Gulf Craft - Majesty 88
UAE-based Gulf Craft sent two of the company’s Majesty range – the 88 and the 56 – on a introductory tour through Southeast Asia, with both yachts eventually being sold. Mik Chinnery was asked to deliver the 88 from Singapore to Phuket, and recounts his experience captaining the yacht for 800 miles
When I received a phone call from Tony at Go boating in Thailand asking if I could drive the new Gulf Craft Majesty 88 from Singapore to Thailand, I did not have the slightest hesitation. The plan was to take the boat from the Singapore boat show and deliver it to Phuket in Thailand for another boat show. To run with us, we had a Majesty 56 doing the same 800-mile trip.
So 24 hours later, I was on-board doing fluid and engineering checks while we were topping up the fuel tanks. Singaporean paperwork is a bit of a minefield, so an agent is needed to smooth the complications. But after a few hours we had clearance for the next day. To clear the port, you have to hover around a small island about two miles off Singapore’s main island. The Port authority boat comes to you and reaches out with a large butterfly net for your paperwork passports and licences. They took about 30 minutes then came back alongside with the net held out and wished us bon voyage.
The area is incredibly busy with commercial shipping coming at you from every direction, so the first two hours was playing “dodgems” to keep out of the way of the freighters, tankers, barges and bulk carriers everywhere. After leaving this busy section, we settled into a cruising speed of 26 knots at 2200 rpm.
The Majesty 88 is fitted with twin C32 Caterpillar V12 engines of 1800-horsepower each. Top speed with a full tanks is 27.9 knots. A full electronics package from Raytheon is standard, with the latest touch screen technology for radar, plotter, sonar displays integrated with GPS. Twin Caterpillar 50Kw generators are fitted which are three phase 380 volts, there is one heavy duty (100A) three phase shore power supply. This will run everything on the boat when in a marina. The Cat engines and generators each have their own management systems with alarms for everything and auto shut down modes to cover every eventuality.
A chilled water AC system with four compressor units ensures that in any climate the boat will stay very cool. The layout is unusual in that the main galley is aft together with the crew accommodation, the entrance to the engine room, and exit via the stern door to the bathing platform. The full width master cabin is midships with panoramic windows either side. The forward VIP cabin has a double and the two guest cabins, port and starboard have twin beds. All cabins have en suite bathrooms with large showers and plenty of elbow room.
The main saloon is enormous for a 88-footer, with ample space for guests to lounge about the fine finishings while at anchor. The expansive saloon carries forward, up to the main deck helm station, where a card table and c-settee awaits those who’d like to chat to the captain.
One of the advantages of a long trip and the hours spent on watch is the chance to play with the electronics and try to learn all of the facilities and options. The Raytheon system is simple to use at entry level but has many options of features and displays to suit anyone. The ability to overlay the chart onto the radar plot is very useful when checking your position. All of the features only add to your confidence in knowing where you are, where you are going and how long will it take to get there.
Our first stop was at the new Pangkor Marina, but the approach we found was too shallow despite our draught of only 1.2 metres. We called Marina Manager James Khoo, who said “wait a minute, we have not put buoys on the dredged entrance channel yet”. Five minutes later he appeared in a fast boat to lead us in, where the channel was minimum 2.5 metres and it was low tide. The marina is new but the essential things are in place, including a good restaurant with bar! The fuel dock was not quite ready, so the staff cheerfully filled us from 20 litres drums brought from the shore facility while we dined ashore. A long job considering we needed over 4000 litres!
The fuel consumption of the C32 cats is kept under control thanks to the engine management system, keeps a strict control at all rpms. You never see smoke, even at cold start, the electronics do not allow any unburned fuel to escape into the exhaust. From the performance chart, you can see how the fuel curve flattens between 1700rpm and 2100rpm. This means that the range of the boat does not change from 18.7 knots to 23.9 knots. So you choose your speed according to sea conditions or how quick to want to arrive. At lower rpm you can see that running at ten knots will give you over 1000 mile range.
Twin fuel tanks are mounted in the engine room both draining down to a bilge day tank. Electronic Head Hunter level gauges are fitted to all tanks and they worked fine. It was gratifying to see that Majesty had also fitted site gauge tubes to each fuel tank in case of any electrical failure. This makes the fuel system remarkably simple: there are no valves or transfer pumps, just two tanks flowing by gravity into the day tank. The fuel capacity of 11340 litres gives a comfortable range of over 500 miles at fast cruising speeds, allowing for a ten percent safety margin.
The Majesty 88 was not fitted with stabilizers. This was a surprise to me, but after 800 miles in varying sea conditions, I can say that they are not required. With its 21-foot (6.4-metre) beam and its relatively low superstructure, the boat showed no signs of rolling in beam seas and gave a comfortable ride at all times.
Next morning at first light, we cast off heading for Langkawi one of our favourite marinas in Malaysia. The weather was not pleasant, with dull miserable conditions with a force five headwind just off the bow. We reduced speed to 23 knots as a lot of water was being thrown about. Surprisingly, only the odd spray reached us on the spacious flybridge, but the windscreen was being well doused. The large wipers coped with this onslaught without any problem and visibility from the lower helm was still very good in these wet conditions. I carefully checked everywhere looking for window leaks but the whole boat was totally dry. This is a credit to the production line staff and their diligence in assembling windows and frames.
Langkawi marina was a welcome site as we nosed into the narrow buoyed entrance. By now, the sun was shining on our salt-caked boat, so as soon as we tied up it was down to shorts and scrubbing time. We moored stern to the line of restaurants and had the privilege of dining that evening no more than 20 metres from our boat. The next morning our fuel fill took forever, I think we found the slowest fuel pump in Malaysia! Then the fuel station staff were totally perplexed when we wanted to pay in cash with local Ringgits! They kept counting the huge pile of notes and then called the manager to check again. This was OK because it took nearly three hours to take on 6500 litres of diesel.
Finally, we got under way with our next stop Phi Phi Island in Thailand for an overnight anchorage. The sun was shining, the sea was calm and we just purred along at 26 knots. We served tea and biscuits on the flybridge and not a drop was spilled! We made such good time as stopped at some small islands for a swim and a photo shoot on the way. We had to stay overnight because the tide was too low for Royal Phuket Marina for us to get in. That night on anchor, we had a very strong wind squall and one of us stayed up on anchor watch. The boat was sheering about with the wind and rain, but did not move at all. Dawn came up with a flat calm sea and no hint of the conditions during the the night.
The easy ride across to Phuket next morning was an anti climax. During the last 800 miles I had learned a lot about the Majesty 88. I like the style, I am seriously impressed with the build quality and especially the engineering standards applied to the boat.
In Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines: www.eminenceyachting.com
In Malaysia: www.penmarine.com
In Thailand: www.goboatingthailand.com
Technical Specifications – Gulf Craft Majesty 88
LOA – 26.83m
Beam – 6.4m
Draught (fully loaded) – 1.2m
Freeboard forward – 2.65m
Freeboard aft – 2.29m
Fuel capacity – 11,340l
Fresh water – 2,660l
Grey water – 380l
Black water – 380l
Hull construction – Hand laid up unidirectional fibreglass with balsa-fill cored hull, solid fibreglass laminate keel and chines, Polyester resin
Painting – blister-resistant gelcoat below waterline, UV-resistant gelcoat above waterline
Main propulsion – 2 x Cat C30, C32 or 2 x MTU 16V 2000 engines
Classification – RINA 100 – A 1.1 “Y”
Tender and jet ski storage on flybridge aft