When Peter Jauncey built charter boat Sydneysider in 1971 in Sydney Harbour, he probably never imagined how both port and vessel would transform. Today, there is no doubt that the late Mr. Jauncey is smiling down on daughter Jenny Nugent, who is stewarding the now-iconic steel-hulled party boat's continued success with a John Deere marine engine repower.
According to Jenny, Sydneysider (the name is an ode to a Banjo Paterson poem) was the first registered charter vessel on Sydney Harbour. Originally a Lloyds-registered vessel, the 53-tonne (58-US ton), 15.8-meter (52-foot) Sydneysider features a Marion-class Boden design.
Jenny currently owns and operates the Sydneysider charter business. Jenny and her family have plenty of maritime experience around Sydney and Australian waterways - and her enthusiasm for Sydneysider and its heritage is infectious. "Sydneysider held the first 24-hour liquor license in Sydney and has entertained everyone from tourists and party groups to television personalities. We even hosted The Rolling Stones as guests," she says with pride. "Sydneysider is the 'party for any reason' vessel. We provide an upmarket experience with great food and drinks, plus a pleasurable atmosphere for socializing. The boat has good 'karma', but of course we spend a ridiculous amount of money on her every year to keep her in pristine condition!"
The right marine engine makes all the difference
In 2021, Jenny decided it was time to invest in a repower. "We loved the original engine, but it had reached the end of its life and was having problems. About 3 to 4 knots was all we could get out of it."
Jenny knew what she wanted for Sydneysider - including medium-revving horsepower - but struggled to find the right marine engine for the boat. She tried one engine brand, and even replaced it twice, she experienced nothing but trouble. "The engine wouldn't rev high enough, we had limited engine room space, and I wanted something to last forever," Jenny explained.
Still looking for the right engine, she turned to Power Equipment Pty Ltd., the distributor for John Deere marine engines in Australia, who proposed a John Deere 6.8L heat exchanger cooled, turbocharged marine diesel engine. Michael Blair, Marine Group Manager of Power Equipment explains: "The 115-kW (154-hp) @ 2,300 rpm, 6-cylinder engine 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."
Michael considers the 6.8L engine perfect for this application. "With unrestricted annual hour usage at the M1 rating and no limit on full-power operation hours, it fills a horsepower gap for operators like Jenny Nugent that is difficult to rival," he says. "Also, longevity is the aim with all John Deere marine engines, which is achieved through use of replaceable wet-type cylinder liners, a reliable mechanical fuel system, and a simple maintenance regime."
Silent, controlled, agile cruising
"I'm thrilled with the John Deere engine for Sydneysider!" Jenny enthuses. "It is remarkably quiet, which has further helped externally by the fact that we changed to a wet exhaust system. Inside the vessel it's quiet too. People linger more in the saloon below, and there is no need to turn the music up over the engine noise when we're underway."
Jenny is an experienced skipper, who has trained new mariners for many years; she even used Sydneysider as a training vessel from 2002 to 2013. She's grateful for the kind of torque that comes from the medium-revving John Deere, especially on a busy waterway like Sydney Harbour, she highlights. "With the John Deere setup, our stopping distance has reduced, 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 an excess of 9 knots at wide-open-throttle and is doing 5.5 to 6 knots at easy-running rpm. "At 1,744 rpm the sea trials showed 6.1 knots: a fantastic improvement," Jenny says. "The matching DONG-I gearbox is very smooth too."