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.
My head was full of cruising dreams when I retired to the full-beam, amidships master stateroom. In the morning, I lay on the island berth, content to stare out at the lush scenery until my morning fog lifted. Large side windows are properly designed so they don’t ruin the exterior profile, yet still admit streams of natural light. The his-and-hers master head spans the full beam, abaft the berth. A huge center shower joins the two head areas. Stowage is abundant, including a walk-in locker to starboard that rivals crew quarters on some European builds. I felt it was almost too big and, if I were building a 73, I might forgo this in favor of a small settee. The vanity on the port side served double-duty as a mini-office during my cruise.
Three additional staterooms are forward, two of which are en suite. The accommodations are finished with a warm, satin teak, with perfectly blended grains. I see a lot of different, exotic woods used on boats today. What I like about the joinery and look of the 73’s interior is that it feels like a boat, not like a loft apartment in New York or Milan. Better yet, the timeless yet contemporary styling will still look right in 20 years.
After a breakfast of fresh fruit and cheese, we took our coffee up to the enclosed bridge and cruised toward Bobbin Head. It’s taken me a while to warm to the idea of an enclosed bridge. After all, I thought the entire point of cruising was to arrive at your destination windblown, fried, and if you were soaked to the bone, then you must be a serious cruiser. Maritimo’s designers disagree. Although the builder offers a few open-bridge models, the majority of the designs have an enclosed bridge or a cabriolet-style design. The 73’s is an evolution of the other models and would be tough to improve on. The large settee abaft the three helm chairs is comfortable and the perfect perch to host kids for movie night. Between the aft deck, the lower saloon, and the enclosed bridge, everyone can find a little privacy to kick back and relax. A day-head and even more storage complete the area, and it could work as another sleeping area in a pinch. A straight nine-step staircase is positioned with a gradual incline, so going up and down in a seaway was easy. (A far better execution than a spiral!) Access to the aft, upper deck and another station is through double sliding doors.
We cruised toward our lunch stop—we were all about the next meal—navigating the twists and turns that make up the Pittwater. The line of sight was good. The only blind spot was from the dayhead, in the aft starboard quarter, but with an extra strain of the neck, the problem was solved. The helm is equipped with Simrad’s Glass Bridge, providing a clean, clutter-free presentation. I would add two wipers for the outboard panels of the windshield.
Maritimo designs their boats with a concentration on cruising functionality and then on styling. The simple systems, redundancy, and ease of handling of the 73 mean that a knowledgeable cruising couple could easily handle her. For example, there are two Muir windlasses—one is hydraulic and the other is electric. If one system fails, the other should be available. Waste and plumbing manifolds are designed to bypass an area if there is a problem without shutting down the system.
I’ve tested a few Maritimos and the attention to detail in the engineroom is always superb. Everything is easily serviced, easy to understand, and simple. A single fuel tank runs across the centerline at the forward end, keeping the weight at the center of buoyancy. A 3.6-meter tender is stowed under the cockpit, and can be deployed with a davit. If you prefer, the space could be finished off as crew quarters.
While cruising up the coast from Sydney to the Pittwater in a large ocean swell, the 73 revealed her superb running characteristics. At 50-percent load, the 1,500-horsepower Caterpillar C32 diesels settled in at a comfortable 21.5 knots. We pushed the throttles forward to 2050 rpm, or 70-percent load, and hit a speed of 27.3 knots. She can cruise all day long at this speed. At 2300 rpm we found a top speed of 32.0 knots. “That’s about a knot slower than we’ve had before,” commented Luke. I don’t think he needed to apologize. At 80-percent load, we were still seeing 30 knots over ground, with no tab applied. She settled into a nice, easy motion over the swells, and the power assist steering was tight and responsive.
At this writing, the 73’s base price with Caterpillar C32s is approximately $4 million. In today’s market, this represents a heck of a value considering the interior volume, equipment, and quality of the 73. It’s an even better value when you consider she has a LOA of almost 82 feet.
We spent our last evening aboard at the dock in Newport, north of Sydney, enjoying steak night at a local pub. Walking down to the dock with a belly full of red meat, I gazed at the stylish profile of the 73 as she tugged at her lines. I could tell she was anxious, and not happy with the constraint of docklines. It’s not part of her DNA. Like her countrymen, the 73 is designed to cruise—in any hemisphere.
Maritimo USA, (425) 614-2628; **www.maritimo.com.au**