Yanmar Powers Aussie Couple in World Circumnavigation

Argos 1

A single Yanmar marine diesel engine has powered a unique world voyage completed by Phillip and Margaret Heaney of Newcastle. They are the first Australians to have designed, built and crew their own motor yacht on a circumnavigation of the world.

Phillip Heaney is a professional boat builder who served his apprenticeship at the Halvorsen yard in Sydney during the 1960’s. The seed of thought for such a circumnavigation was formed in Phillip’s mind in 1989.

By 1998 Phillip had accumulated a big stack of quality boat building timber Kauri, Australian red cedar and Huon pine. He had also designed Argos, a 14.6 m (48’) long ketch for the express purpose of long distance cruising. The distinctive wheelhouse and Portuguese bridge was complemented by a pair of very short masts, the sails only ever being unfurled to assist in handling.

By any definition this is 100%, a powered long distance cruiser. A single Yanmar 6HAE marine diesel engine was installed in the engine room, flanked by two fuel tanks which have a combined capacity of 4000 litres.

“We made the conscious decision to make this circumnavigation in a powerboat,” Phillip Heaney said. “Although we had plenty of sailing experience in our own boats through the Pacific, we wanted the certainty of getting from A to B in a straight line.”

Construction of the Argos took the Heaney’s five years. Considering that Phillip Heaney operated his own boat building yard on a full-time basis alongside Lake Macquarie, building such a large timber boat in five years of after-hours work was a remarkable feat.Argos 2

When it came to the engine, Phillip Heaney easily settled on the Yanmar 6HAE.

“I saw the engine advertised in a boating magazine,” Phillip said.

“Although it was brand new and still in the Yanmar crate it was 15 years old when I brought it. I was very comfortable with the Yanmar brand and the power was just perfect for Argos. So I bought it and never for a second regretted the decision.”

The Yanmar 6HAE is a 6 in-line cylinder marine diesel engine, specifically designed for economical ocean-going commercial applications. With a displacement of 11.946 litres, the emphasis of the Yanmar then, as it remains today, is one of fuel economy, low maintenance and long life. (The 6HAE is now superseded with the 6HA2 series.)

In May 2005, Phillip and Margaret started up the Yanmar, slipped the mooring lines and departed Newcastle Harbour. After seven and a half years, 34,000 nm, 5,900 engine hours and 50,000 litres of fuel, Argos powered back home into Newcastle. Along the journey, Argos had taken the Heaneys to 40 countries and successfully completed a remarkable voyage.

“The Yanmar engine never faltered at any stage,” Phillip Heaney said. “I serviced the engine with an oil change every 250 hours and changed filters at 500 hours. Getting Yanmar filters was pretty easy the world over and where we couldn’t easily procure them, we, just like many other Yanmar cruising owners around the world, made contact with the team at Minards Diesel.”

“Wherever we were in the world, we were greatly reassured to have the support of our local authorised Yanmar Dealer Minards Diesel at home in Newcastle. They assisted us before we left and stood ready to ship any Yanmar parts that we may need to any location in the world. Gladly we didn’t need to call on them, except for the odd oil filter.”

Circumnavigating the world in a powerboat with a single engine, is a massive vote of confidence in the Yanmar brand. With no back up propulsion, the Heaney’s were absolutely dependent on their Yanmar 6HAE engine.

Argos is a very solid, timber vessel. The hull is double planked and is 50mm thick. With full fuel and water tanks, Argos displaces 30 tonnes.

With the Yanmar 3:1 transmission, Argos was good for 8 knots with the Yanmar 6HAE ticking over at 1200 rpm. Fuel consumption at this optimum cruise speed proved to be 8.9 litres per hour. The 4000 litres of fuel on board gave the cruiser a range of 3000 nm.

With the throttle opened up, the Yanmar 6HAE would rev out to a maximum of 1800 rpm with a speed of 9.5 knots.Argos 3


Cruising aboard Argos, Phillip and Margaret Heaney had a sensible policy of “if its blowin’ we ain’t goin”. That’s not to say that bad seas werent experienced. But throughout the voyage, neither Phillip nor Margaret were ever concerned for their safety.

Having returned to their Lake Macquarie yard, the next adventure is already being planned. Argos is on the market, and frames have been cut for a new boat which will be suited to canals and coastal voyages.

And of course, there will be a Yanmar again in the engine room.

Power Equipment is the exclusive and authorised Australian, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South Pacific Distributor of Yanmar Marine and Industrial diesel engines, JCB DieselMax, MASE diesel marine generators, Gori high quality folding sailboat propellers, PSS Shaft Seals, and Arctic Steel products.