boat, they are certainly a very different style that Kiwis are used to, but that has not stopped sales in New Zealand. Barry Thompson went aboard the first Paragon 25 Cabin to arrive in the country and discovered an exciting and extremely practical vessel.
I have been watching the slow but steady growth in New Zealand of the utility style of boats from Europe, or more accurately, France, Italy and Scandinavia. They have taken on a new persona, from a rugged, raw, very clinical commercial boat to a stylish, well-appointed and efficient recreational craft. Not for everyone, perhaps, but then each to their own.
The Paragon, unlike its competitors, still retains an outer appearance of a more search and rescue vessel due to the heavy rubber collar, but once you get aboard, you can see that it is a lot more. It is well-appointed, with a great layout that makes it a perfect weekender and a very practice boat for Kiwis.
Swedish brand, Paragon build boats from 7.62m – 9.5m and make no excuses for how they look. A brand owned by the well-respected Nimbus Boats, they are very different. Paragon had undoubtedly put function before design and achieved a unique look that combines the best of sea handling and layout.
Their philosophy has always been developing and producing a new generation of uncompromising boats with superior performance and seaworthiness to meet the harshest possible conditions at sea.
The first Paragon 25 was launched back in 2011, and sales have been brisk throughout the world, with customers coming from both the leisure and the professional sector. There is even a full rescue spec Paragon 25 available. The Paragon 25 made its way to New Zealand via the local agent, Sports Marine. Scott Williamson, Managing Director for Sports Marine, says the interest in the Paragon range has been surprisingly active since they announced they had the boats available. The biggest problem, like most of the marine industry, is supply.
“We have a Paragon 31 on order, which as yet is unsold, that’s going to arrive in 12 months so someone could take delivery before the summer of 2022-23”, says Scott.
The owner, Nauti Sound, the name given to the Paragon 25, was looking for a complete walk-around wheelhouse design that would offer all-weather, year-round protection. Based in the Marlborough Sounds, he enjoys cruising around the Sounds and the nearby coastline, and it needed to be ‘Cook Strait” capable. He says he has found the Paragon 25 ideal for his needs. He also didn’t want anything too big to trail and was taken by the practical and uncompromising layout of the boat. The 3m beam does require a permit but it is still trailerable.
Apart from the Smuggler Strata 695/720, I have never seen another production boat with such an exceptionally high deadrise at the transom. At 26.5 deg, the Paragon 25, just like the Smuggler, has been designed to eat rough water. While I never got to experience it in anything but a choppy Auckland Harbour, you only have to watch one of the videos of the boat performing off the Scandinavian coast to appreciate just how well it rides and handles. The Paragon 25 is an amazingly seaworthy boat.
This was the first Paragon powered by the Volvo Penta D4-320, a step up from the previous D4-300 engine package. The D4 300 is the standard package with the D4320 the upgraded option. The engine revs a little higher, and accordingly, the top speed has marginally increased to 34.5 knots. At 20 knots, you can expect around 1.1 lpnm, and a range of around 260nm. If you like to cruise a little quicker, then at 3000 rpm you will burn around 25 lph/1.3 lpnm and the range is still over 215nm.
As the owner occasionally cruises from his home in the Marlborough Sounds to Nelson, a distance of around 95nm, he has plenty of reserve even for the return trip.
After sea trials in Auckland, the boat was trucked to Mana Marina and then driven the 80 nm across Cook Strait to its permanent home in Picton. From what I heard, it was an easy and very comfortable run.
The lines of the Paragon 25 have been made as close as possible to the big sister Paragon 31. One of the most noticeable features is the Paragon’s RIB style collar that sits immediately beneath the substantial wrap-around rubbing strake. This is made from a closed-cell compound called Nomalen that is covered in Hypalon ORCA material. The collar can never be punctured and adds 1000kg of buoyancy, provides extra sound insulation, and is an excellent water deflector.
The side bulwarks can be accessed from doors on either side of the wheelhouse or the cockpit. It has the same style deck and wheelhouse as the Paragon 31, but higher stainless railings offer more safety. The foredeck features a deep anchor locker complete with a Maxwell Tasman drum winch, with all the anchor rode exiting through the hull, so the deck area is left clean. The forward rail is split at the peak and forms sturdy handrails for access over the bow.
At the stern, the Paragon 25 cockpit is again reasonably spartan with only a central double seat taking up the space. There is easy access to the Volvo Penta D4 under the teak sole. I liked the fact that it is the same level deck from the bow to the stern with no side steps. Any water washing over into the side decks will flow quickly to the stern and through scuppers overboard.
In typical Kiwi style the boat has been given the fishing treatment, with a rear stainless stable and bait station on the boarding platform, a separate ice chest for the days catch on the main deck and the addition of plenty of rod holders. In fact, there are 12 rod holders now throughout the boat, including a rocket launcher and even a couple in the bow. As the owner is a serious fisherman fishing there is also a couple of electric reel power connections, to make short work of bringing up those deep-water monsters.
Twin rear gates lead to a full transom width boarding platform and a drop-down ladder. I really liked the side opening gates which made getting on and off the boat at the marina an easy task. One very prevalent thing is the sturdy stainless handrails placed strategically around the outside of the wheelhouse. The finely executed teak decking gives this whole expanse of the deck a classy look.
Being a wheelhouse boat, the idea is to close everything off, so not surprisingly, the Paragon 25 has solid sliding rear doors closing the wheelhouse from the cockpit. Size isn’t everything, and with the Paragon 25, that is so true. With an overall length of 8.52m, the Paragon 25 isn’t a big boat when it comes to a weekend cruiser, but I was amazed at just how ‘big’ the interior was. While the boat has been described as a leisure interpretation of the rugged search and rescue boats used around northern Europe’s coastlines in all weathers, the Paragon 25 interior tells a different story.
The wheelhouse is very much about seating, with loungers spread either side aft, a starboard side helm station with a single seat and a port side companion seat. Triple wipers help keep the laminated heated glass front screen clear.
It’s a boat you can drive seated, stranding or in a bolster position and the visibility is reasonable good all around. The doors to the side decks are forward of each seat. There is an optional compact galley available, forward of the passenger seat with a sink unit and cooktop. Nauti Sounds just had a sink unit, with a fridge ticked in under the helm seat. Cooking will most likely be done from a rail mounted bbq.
The helm facia provides plenty of space for navigation and system controls, with a Simrad electronics package fitted to our review boat. Something I have never seen before on a boat, is the dining table can be raised to the cabin roof height when not in use. When in the lowered position there is space for 2-3 people to sit around comfortably.
The whaleback shearline with its blunt bow means there is sufficient volume forward to handle a generous cabin. While not overly big, it works fine, with ample sitting headroom
and a conventional V berth configuration with an infill to transform it to a double berth. There is a head under the centre squab and a starboard side locker.
APPRECIATING WHAT YOU HAVE
After spending some time aboard the Paragon 25 Cabin, I now have a better understanding of what these utility boats are all about. Yes, it may look a little commercial, but then is that a bad thing? If you can get past that and recognise the boat for its superior sea handling, quality finish and its practical wheelhouse layout, then you will start to appreciate what the Paragon 25 is all about.
- Boat Design Name: Paragon 25 Cabin
- Year Launched: 2021
- Builder: Paragon Yachts
- LOA: 8.52m
- Beam: 3.00m
- Draft: 1.15mn
- Deadrise: 26.5 deg
- Dry Weight: 3,494kg
- Max Speed: knots
- Construction: Composite
- Fuel Cap: 320 litres
- Water Cap: 42 litres
- Engines Make: Volvo D4-300 diesel
- Drive Train: Sterndrive
- Trim Tabs: Zipwakes
- MFD: Simrad NSS EVO3 12”
- Winch: Maxwell Tasman 8-8 12V Drum
- Heater: Eperspacher
- Ent System: Fusion
- Price of Boat: $NZ397,578