Sell and buy new or totally refurbish a boat they knew well and loved? That was the question for the owners of this Salthouse 57.

Crafted by premium New Zealand boatbuilder Salthouse Marine in 2007 for long-time friends and business partners Tony Armstrong and Ranil de Silva, Opportunity III was up there as far as New Zealand-built motor yachts went.

As you might expect of a boat belonging to a couple of engineers, this semi-custom vessel was finished to the highest standards, fitted with the latest in electronics and vessel systems, and had a price to match. Opportunity III featured on the cover of Boating NZ in March 2008, the subject of a glowing review by Brian Harz.

Fast-forward to 2023, and after 15 years of boating pleasure, both together and separately with their respective families, the partners were feeling the need for change. Over that period their boating had gradually evolved away from mainly boys’ fishing and diving trips towards more relaxed cruising, and family oriented boating, mostly in the Marlborough Sounds. Their kids had grown up and have families of their own, all of whom enjoy the boating lifestyle, so both men intend working less, spending more time boating, and extending their cruising range.

Opportunity III through Bryce Taylor’s lens in 2008.


A plan to update the vessel’s 15-year-old electronics with a new Raymarine radar was the catalyst that set the owners on their present course. As it turned out, modern radars don’t interface with old Multi-Function Displays and computers. Hardware and software have changed a great deal since 2007 and the new and the old don’t talk.


It got Tony and Ranil thinking about other aspects of their boat. While both families still loved it, in places, the interior was looking a bit tired, and the decor was very much of its time – and a new paint job was needed. And while the Caterpillar engines were still in fine fettle with relatively low hours, the ONAN genset had clocked twice as many hours as the engines due to the frequent need to recharge the lead-acid house batteries. Along with the radar and MFDs, there were other marine electronic and navigation components that needed maintenance or replacement. They had some decisions to make.

The flybridge and helm station with state-of-the-art electronics for the day as featured in the original Boating NZ photo shoot.


Tony and Ranil looked seriously at replacing their old boat with a new one, but Opportunity III was still in good shape, the engine hours were low, and both men knew the vessel insideout. A bit of research informed them that selling Opportunity III could net them a very respectable $1.2M but replacing her with a new motor yacht of equivalent quality would likely set them back $5M or more – quite a difference and a budget that would likely not get approval on the Homefront!

The pair looked at new production boats from several manufacturers, as well as custom-build options, but struggled to find something they liked as much as the boat they already owned. They know it so well: how it manoeuvres; its anchoring and docking routines; the best cruising speed; fuel consumption at different loads; its mechanical systems and maintenance record, as well as the boat’s ride and handling characteristics in all conditions. After 15 years with their current vessel, plus earlier partnerships in a Sea Nymph 6.5m trailer boat and a Don Senior 13m (Opportunity I and II), the Salthouse had earned their respect.

All of which contributed to the families’ decision to undertake a complete refit, with the aim of bringing Opportunity III up to new boat standards at a price far less than that of a new boat. They wanted their much-loved and well-proven vessel to incorporate everything that goes into a top-quality motor yacht today, just as they had done when it was built new in 2007.

Opportunity III today with its revised cockpit, smaller tender and revamped just about everything.



The wish list was a long one, and there were some compromises, but Opportunity III is today, for all intents and purposes, a new vessel – or almost so. In fact, the refit was so extensive that pretty much all that remains of the old Opportunity III is the hull and superstructure, engines, genset, air-conditioning, refrigeration, and dive compressor.

Upgrades have included Mastervolt lithium-ion batteries with more than double the working capacity of the original lead-acid batteries, together with new charging alternators (resulting in reduced running time on the generator and quieter nights on anchor); new wiring, new SIMRAD electronics; a new Sea Recovery water maker; a Humphree stabiliser system for improved comfort underway; refreshed, upgraded and reconditioned engineering (shafts, steering and more); a new, smaller tender that’s easier to manage and an updated and refreshed interior. They’ve also added an upgraded BBQ station and a roof-mounted rod locker aft.

In addition, Opportunity III has received a full repaint – the original Altex undercoat had failed, a common problem with boats of this age – indeed, half the renovation budget went into repainting the boat from top to bottom.

Quite late in the piece Tony’s wife Robyn realised that the boys hadn’t factored in replacing the carpets, squabs, bedding and other soft furnishings. These were added to the scope of work, along with combined Starlink/5G communications (a new marinised version with automatic switching between Satellite and 5G), allowing constant communication with the outside world, internet and phone, as well as streaming TV. Aboard Opportunity III, it’s now possible to watch TV from six different locations.

Opportunity III’s new electronics suite in the flybridge, remodelled and redecorated saloon and cabins, and a more social cockpit.


All in all, the project was a huge commitment for the owners and their families – and a massive undertaking for everyone involved. To make all this magic happen Tony and Ranil engaged Angus Small to project-manage the refit. Angus was part of the original team at Salthouse who built the boat, as was his partner, Julie Salthouse, who also helped choose the boat’s original interior layout.


Good friends of Robyn and Tony, Terry and Jude Donald (Lewis’s Art of Furnishing, Wellington), were seconded into the project to select the new soft furnishings, fabrics and bedding, as they did in the original 2007 design.

In conjunction with Small, Ranil and Tony engaged Weber Marine and its network of sub-contractors to do the work on a time and materials basis. This was preferred over a full commercial or a fixed price contract because of the open-ended nature of the work. They had taken out a commercial contract with Salthouse when building Opportunity III, but in this case, with an older boat, and where variations were likely (there were many), time and materials was the best option.


So, while the original budget was very generous, with variations and unexpected expenses like the full repaint, the project ran around 50% overbudget. Nevertheless, says Ranil, they spent only half as much on the refit as Opportunity III cost to build new in 2007. Building new today would have cost twice the original build price – four times what the refit cost. The new insured value is $2.2M.

Both families are more than satisfied with the outcome, and full of praise for Angus Small and the team at Weber Marine. By undertaking such an extensive refit, Tony and Ranil have been able to retain the vessel they love – only now it’s like new again. Their rejuvenated Salthouse 57 with its modern systems, revamped entertaining areas and refreshed interior reflects how they want to use the boat in the mid-2020s.

With this project Tony and Ranil have invested in years more of family boating pleasure aboard Opportunity III. Their Salthouse 57’s comprehensive, high-quality refit has provided the vessel and two boating families with a new lease on life. BNZ

After Weber Marine’s refit this 15-year-old Salthouse 57 is as good as new, maybe even better.