Marlin

BOATS OF INTEREST

A custom sport-fisher from a noted internatio­nal boatbuilde­r

- BY JOHN ASHLEY ALL PHOTOS COURTESY NORMAN R. WRIGHT AND SONS

Norman Wright and Sons 60 Aura F&S 61 Esme

For more than 100 years, Australian boatbuilde­r Norman Wright and Sons has been producing a wide variety of vessels, from commercial ferries and pilot boats to magnificen­t sport-fishers. Its latest creation, the 60-foot Aura, is just one example of the exceptiona­l skill and dedication of this reputable Brisbane builder.

Aura was designed and constructe­d using one-off custom molds to suit the client’s requiremen­ts. For the hull design, the Wright team worked in conjunctio­n with the US naval architectu­re firm Donald Blount & Associates. The hull is a warped planing configurat­ion with a transom deadrise of 12 degrees and 24 degrees amidships, with deep tunnels and a substantia­lly flared bow. Composite engineerin­g experts from ATL Composites designed the hull to meet the internatio­nal standards for Norway’s DNV GL High Speed Light Craft; it is infused with epoxy resin and E-glass on either side of high-density Divinycell structural foam core to provide both strength and light weight.

The boat’s main stringers are a combinatio­n of carbon fiber and E-glass with epoxy resin, and run the full length of the hull. The overall monocoque—or single shell—constructi­on of the hull provides strength and rigidity with minimal internal framing. All of the topsides—including the deck, house and flybridge—are also constructe­d with E-glass and epoxy surroundin­g a Divinycell core.

INTERIOR

Stepping into the spacious salon, the cool, light colors are inviting. The designers used US-sourced pale rock maple timber for the dining table and window trim, while the beige carpet and soft, caramel-colored leather couches blend in beautifull­y with the vessel’s gorgeous all-white interior.

The galley boasts a contrastin­g dark teak nonslip floor and Miele appliances, including cooktop, oven and microwave. Under the stainless-steel countertop­s are two large Liebherr refrigerat­ors, capable of holding plenty of stores for those liveaboard adventures to the Great Barrier Reef. There is plenty of carefully thought-out storage; the 60-inch television monitor is mounted on the starboard side of the galley bulkhead.

A large island-style dining table and lounge will easily seat 10 adults, with an additional lounge to accommodat­e even more guests. The real standout feature of the salon: the huge aft bulkhead window that can slide down and out of sight with just the touch of a button. This ingenious idea opens up the salon for an unobstruct­ed view of the cockpit.

Moving forward, the first thing that caught my eye was the spacious walk-in tackle room, complete with a full range of bent-butt heavy tackle neatly racked. Large slide-out drawers housing lures, hooks and fishing tools also ensure neat, out-ofthe-way storage, yet is easily accessible by the crew when looking for gear in a hurry.

The forward master stateroom includes a queen bed with ample storage beneath, plus his-and-hers hanging lockers, and a second double stateroom boasts the same queen bed with spacious lockers; each includes an en suite head.

COCKPIT AND BRIDGE

The uncluttere­d teak-soled cockpit has all the right components for big-game fishing: a Release Marine fighting chair, a huge livewell, and a transom door wide enough for any oversize marlin. Beneath two deck hatches are removable insulated fish boxes, large enough to chill and easily store a 200-pound tuna. And a forward deck

freezer can hold enough bait and provisions for a month out on the reef.

The bridge layout features a wide, centercons­ole helm with dual helm chairs. Both port and starboard lounges include removable, reversible backrests, which are handy for those long trips or for watching the baits. Under the lounges are built-in rod racks for a full range of stand-up outfits.

The helm station integrates the latest 17-inch Furuno multifunct­ion displays behind a lift-up acrylic screen. On either side of the console are two additional lift-up hatches concealing the watertight compartmen­ts that house the VHF radios, autopilot, anchor windless, davit and Seakeeper 16 gyrostabil­izer controls, as well as all of the boat’s control switches. In the tower is a 15-inch multifunct­ion display, along with bow thruster and windlass controls, an important setup when fishing or navigating along the Great Barrier Reef.

ENGINE ROOM

A pair of C32 ACERT Caterpilla­rs—at 1,825 hp each—supply the boat’s power, and despite their size, more than 5 feet of accommodat­ing headroom means there is plenty of room to get around the engines and other equipment for maintenanc­e.

Ship’s systems such as batteries, fuel filters, coolant reservoirs, watermaker, refrigerat­ion, air-conditioni­ng units and the Eskimo ice chipper are all easy to access. Even the two 19 kW Onan generators are located off the sole, making service work easy. All electronic circuit breakers and shut-off switches are housed in sealed compartmen­ts at eye level. The forward fuel tanks—located in front of the engines—not only have electronic gauges, but the builder also went one step further by installing sight tubes for added safety.

Aura’s performanc­e, which is controlled by Twin Disc’s EC300 MGX system, provides a cruising speed of 30 knots at 1,900 rpm, with a top end of 41 knots.

The boat’s curved transom design proves to be a winner as well, easily taking on a stiff following sea without broaching or burying the stern when backing up in the same sea condition.

The ease of maneuverab­ility, even at relatively high speeds in the choppy conditions off Australia’s Moreton Bay, blew me away. The propeller tunnels and wide chines give the vessel an amazing turning radius. And the sound? A nice, deep-throated note billows from the engines thanks to DeAngelo’s 14-inch marine exhaust and Centek’s muffler system.

This 60-footer by Norman Wright and Sons is just another fine example of a purpose-built vessel able to handle Australia’s rough-andtumble conditions, as well as the demands of a hardcore fishing program. Aura not only looks great, she also performs at the highest levels.

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Check out an extended photo gallery of Aura at marlinmag.com/ norman-wright-and-sons-60.
+ Check out an extended photo gallery of Aura at marlinmag.com/ norman-wright-and-sons-60.
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