Remember you don't have to be faster than the crocodile, you just have to be faster than the people you're with," bellowed Arnie, as he took a swan dive into the dark waters of Smiths creek, in the Ku-Ring Gai Chase National Park. It seemed appropriate that he chose the unforgiving Australian coast to embrace Darwin's "survival of the fittest" theory—we decided he could swim alone.
In short order, Arnie Hammerman, Yachting's west coast sales manager, waded ashore and scaled the muddy banks like captain cook himself. Maritimo's Luke Durman and Roscoe Wellington winced as their guest disappeared into the thick brush. "I'm not even sure I would do that," muttered Roscoe in a dry Australian brogue. "And I live here!" thankfully, saltwater crocs are much farther north, although in my opinion this was no reason to surrender common sense. A watchful eye was still necessary for spiders, snakes, bull sharks, and—oh yeah—the occasional great white shark. Good Lord! Although I consider myself fairly adventuresome, I decided to focus on conquering the varietals of New Zealand grapes, while finishing up Bill Bryson's "I'm a Stranger here Myself," and enjoying the comforts of the afterdeck. (I also took the opportunity to practice my speech to Arnie's wife, explaining how we misplaced her husband in the dense woods. I was fairly certain that losing him would require more than a standard apology.)
Apparently, thoughts of abandonment must have raced through Arnie's mud-covered head, too, when he saw us raise the anchor. We were not leaving our friend to prove Darwin's theory, but the outgoing tide and current were setting us toward shore. There was no need for Roscoe to disturb Luke or me—the anchoring process was a breeze. He handled the entire maneuver using the bridge windlass control, resetting the big plow easily, and securing us for the night. After we dug in, I noticed Arnie attempting to pick up his pace as he tried to release his feet from the insistent suction of the syrupy mud flats. It appeared that he had enough exploring for the day.
With Arnie—and all of his appendages—safely on board, Luke fired up the electric grill on the afterdeck. We dined in the cockpit on fresh, grilled fish and vegetables procured earlier at Sydney's Fish Market, where boaters had lined up to drop weekend chefs at the floating dock.
It was hard to believe that we were only a few hours into our three-day cruise of Australia's Pittwater region—45 miles north of Sydney—on board hull number one of the Maritimo 73. In short order, we had discovered the raw beauty of the region, which presents an ideal venue to put the builder's flagship through its paces.
"We spend a lot of time outside," said Luke, in between bites of grilled salmon. "It's how Australians like to cruise." the 73 takes advantage of this cultural preference by opening up the saloon to the afterdeck through stainless steel sliding doors. Parents with small kids will appreciate the ability to keep a watchful eye on water activities off the stern, even while working in the galley. The galley makes entertaining—another Australian pastime—a joy, thanks to the center island that allows access at both ends, double refrigerator/freezer units, a full-height pantry, and lockers roomy enough to stash at least a month of provisions for six hungry cruisers.
A separate, formal dining table for six is opposite the galley, and a huge L-shaped settee is forward and to port, just abaft the lower windshield. A pop-up TV is easily viewed.