From dream to reality
From time to time we interview industry figure-heads, brokers, designers, CEOʼs, boatbuilders and marketing gurus who are only too happy to expound on the virtues and success of their boats, their products, their associations or their companies. Seldom until this opportunity arose however, do we get to hear first-hand from the end user, the consumer, the man in the street who at the end of the day is keeping all the above in jobs! Barry Tyler took the opportunity to speak recently to Brisbane businessman Wayne Lamb, and find out how the average consumer views, experiences and orchestratesthe process of choosing then building their ʻdream boatʼ.
Multihull World Magazine (MHW): Starting at the beginning, how extensive was your knowledge of boating, what was your boating background?
Wayne Lamb (WL): Right from a small boy I have spent time on the water, both my dad and I were and still are passionate fishermen. I also have done extensive power and sailing passages on other peoples’ boats but most recently I have spent my sea time aboard my own Cuddles Flybridge cruiser.
MHW: What is your business background?
WL: I run a small architectural design practice, which incidentally I believe helped me immensely when it came to formulating my list of criteria for the boat.
MHW: What was the catalyst that spurred you on to buying this catamaran?
WL: Two or three years ago I got to the point where I realised I needed toslow my pace of life somewhat. There was more to life than work, my marriage of 12 years was ending and it was a time of change and self discovery for me. I actually lived on the Cuddles for a fewmonths, and during this time I had space to think, find myself, work out what was important in life and, really to solidify my dreams. Eventually I began to hatch a plan that I had always harboured to one day run my own charter boat, I guess togive me the best of both worlds as I could live the dream. From a purely mercenary perspective I could enjoy my love affair with the sea and along the way get paid for doing it. My business was at a stage where I could realistically contemplate such a move and as they so often say – the rest is history!
MHW: I believe there was another incentive too, that made it affordable from your perspective.
WL: Very much so. The very timely Rudd ‘Small Business Investment Incentive’ allowed me to move from looking at the secondhand boat market, into a brand new boat custom-built exactly to my needs, with brand new everything at a very similar price to a three- four- or five-year-old boat that would then have to be modified significantly. It allowed me to move forward with my decisions, rather than hanging back! So, yes, thank you Mr Rudd!
MHW: Why did you opt for the catamaran configuration?
WL: Obviously it is economical and efficient, but most importantly I believe it is a very safe boat; I worked that out from research done, talking to past and present Lightwave owners. People can be relaxed when they are aboard because it is stable and is designed intentionally to remain at a level attitude in all conditions mum isn’t going to feel nervous! And, volume is sublime; there is plenty of room inside for guests, clients or children – all can have your own space. Plus I believe the catamaran configurationis easier to sail in our type of charter situation.
MHW: What were your options when you decided to go down the catamaran track?
WL: I had a number of choices, one was to buy a kit cat, which was cost-effective but time intensive. That was out of the question so the other extreme was go to a builder and have a fully customised vessel built, again time intensive and also more expensive. That raised more questions than answers so following the advice of a friend I started looking at production catamaran builders.
MHW: How did you come to choose a Lightwave catamaran?
WL: I guess first and foremost I liked the lines of the Lightwave, visually I thought it was a beautiful sleek boat. They look fast even at anchor and from a corporate charter perspective, it looks and feels like you are stepping onto a state-of-the-art $1-million vessel. Being in the design game myself, visual appeal isvery important and while very briefly I looked at secondhand catamarans it soon became obvious I was not going to get what I wanted. I then began looking atnew boats and ironically my research suggested it would be hard to achieve what I wanted in a new boat also, such were most production catamaran manufacturers’ attitudes to customisation of their production models. I narrowed it down to two brands in the end, one said no to any mods and Roger’s attitude was, “can-do all the way as long as you are happy to pay for it.”
MHW: Why did you choose the Lightwave 38 model?
WL: Originally I looked at 10m catamarans, but I soon realised they were too small for what I wanted to do. That meant the next size up, around the 35- 38ft size range and after narrowing it down to two I then toured each manufacturing facility, without prejudice, before I made my final purely ‘business’ decision. What came out of it was a short-list of 20 items, the ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’ of each boat and all had to be addressed – somehow. Price was important too, but not the only driver and what clinched it for me finally was this willingness by Lightwave Yachts, to address my requirements. At the end ofthe day, that mattered most because it showed a keenness by the manufacturer, to work with their client!
MHW: Why opt for a sailing cat rather than a power catamaran?
WL: Hard to put a finger on really. I guess it is the serenity that comes with sailing, especially appropriate when we have a corporate charter situation. It also allows my guests to become more involved with operating the boat, feeling a part of the action rather than merely being on board a boat. I wanted it as user-friendly to sail, as possible.
MHW: I believe Lightwave Yachts are releasing this as a particular model to their portfolio?
WL: That is correct. The changes incorporated on my boat were a significant enough upgrade from the standard 38 sailing cat, that Lightwave Catamarans owners Roger and Louise Overell have decided to release this as the Lightwave 38’ model. They’ve given it a new look and also added some new layout options, and incorporated some features from the larger Grandé model. I believe they are going to call it the 38 Forté.
MHW: Do you view this as a luxury model perhaps; how would you define it?
WL: What I asked for in the boat was not so much luxury items as practical items pertaining to my usage plans for the boat. Hopefully my clients will see it as a luxury boat, but really first and foremost I strived to create a user-friendly functional boat
MHW: And what are your plans for this boat?
WL: This boat will be operating in MoretonBay, in corporate and private charter. I have gone to great lengths to provide a boat that istailor-made for that sector of the charter market. All these changes we have made ultimately impact on the comfort of my clients. We will offer fully skippered and catered week day charters for VIP clients, corporate events and/or team building occasions. And on the weekends and holidays, skippered and catered short breaks for couples and families.
MHW: How many people do you intend catering for?
WL: The boat is ‘surveyed’ for 28 day-trip passengers plus crew. Overnight we can cater for two couples or a family in the two air-conditioned cabins, plus crew.
MHW: Why choose Moreton Bay; surely all charter operators head north to for instance, the Whitsunday Region?
WL: The Moreton Bay region has got to be one of the best kept secrets in Australia as far as I am concerned. It is untapped – and most underrated. There are some absolutely magic places around the bay, Moreton and Peel Islands, Tangalooma, all the inner islands. Plus of course it is on the doorstep of a major State Capital City – and an international airport! Perfect for doing business on Friday, sail the Bay on the weekend and back home for work Monday. How easy is that?
MHW: Do you intend building your business into a fleet of boats?
WL: I believe the potential is there, but at this stage I am not getting ahead of myself. We need to tick all the boxes first, build the business up first.
MHW: What are some of the changes you have implemented in this new 38 Forté model?
WL: The most significant changes are the new extended hard-top that I requested to further extend aft. This fully covers the cockpit plus more. This option allowed us to then run the boom ‘traveller’ system on top of the hard-top, thereby freeing up the rear transom beam for a rear bench seat which is now higher and further aft so as to provide more actual cockpit area. I also wanted the optional swim platform or duckboard (the centre bridgedeck or tunnel section) which extends well aft of the transom beam, as it provides a ‘working’ platform separate from the ‘entertainment’ side of the cockpit. Combining this option with the cockpit changes, dramatically increased, virtually doubled, my cockpit volume.
Roger re-designed the saloon entry door too, into a double-stacking slider that provides a significantly wider entry. It opens the room out. I have also added the largest stainless steel marine barbecue I could find, plus I had a corner sink added to the cockpit and a fully integrated fridge/freezer combo added to the base of the helm seat module. The (electric) winches and sheets for the sailing gear have all been re-positioned so they can be activated from the awesome and really quite unique Lightwave helm station. All we really need to do now, after the shake-down cruise, it to line the cockpit and steps with Flexiteek – in my opinion a more durable and forgiving product, than teak.
MHW: What changes did you make internally?
WL: First and foremost we looked at the galley and refrigeration capability to address charter requirements. The Lightwave standard equipment is excellent so other than stainless steel bench-tops, a 1000w microwave oven and an additional hatch, the galley was untouched. The onboard power is all still 12V, but wherever it was needed we have upgraded it to charter-capable specification. The portside entertainment module has been changed to include a larger 32in LCD screen television, obviously for corporate presentations, plus we have incorporated a cocktail cabinet for a touch of luxury.
Under the lounge our battery capacity has been increased from four to 6 x 100Ah, and there are individual 12V air-conditioning systems which alleviate the need for a genset. Accommodation-wise up for’ard there are two queen-size cabins, the starboard cabin with a new full ensuite, a new feature and upgraded from the previous ‘toilet only’ option available. A separate starboard ‘crew’ double cabin including a laundry, is located aft of the central companionway. Amidships portside is a small office-cum-navigatorium with a full size bathroom with separate shower located aft. There is a single berth in the for’ard port bow and the dinette table can be lowered into a queen sized bed should the need arise.
MHW: Some of these changes appear quite major; you had no problems convincing Roger (Overell) of the merits of these changes?
WL: We worked our way through all my requests; most were accommodated, others were impractical, but invariably Roger always had a solution to my request.
MHW: All these must have added a significant cost to the boat?
WL: Surprisingly it hasn’t cost that much more. A lot of the changes are only modifications or extensions, rather than completely new systems or features. In dollar terms, the standard model starts at about $500,000 and I reckon it has cost me another 25% to 30% in this current guise. The winch, engine and electronics upgrades and the rather onerous cost of survey are all included in that additional $125 to $150K also, so the reality is the actual customisation side of it was far from excessive.
MHW: I have to ask, how did you envisage all these changes; how did you know what to change?
WL: I did a lot of planning, a lot of research, and a lot of days out on other peoples’ boats, and gradually a picture emerged of my perfect boat. I needed the boat to be robust, but I also didn’t want it to look like a Sherman tank so it was important I had a good idea of where I was going, before I started the project.
MHW: Will you be able to handle this boat on your own, or will you need crew?
WL: I believe that all we will need is a skipper and a host. With everything I have outlined, I believe the boat has been set up to address this expectation. That is what my business plan caters for and certainly my partner Donna and I are confident we will cope with ease!
MHW: You mentioned engine and sail equipment upgrades, what speeds will the 38 Forté be capable of?
WL: We have upgraded the engines from 30hp up to 40hp Volvo Penta Sail drives, not to increase speed but to maintain it when fully loaded. We will never ring the boats neck when under sail power either, that is not the image we wish to portray. It will sail nicely in a 15- 20kt breeze with a screecher up, at 10- 12kts and I guess under power we would see eight to nine knots out of her. I stress again though, we are not about speed; we are cruisers not racers so it is more about comfort and enjoying the moment!
MHW: Do you require licences to skipper this boat in a charter situation?
WL: Ours is a ‘skippered’ charter boat and as such I am required to have a coxswain’s ticket. I will have obtained my coxswain’s ticket by the time we are up and running, it is about getting the sea-time logged. During day charter trips and depending on numbers and the situation, I have enlisted the aid of severalprofessional skippers to fill any gaps if needed.
MHW: What sails will you be carrying, what does your sail wardrobe consist of?
WL: I was guided there by Roger; we have gone for a cruising-style main, a self-tacking furling jib and a furling screecher. The rig is designed to go up easy, require minimum handling and trimming and then pack away simply when we get there. The electric main halyard winch is testament to that philosophy.
MHW: What is the significance behind the vessel’s name, Axis Mundi?
WL: Axis Mundi is Latin and can be loosely translated as “centre of the world”. It comes from Shamenic mythology. “The image expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet. At this point travel and correspondence is made between higher and lower realms.” For me Axis Mundi speaks of a place of quiet, calm, peace and can exist anywhere, especially within us.
MHW: Everyone is still smiling, obviously the build project went well?
WL: Can I put it this way; it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience the whole way through! It was important to me to be a part of the build process so I could become intimately familiar with the systems of the boat and all the way though Roger and his staff always made me feel most welcome I could drop in at any time. I have confidence in this boat, for I know it inside out! Ours was a partnership of designers working together and in every facet of the construction of the vessel we reached 100% agreement. I have a philosophy of ‘do it once and do it right’. This has never ever been even remotely compromised, the whole way through!
MHW: What has been the best part, the best aspect of the project, for you?
WL: I would be lying if I didn’t say it was launch day; I was a very proud man as I poured champers over the bow of the boat; but really it was the harmonious build process that made the whole exercise so worthwhile. For me it is all about the trip, I’m a ‘journey’ sort of a person rather than a ‘destination’ guy, so in this respect I got so much more out of the build exercise!
MHW: You talk about a journey, do you see the boat simply as stage one of your journey?
WL: In a way yes; in my own mind I have looked at this journey incrementally. It doesn’t stop once Roger has finished the boat. In actual fact ‘stage one’ for me was exploring all the options; stage two was coming up with the concept; stage three was building it; stage four will be using it; stage five will be establishing and building a business around this boat. The latter will come to fruition when we launch the concept at the forthcoming Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.
MHW: You had definite ideas on layout and features. Do you feel you got exactly what you set out to achieve in a vessel?
WL: Absolutely, unequivocally!
MHW: Having launched your boat now and taken it away over the Easter break, can you pronounce yourself totally happy with the end result?
WL: It has reached, in fact well surpassed my expectations. It is exactly what I set out in my own mind, to achieve!
MHW: Given the chance over again, is there anything you would change, do differently?
WL: My next boat, at this stage anyway and assuming that is there is a next one – will be exactly the same in every detail, every facet!