Dear Boat Builder,

Put that chopper gun or TIG welder down. This is serious business – it’s The Captain’s first (un)official Boat Builders’ Survey. The Captain trusts you will promptly divulge all company secrets. So c’mon guys, what have you got to lose?

The Captain’s crew have collected the responses from the privateers, who filled in the details in their garages and driveways; the production crew, who delivered their surveys neatly and on time; and the commercial class, who made us pick them up, but considerately laminated them to a commercial-grade finish. And then there was Ron Johnson from the classic class, who is still wondering what the hell he just got himself in to!

COMMERCIAL CLASS

TOSELAND MARINE BASS STRAIT 6M DIVISION

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Name: Ben Toseland

Job: Boss man/Head Builder/Accountant/Office Bitch

Name your poison, rum or beer? Whisky and beer when relaxing; anything goes when I’m fishing.

What do you get up to in your spare time? Farming sheep, hunting, 4WDriving, camping and land-based shark fishing. My best is an 11ft bronzie – and the odd white back in the day

What got you into boats in the first place? I picked up the Yellow Pages, went to “B” for boat building and found Greg Salmond [owner/builder of BSB 24ft and 30ft boats]. I offered to work for nothing, just for the experience. Then he offered me a full-time job and eventually I started building 6m boats on my own.

How many individual 6m OceanPros have you punched out? 44 out of the factory in Munro, Victoria. Before that I built 14 at Greg’s factory.

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If your boat was a car, what would it be? A fuel-injected, late ’60s Monaro.

Power-plants: twins, singles or triples – what sort of horsepower hound are you? I prefer the singles with the horsepower that’s available. Less service. Solid with twins, manoeuvrability is great – that’s why ab divers love them. You can spin on the spot.

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What’s been your favourite donk over the years? I used to like Yamahas, but now I’m liking how the boat performs with Hondas. It’s my new-found love.

Pods or transom-mounted outboards? Transom-mount any day of the week. Pods can make or break a hull’s performance.

Timber in the hull – yes or no? Yep, for density, durability and grain compaction (strength for bolting and screwing). But it has to be glassed right and the edges sealed.

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What’s one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? Build every boat as if it’s your own.

Who was your boating inspiration? Greg Salmond.

What do you love most about the industry? Being close to the water.

Biggest frustration? Boat surveys by The Captain.

Most under-rated hull on the market? 3.9m tinnie. It doesn’t get much love, but it’ll take you a lot of places.

What’s the one word that comes into mind when I mention:

Customers: Mates

Boat rollover: Shiiiit!

Abalone: Work

Fisheries: Work

The Captain: Interesting

Donald Trump: Entertaining

Sailboats: Different

Mass-produced: Avoided

Tinnies: Beer

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Old


COMMERCIAL CLASS

WHITE POINTER (PLATE – NZ)

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Name: Rex Briant

Job: Seal Controller

Name your poison, rum or beer? Gin.

What do you get up to in your spare time? Motor sports with my sons and dreaming of better boat designs.

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Name the boat you last rode on and tell us why you were aboard. A White Pointer 730 Sports Custom. We took her out over the Xmas holidays targeting game fish and deep-sea fishing for groper, hapuka, bass and blue nose.

What got you into boats? A passion to create my own identity around a machine that can deliver function as well as form.

How many individual hulls have you punched out? We’ve built around 600 large custom trailer boats over 25 years.

If your boat was a car, what would it be? A RALF – R for Rolls Royce class and ride, A for its Aston Martin stance, L for its Land Cruiser off-road capabilities, F for its Ferrari-like performance.

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What’s been your favourite donk over the years? Volvo Penta diesels and Honda outboards.

Why is alloy better than glass? Tougher, customisable, modifiable for resale to new owners… the list goes on.

Describe your build process in under 25 words: Thorough and methodical. The rest is a secret.

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OK, what’s one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? None… but my advice is: Do it once, do it right.

What do you love most about the industry? The adventures my customers share back with me.

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Biggest frustration? Boat shows and sales bullshit.

Do you have a boat-building hero? My staff, all of them.

Most under-rated hull on the market? WhitePointer.

Most amusing warranty claim? An Australian brand told his customer the reason his boat was sitting bow-down was because it was built for salt water and he was using it in fresh water!

If you had to take a trailer boat to the shelf (not one with your badge on it) what would you take? I’d take a US destroyer because I liken it to what we build.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention:

Customers: Friends

Boat rollover: CoastGuard

Spearos: Madness

Fisheries: More

The Captain: Cool

Donald Trump: Pass

Sailboats: Alternatives

Mass-production: Vomit

Glass boats: Girls

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Choker


COMMERCIAL CLASS

WHITE POINTER (GLASS – AUS)

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Name: Erick Hyland

Job: Owner/Director

Name your poison, rum or beer? Coopers Green Pale Ale – about the only good Aussie-owned beer left.

What do you get up to in your spare time? Off-road motorcycle touring. I’m currently planning a trip across the Tanami Desert on a 570 Husaberg.

What got you into boats in the first place? I started abalone diving as an 18-year-old, when it was worth only a dollar a kilo. I’d get a bag of 60kg – and $60 went a long way back then.

How many individual hulls have WhitePointer punched out? About 30 WhitePointers in total and a dozen of those would be 263s.

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If your boat was a car, what would it be? A Bugatti Veyron – fast and smooth.

What’s been your favourite donk over the years? When I was a diver, I loved my Yamaha Saltwater Series. The 100HP Yamaha four-strokes on our Sharkcat Street Urchin went forever.

Pods or transom-mounted outboards? Pods are an afterthought. They were never meant to be there and they destroy a lot of good boats. That’s partly the reason I stretched the 243 to 263 – to get away from them.

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Timber in the hull – yes or no? We use 19mm timber in the floor. We have used Coosa panelling [a composite glass-reinforced foam] which is a good material, but it’s not durable when screwing things into the floor. Everything else on the 263 is solid glass, including the transom. That has 37 layers of ‘glass!

What’s one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? It’s pretty simple: use the best material and best resins. I’d also say that having fewer hands over the hull ensures quality control. There are no apprentices at WhitePointer.

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What do you love most about the industry? The work is sticky and itchy, but when a gorgeous 263 rolls out the door there’s an immense sense of pride. In fact, I feel like an artist.

Biggest frustration? MSV and AMSA slow the process down.

Biggest boat-building mistake? The first boat I ever built was a 24 Haines cat. The gel coat never went off. We had to scrap the whole thing.

Most under-rated hull on the market? The 18ft Shark Cat has stability and efficiency through the water. Don’t believe the cat detractors. You need to spend time in one to fully appreciate it.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention…

Customers: Impatient

Boat rollover: Formula

Abalone: Fisheries

Fisheries: Obstacle

The Captain: Provocative

Donald Trump: Champion

Sailboats: Slow

Mass-produced: American

Tinnies: Useful

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Ripper


PRIVATEER

HAINES HUNTER V19CC Dingo

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Name: Jesse Hayman

Job: Plumber

Name your poison, rum or beer? Both. 

What do you get up to in your spare time? Work, fish and say hello to the family on the way in and out.

What got you into boats in the first place?  Grandad had a CruiseCraft Reef Raider, a bloody awesome boat. He only used a handline – on kingies, snapper, flathead and marlin, on 400lb mono.

If your boat was a car, what would it be? A chopped Brock VK Commodore.

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Power-plants: why did you go a single?  To keep the weight down as well as the service costs. I know the big Yammie F300 will never let me down. It’s the ideal weight, power and efficiency. I don’t like my engines to work hard unless they have to.

Timber in the hull – yes or no? There’s plenty of information about timber. I don’t know enough about composites.

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Biggest tip for prospective builders? Don’t rip the whole boat apart – build in sections to keep structural rigidity.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention…

1000lb: Marlin Sessions

Boat rollover: Bombie

Abalone: Poachers

Fisheries: Licence

The Captain: Trendy

Donald Trump: Pauline

Sailboats: Ernie

Mass-produced: Quintrex

Tinnies: Bruised

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Smoky


PRIVATEER 

HAINES HUNTER 233 FORMULA HHH

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Name: Harry Foullas

Job: Boat Sales Manager, JV Marine, Laverton

Name your poison, rum or beer? Single malt whisky.

What do you get up to in your spare time? Fishing, hunting and cruising in my ’57 Chev.

What got you into boats in the first place? Fishing with my father in Port Phillip Bay. We’d lay nets and catch garfish, mullet and the odd snapper.

How many boats have you laid your hands on (glass work)? Three of mine – a 600R, a 565 and HHH.

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If your boat was a car, what would it be? A ’57 Chev. Big, bold and beautiful!

Power-plants: twins, singles or triples? Depends on the hull, but I prefer twins for hulls over 6.2m.

What’s been your favourite donk over the years? The Suzuki 200ATX. The non-fly-by-wire option to keep it simple, like me!

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Pods or transom-mounted? Transom. If God wanted boats with pods he would have created them. LOL

Timber in the hull – yes or no? I love timber done properly. If it’s good enough for Noah, then it’s good enough for me.

Describe your build in under 25 words. Ambitious, stressful, painful, depressing, expensive, challenging, immense, problematic, backbreaking – but above all, rewarding.

What’s one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? Don’t put so much emphasis on looks. Below the floor is where the magic happens.

Best thing about rebuilding your own boat? Knowing what’s beneath the floor – and that sense of achievement.

Biggest frustration on the rebuild? The time factor. It took seven years.

Biggest mistake? I made the fuel tank too big. It didn’t fit! The final floor sits 20mm higher – but I love the low-down weight characteristics.

Most under-rated hull on the market? The Seafarer Vagabond 6.2.

Dream boat? Dreamt it. Built it.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention:

Commercial grade: Tough

Boat rollover: Unfortunate

Spearos: Mad

Fisheries: Ruthless

The Captain: Ruthless

Donald Trump: Ruthless

Sailboats: Disinterested

Mass-produced: Value

Tinnies: Everywhere

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Legendary


PRODUCTION CREW

THE HAINES GROUP

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Name: John Haines

Job: CEO

Name your poison, rum or beer? I’m definitely partial to Ron Zacapa rum, but lately I’ve acquired the taste for The Botanist gin. In reality, if it’s wet and cold, I’m happy!

What do you get up to in your spare time? What spare time? I have two teenage daughters, so weekends are occupied with doing the sport rounds – as well as intimidating new boyfriends, of course!

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What got you into boats in the first place? Didn’t have much of a choice – it’s all I’ve ever known! [Captain’s note: John’s father is John Haines Senior, who founded Haines Hunter in 1959 with his brother, Garry Joining the business in 1963. The name is a combination of their surname and that of the original designer of some of the hulls acquired from Bertram, C Raymond Hunt.]

How many individual hulls has your organisation punched out? Since the HIN (Hull Identification Number) was introduced, I estimate we’ve sold about 13,000 boats – including Tournament and Seafarer boats built under the Signature roof. In the halcyon days, we were selling almost 25 Signature boats a week. We had one cracking month in 1978 when we sold 195!

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If your boat was a car, what would it be? The Signature would be a Lexus, the Tournament a Toyota, and the Seafarer a Land Rover (a reliable one!).

Power-plants: twins, singles or triples? You should buy as many engines as can fit on your transom! [Captain’s note: The Haines Group is also the official Suzuki distributor in Australia.] But putting my builders’ hat on, I’d say singles. The technology has come so far that safety is no longer a major issue, fuel economy is superb and there’s less drag in the water than with twins. On the other hand, low-speed manoeuvrability is great with twins, plus they sure look the part.

What’s been your favourite donk over the years? I raced the Mercury XR2 and loved it, but my new favourite is the Suzuki 200AP. It’s getting rave reviews for good reason.

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Timber in the hull – yes or no? Yes, but it has to be the right timber. We only use veneer-treated plywood. It’s dipped in a water-resistant coating so it’s sealed no matter where you screw into it. We do use Thermalite as an option, but I’ve never raced a boat with Thermalite – and that’s the true test of any product.

Describe your build process in under 25 words. Quality comes first. Build it as if it were your own.

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What’s the one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? Get the design right, followed by the process. It takes just as much fibreglass to build a handsome boat as it does to build an ugly boat – and just as much resin to build a good boat as it does a bad one. A rounded edge offers more strength than a hard one – hence the generous curves on Signature boats.

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What do you love most about the industry? I definitely have better pub banter than my lawyer mates. Sorry fellas!

Biggest frustration? People don’t realise you have to pay for quality. They think it’s just a price game.

Most under-rated hull on the market? The 702 walkabout was ahead of its time – just the design and layout was on point. A great stand-up tackle boat, too. Dad always said there was nothing in the Haines Hunter range that compared to the 773. He refused to let OMC [when they owned Haines Hunter] sell the 773 mould. He offered to buy it and destroy it himself, but they came to their senses and did the job for him.

Most amusing warranty claim? One of my former dealers, Tom Wyld of Springwood Marine, got a propeller returned, accompanied by a sticky note written by the customer. It said: “The blades just fell off”. There were many laughs about that one.

If you had to take a trailer boat to the shelf (not one with your badge on it), what would you take? An M58 Maritimo – my brother owns one.

If the Haines Hunter brand came up for sale? My mind says no… but my heart says that if the name came up for sale, I’d consider it.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention:

Customers: Critical

Boat rollover: Unfortunate

Spearos: Sharks

Fisheries: Customers

The Captain: Edgy

Donald Trump: Unpredictable

Sailboats: Unfortunate

Commercial-grade builders: Passionate

Tinnies: Outboards

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Thirsty


PRODUCTION CREW

WHITTLEY MARINE GROUP

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Name: Neville Whittley (left)

Job: Managing Director

Name your poison, rum or beer? Beer. 

Name the boat you last rode on and tell us why you were aboard. I was testing the new V8 5.3L 300 from Volvo, in a new Whittley SL 26 HT. We were also testing a Volvo D3 220 Diesel at the same time.

What did you learn from those  engine set-ups? Up on the plane, the diesel burns 22L to the petrol’s 40L approx. The diesel has consistent torque at any load, but the petrol labours when loaded up.

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How many individual hulls have you punched out? Since my brother (on right) and I purchased the Whittley Company from my father, we have produced over 15,000 boats – the company has produced more than 20,000 boats in 60-plus years.

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If your boat was a car, what would it be? Originally a Jaguar, but now, with such a large range of cruisers, fishers and outboard-powered boats, our brand would most likely be General Motors – with a wide model range.

Innie or outtie engines? You can’t beat the ride of a stern drive-powered boat offshore. You get a lower centre of gravity enabling superior ride while underway, but also stability at rest. There’s more horsepower for your money – up to twice the HP for the same cost as half the horsepower from an OB.

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What’s been your favourite donk over the years? My favourite was the original BMW leg and engine. These were great little sellers for us in our cruiser boats through the 1970s and ’80s. Now, Volvo’s latest release, next-generation engine really takes the cake. It’s a fully freshwater-cooled engine with an all alloy block, variable valve timing and direct fuel injection.

Timber in the hull – yes or no? There are benefits to both. Glass-encapsulated stringer systems promote strength, reduce vibration and reduce noise. It depends on the model and the specific hull as to how it affects the boat’s ride and noise levels.

What do you love most about the industry? The good people in the industry and the customers it attracts.

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Biggest frustration? To look at how well the caravan industry bodies promote the lifestyle side of caravanning compared to boating industry promotion. Recruiting first-time boating families for the future is important.

Do you have a boat-building hero? My father, Jim Whittley. He and his brother were the first to bring fibreglass boat building to Australia. They developed the family cruiser boat concept.

Most under-rated hull on the market? Our SL range is often overlooked. Whittley can build a top-quality cruiser boat, but also a deep vee offshore hull that can cut it with the best of them.

If you had to take a trailer boat to the shelf (not one with your badge on it), what would it be? Probably an original John Savage hull. We have a lot of respect for the way the Savage family built their boats.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention:

Customers: Enjoyment

Boat rollover: Error

Spearos: Unique

Fisheries: Important

The Captain: Interesting

Donald Trump: Unknown

Sailboats: Slow

Mass-production: America

Tinnies: Beer

Mercury blue band two-stroke: Neither


PRODUCTION CREW

STABICRAFT MARINE

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Name: Paul Adams

Job: CEO

Name your poison, rum or beer? Beer, particularly Emerson’s or Asahi.

What do you get up to in your spare time? In no particular order – mountain-biking, spending time with the kids, hanging out at Louie’s.

Name the boat you last rode on and why were you aboard? Stabicraft 1550 Fisher.

What got you into boats in the first place? Chance. I’m a qualified coach builder and two blokes approached my business partner and me about building them an alloy-style inflatable. They were sick of puncturing their boat on the rocks.

How many individual hulls have you punched out? We must be approaching 15,000 hulls by now.

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If your boat was a car, what would it be? A Land Rover.

Power-plants: twins, singles or triples? Probably twins for better manoeuvrability at rest and moving, and great back-up in case of engine failure, although that’s pretty rare these days.

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Two-strokes or four-strokes? I have huge respect for the guys at Evinrude and their latest range of G2 two-stroke outboards. It’s an innovative company, pushing the boundaries. In saying that, we use more four-strokes than we ever have. They’re reliable and economical.

What’s been your favourite donk over the years? Pre-1990s, the OMC 90 degree V4. Post-1990s, the Evinrude G2 200hp. Economical and innovative.

Pods or transom-mounted? We’ve tried both extensively over the years and right now all our range are transom-mounted. We find with our unique hull design our boats perform better with a full-length hull.

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Why are plate boats better than tinnies or glass? Tinnies are riveted heaps of junk. Plate boats are better than ‘glass – they’re easier to tow, you can beach them anywhere, they’re lightweight, less maintenance and easily customised. I could go on forever!

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What’s one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? Be different, but be different good.

What do you love most about the industry? The competition. Without competition we wouldn’t have an industry. Without competition we wouldn’t have innovation. Competition drives innovation.

Biggest frustration? My marketing manager – he spends and spends!

Boat-building hero? SAFE Boats from the US.

Most under-rated hull on the market? Smuggler Boats.

If you had to take a trailer boat to the shelf (not one with your badge on it) what would you take? Safehaven Marine XSV-17 because it’s bad ass.

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention:

Customers: Happy

Boat rollover0:Testing

Spearos: Flappers

Fisheries: Mod Squad

The Captain: Cool hats

Donald Trump: Hilarious

Sailboats: Classic

Mass-production: Lean

Tinnies: Junk

Mercury blue band two-stroke: History


CLASSIC CLASS

 

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Name: Rob Johnson (photo may or may not be Rob Johnson)

Job: Former boat builder and boating enthusiast, now retired.

Name your poison, rum or beer? I’m a beer man. Tooheys New, please.

What do you get up to in your spare time? Play with boats in the backyard by the water in Huskisson, NSW, as well as the odd repairs. I’m currently working on a 16ft rowing skiff.

What got you into boats in the first place? I started as a 15-year-old apprentice, learning the craft on carvel style yachts and cruisers.

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Image credit: CAWPBA

How many individual hulls have you built and do you have a favourite? About 100. The timber ski boats were my favourite. They look as good on the inside as they did on the outside.

How much were they back in the day? About $3400 without an engine – back when fuel was .25c a gallon. [1gal = 3.8L]

Seriously, why is timber the best material to work with? I love timber. It’s easy to handle, nice to touch and doesn’t give off a drummy noise like glass or alloy. Of course, it looks better, too.

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Image credit: CAWPBA

What’s one boat-building secret you’re happy to share with The Captain? If you love boats, you’ll make a better one. I recently met a gentleman aged in his 90s who had owned 21 Lewis Bros. ski boats in his lifetime. That’s love for you!

What’s the one word that comes into your mind when I mention:

Fibreglass: Itchy

Boat rollover: Working

Splinter: Ouch!

Huskisson: Birthplace

The Captain: Who?

Donald Trump: Fruitcake

Sailboats: Leisurely

Production boat: Consistency

Tinnies: Noisy

Engine: Cleveland 351