Motoring Around Australia (Almost) in a Yanmar Powered Wooden Boat

“Thrifty” – that’s how Tim Phillips summed up the performance of the Yanmar 6BY2 engine after his voyage from Perth, across the top of Australia and back home to, Sorrento (Melbourne). Motoring the entire journey on a single engine, it is a truly amazing fact that the Yanmar engine burnt less than 4.5 litres per hour while running consistently at 9 knots.


Tim Phillips is a man who has a deep seated passion for designing and building exceptional wooden boats. His business, the Wooden Boat Shop, is world renowned for the unique, hand crafted boats which come from his yard in Sorrento.

Tim is also a man who loves his time on the water, taking his own creations to sea. When he built a Cheviot 32 for himself in 2011, Tim had not yet conceived the voyage which he eventually undertook with his wife Sally. The hull (named Murray Pass) was built as a regular boat, complete with Yanmar 6BY2 engine, 800 litre fuel tank and 150 litre water tank.
The Cheviot is a day boat or weekend cruiser. The hull measures 9.75m long with a beam of 3.3m. She displaces 3600 kgs empty and with fuel and essential gear on board, displaces 5000 kgs.

As an authorised Yanmar dealer, Tim Phillips is an enthusiastic proponent of the Yanmar brand. Every one of his production boats is Yanmar powered, so when it came time to decide what engine to use, it was simply a case of which Yanmar model was best matched to the hull. “The Yanmar 6BY2 is an exceptional engine,” Tim Phillips said. “During our long trip we put over 2000 hours on the clock and the engine never once faltered. The overwhelming feature of the Yanmar 6BY2 is how little fuel it used…. it never ceased to amaze us how far we traveled before refueling.”

The Yanmar 6BY2 is a six-cylinder marine diesel engine which is rated at 260mhp (191kW) at 4,000 rpm. This is produced from a 2.993 litre, intercooled and turbocharged six in line cylinder block. All up weight of the engine including the Yanmar KMH50A transmission is just 362 kg. Second-generation common rail direct injection technology, featuring magnetic vertical injectors, ensures optimum performance and outstanding fuel efficiency. The Yanmar 6BY2 engine and Yanmar KMH50A transmission package also incorporates a CAN bus operating system using NMEA 2000 protocol and offers electronic throttle and electronic gear shift controls for the main helm control.



When the ISAF Sailing World Championships were held in Perth in 2011, Tim Phillips had Murray Pass road freighted to Fremantle to attend and support the event. With Murray Pass in Perth, it proved to be an ideal launching place for the trip.

The boating adventure was conducted in six stages, Fremantle to Exmouth; Exmouth to Broome; Broome to Darwin; Darwin to Hinchinbrook; Hinchinbrook to Whitsundays and then the Whitsundays to Sorrento. At the completion of each stage, Tim and Sally Phillips flew back to Melbourne to attend to their business before heading back to meet up with Murray Pass. All up the trip took 18 months.
“People marvel that we could spend such a long time at sea on board what is essentially a weekender,” Tim Phillips said. “If we were to do the trip again, I would build a bigger boat, only because it would allow us to have guests on board. This way we could share and enjoy this wonderful part of the world with friends.”

“By undertaking the trip, I learnt that it is really easy to have friends fly-in and fly-out for various segments. Sally and I are very sociable and we like to entertain on board. We also caught and ate lots of fish… it was a wonderful experience.”

While the adventure was short of a complete circumnavigation of Australia, the concept of travelling so far under single engine power in a 9.75 m timber hull remains an astonishing feat. “We were on autopilot 99.9% of the time,” Tim said. “At 1800 rpm we made 8 to 9 knots. Each day I would check the oil and have a quick look over the Yanmar engine before setting off.”

“It was very easy boating. The Yanmar 6BY2 was serviced in Darwin and we did an oil change in Queensland.”

While the satisfaction of completing the journey remains fresh, Tim Phillips is already contemplating building a 13.5 m timber boat for the next trip… with a Yanmar marine diesel engine, naturally.

“The remote north of Australia is such an amazing region that it has to be experienced with friends next time.”