Sir Peter Blake's 'Bandit' now on display

'Bandit,' the first boat built by Sir Peter Blake more than 50 years ago, has been restored to its former glory and is now on display at the New Zealand Maritime Museum.

Sir Peter, then 17, and his brother Tony started building the keel yacht in 1966 in the backyard of their family home in Bayswater, with help from good friend Crawford Duncan.

At 7m LOA the boat may be small but she is a big part of the country’s maritime history – building and sailing the boat was how Blake gleaned his craft. His 30-year career as the world’s most celebrated yachtsman saw him circumnavigate the globe six times, win the America’s Cup in 1995 and head ecological expeditions from the Antarctic to the Amazon.

Bruce Tantrum of the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust, who discovered Bandit in a shed in Warkworth in 2013, says the Maritime Museum’s Blue Water Black Magic gallery is the ideal place for Bandit to be on display alongside other iconic Blake memorabilia.

Bruce Tantrum.

“Having Blake’s first keel boat next to Black Magic, which represents one of the greatest achievements of his career, is like a little duckling alongside its mother,” says Tantrum.

Blake’s wife, Pippa, is delighted with the restoration and excited for boating enthusiasts seeing the vessel for the first time. “Although Bandit was before my time, she always seemed to be there. Peter often talked about her and looked back very fondly on those days. That boat meant a lot to him.”

Building Bandit was a true DIY project and it wasn’t all smooth sailing. At one stage during the two-year project molten lead leaked all over the family lawn, after the iron bath tub being used to form the keel cracked.

Upon completion the three young men spent the summer of 1968 racing her on the Hauraki Gulf. Bandit went on to compete in the 1968-69 racing season where she won the Akarana Junior Offshore Group Championship.

Despite often being the smallest boat in the offshore racing fleets, she was able to attain a speed of 15 knots. Following her racing years Bandit was retired from the water.

Tantrum started Bandit’s restoration process after meeting with Viv Wyatt who had acquired the boat in the late 90s and kept her in Warkworth. Wyatt gifted Bandit to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust which paid a token sum
of 20 cents to complete the transfer.

After 14 years in storage the yacht has been completely restored by Hobsonville’s Yachting Developments over a two-year period, using as much
of the original rigging, fittings, and sails as possible. Yachting Developments owner Ian Cook says it was remarkable Bandit was built at the Blake family home, given the craftsmanship and finishing.

“Some of the apprentices involved in the restoration were amazed what Peter, Tony and Crawford were able to achieve in a backyard. Bandit was the start of a legacy that inspired many young New Zealanders to get into boating. She represents the beginning of a journey which shows that if you dream you can achieve great things,” says Cook.

Bandit has been donated to the New Zealand Maritime Museum where she is on permanent display next to NZL 32 (Black Magic) which Sir Peter sailed to victory at the 1995 America’s Cup.

Along with donations from Sir Peter’s friends, family, and associates, the $42,000 restoration was made possible thanks to an arrangement between Tantrum and Cook. In exchange for the restoration work, Tantrum, a model boat builder, gifted Cook three model boats.

Green light for marine facility

A new marine refit facility expected to create a boom in marine jobs and deliver significant marine and tourism spending has been confirmed for Wynyard Quarter.

It comes after the February signing of a Development Agreement between the city’s redevelopment agency – Panuku Development Auckland – and marine services company Orams. The new facility will feature a marine haul out and refit facility, commercial buildings and a residential tower on the northern end. It will target marine vessels up to 800 tonnes, which accounts for 85% of the world marine market.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the facility is expected to generate more than 500 jobs and as many as 200 apprenticeships.

“Currently, a piece of poorly-utilised land will become the heart of a thriving marine enterprises precinct, which carries on the historic presence of boat building in this area. Built in time for the America’s Cup 36 races, the precinct will benefit hugely from the refit work which will be generated during the challenge from visiting superyachts and vessels. There can be no better time to launch this facility.”

Known as Site 18, the facility is on the corner of Beaumont and Jellicoe streets, on a site adjoining Orams Marine Village. It will provide increased maintenance facilities for Auckland’s ferries, fishing vessels and commercial vessels. The majority of existing marine business on the site will be accommodated within the new development.

The development agreement is conditional on the approval of the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.

Orams Marine Services Managing Director Craig Park says the facility will ensure the opportunity for wider industry and economic benefits won’t be lost to offshore competitors. The existing seawall will be replaced and contamination remediation works undertaken as part of the development.

Magnetic poles on the move

Scientists are baffled by a sudden, dramatic acceleration in the shift of the earth’s magnetic poles. They’re fearful not only of its impact on global navigation systems, but also for the entire planet’s well-being.

Every navigator knows that True North is different from Magnetic North. While the earth’s True North Pole lies atop the Arctic ice cap and is the axis around which the planet spins – a boat’s compass actually points to a point somewhere in the frozen wastes of the Canadian Arctic – about 500km away. The difference between True and Magnetic North is called variation and was first discovered by British explorer James Clark Ross in 1831.

The amount of variation differs across the planet. It’s roughly 20o around New Zealand but can be twice that in higher latitudes. Furthermore, Magnetic North is erratic and wanders constantly, changing very slightly every year. The annual rate of variation change is reflected on a navigation chart’s compass rose and needs to be factored into your course calculations. All very ho-hum.

But from the beginning of the 21st century (19 years ago) Pole ‘drift’ has been creating unease among those monitoring these things. Researchers have discovered that the pace of change in Magnetic North has accelerated significantly – it’s ‘skittering’ away from Canada, across the Pole, and heading towards Siberia.

“It’s moving at about 50 kilometres a year,” says Ciaran Beggan, a member of the British Geological Survey. “It didn’t move much between 1900 and 1980 but it’s really accelerated in the past 40 years.” The issue, he adds, is so severe that researchers are scrambling to update the widely-used World Magnetic Model (WMM) of Earth’s magnetic field, and thereby maintain the accuracy of global navigation systems.

The WMM reflects differences between Magnetic and True North and underpins all modern navigation systems used by ships and airplanes as well as land-based applications – drilling and mining, for example.

It’s maintained and updated every five years by the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the British Geological Survey. Their latest update (in 2015) and was supposed to last until 2020. But because of the magnetic field is changing so rapidly, they want to update the model now to maintain navigational accuracy – an interim fix.

This repair job was scheduled for mid-January, but with the US Government’s shutdown (caused by President Trump’s impasse around the Mexican wall), NOAA staff are ‘on leave’. For now, everything’s in limbo.


No one’s sure. Earth’s magnetic field has always been in a state of flux. It’s generated by the swirling movement of the liquid-iron core. As it ‘swooshes’ around, so the magnetic field changes. Some believe it has something to do with a highspeed jet of liquid iron underneath Canada. But explaining the sudden hyper-activity has stumped scientists.

The higher levels of activity have also renewed fears about the imminent possibility of a total magnetic pole reversal for Earth. In recent years scientists have predicted that Earth’s magnetic field could be gearing up to ‘flip’ – where the magnetic South and North Pole swap.

Scientists estimate the North and South magnetic poles flip every 200,000-300,000 years. But it’s been nearly 800,000 years since the last event – maybe it’s overdue? A Pole swap, say the gurus, would be catastrophic, wreaking havoc on satellites, power grids, ocean currents and animal migration, and would leave all life exposed to deadly levels of solar radiation.

Currently, the Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the most harmful portions of the sun’s radiation.

Not sure there’s much we can do – but if you are planning a voyage around the Arctic anytime soon, don’t trust your compass.

Saving coral reefs

Transplanted juvenile coral grown in special nurseries on fibreglass trees may save damaged reefs.

Which is why scientists working with the Florida-based Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) are attempting to stop the rot by creating coral ‘nurseries’ – where juvenile coral is grown in controlled conditions before being transferred to ‘take root’ on damaged reefs.

These marine farms – in many tropical locations around the planet – typically involve coral being grown on fibreglass trees.

“The idea is to give these coral populations a fighting chance,” says Jessica Levy, programme manager at CRF. “If you don’t put back the material and diversity that has been lost, the populations are going to crash and become extinct. For reefs, you’re looking at a global extinction of the ecosystem if things don’t change quickly.”

Florida has the world’s third largest barrier reef, with nearly 1,400 species of plants and animals and 500 species of fish. But the reef is vanishing. Research suggests about half the reef has disappeared over the past 250 years. Coverage of acropora, the primary genus of reef-building corals, has plummeted by 97%.

Climate change is a major threat. In 2014 a spike in water temperatures led to coral bleaching on Florida reefs – and again in 2015, as a prolonged global bleaching event gripped the planet’s reefs. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was particularly badly affected.

CRF has accelerated its coral replanting programme with the deteriorating situation. Partnerships have formed to provide its fibreglass trees to places such as Jamaica and Colombia. Recently, some 100 corals were successfully planted on the Great Barrier Reef using the coral tree frames.

The largest of CRF’s nurseries, near the Key Largo coast, has around 500 trees.

LSB superyacht tenders

Owned by a Russian businessman, A is from the drawing board of legendary French designer Philippe Starck, and she was built by Nobiskrug in Kiel, Germany.
Also legendary are Starck’s (and the owner’s) demands for exceptional standards of quality. That didn’t worry Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders (LSB) – the yard has an international reputation for its craftsmanship – but construction of the four vessels presented major engineering challenges.

A and SYA 3

Auckland naval architect Brett Bakewell-White was tasked with turning the design concepts into workable boats, a challenge he readily concedes required outside-the-square thinking. But the results speak volumes – each of the four was a bespoke build process – and is a work of art in its own right.

They do, however, share a few common features. A key one is the complete lack of visible external hardware. Many thing pop out with electrically-operated actuators. Even the Manson submarine anchors are hidden. These drop from a pocket under the waterline, midline in the hull. And, apart from the workboat, all interiors are hand-crafted leather upholstery with teak decks.

SYA 2 Limousine

Propulsion, too, is relatively standard. Each tender is powered by twin 370hp Yanmar 8LV diesels. This simplifies the spares inventory – and maintenance – on the mothership. Three of the tenders use Yanmar ZT370 sterndrives with duo-props, while the aluminium-hulled workboat has a pair of Hamilton HJ292 jets.

But ‘workboat’ is a misnomer for the tender known as SYA 4, though she is used most often. Far from a utilitarian, cargo-carrying barge, this luxury 11.7m catamaran is built in polished aluminium with a teak-clad interior.


The aft third of the hull has a polished mirror finish which creates an intriguing optical illusion – that part of the boat seemingly ‘disappears’ when seen from the side. Brushed aluminium on the rest of the hull does the opposite, reflecting nothing off the water and hiding its shape.
Featuring asymmetrical planing demi-hulls with spray rails and chines, SYA 4 is designed to operate for up to 12 hours a day ferrying guests’ luggage, supplies – and sometimes passengers. The centre bow section lowers hydraulically, allowing walk-on access from remote beaches where the Hamilton jets enable her to operate in shallow water.


Despite her 9.5 tons she has a maximum speed of 28 knots and, with a 600-litre fuel capacity, can run considerable distances.

The two mid-range tenders are described as limousines, each designed to carry eight passengers and two crew in stately comfort. SYA 2 is a 10.75m enclosed cabin version, keeping guests cocooned in a precisely-controlled environment. Fully air-conditioned and lined wall-to-ceiling with white leather and polished teak, she exudes luxury.

Both limousines (SYA 2 and SYA 3) are built of e-glass and carbon fibre over a foam core, and in addition to the twin engines with sterndrives, are also equipped with waterjet side-thrusters and gyro-stabilisation to prevent guests feeling queasy in rough conditions.

The transom’s centre section folds down, forming a boarding platform with a built-in swim ladder. A maximum 35-knot speed delivers guests to destinations efficiently.
SYA 3 is the open limousine and, at 11.95m, is fractionally longer. She features a bimini-type roof which can be raised, allowing guests to experience the open air. If they prefer, the roof can remain closed, with the air conditioner keep things comfortable while they enjoy 360-degree views from the glass enclosure.
The two limousines share similar build and design characteristics, and the open model is finished in striking orange leather, marble bench tops and polished stainless interior.
And then there’s SYA 1.

Designed for the owner’s exclusive use, this carbon fibre, stepped-hull design reaches 53 knots flat-out. Again, she features a completely smooth exterior with all hardware hidden, including a foredeck that rises on electric actuators to form a sunroof over a luxurious leather lounger. A refrigerator and serious sound system help create a convivial atmosphere for owner and guests.

All four tenders fit into individual, custom ‘garages’ on either side of A’s hull – and tolerances are tight. In places clearance for the two longest tenders is less than 50mm – a detail that offers some perspective on the term ‘precise specification’.


Luke Hill, LSB’s marketing and people manager, says this enormous project took nearly two years to complete, all while the company continued with its more conventional Elite mid-pilothouse builds and refits. LSB doubled its staff complement during the job.

Following the project’s completion, LSB has maintained this staff level, embarking on another custom superyacht tender project for the 80m Artefact superyacht being built at Germany’s Nobiskrug Yard.

Custom-built superyacht tenders are an unusual part of LSB’s portfolio – but then the company seems to thrive on the out-of-the-ordinary.
One of its more interesting endeavours is the recent Vaka Motu project for the Okeanos Foundation, building Polynesian voyaging catamarans. Based on traditional Polynesian designs but using modern materials and technology, these eco-friendly workboats are designed for carrying freight, transportation, disaster relief and community development. The boats are helping to keep traditional navigation techniques alive across Polynesia and Micronesia.

Large premises in East Tamaki equipped with precision workshops allow the company to tackle these custom projects, refits and refurbishments – and it can accommodate hulls up to 43m LOA.

Yamaha’s big gun

Yamaha has upped the ante in the high horsepower stakes with the release of its new V8 425 XTO (Extreme Offshore) outboard. A big bore, 5.6-litre, naturally-aspirated engine, the 425hp V8 has been engineered to drive large props for maximum thrust.

“It opens up a new class of large outboard driven boats,” says Matt Walton-Smith, Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Marine National Manager. “It delivers a more reliable, fuel-efficient and very powerful engine solution for offshore fishing, pleasure, commercial and tourism boats.”
The big outboard also introduces a range of new technologies.

“Our engineers have developed an industry-first – a fully integrated electric steering system, that has no mechanical hydraulics or electric pumps. This is combined with our updated premium CL7 multifunction touchscreen display, advanced ‘drive-by-wire’ throttle controls and Helm Master joystick docking and positioning, to create a truly effortless boating experience,” says Walton-Smith.

Yamaha has also developed the first-ever, four-stroke direct fuel injection powerhead to deliver a very high compression ratio.

To ensure this massive power translates directly to the water, Yamaha has designed a large diameter XTO OS propeller. Its large, bladed surface area delivers extreme thrust for superior acceleration, cruising and top-end speeds, and complements the engine’s new exhaust venting technology.

Other features include an oversized gearcase, hardened gears, a robust, offshore wide-span bracket and engine mounts, and proven plasma-fusion technology for increased durability and a lighter weight.

Running a large 90-amp power generation system, the V8 delivers more than enough punch to run the large array of electrical devices in today’s modern boats.

Engine care and accessibility have also been improved. There’s a new in-water gear lubricant change-out system, which allows the outboard to be serviced while the boat is still on the water, saving on expensive haul-out costs. The multi-part cowling system also provides added convenience by allowing quick and easy access to key parts of the outboard.
Pricing, availability and the XTO’s official New Zealand launch date is to be confirmed.

Two more sport Rivs

THE 72

Australian builder Riviera has added two more sport yachts to its stable – the 72 and the 39 – expanding its existing range to 20 different models between 36 and 77 feet.

The 72 premiered at the recent Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, while the 39 will be presented at the Sydney Boat Show in August.

Superior offshore and extended cruising capabilities are fundamental to the 72’s design ethos. She’s available with various accommodation options – Classic or Grand Presidential suites with three or four staterooms and three bathrooms.

During the two-year development stage, Riviera consulted its boat owners to establish a ‘wish list’. The results pointed to a blue-water yacht combining speed and sport fishing and other water sports capabilities. It would have high bulwark side decks, a foredeck entertainment centre, fully-enclosed flybridge with internal stairs, a covered mezzanine dining area and ultraluxurious interiors. Ergo – the 72.

The elevated alfresco mezzanine forward of the cockpit, measuring 11.55m2, includes a large under-cover dining area, complete with teak flooring, and is connected with the central U-shape galley through a stainless steel framed door and large awning window. This creates a large, lifestyle space, positioning the chef right at the heart of the party.

The galley features varnished walnut timber cabinetry and timber-finish flooring that covers high-traffic zones to premium appliances including a four-burner induction cooktop with pot-keepers, rangehood, a large convection microwave oven and a dishwasher.

The plushly-carpeted saloon features a large lounge to port and, to starboard, a leather dinette that seats up to eight people. A 55-inch TV forward of the galley rises at the touch of a button and is easily viewable from both lounge and dinette. The saloon sound system is discreetly hidden in a cabinet beside the TV.

The state-of-the-art helm station features hand-stitched leather surrounds, comprehensive engine and thruster controls, including the Twin Disc electronic joystick system (EJS), and up to four 22-inch navigation screens. Helm seating comprises a plush central Norsap helm seat and port side companion seat. Both seats are fully adjustable.

Up on the flybridge, a stainless steel-framed glass door and awning window connect with a large aft deck and alfresco dining area. A wet bar on the port side includes a solid surface benchtop, stainless steel underslung sink with mixer tap, an icemaker, drawer fridge and drawers for glass storage. A small watertight battery box inside the wet bar unit provides emergency power for the electronic navigation and control systems in the flybridge.

Engine controls and EJS joystick are built into the aft end of the wet bar. A second joystick is mounted on the starboard side.

The four-cabin Classic layout offers a massive midships master stateroom with ensuite bathroom along the starboard side, while the three-cabin Presidential has a full-beam master stateroom with ensuite in the starboard fore quarter. A private sitting area on the starboard side can serve as an informal workstation, make-up bureau or breakfast retreat.
Both Classic and Presidential options feature a king-size bed, a feature headboard and bedside tables with leather in-lays and ample storage underneath.

The port cabin aft of the guest stateroom features twin single beds which can, at the touch of a button, form a double as the inboard bed slides across. CZone digital switching orchestrates full-spectrum lighting, the saloon and master stateroom entertainment systems and also the optional cameras. These smart devices can be charged virtually anywhere on board as every internal electrical outlet also features a USB slot.

Power is provided by twin MAN V12 turbo diesel engines (1,800hp or 1,900hp) mated to Twin Disc remote-mounted Quickshift gearboxes that integrate with the Express Joystick System. The engine room’s also equipped with two Onan generators, a 27.5kW main and 13.5kW auxiliary.

THE 39
Raised bulwarks on the side decks and multiple entertaining spaces, including a light and spacious saloon, open cockpit and extended flybridge, are dominant characteristics of this vessel. Sunlovers will enjoy the foredeck with its optional large sunlounge with integrated folding backrests and drink holders.

Up a flight of wide teak treads on the starboard side of the cockpit takes you to the extended flybridge, with its twin helm-andcompanion seat.

Down below, timber panelling and cabinetry, with elegantlycoloured Sunbrella fabrics, enhance the 39’s contemporary styling.

A fully-equipped aft galley is on the starboard side, with a raised dining area opposite, offering sweeping views through the wrap-around windows. The lower helm forward includes a leather helm-and-companion seat facing a leather sports wheel, twin engine controls and an IPS joystick outboard and two navigation displays.

It’s configured for five adults in two staterooms.

The master stateroom forward includes a queen-size walk-around double bed, a wardrobe on the port side aft quarter and overhead lockers. Hull windows on both sides flood the stateroom with natural light while an aft-hinging deck hatch brings additional light and air.

The stateroom’s ensuite includes a vanity toilet and separate shower stall with a frameless glass door. The bathroom can be utilised as the master ensuite and as the day head.
A midship stateroom opens up to reveal a light-filled space with twin beds athwartships to starboard and a single bed set along the port side. The twin beds can be converted with an infill into a large double bed.

Power comes from twin Volvo Penta D6 IPS 500 turbo diesel engines providing 370hp with IPS 10 drive units.

Riviera has built more than 5,300 motor yachts since it was established 38 years ago.

NZ aces Electron regatta

After 24 races and plenty of fierce, tactical sailing, New Zealand’s Greg Stenbeck squeaked a narrow win at the recent International Yachting Series for Electron radio-controlled yachts.

Hosting five countries and 21 competitors, the regatta was held at Auckland’s Orakei Basin, and featured fleet racing over two windward-leeward laps. It was last held in New Zealand four years ago, and since then has been held in Australia and Rarotonga.

The Electron is a one-design, radio-controlled model yacht penned and built by one of New Zealand’s most respected yacht designers, Des Townson. With a LOA just shy of a metre and weighing a smidgen under five kilograms, anyone can operate the models, though experienced sailors definitely have an advantage.

Electrons are owned by sailors all over the world and have developed something of a following among superyacht owners who keep them as a recreational diversion when the tropical sunsets and pina coladas become a little ho-hum. There are 1,050 registered Electrons in New Zealand.

The prize-giving for this year’s event was presented by Sue Townson, representing the family of the Electron’s designer.
The Electron Owners’ Association was formed to foster competitive and fun racing of Electron yachts.

Tongs ramps up

North Shore’s Allan Tongs Boatbuilders is in growth mode with the company embarking on plans to reconfigure its operation into a production environment.

Alan Tongs and son Nigel have a close association with designer Bill Upfold of Elite Marine Design and have built 10 of his launches. The production initiative is a new 43-foot model (Elite AT43) designed to fit a 13.5m or 14m marina berth.

“We’ve secured the order for the first of these production boats,” says Tongs, “and are now completing the plugs from which to make the moulds.”

While his existing North Shore factory remain the main manufacturing centre, the hand-laid GRP moulded hulls, decks and bulkheads will be produced at a West Auckland facility. Finished mouldings will be transported from there to the main factory for assembly and fitting out.

Finding additional staff, says Tongs, is now the company’s immediate focus.

The new Elite AT43 will sleep six (offering three different accommodation layouts) and the design maximises living and entertaining space. Her contemporary interior incorporates a stylish galley with a solid surface bench top, modern tapware and appliances.

High quality, hard-wearing flooring is complemented by premium carpets and underlay. Her bathroom’s equipped with a porcelain bowl and thoughtfully-positioned LED lighting is used throughout. The entertainment system in the saloon includes a flatscreen TV and sound system.

With a generous cockpit for fishing or scuba set-ups and a relaxed outdoor dining area, the Elite AT43 will appeal to the family-orientated angler as well as to luxury-oriented cruisers.

Tongs and team have also just launched Tasman Jewel, one of Upfold’s 13m custom Elite Sport Sedans, for a Nelson-based owner. She’s powered by a single 600hp Cummins QSC engine and is currently undergoing sea-trials. Her owners intend to explore the North Island’s east coast on their journey home next month.

E-volution in paradise

The SoelCat 12 – a solar-powered catamaran designed by Holland’s Soel Yachts – has begun operating in French Polynesia’s Bora Bora, taking guests on a sustainable and noise-free tour of the lagoon.

With its efficient hull lines, the cat requires only 2.17kWh of battery capacity per nautical mile. To achieve the same efficiency, a petrol-powered vessel would have to use 0.22 of a litre of fuel per nautical mile.

With a battery capacity of 120kWh, the SoelCat 12 has a 60nm range at her 8 knot cruising speed, and when the sun’s shining it’s even more. The integrated boost mode allows higher speeds – up to 14 knots.

Bora Bora has more than 50 outboard and diesel-powered excursion and shuttle boats that consume more than two million litres of imported fuel every year.

The cat can also become a powerful grid-feeding station when it’s not carrying passengers – up to four households can be supplied with 15kVA of inverter power. The resort, for example, can use the boat’s solar power for its desalination plant, producing up to 4,000 litres of fresh water every hour.

Designed for easy disassembly, the cat can be shipped to destinations anywhere around the world.

Soel Yachts was a finalist for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in 2017. And later in the year Okeanos Pearl won the Innovation Award at the Trophées du Tourisme in Tahiti.

More berths at Opua

Port Opua – New Zealand’s largest clearance port – has added nearly 150 new berths to its Bay of Islands Marina as part of a $12 million expansion programme.

A limited number of the new berths are available for sale, with the rest scheduled for long- and short-term leasing. Marina manager Paul Stringer says the expansion is designed to cater for the changing demands and sizes of visiting boats.

“There’s been a significant increase in the number of catamarans making their way across the Pacific to New Zealand. We now provide the largest number of multi-hull berths in the country, along with a substantial pool of 16m-plus monohull berths.”

Berth sizes start at 10.5m, but including those available at the commercial wharf, vessels up to 50m LOA can be accommodated. Depths within the marina range from 2m – 11m at mean low water. The marina office allocates an appropriate berth for each vessel. All berths are equipped with four mooring lines, water and power.

The expansion project includes new facilities, apartments, shops, offices and a recreational area. These have all helped to position the marina not only as a world-class haven for visiting yachties, but also a community centre for Opua.

The waterfront recreational area features lawns, native plants, a boardwalk and a landscaped area with seating, barbeques, a performance and entertainment stage and a play zone for children.

A café/restaurant, hot showers, a laundry, pump-out facilities, a diesel fuel dock, wi-fi and postal services are all part of the marina’s service package. Live-aboards are very welcome.

The adjacent Port Opua Marina Park is home to a wide array of marine services – all within walking distance. These include a 50-tonne, 5.2m beam travel lift and a 100-tonne, 9.7m beam slipway for vessels up to 35m. Boatyard services include shortor long-term hardstand, floating work berths, on-site painting and anti-fouling.

Boat builders and riggers, painters, refrigeration crews, mechanics, electronics, chandlery, car hire, insurance and boat brokers and storage facilities are all stationed on site.

Opua is five minutes by road from Paihia, the heart of the Bay of Islands. It is 20 minutes from Kerikeri and the Bay of Islands Airport, and just a short water crossing from historic Russell.

Li-on Standards

Eutectic refrigeration, extensive electronics and sharper entertainment systems equate to a greater electrical load on a vessel. Lithium-ion (Li-on) batteries offset the problem, but beware. Not all Li-on batteries are born equal.

There are multiple causes, but sadly, many installations don’t meet some well-documented and specified data relating to charging parameters, discharge characteristics and installation requirements.

Some of this data is detailed in manufacturers’ guidelines. Some can be found in AUS/NZS 3004.2:2014 – the recognised statutory standard for marine electrical installations. Yachting New Zealand also has installation requirements within its various categories of safety regulations.

These regulations and recommendations all focus on safety of the installation and, indirectly, the life of the batteries.
Until recently, lead-acid has been the major battery technology used in boats, with more modern versions in the form of GEL and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM).

By their very nature lead-acid batteries generate explosive hydrogen gas as a by-product of the charging process. In the case of the GEL and AGM technologies this is recombined within the battery by way of a pressure cap. The cap’s designed to release gas under high internal pressure conditions that can be caused by excessive charging voltages and over-temperature.

These batteries can also go into a condition called ‘thermal runaway’ when overcharged, or when certain faults develop within the battery. This can be extremely dangerous, resulting in an explosion or fire. Which is why battery standards emphasise ventilation and physical mounting considerations.

As with lead-acid batteries, there are various Li-on chemistries with different characteristics. While some chemistries have a greater energy density than others, the trade-off is lower chemical stability. These chemistries are typically used in the personal electronics industries, where size and weight are paramount.

The favoured chemistry for marine applications is LithiumIon-Iron-Phosphate because of its reliability and stability. It is, in fact, one of the safest battery technologies commercially available currently. It’s used in Enertec’s locally-manufactured ‘Juice’ range.

Li-on has many advantages – high energy density (low weight for a given capacity), small physical size, no memory effect, the ability to be deeply discharged without damage, low self-discharge, rapid re-charge, long service life and no gas release on charge or discharge.

Compared to lead-acid, it also has some notable differences. While it can be heavily discharged it must not be completely flattened. Unlike lead-acid batteries, where the individual cells within a battery will always equalise any difference of charge, Li-on cells will not. So there is a need for external cell balancing.
It’s also important to limit the voltage given to any cell under charge conditions, as well as the maximum temperature any cell can reach. Failure to do so will cause poor battery performance and shorten its life.

AUS/NZS 3004.2:2014 has added requirements for li-on batteries. Specifically, it is mandatory to have a battery management safety system (BMS) – either built-in to the battery case or mounted adjacent externally.

This BMS monitors individual cell temperatures and voltages and must be able to disconnect all charging sources if the voltage or temperature exceeds the manufacturer’s specified maximums.

Furthermore, to protect the battery from irreversible damage, the BMS must be able to disconnect the load if the voltage falls below the manufacturer’s minimum specification. An audible and visual alarm is required before any disconnection occurs.

The standards also require the BMS to automatically disconnect charging sources if charging voltages exceed the battery manufacturer’s recommended limits. To achieve this, care must be taken to ensure that any elevated voltages from the charging sources do not cause damage to other connected loads.

voltages and must be able to disconnect all charging sources if the voltage or temperature exceeds the manufacturer’s specified maximums.

Furthermore, to protect the battery from irreversible damage, the BMS must be able to disconnect the load if the voltage falls below the manufacturer’s minimum specification. An audible and visual alarm is required before any disconnection occurs.

The standards also require the BMS to automatically disconnect charging sources if charging voltages exceed the battery manufacturer’s recommended limits. To achieve this, care must be taken to ensure that any elevated voltages from the charging sources do not cause damage to other connected loads.

This is common when disconnecting a battery being charged by an engine alternator. If the alternator isn’t de-energised before the battery contactor is opened, it can cause a high voltage spike in the vessel’s electrical system and may damage electronic equipment.

A battery that is compliant with these standards will almost certainly be immune from the dangerous thermal runaway conditions that can develop in AGM, GEL or lead-acid batteries.

Buyers of a Li-on battery should consider the above standard.

Some retailers are offering bare cells without any BMS. Some offer BMS systems that only do rudimentary cell balancing without appropriate battery protection. Many BMS systems simply disconnect the battery without any warning, resulting in possible damage to other electronics.

They don’t comply with NZ standards for electromagnetic radiation or susceptibility – their BMS may interfere with other installed electronics.

So how does a buyer differentiate between Li-on batteries?

Ask for written proof that the product meets all the appropriate standards. If it doesn’t, you may end up with an installation that, at best, returns poor battery life and, at worst, is dangerous.