By Barry Thompson
The Australian based owners had already enjoyed 10 years of cruising and game fishing out of Western Australia in a Senior designed 40 footer, so when it came to finding a replacement vessel they had no hesitation in calling up the talented kiwi designer and asking him to draw what they wanted. The request was for a game fishing boat for charter that would be big enough and tough enough to chase the marlin wherever they were.
The end result is a serious sportfishing boat, custom built by Allan Tongs Boatbuiders, complete with a tuna tower, game chair and a cockpit that includes a marlin door, tuna tubes and massive live bait tank. For fishing aficionados, Mistress has it all. The cockpit layout is specifically designed around sportfishing, hence the absence of a full width-boarding platform, rear scuppers or any obtrusions that might get in the way of the serious angler.
Wide flat teak coamings with the cockpit sides set well back are ideal for getting hard up against the hull to work the fish when tagging or gaffing and all cleats are recessed below large stainless hawsepipes. Unlike the conventional cruiser there are no lockers in the side or rear deck areas and the wide marlin door with its stainless marlin roller is set below the coamings. A clip-in stainless swim ladder can be added when guests are swimming or diving, although access to the tender is strictly up and over the low cockpit coaming.
The idea behind not having any rear scuppers is to stop ingress of volumes of water when backing up on a fish. Any water that does get into the cockpit is expelled via slatted teak drains either side of the cockpit, which drops the water into boxes and out through the boot toppings. The cockpit sole, like the coamings, is all teak and very durable. To port is a large freezer and below a cooled bin to keep rigged baits ready for action when the lures or livies don’t work. Opposite is a serious tackle locker with individual drawers for lures, traces etc, another deep freeze and a locker that houses a lot of the extra plumbing and control systems required by the Australian authorities for charter survey.
If one thing really sets Mistress apart from the conventional flybridge cruiser it has to be the tower. From a platform, about 8m above water level, the spotter has a majestic view of the immediate area and can locate work-ups or marlin long before anyone in the cockpit. He can also drive the boat, having duplicate controls and a range of electronics which include a Furuno 1850GPS/Plotter, autopilot and VHF. Although it looks heavy, the anodised aluminium structure weighs less than 100 kg. Because Mistress will be chartered in the hot climes off Oueensland, an enclosed flybridge was not an option. Instead, the vessel has a stylish hardtop with drop-in clears. The main helm station is set in the rear to allow the skipper to see into the cockpit and by simply turning around he can control the boat with a throttle lever in each hand. At first glance it doesn’t look like the boat. has many electronics, apart from a large Furuno sounder protected in its own custom housing. However, the builders have been very smart concealing the sonar, radar and computer repeater screens in flush-mounted lockers that pop up on gas struts when needed and can simply be recessed out of the way when not required. This leaves a very clean and smooth look to the area around the upper helm, which has the communications equipment and safety lights all mounted above. Seating is provided with a forward bench seat and two swivelling rear bucket seats. In consideration of the hot weather, all upholstery and exposed surfaces are white.
Hung out either side of the cabin are spreader gamepoles, which allow plenty of flexibility for the anglers. The on-board ‘armoury’ of half a dozen Penn Internationals and Shimano rigs are neatly stowed in the cabin roof and make a nice feature inside.
With an eye for clean lines and a functional layout, the owners didn’t want to compromise on the creature comforts inside and gave the same attention to the accommodation and entertaining aspects inside as they did to the serious fishing outside.
Accommodation is provided in three cabins, for six people, with the forward owners’ stateroom containing a massive custom made innersprung Sleepyhead bed. The owners’ stateroom has a very pleasing appearance with a liberal use of American Red Cherry panels, tongue and groove cedar and Vervona burr. The tasteful blending of the cherry and cedar timbers is accented by the contrasting darker Vervona burr, which adds an elegant touch to the cabin. All the light fittings and false side ports are gold plated and the cabin sides are finished with a lightly coloured suede fabric.
An interesting feature of the cabin is a central beam running athwarthships, which houses the air conditioning ducting system complete with twin vents that drop cool air directly above the bed. The main saloon is the only other area of the boat that is fully air-conditioned and both are individually controlled within their own environment.
There is excellent storage throughout the cabin both in hanging lockers and drawers and again the mix of timbers gives it all an ambience of taste and style. Radiused corners and cambered tops on the doors, plus the soft corners throughout the accommodation area further enhance the warmth and appeal of the downstairs area. The owners’ ensuite is seemingly large by proportion, with a separate shower cubicle, head and wide vanity unit complete with mirrored panel. High gloss lacquer finish was chosen to make cleaning this area a simple task.
Guests are provided with two amidships cabins, the open plan port side companionway cabin with twin upper and lower berths that are partly recessed under the galley and an enclosed starboard cabin with double berth and ensuite. The berth is built in quite low as it also encroaches under the saloon floor, but does have the advantage of providing massive headroom above. Suede linings are neatly finished with red cherry capping and contrasting fabric on the headboard completes the tasteful decor.
The saloon is divided into two distinctive areas – an entertaining area aft with deep blue carpet recessed into a wide cherry margin and the full width galley with its red cherry sole, flawlessly executed and a very classic feature of Mistress. There is a mimicking of the accommodation areas, with mixed timbers again used throughout the saloon. A full width cherry beam that conceals both ducting for the air conditioning and the engine is interlaced with cedar beams and cherry handrails that run full length of the cabin top.
Another aspect of being a sports fisherman is that there is no forward window so a lot more use can be made of the forward saloon area. In the case of Mistress this has been taken up mostly with storage lockers. The galley virtually takes over the entire forward space with the ceramic four-burner hob, vanity top and timber servery bar to starboard, with the icemaker, enormous fridge, top loading freezer and microwave to port.
The entertainment centre is also tucked away in this area with a PC, VCR, stereo, switch Panel and TV units all thoughtfully mounted for ease of use and accessibility.
The primary seating aft is provided with twin settees, an L shaped settee to port and large U shaped unit opposite. Both are finished in soft leather, with storage and air conditioning vents beneath. A feature of the saloon is the handcrafted table, which is a testament to kiwi craftsmanship that custom builders like Allan Tongs Boatbuiders have an enviable reputation for.
Launched just prior to Christmas, Mistress’s shakedown cruise took the owners from Auckland to the Mercury Islands, Great Barrier and the Bay of Islands, before participation in the Tutukaka One Base in late January. While no marlin had the privilege of christening the tag pole, the cruise went well and the owners were more than happy with their new Senior.
Mistress’s true passage-making capabilities were to be put to the test shortly after this article was written, with the owners planning to drive the boat from Auckland to Lord Howe Island. refuel and then motor across to the Gold Coast. Spare fuel bladders were to be carried in the cockpit as the onboard fuel capacity would not be adequate for the 1200 nautical miles ocean crossing.
Construction is multi-laminate epoxy composite and vacuum bagged. The hull has afar deeper vee at the transom than traditional Senior boats, which is something that the owners especially requested due to the sort of water they were expecting around the Barrier Reef. Power is a pair of Volvo Penta TAMD122EDC @ 610hp each, producing a top speed of 33 knots and comfortable cruise speed around 26-28 knots. Mistress is another fine example of a New Zealand custom-built boat and clear evidence why exports of such vessels are increasing so dramatically.