New Zealand’s maritime heritage is grounded in strength, and for good reason. The tempestuous Tasman Sea and unrelenting westerlies off the Southern Pacific Ocean batter the country, with the disheveled Cook Strait bisecting the two main islands. Craft that frequent these waters need to be able to tame the strong Roaring Forties winds, and then some.
These conditions have inspired everything from Kiwi explorer Sir Edmund Hillary’s adventures to the roof of the world, to the carbon-fiber, foiling monohulls of the reigning America’s Cup champions. They also inspired New Zealand builder Circa Marine’s latest series of explorer yachts, co-developed by Circa and LOMOcean Design.
Based in Whangarei on the country’s North Island, about 100 miles north of Auckland, Circa Marine has been building all-aluminum commercial vessels, production boats and other custom craft for more than 40 years—including all of the Steve Dashew-designed FPB vessels. Last year, the builder introduced the 85-foot Mollymawk, Hull No. 1 of its 24m model. With a sleek, efficient hull form, dual-point davit system and shimmering, fish-scale finish, the boat caught the eyes of long-range cruising cognoscenti. Even before Mollymawk saw the brine, the company began construction on Hull No. 2.
When I caught up with the Circa Marine team, that build, christened Deo Juvante—Latin for “with God’s help”—had just splashed after Covid delays ate into her build time. Hull No. 2 shares the ethos of her sisterships, with multiple redundancies across systems to provide confidence on long ocean passages, and a robust insulation package to ensure comfort at all latitudes.
“[Our] range of vessels are about high-efficiency, long-range and comfortable, safe cruising,” says Marine Operations Manager Deon Ogden. “They slice through the water nicely, and they use minimal fuel. For the type of person who’s really interested in the environment, having a low carbon footprint, but not quite ready yet for hybrid, it’s a good option.”
From the exterior, Deo Juvante looks mostly the same as her predecessors, with a long waterline accentuated by her relatively narrow, 18-foot, 4-inch beam and signature, dual-point davit. She also shares an overbuilt hull design that well exceeds ISO offshore standards. Her double-bottom hull plates are nearly a half-inch thick, with 5/16-inch-thick topside plates. The frames and bulkheads include a mixture of quarter-inch and 5/16-inch aluminum, and all the glass is at least ¾-inch thick. There are also five watertight bulkheads, and her bottom and all running gear are skeg-protected. If needed, Deo Juvante can rest on her own bottom.
Hull No. 2 does have a different interior layout than Hull No. 1, says Ocean Vault Director Shaun Sutherland, who is the central agent for the series. “The beauty about these boats [is] if it is within the parameters of the hull, these guys can build out a totally customizable interior. You can do anything you want.”
Sutherland says Deo Juvante’s owner, whose previous vessel was a 60-plus-foot sailing catamaran, needed more accommodations. “The owner is going to be living aboard with his wife and two children, so he needed plenty of space to accommodate the kids, two crew, as well as a tutor for the kids,” Sutherland says. “There was quite a lot of accommodation built into the relatively low-bodied
Even the topsides can be changed. Unlike on Hull No. 1, the windows on Deo Juvante are raked forward, and walkaround side decks lead to a Portuguese bridge (Mollymawk’s forward-facing windows went aft, and her enclosed flybridge had photovoltaics that obviated side and forward access).
Like her sisterships, Deo Juvante is fitted with systems and features for comfort and self-sufficiency from the tropics to the high latitudes. These include reverse-cycle air conditioning, a diesel boiler, radiant heated soles throughout the vessel, as well as efficient solar collection. Ogden says that during commissioning, “We had people on board eight, nine hours a day, every day ... sitting on dockside for a good two or three weeks just off solar.”
A 19-kW genset and upgraded alternators augment the photovoltaics, but the Victron LiFePO4 battery system will do a good deal of the heavy lifting. The batteries are supported by a pair of 8-kW Victron inverters and two 24-volt Mastervolt alternators. Everything is managed via a Victron touchscreen system.
“By going to lithium, the batteries or the power systems are a lot more forgiving. It’ll essentially take care of itself,” Ogden says. “You’ve got that much greater depth of charge. It’s lighter [and] doesn’t degrade in the tropics with the higher temperatures. If you want to spend an hour topping up your batteries, leave them at 80 percent, they’re quite happy [and] there’s no detriment to the batteries.”
A Maretron digital-switching and vessel-monitoring system is also installed. For redundancy in the steering system, Deo Juvante has two separate, isolated electric and hydraulic systems.
“You hit a button [for] automatic electric control of the hydraulic pumps, and it bypasses all the electronics,” Ogden says. “Failing that, there’s just a manual steering wheel on a manual pump. Failing that, you can rig up lines and pulleys to steer the tillers. Whether it be electrical failure or hydraulic failure, you’re still going to have the other system to be able to take control.”
The owner of Deo Juvante requested larger engines than the twin 250-hp Scania diesels on Hull No. 1. This boat has MANs rated at 520 hp apiece. Both setups are a fine match for the long waterline and narrow beam, returning double-digit cruise speeds to outrun poor conditions.
With the MANs, the builder estimates a top speed of about 16 knots, a 13-knot fast cruise, and a 4,000-nautical-mile range at 9 knots. Humphree active and zero-speed stabilizers help keep her on an even keel. For even more range, a sea kite system from French manufacturer Beyond the Sea deploys from the foredeck. The sea kite can reportedly propel the boat to an estimated 8 to 9 knots in ideal conditions.
Sutherland likes to refer to the Circa 24m as “your endgame boat.” In addition to world-cruising abilities, redundant systems and proven seakeeping standards, the C24m has a low carbon footprint, with almost everything aboard being recyclable. This cradle-to-cradle ethos makes the “endgame” characterization even more true, no matter where owners want to cruise next.
This article was originally published in the November/December 2022 issue.