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ILIAD 50 Review and Video - A boat of two hulls (and lives)

by John Curnow, Editor, 26 Jun 2019 16:08 PDT
The ILIAD 50 - the first in a new line of Powercats - seen here slipping along at 18 knots, which is her fast cruise mode © John Curnow

Yes. The ILIAD is a powercat. So that’s two hulls. Like derrrrr! But what you also have is a large, voluminous, well-built vessel that really has two lives. One is slow, and the other is quicker. Right. So that is a pretty simple statement, but underlying it all is the sort of subtlety that is reflected in the whole genesis of firstly the brand, this boat in particular, and the way you’ll live it and love it. Q.E.D.

We could finish right there, show you the video below, tell you that you can be right here for AUD2.55M landed with tax paid for a fully optioned package (or USD1.5M ex-factory in China), instead of us, and it would be job well done. Somehow I cannot see that working for you, so here we go with a bit more detail about this impressive vessel that brings some much needed aesthetic grace to the segment.

Mark Elkington and the team at Multihull Solutions have delivered all of their thinking from thousands of hours and nautical miles on boats. Importantly, there was also one other crucial element in their market research. It’s called listening to clients, and it is clearly one of the reasons that since launching, Multihull Solutions have had no issue selling not only 50s, but 60 and 70-foot ILIADs from their new range. You can get a little more information on that in Fair enough. So we did…. and also Next cab off the rank = ILIAD 70.

Firstly, let’s go by the numbers…

These bluewater boats are designed to cruise long distances, which in the case of our ILIAD 50 here, is up to 2500nm at 7-8 knots from her 2700 litres that are on board (accounting for reserve, of course). So that would be her first life. Now as it turned out, a sailing cat was leaving Southport at around the same time as us. We could do the 1100nm to Vanuatu, their destination, at nine knots, chewing just 30 litres per hour. They had left to coincide with a nice weather system, but would have to use around eight to nine litres an hour themselves if it all got a bit on the calm side.

There was also a bit of nasty stuff expected for their last day at sea. We would have been in a whole three days earlier. That is why it is called velocity made good (VMG). So what weather window I hear you say… They may have used up to $1000 of fuel, and us three times more.

At six knots we could do six litres per hour combined. It might step out to 1.2lph depending on the conditions, load, and how much carpet you have on the bottom. As she had only been splashed just a short moment before the Sanctuary Cove show where she had premiered, our vessel had a clean bum, and at 7.5 knots we could easily achieve four litres per hour, which of course means we were inside the one litre per nautical mile window.

Yep. 8-10 knots will give you your low speed, long range numbers, and it is here that she is super quiet and you can sit around doing whatever it is you need to as the miles click by.

Secondly then, what are the other numbers?

Go ahead, and ask for a bit more from the turbo and supercharged Volvo Penta D6 435s, to say 18 knots, and you still have a 700nm range up your sleeve, which will dispose of a passage from the Gold Coast to the Whitsundays in just the one bunkering. And yes, this would clearly be the ILIAD’s second life.

She comes in at 27 metric tonnes wet ship and 25 at half load, so to crank out 18 knots from 3000RPM a side, and do it all at miserly 100 litres per hour, combined mind you, is a great achievement.

She is a good, stiff sea boat, no doubt a testament to the hand laid 80 and 100 kilogram matt in her hulls, set with vinylester resin. Those very hulls have a fine entry, for ease of being pushed by her 5.5 litre, straight six iron ladies, and are also significantly stepped. The latter has a dual purpose, the first is to offer more accommodation space inside, and the second is that it aids in making her a dry boat, which she most certainly is. Ample freeboard also attends to this matter.

Being both twin charged and aftercooled, the pair deliver their maximum torque of 1040Nm at 2400RPM from a relatively flat curve, and march off easily to 3000RPM. Now that all means the 24x25 inch wheels from the V-Drive format will deliver her fast cruise speed of 18 knots. The ILIAD 50 punches out to get there, and is on the plane at a bit over 12 knots. This is all something she will very much do, all day long. You feel like you could easily head off to Noumea, some 700nm away, with no worries, because you’ll be able to do it in just the one bunkering.

WOT will see you make 21 and a bit, but you have gone out to 160lph, so there is no real gain there. Equally, dialling up the magic 80% engine load will see you make just 19 knots at 130lph, so therefore 18 is the magic number, as 1 knot is certainly not worth the extra burn.

A 65-foot monohull probably offers similar volume as the ILIAD 50, but will be consuming like 200 to 250lph at its cruise speed. Yes, that will be in the low to mid 20s, but it is a lot of extra fuel. Given that the likely targets for a vessel such as this would spend maybe $50 to 80k per annum on Diesel, coming back to something more like $20k will be welcome.

Other benefits will be things like a 1.25m draft, which will help you get over bars, and you can park her on the beach, as the screws are protected by keelsons. Shallow anchorages become possible, so too more remote anchorages, and if they exist behind more treacherous waters, like say over the Wide Bay Bar, then 21 knots is more than enough to get you out of harms way.

All that talk of bars has got me thinking about our time out off the Gold Coast. Mark and I had been talking for a bit over five minutes, and our pal in the 45’ cruising cat from earlier on was still waiting to get the headsail sheet on, and we have already done a few miles. The upshot of it all is that we would have the bar well and truly sorted for them by the time they got there a few days after us.

Alas, we were running out of time, and so it was that point at which you have to accept that you are on the way back in. The turn in is great. Inside two lengths, and at low speed you can use the outboard donk to push her around almost inside her own length. To make it even easier, you can also opt for thrusters and a remote docking controller.

So what does it all mean?

Simply put, a few people put a lot of work into the brand and the boats it creates. As Mark says himself, whilst we were in the main saloon, or lounge room as it is increasingly becoming known as, “We found that people wanted to address the noise issues in a boat. So the idea behind here is for you to be really comfortable whilst you make passage to New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, or Noumea, for instance.”

This is why the glass bi-folds that form the aft bulkhead are double glazed, which you can then close up and lock down to secure you from the environment. “When you’re doing a few days at sea, you may not want to sit outside in the weather the whole time, and this area becomes your apartment.”

“You can use normal speaking volumes throughout the interior, take a nap on the couch which is also a huge single, go through to the foredeck, make food, head down in to the accommodation, watch TV, do all your nav from the helm, and see everything from the seating throughout.” The switchgear is all here too, so you really can control the whole boat from the ‘lounge room’.

Yes, powercats do offer a magnificent view, and with the way the sound deadening works, the whole journey is about as noisy as when you’re at an anchorage with the genset going. There are two reasons that all of the furniture is not fixed down, and for that matter, the vases and everything are still out on display. One, she is a cat, so inherently stable. Two, if you have got your weather window correct, you’re not going to be in anything particularly nasty, as more than likely you wont have had to stop to bunker (and yes some places you cannot anyway).

There is no for’ard cockpit to catch water, which in a cat can send it down the mine pretty smartly. There is a sun lounge, however, and the interesting point here is that the cushions are designed to be left out, so you do not have to cart them around, which can be a chore, especially when wet. There is a cover for them, however. You can access it from the ample walk around decks, or via the hatch in the pilothouse windows. Larger ILIADs will have a full door here to make egress and ingress into the lounge that much easier.

“We got rid of a lot of the compromises with this vessel. It is pretty customisable within the basic form, and you can save money in certain areas, if you like. For example, each electric blind is £700. By making them manual, you can haul back £3500. If you remove the lower helm station, and don’t have a plotter, autohelm and all of that, then you save an additional $40k. Doing these sorts of things will bring it down to $2.2M, all nicely set up for coastal cruising.”

Now apart from colours and fabrics, appliances and equipment, you can also have the bridge deck arranged as you choose. You can have a massive BBQ and wetbar running athwartships across most of the deck near the ladder to go down, and free up all the for’ard area for seating and viewing. You can also have it enclosed in composite and glass, so all weather driving and entertaining up top becomes a reality. Yes it adds a bit of weight, and also reduces righting moment slightly, but you can be up there in air-conditioned comfort, and if you have lots of guests then it is another complete living area.

Naturally, no one has the latter and a downstairs helm station, but equally, one customer has ordered the bare minimum below, because they always drive upstairs, and at any rate, there are clears for when there is rain or wind. So being relatively bespoke, you do things like place the portholes where you want them, or have the grate around the stove top or not, but they are all part of what you get in your kit, as is complete night (red) lighting.

Seeing as we are using land terms, then the window in the kitchen is very much in keeping with the latest building trends. It is a lot better than staring at a bulkhead (that nautitalk for a wall). Actually, it is funny when you see design shows raving on about al fresco living and pop up TVs, when these have been on boats for ages…

Anyway, we digress. One thing most cats have done is really take on the ‘upside-down’ house, as it were. The cavernous living spaces are up, and the accommodation is below. It makes a lot of sense, because it is hard to see the view when your eyes are closed, like when you’re asleep. You can select from a two cabin arrangement (one hull each), or three, or four, whatever you want, but non-owners hull vessels remain harder to on-sell later on in their life, and also at a lower value.

As Mark says, “Generally we find this layout serves four out of five buyers. One customer with the open bridge has ordered no lower station, but just a plotter, autohelm, control levers and they’re done. Soon a lot of it will be obsolete, and the whole process will be handled off your phone or tablet anyway. So placing a lot of that technology in does date it.” I reckon you could even have forward facing seating for a truly great room with a view!

What do I like? Well I thought being in the Gold Coast Seaway, with wind (wave) against tide, a slight swell to boot, and having the vases out, with fruit in the bowls, and not having to pack up your life just to go to sea was pretty handy. I also like having range, particularly for our Australian coastline, which is nothing like the situation in the Med, Caribbean, or USA.

Just on that global point, Mark commented, “We will get all our of local market sorted before taking ILIAD further afield, and we have a pretty full order book for next two years.” So if you are inclined, then now might be the time to have a run yourself, or be at the Sydney International Boat Show to look over the just launched ILIAD 70, which is bound to be one of the stars of the show!

See their (website) for more, or call the team at Multihull Solutions on 1300 855 338 to see how an ILIAD powercat could take you off for the cruise of a lifetime.

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