Julian McGarry couldn’t afford to buy a flybridge cruiser, so he built his own mini version.


When Julian McGarry’s mate sold his flybridge cruiser, Julian lost his regular ride. Heartbroken, he couldn’t see the value in owning his own moored boat, so he took things into his own hands, literally. He decided to build a mini flybridge cruiser.



He came across a Savage dinghy with the right shape below the gunwale, and parted with a few hundred bucks. Then, in the backyard of his Geilston Bay, home in Tasmania, he set off on a 12-month mission — borrowing the lines of a Bertram/Caribbean flybridge.




Julian had owned plenty of boats, but never actually built one. Getting the right lines on the mini flybridge was the biggest challenge. He checked out a lot of pictures, but in the end just jumped in and hoped for the best, cutting and pasting bits of Corflute together to achieve the look he wanted.




“It was pretty much trial and error as I’d only ever mucked around with cars before,” remembers Julian. “I just sat down for hours and hours and stuck things together.”




The next step involved fibreglass, which also proved a fair way out of Julian’s comfort zone. “The hardest part of this whole thing was learning how to fibreglass — getting messy and dirty,” he recalls. His inventory of boat-building materials included a sheet of marine ply, three or four litres of epoxy resin, fillers, glue and some two-pack paint. Then it was time to add the special features.




Originally, the mini flybridge was going to have a miniature anchor, chain and drum winch, but Julian came to his senses, going with a model anchor. A friend helped him build the bow-rail with a pipe bender.




The grunt factor came from an adapted Johnson throttle control mated to a 30HP Mariner outboard, which moves Julian’s creation along at a not-too-shabby 25 knots.




The mini certainly gets its share of attention and comments everywhere it goes. “Although a few people thought I was going to be sitting up the top,” he says, pointing to the flybridge.




Julian has big plans for his baby come summer. He’s heading up the Derwent to enjoy the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. He’ll probably take along a few of the deck hands that helped in its creation — step forward Laurence, Milan, James and Andrew — plus his fiancée, Gillian. “She told me I was dreaming,” Julian laughs.




Given its unexpected stardom, Julian plans to keep the little tub forever. He also has dreams of building another flybridge — this time with a stern-drive.




The Captain urges Julian to build a mini, triple-towered, Cairns-style flybridge game boat. In fact, anyone that does create such a sea monster gets a lifetime subscription to The Captain.