Salthouse 68 Ekara

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Salthouse 68

Ekara is the fourth Salthouse 68 to be launched and it could quite possibly be the last. with the demise of previous builders Salthouse  marine group (smg) right at the earliest stage of the build process, the owners of ekara set up their own company and using many of the ex employees of smg, completed the boat. Ekara is the fourth Salthouse 68 to be launched and it could quite possibly be the last. with the demise of previous builders Salthouse marine group (smg) right at the earliest stage of the build process, the owners of ekara set up their own company and using many of the ex employees of smg, completed the boat.

Ekara’s owner says that he decided upon the 68 because as he had been boating around the Gulf and Northland’s East Coast for the past 25 years, he wanted to finally take the step of venturing further. “Initially we plan to explore NZ’s entire coastline, including the Three Kings and then onto Cairns with the aim of hooking a big Black, and eventually the islands where we intend enjoying our holidays in the South Pacific”.

This is one of the reasons why Ekara has been fitted for long range cruising, with the likes of large capacity fuel and water tanks, fuel polishing system, water maker and twin generators. He also points out that he simply liked the makeup of the 68, and the fact that it was a NZ boat with a proven ability.

“With the fine entry hull, plenty of waterline length and great handling in a following sea, meant it had all the attributes I needed in a hull for our southern ocean boating”.

To add that finishing touch to Ekara, Amy Keenan of Below Decks Marine Interiors Ltd was engaged by the owner in the early stages of the project to develop the interior into fully customised luxury spaces. This began with restyling and designing of every aspect of the interior including joinery design, detailing of all panelling for ceilings and wall linings to give continuity and flow through the boat.

The aim was to make use of bigger panels and well placed cabinetry to give the illusion of space, yet not sacrificing necessary storage. This largely influenced by her experience designing super yacht interiors.

The furnishing of Ekara offers an inviting palette of warm colours that emphasise comfort and sophistication. Satin finished, non-grain filled Quarter sawn teak is the primary timber used throughout. Wenge flooring offers a contrast with accents of bright stainless steel subtly highlighting mirrors, handrails and furniture inlays. Limestone vanity tops have been fitted with seamlessly integrated fiddles in all heads on board.. Imported fabrics have been applied to deck heads and hull and bulkhead panelling, offering textural contrasts.

Specialist lighting designer James Russ of Epsilon Lighting was employed to create clever lighting solutions that provide washed ambient light throughout. All lighting, interior and exterior has been custom designed and integrated. LED strip allows flexibility in space restricted areas, utilising clever composite construction to eliminate pinpointing. Exterior lighting can be controlled via remote control up to 1 km from the vessel, with a RGB colour card, making an impressive statement. The combined result is an elegant and understated interior that one would expect to see onboard a much larger vessel.

The quality of materials, the level of construction and the attention to details are consistent with the previous builder’s exceptional level of finishing. The owner was very embracing of using new innovations and utilising various specialists to always arrive at the best outcome, making Ekara fit for the world stage.

Ekara is the first Salthouse 68 to be purchased by a Kiwi owner, who will call Auckland his home port. The other three are all based in Australia. The first of the Salthouse 68s was The Club, launched three years ago, followed by Summer Salt, Luana and now Ekara, which is only one of two 68s with forward facing saloon windows.

SMG’s willingness and ability to customise the interior was one of the big selling points of the boat and consequently no two Salthouse 68s are quite the same. Ekara’s owners liked the one-level layout and the alfresco dining, and also the fact that he could customise the basic layout. For example, the forward cabin was shortened slightly and the starboard guest cabin was enlarged. Ekara is in fact the longest of the 68s, having a 600mm extension in the cockpit. This was done by extending the mould which not only provided a larger cockpit but also extra storage areas.

This meant repositioning the motors aft to better balance the boat and modifying the chines significantly so as to take the large horsepower engines. The result is that Ekara planes more readily than the previous builds from about 14 knots onwards and has a top speed of 31knots. The result is a very stable ride at full speed.

Salthouse 68 Main Saloon

Ekara’s interior has a discreet luxury that fulfils the owner’s requirements for a multi-purpose vessel, be it family cruising or serious game fishing. Inherent in the design is a practical layout that retains the very traditional aft galley opening onto a huge alfresco dining area.

The owners indeed had considerable input with Keenan in designing details such as the saloon dining area. This has been very much personalised, with the customary big built-in U-shaped lounger replaced in favour of separate saloon style seating in individual couches. A central feature is the completely retractable dining table that drops out of sight when not required. This can also be raised to form yet another double berth if required. With no visible table, this totally opens the area and has a very relaxing and inviting ambience. Given the size of the alfresco dining area in the cockpit, it’s probably not going to be an area that is used much for dining anyway.

With its contemporary yet modern interior, Ekara offers an understated elegance that brings a new level of sophistication to the 68. A cliché perhaps but Ekara is certainly a boat that offers substance with its style. Entertainment features abound on this vessel, with Auckland based Liquid Automation given the task of designing the extensive entertainment system.

The saloon has a surround system with ceiling surround speakers and a valadyne sub and 47″ drop-down LED TV. Independent zones have been created so that, Port, starboard, forward, bridge lounge, alfresco area, and the aft deck can be controlled by their own colour LCD touch screen remote.
The aft galley has certainly been a feature of all Salthouse boats and when combined with the electrically operated drop-down rear window and the alfresco dining area it all just seems to make perfect sense.

The galley follows a similar layout to previous 68s but features a number of its own refinements when it comes to storage and cupboard/drawer design. The black granite solid surface bench top has a double stainless sink and induction hob, with trash bins, dishwasher and a single fridge drawer beneath. Opposite, alongside the switch and electrical panels, is another pair of fridge drawers, an icemaker, drinks locker and two more slide-out pantries. The galley sole and high traffic entrance is finished in polished wenge timber.

There has been nano ceramic coating applied to the glass to reflect 90% of the infra red (heat) and 99% of the UV but still retain vision for night passage making.

Expansive Flybridge

Salthouse were one of the first of the local production boat builders to offer the internal staircase to the flybridge and over the years they have perfected the design to a point where it’s encroachment into the saloon is minimal. Arriving at the fully enclosed flybridge area you can’t help but be impressed. Twin black Besenzoni helm chairs lead onto a quad 15″ Raymarine display screen carbon fibre dash complete with everything you’d need for offshore cruising. The main dash area of the saloon features a Waka sculpture by potter Peter Collis. The whole boat transforms at night with the opportunity to introduce as much or as little light as desired, even the Waka can be switched separately to cast its own beautiful shadows on the deck head.

To port is an L-shaped settee that extends 2/3rds along the aft bulkhead. A first for the 68 is that with the flick of a switch the base slides out to transform into a full size double berth. Overall, Ekara offers accommodation for at least twelve! A drop-down window allows the skipper to communicate with guests on the large upper aft deck, which has been extended a further 400mm, which has greatly improved the useable deck area.

A full width teak bench seat runs around the rear stainless railing and to port is an external control station, complete with raymarine screen and keyboard, so that all functions of the main helm are available. Used primarily for docking and when backing down on a fish.

The enclosed bridge is fully air-conditioned but there are also sliding side windows and overhead hatches to provide a more natural flow of air. A wetbar and fridge keeps the refreshments at hand. The space is quite surprisingly roomy with capacity now for 10 people up stairs.

Three Cabin Layout

The accommodation areas forward are accessed via a central companionway, which unlike many of the previous 65s and 68s where wooden panelling has been the norm, Ekara has been lined with soft fabrics, complete with a mood lighting strip recessed in. The forward guest cabin is an interesting arrangement with a large queen size island double plus single upper berths either side. The reasoning is so that the area can cater for both friends with young children when cruising, as well as provide a three-bed layout for when the boat is away on a blokes fishing trip.

There’s plenty of storage under the central berth as well as a hanging locker to port and starboard. The cabin is also fitted with a flat screen TV and PS3 unit so it doubles as a ‘games room’ for the kids. With this particular accommodation layout the starboard ensuite is shared by both the guest cabins. The Limestone bench top has a traditional recessed bowl, with storage below and behind mirror-faced cabinetry. Glass doors divide off the moulded shower unit complete with seat.

The starboard guest cabin has come in for some attention and is the largest achieved in all the 68s. This has been achieved by simply repositioning the companionway from the saloon to the accommodation areas, to the centreline of the boat.

The cabin has upper and lower single berths, with a three-draw vanity and hanging locker plus a huge area under the lower berth provide the storage areas.

Opposite is the owners stateroom complete with island queen size berth and en suite. The moulded panelling of the ensuite is accented by the polished whinge timber sole, stone bench top and the teak timber trim. The timber throughout Ekara is all satin finish non-grain filter teak. 

Like all the cabins there has been a lot of attention to detail both in finish and layout. Storage is plentiful in drawers and lockers and there has been a particular focus on the lighting to set the right mood. Ekara’s lighting package is stunning and no matter where you are or at what time there’s a lighting atmosphere to suit the moment.

Extended Cockpit

Salthouse 65s and 68s have been recognised for their alfresco dining. Built into the forward area of the split-level cockpit, this is an area where you would expect most of the meals to be served. It’s fully protected from the elements by the fibreglass overhead and clears and with a couple of tub chairs you can cater for upwards of 10 guests. The table is also height-adjustable and makes yet another double berth.

The day head opposite also comes with a shower and is finished off with a teak sole. A 12″ Raymarine screen is linked into the boat’s system so the owner can keep an eye on the systems or watch the news when he’s having breakfast. The cockpit also houses a grill with teppanyaki hot plate and dual access fridge plus wet bar with sink unit. While previous 68s have had the washer/dryer in beside the day head, Ekara’s is in the spacious engine room.

It is easy to appreciate that Ekara will double as a serious gamefishing boat, when you see twin tuna tubes, live bait storage, ice slurry machine, large dedicated bait freezer, flush mounted cleats, through-hull mooring lines, extra wide split sliding transom door and of course outrigger poles. Ekara has a fixed non-adjustable 1.7m boarding platform, with bait tanks and wet lockers in the platform, all built in behind the retrousse moulded transom.

30 Knots Plus

With the Twin Disc Quick Shift and bow and stern thrusters all talking to each other, Ekara has amazing manoeuvrability at low speed and just like a pod drive boat you can walk the boat sideways into a dock. Interestingly, two of the Salthouse 68s have been powered by twin MTU 1200hp engines and two, including Ekara, with the more powerful, but heavier MTU 1500hp engines.

Ekara runs twin MTU 10V 1500hp engines through conventional shafts and Duncan 34″ x 38.5″ propellers. Top speed is 31 knots, with a cruise around 25 knots. While the previous Salthouse 68, Summer Salt ran a pair of 1200hp MTU 8V 2000 M93s and was faster by half a knot, Ekara has a displacement, 2.5 tonnes more than Summer Salt’s 40.0 tonnes, but 1.5 tonnes of that is accounted for by the extra engine weight.

Being set up for extended cruising range was an important consideration and Ekara has a 2192nm range @ 8.2 knots,1800nm @ 9.2 knots and 1319nm range @ 10.6 knots. All more than enough for passage maker to the Pacific Islands or Australia.

Ekara’s engine room is an outstanding example of how an engine room should be set up, with consideration also for future maintenance. Everything is meticulously placed where it can be accessed if required. The polished aluminium walk panels on the sole are a nice touch.

Ekara is equipped with an arsenal of extras, such as a Yacht Controller remote which connects to the engines, thrusters and anchor winch. Auto Anchor allows you to set a pre determined amount of chain out and also retrieve and CZone looks after all the control and monitoring systems.

If Ekara is the final Salthouse 68 to be built then it’s a shame, as this is an outstanding vessel where perfect design has been maximised with comfort, style and finish. It would be a pity to lose what little we have left of the Kiwi semi-production boat market, so I for one would love to hear that the hull moulds and building rights have been sold locally and we can expect to see more Salthouse 68s in the future. Watch this space!

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