Robson SF 50

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Robson

Author : Barry Thompson

First and foremost, Cerveza is a seriously dedicated game fishing charter boat, but it does double up as a family cruiser for the owner Dave Wooff when not on charter by Cerveza Charters.

A Scott Robson design, the 15.59m Cerveza IV is the fourth to carry the same name and while it is also the biggest it is essentially an evolution of the previous 14.80m Cerveza III, being a slightly larger and more refined version.

After four years fishing around some of New Zealand’s best game fishing grounds from bluefin tuna out of Greymouth to striped marlin around The Three Kings with Cerveza III, Wooff approached the boat’s designer Scott Robson with ideas for a replacement, based on an identical hull but with some changes in the layout and design of the fishing cockpit.

“I was happy with the hull but with what I wanted in the new boat, Scott Robson Design convinced me to go a little bigger, so we extended the new boat by half a metre and the beam went out another 300mm”, said Wooff. He added, “When I first saw the new hull at Q West I started to appreciate how much bigger it was all round and now after the boat’s first session I am glad I agreed to extending it”.

Q West in Wanganui built the hull in aluminium and after the engines and drive train were fitted, the hull shell was trucked down to Christchurch where Davie Norrie Boat Builders built a composite superstructure and completed the interior. Launched in July 2009, Cerveza’s shake-down cruise was from Lyttelton to its first charter off Greymouth chasing the hard fighting Bluefin Tuna.

“We did six charters over the session and landed 16 Bluefin, most of which were tag & release. The biggest was 281kg which has been entered as a pending IGFA world record for a tuna caught on all tackle by a woman”, said Wooff.

When I caught up with Cerveza it was in Picton’s Waikawa Bay Marina, its home when not away on charter. The plan was to go from the marina, down the Queen Charlotte Sound, stop for a photo session at Motuara Island and then head out around Port Jackson, made famous as the scene of the Mikhail Lermontov disaster, (see sidebar) and then back into the Pelorus Sound and the Kenepuru Sound, before our final destination, Portage Resort Hotel in Portage Bay.

On the way we passed by the historic Ship Cove, a small bay just west of Motuara Island and Long Island. Captain James Cook named the Cove on 15 January 1770 when his ship Endeavour anchored there to replenish supplies of food, water and wood. While his ship was overhauled at anchor, Cook made a headquarters on the shore in the Cove. Cook would return to the Cove a further four times over the course of his first and second voyages to the Pacific.

Our journey was not so grandiose as Cook’s, who took nearly four hours at a sedate pace, but we too had a fabulous look at one of New Zealand’s most pristine waterways.

The Marlborough Sounds encompass 20% of New Zealand’s total coastline. This intricate maze of waterways consists of three Sounds, namely the Queen Charlotte Sound, the Kenepuru Sound and the Pelorus Sound. Within the area is pristine native forest ranging from towering 800-year-old rimu trees, lush punga tree ferns and beautiful native orchids, all plunging down to the shoreline.

Tough Test

Our test conditions were rather lame within the confines of the Sounds with calm water, but once we rounded Cape Jackson with wind against the tide and a nasty 1/2m to 1m tidal slop that continued all the way until we turned into Pelorus Sound, the boat showed its real potential. In the calm we pushed the throttles to the stops and recorded 30.5 knots. In the choppy water we ran around 20 knots @ 1850 rpm which provided a pleasant ride as we ate up the miles between the Sounds. In the enclosed half-bridge with the windows and doors shut it was also extremely quiet.

However during Cerveza’s West Coast charter days, Wooff says he has had it out in 4m plus breaking swells, in 35 knots of wind, 60NM off the coast and it performed exceptionally well. “I wanted a boat that could handle rough seas for extended periods and return a comfortable ride as that is the nature of our fishing. So far I have not been disappointed – it is a really good sea boat” he said.

Skipper Trent Boult also has praise for the boat’s ability to back down and says it has certainly proven to be the ultimate fish fighting machine and adds that it is going to be ideal when they eventually get to chase the marlin.

When Cerveza was first designed it was to be powered by a pair of MTU/Detroit Diesel 6V92TA-DDECs @ 660bhp and Henley Tiger 29.5 x 31, four blade propellers. Predicted top speed was 28/29 knots which Wooff felt wasn’t quite enough so opted for the bigger engines. While the props remain the same, the engines were changed early on in the build to MTU/Detroit Diesel 8V92TA-DDECs @ 760bhp. Consequently the new engines are running to 2400 rpm, which is only 88% of their power efficiency.

Wooff feels that adding another 1” of pitch to the props should recover the missing 100 hp per engine and see a top speed around 32.5 knots. Plans to do this are in place next time Cerveza is slipped.

When in trolling mode at 7-8 knots, the 8V92TA’s burn around 6-7 L/h per engine. On the first trip from Christchurch to Picton, a distance of 217NM, Cerveza averaged 22.3 knots @ 1950 rpm and used 1397 litres of fuel, returning figures of 143.28L/h / 6.42NM/L. Total fuel capacity is 4000 litres carried in four tanks Fresh water capacity is 1000 litres, backed up with a Selmar MC-light, 25L/h watermaker.

Fishing Function

If you are serious about your fishing then you have to make certain that the cockpit of your boat reflects that dedication and commitment. In Cerveza it is very obvious that everything has been well thought out.

Firstly, the cockpit coaming height is at the minimum charter requirements of 750mm from the cockpit sole and has deep recesses with soft padding all around –great for stand-up fishing. The extra-wide side decks have flush mounted cleats and rod holders so there is nothing to catch any lines.

The transom has tuna tubes and a live bait tank divided by a drop-down boarding step. There is no boarding platform so the fold-out step serves as the only access from the water. The gap is wide enough to bring aboard even the largest of game fish. Naturally, the cockpit is self draining through big scuppers and a 350mm high step through to the saloon means any water rushing aboard when backing down on a fish isn’t going to get inside. There are twin lockers in the cockpit sole, one for rope, the other refrigerated for bait, but no lazarette.

Dedicated tackle drawers and a bait prep station can be found under the stainless steel ladder, the only access to the flybridge. Wooff preferred a ladder to a staircase as he felt the latter took up too much space in the boat and would have meant he could not have had the starboard side day head/shower, a feature he says is a major asset for a charter boat. A port side locker under the coaming stows all the gaffs, which can be easily grabbed when necessary. All the rods are kept inside in a concealed ceiling mounted compartment in the saloon. The fishing armoury comprises four Shimano Tiagra 130s, and a pair of Shimano 37kg reels with a combination of bent and straight rods.

However, the pièce de résistance has to be the Pompanette Tournament 130 chair, taking pride of place in the centre of the cockpit. Designed to handle up to 130-pound tackle it is constructed of fibreglass and polished stainless hardware and comes with a four-position flip-up gimbal double and is mounted on an offset pedestal. Says Wooff, “This allows us to manually move the position of the chair closer to the corners of the cockpit and follow the fish, so that the rod tips clear the corners when a fish is bending the rod”.

The flybridge has been set up, like the rest of the boat, with a serious fishing bent. There are three control stations, one aft of the bridge with excellent visibility over the whole cockpit, one at the main helm inside the enclosed bridge and the third way up high on the tower.

Rather than close off the entire bridge area, Wooff chose to split the area with an external rear facing lounger and then enclosing only the forward part of the bridge. A drop-down rear window and opening door makes it all feel as one when open and when everything is closed the crew can feel cozy in the warmth with hot air vents directed up from the engine room. In the hot weather it’s simply a matter of opening everything up.

Functional Layout

Cerveza has a three-cabin layout that is primarily designed for charter, hence a lot of berths. The previous Cerveza had only two cabins and that restricted its charter options. When Wooff had the current boat designed he was adamant it had to have a three-cabin layout. The forward cabin has four large singles and the starboard side guest cabin a further two. Both have adequate storage in shelves, lockers and drawers and like the rest of the boat are finished in cherry timber with soft cream vinyl paneling.

Each shares the same head/shower compartment with a Corian vanity, electric flush head and large circular shower. The circular shower has proven to be a good solution given the space available.

The owner/skipper’s cabin features a large queen size double and a private en-suite that mirrors the guests’ one. There is a massive storage area under the double berth, as well as in a deep cedar lined hanging locker and bedside vanity.

“The accommodation layout works really well for charter but it is also designed to handle a couple of families without being over crowded”, said Wooff.

Being a serious sport fishing boat there is no forward screen in the saloon so the space is taken up with a flat screen TV to starboard and two deep storage drawers to port that make good use of the space under the lower part of the superstructure eyebrow.

Two soft leather loungers provide the necessary areas to relax after a hard day’s fishing, with a U-shaped dinette to starboard and an L-shaped settee facing aft, opposite. The fixed table is finely finished in madrona burr and with a couple of loose chairs, is large enough to seat six for the evening meal.

“We find that when we are out for extended periods fishing, the loungers are well used by our guests for not only a quick nap between strikes but also to sleep at night when they can be close to the action when the reels start screaming”, said Wooff.

The galley is simple and practical with plenty of storage. It has a dark Corian bench top with high fiddle rail and the necessary appliances such as an LG convection microwave, under bench stove and twin ceramic cook hob. There is a large fridge/freezer and small pantry, plus the rear window slides open to allow straight serving to the cockpit and also helps dispel any cooking odours.

While Cerveza will be seen in the northern fishing grounds of New Zealand throughout the early part of 2010, plans are eventually to base the boat in Cairns for a season to chase big black marlin. A 1000lb black being tagged and released would be a fitting reward for the dedication and effort that the owner and his crew have put into making Cerveza a truly superb fish fighting machine.

TECHNICAL Specifications

  • Year Launched: July 2009
  • Designer: Scott Robson Design
  • Builders: ??
  • Hull: Q-West Boat Builders
  • Superstructure: Davie Norris Boat Builders
  • LOA: 15.59m
  • Beam: 4.87m
  • LWL: 13.20m
  • Draft: 1.40m
  • Displacement: 21,300kg, fully laden
  • Max Speed: 33 knots at 100% load (estimated)
  • Cruise Speed: 25-28knots
  • Construction:??
  • Hull: 6mm/4mm aluminium
  • Superstructure: GRP composites
  • Fuel Cap: 4000L
  • Water Cap: 350L
  • Engine Make: MTU/Detroit Diesel 8V92TA- DDECs @ 760bhp ea.

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