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Celebrating 50 Years on Sydney Harbour

With a brand-new John Deere engine onboard MV Sydneysider is celebrating 50 years on Sydney Harbour this year. A charter vessel with a multi-faceted history, this much-loved motor-sailor will quite possibly continue her journey for another fifty years if she is looked after with the care that owner Jenny Nugent continues to give her and John Deere strength down below.

When Peter Jauncey built the steel-hulled Sydneysider back in 1971 as a charter vessel, he could probably never have imagined the transformations that would occur on Sydney Harbour where she was built, nor the icon his vessel would become.

Jump forward a full half century and no doubt the late Mr Jauncey is smiling down on daughter Jenny Nugent who is stewarding the 15.8metre, 53-tonne party boat’s continued success with a well-matched repowering in the form of a John Deere 6068TFM50 diesel engine. But more about that later.

Originally a Lloyds registered vessel, Sydneysider, (whose name is an ode to a line from a Banjo Paterson poem), was the first registered charter vessel on Sydney Harbour according to Jenny.

“She is a Marion-class Boden design and a guy by the name of John Roux re-did the plans for Lloyds of London originally,” explained Jenny Nugent, owner and operator of the Sydneysider charter business now.

Jenny’s family have plenty of maritime experience around Sydney and Australian waterways and her enthusiasm for Sydneysider and its related heritage is infectious.

Sydneysider in fact also held the first 24 hour liquor license to exist anywhere in Sydney and she entertained everyone from tourists and party groups from the hotels through to a host of television personalities over the years,” Jenny says with pride.

“The Rolling Stones have even been on board. She has always been chartered with provision of great food, drinks and company – she is the ‘party for any reason’ vessel and we continue to provide an upmarket experience.”

“The boat has good ‘karma’ – she always has,” Jenny says, “but of course we spend a ridiculous amount of money on her every year!”

Money well spent with John Deere

Jenny had a clear idea of the characteristics of engine replacement she needed for Sydneysider, (medium-revving horsepower), but struggled for some time to match the right engine to the boat.

“We had run a GM since built and while we loved that old engine, it had reached the end of its life and it was having problems,” Jenny said. “About 3 to 4 knots was all we could get out of it.”

After the old engine was removed an interim fitting of a European-branded engine, (replaced twice), only proved problematic according to Jenny, and so the question of what engine would do the job properly remained. “We couldn’t have high revs, we had limited engine room space and I wanted something to last forever,” Jenny explained. “And I have to say, I’m thrilled to have been able to purchase the John Deere for Sydneysider!”

The John Deere 6068TFM50 (M1-rating) put into Sydneysider is a 115kW (154bhp) @ 2,300rpm, six-in-line, heat exchanger cooled, turbocharged marine diesel engine that delivers the kind of torque that allows a 3.12:1 gearbox coupled with a 30” (diameter) X 24.5” (pitch) propeller to work like a charm on this single-screw vessel.

A true commercial engine with unrestricted annual hour usage at the M1 rating and no limit on full-power operation hours, the 6068TFM50 is filling a horsepower gap for operators like Jenny Nugent that is difficult to rival.

Longevity is the aim with John Deere marine engines, with replaceable wet-type cylinder liners, reliable mechanical fuel system and a simple maintenance regime.

“The John Deere is remarkably quiet,” Jenny enthuses, “and while that is helped externally by the fact that we went to a wet exhaust system, she is much quieter inside the vessel too. “More people linger in the saloon down below now and there is no need to turn the music up over the engine noise when we’re underway.”

An experienced skipper herself, (and in fact trainer of new mariners for many years – Sydneysider was used as a training vessel from 2002 to 2013), Jenny has also been grateful for the kind of torque that comes from the medium-revving John Deere.

“Especially on a busy waterway like the Harbour,” explained Jenny, “with the John Deere setup our stopping distance has halved and I’ve just got so much better control over the boat now.”

“If you are behind a ferry pulling away from Rose Bay, the wash can send an under-powered vessel in circles, but we don’t have that problem.”

Sydneysider now pushes out in excess of 9 knots at WOT and is doing 5.5 to 6 knots at easy running rpm. “At 1,744rpm the sea trials showed 6.1knots. It’s been a fantastic improvement.” “The DONG-I gearbox matched with it is very smooth too,” Jenny says.

Jenny says she usually only skippers Sydneysider recreationally nowadays when it is not being chartered and is loving what the new John Deere is delivering. “If you want to accelerate the boat hard you can literally feel the back of the vessel dig in – it really does have that much torque.”

Find out more about chartering Sydneysider at www.sydneysiderboat.com.au