Bluewater Boats was founded by Paul Colcord and father Gary (now retired) over twelve years ago. Paul had previously spent 11 years with Bluefin Boats.
The Henderson, West Auckland-based firm specialises in customised aluminium hulls, mostly trailerboats, but has 19 models based on 13 hulls on the books, ranging from 5.4 up to eleven metres. Paul says that the most popular sizes have slowly increased over the years, with seven-metre-plus hulls now the most regular item. Boats of this size, many considerably customised, are time consuming to build and keep the team of four full-timers at Bluewater Boats busy. Paul estimates they have built about 100 hulls since the company’s inception.
The owner of the Bluewater 750 Portofino boat tested, Ken Davies, operates Mangawhai Mistress as a charter vessel out of Mangawhai Heads, about ninety-minutes’ drive north of Auckland. He fishes the Hen and Chickens/Bream Bay area and straylining for snapper is his speciality. On a magnificent winter morning I drove north to Mangawhai Heads to meet up with Paul and Ken, and put Mangawhai Mistress through her paces.
The Bluewater 750 is built with 5mm bottoms and 4mm sides and topsides. Construction is substantial. The two bottom plates are fully seam-welded inside and out, before a box-section keel bar is added and fully seam-welded along both sides for further strength. Ten full-length longitudinal stringers are added, along with seven full-width bulkheads. The chines are butted up and seam-welded inside and out.
The hull has a fine entry leading back to an 18° deadrise at the stern. Sealed, self-draining decks (afforded by the high sides) drain to twin sumps under the transom. These, in turn, run to a well, centrally located under-deck in front of the engine well. From here, water is removed by a float-switch-operated 3700gph bilge pump.
As a ‘manual over-ride,’ two spring-door scuppers come into play to clear the decks of water in dire circumstances. The engine well has its own float-switch-operated 1500gph bilge pump, with water-level alarm. A further system, a manual bilge pump, is also fitted – as per survey requirements.
Reserve buoyancy figures were not available, but there looked to be plenty in three large air chambers. These are bung-sealed and can all be drained to the main well, mentioned earlier. The marine surveyors have passed the boat for commercial work.
Power and performance
The Bluewater 750 was pushed by a Steyr 256hp marine diesel inboard with a Bravo 2 leg. Mounted through the transom, with access from both the cockpit and platform, the installation allows for easier servicing and adjustment, as well as reducing the impact of the engine box on the working space in the cockpit.
An under-floor fuel tank carries 350 litres of diesel, and the two batteries (starter/house) are situated in protected boxes under the berths in the forecabin. This helps with the hull balance and places the batteries in a well-protected yet accessible position. Outboard versions are available.
With a 15-knot SE wind and sea, the Mangawhai Bar gave no trouble to the big Bluewater on the way out. Giving the hull a quick squirt in the half-metre sea gave us a top-end GPS speed of 31 knots at 4200rpm. Comfortable and economic cruising was enjoyed at 3000rpm and 20 knots.
I ran the boat out to the Hen and Chickens, back into Bream Bay, then south along the coast to Mangawhai. Over the day the wind picked up to around 20 knots, while the sea lifted to half a metre, and then one metre and capping. On our return, the run-out tide at the bar was producing 1.5m standing waves in the main current run.
The Bluewater impressed with its performance, riding well, landing softly, and possessing very positive and predictable handling. The weight of the engine, low down and centred forward of where an outboard might be, was an advantage. Despite the conditions, Ken, in the unusual situation of being a passenger in his own boat, travelled in the cockpit and stayed dry most of the way, until a steep head sea forced me to trim the bow down, bringing the fine entry more into play, but taking some water right over the cabin. He then joined Paul and I in the warm, dry wheelhouse. Gotta love those hardtops!
The boat was fitted with a Maxwell Freedom 500 anchor winch and a permanently-mounted plough anchor on a short bow sprit. Hand rails on the hardtop and substantial bow rails aid access around the cabin sides to the bow (anti-skid finish could be added here), or you can come up through the hatch in the cabin top.
The anchor-well is hatched and the winch control is at the helm. In practice, anchoring was simple and easy, aided by the distance markers Ken had added to the warp and chain.
Given that Bluewater specialise in custom fit-ups, the layout of this boat is only indicative of the sort of thing that can be achieved.
The forecabin is fully lined to the deck. With an insert, a good sized double berth is formed, with a single above. Underberth space includes stowage and a toilet – electric or manual. A screw-on plate gives access to the inside of the console. The chequerplate deck is bung-drained to the bilges, and a nice mahogany sliding door is fitted.
The wheelhouse has a large dash with back lip, marine-carpet lining and grab rail. The forward windows and side sliders are clear 6mm safety glass and offer good visibility, aided by a Roca wiper.
Seating is fixed bench seats, the helm running side-to-side, the passengers’ (room for two) running fore and aft. This allows the fitting of a 75-litre fridge under the helm seat, while under the passenger squabs is a two-burner gas cooker and a sink with hot and cold fresh water, supplied by a 105-litre tank. Under here are also galley storage lockers. The passenger seat makes a useful child’s berth, and an additional adult berth can be formed with an infill between the two seats.
The helm electronics includes Simrad CP33 GPS and EQ33 sounder, trim tabs and Ultraflex hydraulic steering. A Cobra VHF and sound system were mounted under the roof. A sliding, lockable aluminium door secures the cabin.
Out in the cockpit, against the cabin bulkhead, is a hot and cold freshwater sink (supplied by the same system as the galley) and a bench seat under the overhang, with stowage space inside. This can also be fitted up as an icebox or with refrigeration. Grabrails, cockpit spotlight, EPIRB and fire extinguisher are also fitted (there is a second extinguisher in the wheelhouse).
The cockpit has plenty of room and the engine box doubles as a bench seat. Full-length side shelves offer stowage, and a pressurised wash-down hose is fitted (the pump also feeds the livebait tank). A transom walk-through allows easy access to the large platform, which also covers the stern leg. This is not a bad spot to fish from and a seat could be easily constructed over the aft engine cover. A chequerplate top, fold-down boarding ladder and grabrails complete the hull. This boat can be fitted with a fully enclosed cockpit cover – a canvas roof and clears around the sides. The clears can be removed, leaving a sun cover for the hot days of summer.
This is a stable hull with good cockpit space (despite having to accommodate an inboard engine). I particularly liked the padded gunwale faces, which were comfortable to work off and gave good mid-thigh support. There was also good toe room, except at the engine box. As mentioned, fishing astern from the boarding platform is an option.
The boat is well fitted for its role as a fishing charter boat. An eight-position rocket launcher on the hardtop looks after rod stowage, while the transom behind the engine box has four rodholders, along with a further six through-gunwale rodholders. A bait-station on the transom drains overboard, and a good-sized ‘fish-TV’ livebait tank is fitted in the transom wall.
Outriggers are fitted, and Ken caught four marlin and a spearfish out of the boat last summer. Stowage of the catch can be provided by any of the aftermarket insulated fish boxes now readily available.
Overall, a good boat to fish from.
Bluewater boats are supplied on Hoskings trailers. The 750 is carried on a cradle A-frame design with entry bay, ten pairs of wobble rollers per side, and two keel rollers. It is a tandem axle design with zinc-treated, leaf-spring suspension. Hydraulic brakes work on one axle.
It is easy to load with the dual-ratio manual winch. Other fittings are: submersible lights; Bearing Buddies; galvanised wheel guards; wind-down jockey wheel; and dual coupling. Dry tow weight for the rig is 2.4 tonnes.
All in all
After a season’s use in a charter situations, any flaws are going to make themselves known. But Mangawhai Mistress still looked like new and all systems were functioning well. When not charter fishing for snapper, the rig is used to chase gamefish in the summer and for overnight stayaways with the family.
Adaptable, good-looking and a nice traveller – all you could want in a -mistress.
This article is reproduced with permission of
New Zealand Fishing News
2007 - by Sam Mossman
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited