A Special Report by James Hill,
Professional Boating Magazine - 1983
A New Family Cruiser for the 80's
You could describe the all new Deltacraft Island 5.7 metre as a great new deal for those who want a low, cost boat they can live aboard.
Whereas many, of the fibreglass cruisers which offer reasonable cabin accommodation are well and truly in the luxury boat category, the Deltacraft is able to offer real live-aboard comfort in a smaller length and a much more
The reason why the Deltacraft can offer such "home comforts" as full standing headroom below and shower with pressure hot and cold water is due to it being a displacement, or "slow" speed hull design, rather than a "high- speed planing hull.
Because she is based on a traditional offshore fishing hull, with rounded bilge and a large beam-to-length ratio, the Deltacraft also saves a large amount of money by needing only a modest 17 hp Volvo diesel to achieve her cruising speed of 14 kmp.
For those who are more interested in having a home away from home afloat and who don't mind getting about the water way at a relaxed pace, the new Deltacraft, is certainly welcome news. In fact this new 5.7 metre, "compact" cruiser will undoubtedly be suited to retired couples or young married couples with children. In both cases such buyers want a boat that is going to be a good "investment" rather than an expensive high-speed toy that will cost, them many thousands in service and fuel bills.
The Deltacraft is not only designed to be low maintenance but very inexpensive to run with a fuel consumption in the order of only one gallon for three and a half hours running time. In fact the fuel consumption of the Deltacraft, is so low that with average weekend use you may only need to fill the tank up once every month. It is worth noting that the fuel consumption on most fast sports, or day cruisers, of this size is anywhere from five to seven times as much in average running time, so the long term swing in cost with the Deltacraft can be quite significant as the seasons roll by.
Galecraft, who designed and built the Deltacraft, certainly have done their homework with this new family cruiser. They based the design on an earlier proven design, but with a lot more hull buoyancy and a lot of attention to the interior design they have achieved a boat that can fill the following six requirements:
- 1. Traditional displacement launch with styling that won't date.
- 2. Offshore fishing or short coastal passage maker.
- 3. Trailable alternative to those who otherwise might buy a trailer-sailer.
- 4. Caravan alternative which doesn't need to go to crowded caravan parks.
- 5. Retirement craft for fishing or relaxing afloat.
- 6. Hire boat which meets State maritime authority requirements for drive yourself hire.
The standard model is designed to be permanently moored "in the water" and is too heavy to trail but for those who want a trailable boat there is a special model which uses water ballast in lieu of permanent ballast. The water ballast version is able to shed several hundred kilos of weight as it is winched onto the trailer and thereby be light enough for private vehicles to tow.
The trailable model will undoubtedly be just as popular as the in-water model.
Recently I was invited to carry out a special report on the new Deltacraft by her builders and was able to come up with the following comments.
The features which make the Deltacraft appealing for cruising include a lockable cabin with standing headroom, proper galley with sink and stove, toilet compartment with shower, pressure water system and sleeping accommodation able to handle the average "nuclear family" of Mum, Dad and two kids.
As standard, the cabin provides a dinette Which is part of a large V-berth formation. For sleeping the dinette converts into a double berth and there is a small single alongside for a child. Alternatively, sleep two kids on the cushioned cockpit settees.
As an option, larger settees available for the cockpit which provide adult-sized sleeping berths, though at the expense of cockpit space.
In standard trim, ready to turn the, key. the Deltacraft certainly offers a low cost introduction in live-aboard boating. Those on a tight budget could add their own cockpit shelter andhot water system to make the boat more comfortable for weekend cruising, or alternatively they can add the options of fibreglass hardtop, side curtains and presure hot water system.
While it is not the size of boat that most would choose for coastal passage-making, the Deltacraft's ballasted, round-bilge NA is stable and buoyant enough to tackle the odd short coastal hop of several hours to get the boat from one waterway up to the next.
Better 'than the old timber launches; the Deltacraft has a lot more freeboard, a self-draining cockpit and a reliable engine if the weather does cut up rough while you're in open water.
With the standard power plant of a 1 7hp Volvo MD78 matched to a four-bladed bronze propeller, the Deltacraft reaches her most economical speed at 2000rpm and at this point she steams along right on her theoretical hull speed limit of 12kph.
The Deltacraft will run out to a maximum of 14kph or 8.7mph which means that a small coastal hop - such as Sydney Harbour to Pittwater - will taken about two hours in open water, or maybe 2 1/2 if wind and sea are against you.
Despite detracting from offshore performance, hardtop and curtains certainly complement the boat. since the real point of the design is to provide a comfortable fiat water cruiser.
The covered cockpit in effect doubles robin area and combines nicely with the hinged teak boarding platform el the transom. In cold or wet weather you can keep the side curtains down and be able to hop from dinghy, over the stern, straight into the shelter of the cockpit.
The design features a moulded keel, ballasted with 227kg of blue metal set in resin to give the boat the right amount of stability.
Even though the rounded hull shape does lend itself to easy rolling I found the firmer bilges of the new design have helped to make the boat more stable when it has to cut a chop at an angle.
The Mk II retains many of the good features of the earlier design, such as the engine being below cockpit floor level so it doesn't intrude into the accommodation plan.
On deck you get, as standard; a moulded foredeck anchor and rope well, stainless steel bow rail, bow roller, mooring bollard at the bow and quarter mooring cleats at the stem, teak grab rails on the cabin roof, good non-skid areas on the foredeck and on the cockpit floor as well as stainless steel, guardrails or toff rails around the outside of the cockpit.
The guard rails are attractively finished with teak capping and there is a comfortable, deeply upholstered swivel chair for the helmsman as well as fore and aft settee seats in the cockpit.
In the cockpit itself are self-draining tubes aft and fibreglass side pockets which drain out onto the floor.
The cockpit floor is cambered aft, so any water entering drains away easily. But in rough water, one would need to keep the companionway door shut, to make the cockpit truly self-draining.
While the inward opening companionway door may not be the strongest arrangement for a storm door, it does nonetheless allow the same door to serve double duty as the door for the toilet/shower compartment.
With the companionway door shut there is a fibreglass hatch over the companionway which helps to ventilate, or light the cabin area.
The cabin itself is two steps down from the cockpit and provides a moulded fibreglass galley unit on the port side and moulded fibreglass toilet booth to starboard. There is 1.87 (6ft 2in headroom right on the centreline of the cabin and this falls away to 1.82m to the sides (as in the toilet booth).
Considering the size of the boat, the interior is really impressive. Tile 'dinette can seat up to six by extending the seats and it can convert to a reasonably comfortable double berth.
There are upholstered backrests in the cabin and the large one-piece furniture mould which takes in all the bunks and galley unit provides storage bins under the bunk seats as well as shelves outboard.
A fibreglass headliner plus interior mouldings make for an easy-to-clean interior. In fact the Islander was designed to suit hire boat use as well as private use and to this end has an interior that is designed to be both easy to clean and hard-wearing.
Overall the Deltacraft is designed to suit family cruising, economical boating for retired boaters or surveyed hire boat use in any Australian State.