There's two ways to skin a cat, but only one answer when you compare the fuel consumption of the new Argus 35 with a conventional sports cruiser of similar dimensions.
by Mark Rothfield
At 10.6 metres overall length, the new-generation cruising catamaran sips fuel at the meagre rate of 24 litres per hour when travelling at 16 knots – that’s 1.5 litres per nautical mile – whereas a boat like the Caribbean 35 burns about 52 litres for the same speed.
The difference is the power requirement. A big monohull needs 600-plus horsepower to get planing, while the Argus 35 sports twin 90hp four-stroke outboards.
A direct run from the Gold Coast to Sydney (400 nautical miles) or Brisbane to Mackay (500 nautical miles) is possible on less than 600 litres of fuel. The optional twin 70hp diesels are even more frugal.
If you found a mid-sized car that was more than twice as fuel efficient as a rival, and wasn’t one of those carrot-munching hybrids, you’d probably buy it. The Argus 35 is the nautical equivalent.
The outstanding economy achieved by the Roger Hill hull design is evidenced by the minimal water disturbance. More of the engine power is going towards driving the boat rather than generating a huge wake.
It won’t disturb boats at anchor or smaller vessels underway, nor erode the foreshore.
You also get an exceptionally smooth ride as the narrow hulls with deep forefoot slice through chop rather than bouncing. Most swells will simply pass under the tunnel, which stands 70 centimetres above the waterline, however a wave-breaking nacelle will soften the occasional blow.
It means the Argus can maintain reasonable cruising speeds when caught out in rough conditions, so you reach shore sooner.
With a draft of 0.6 metres it will pass over just about any ocean bar. It will also sit perfectly level for drying out on sandy tidal flats.
The boat comes fully equipped for long-range coastal cruising but is equally at home exploring estuaries as it is oceans.
Rather than cramming in additional sleeping cabins and heads the emphasis has been placed on comfort for fewer people. There are two sleeping cabins featuring queen-size berths, while a single head compartment is located to starboard.
The galley has over two metres of bench space and includes induction electric cook tops, microwave oven and refrigerator.
Both the saloon and cockpit will seat eight people when you’re having a social get-together.
The helm features an elevated seating arrangement for two and there are hatches placed overhead to allow a standing position on the helm seat. Huge workspaces either side of the helm are perfect for charts or a laptop.
A frameless glass door and window system is used as an alternative to traditional aluminium fabrication, with the front glass lifting on motorised struts for ventilation.
The Queensland-based builder, Outback Marine, is a specialist in electrics, electronics and refrigeration. Not surprisingly, then, the Argus 35 features state-of-the-art technology.
Solar panels on the roof provide the main electrical source, instead of a fuel-guzzling generator. Three independent Veco water-cooled refrigeration units run on 12-volt and have extra-thick foam for greater efficiency.
A reverse-cycle hot water system recovers waste heat from the refrigeration system, eliminating the need for LPG or 12-volt power.
The standard electronics package includes a Raymarine autopilot, 12-inch colour chartplotter, radar, fishfinder, VHF radio and electronic engine controls. Vessel electrics and systems are managed by an Empirbus computerised wiring and control system.
Cost is around the $420,000 mark… not exactly cheap, but money well spent. Details from Outback Marine on (07) 5563-9088. Argus Boats website
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6:14 PM Wed 29 Jun 2011 GMT
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