Captain's ReportJohan Carpelan is the founder and managing director of Botnia Marin, the company that builds the Targa 44 in Finland. Here is what Carpelan has to say about his latest boat: "The Targas are designed and built according to how the sea in reality is – not as one wishes it to be. Our guiding principle is to send an owner out to sea as a proud and confident captain with a smile on his face."
Targa boats are designed and built in Finland by Botnia Marin’s team of over 200 employees. The company was founded in 1976 by Johan Carpelan with strong support from his wife Britt-Marie. The company is family-owned and the second generation -- son Robert -- is involved in the business. Also involved in the company, right from the start, is Production Manager Mikael Ljungqvist.Though built to withstand some of the northern lattitudes nastiests seas, some 90% of Targa boats are exported – many going to temperate or even warm climes such as Italy and Greece. The company has two facilities, both located on the west coast of Finland.
It's all about being seaworthy. Because Carpelan started out building sailboats in 1976 his focus was on strong construction that could take a sailor thorough any kind of weather. It was natural, then, that when he started building powerboats in 1984, his approach to boat building was the same. The result is a company that builds strong hulls with high freeboard, carefully-calculated stability and enough horsepower to drive the boat in challenging sea and wind conditions.
”It has always been crucial for us to build our boats to the highest quality, right down to the smallest detail”, says Johan Carpelan. In 2009 Botnia Marin received the ISO 9001:2008 certificate. The company says that "a nearly flawless audit was completed according to the newest ISO 9001 version." The ISO certification validates that the builder is using best practices and has set up mechanisms to make sure that the methods of construction and the materials used are the same from boat to boat. "We have been focused on getting a better flow in the production, better structure of all processes within the company and an even better control of the quality. We feel that we have succeeded in all of these goals”, says Johan Carpelan.
The Boats Are Semi-Custom
Keeping processes fool-proof is important particularly in a boat yard where each boat is likely to be different from the last one. This is because the company works closely with the customer to customize it in ways that will make it more functional for a specific purpose as well as have a facade that matches the owner's taste. “Because Targas are not an off-the-shelf-product, for the most part we have customers that are involved with the details of the finished product," says Carpelan. "By giving the customer his own personalized boat, we are getting a more satisfied and more engaged customer. The customer can choose the colors of the boat, upholstery, navigation system, pantry equipment, equip the boat for a certain use, etc."
Targa 44 Wins Motorboat of the Year Award
In 2009, the Targa 44 won "Motorboat of the Year" award from the European boating magazines Motorboat & Yachting and Yachting Monthly. The boat was designed to handle the new Volvo Penta IPS600 propulsion system with joystick. In all other aspects it is the same as the Targa 42.
What Type Boat Is It, Anyway?
In North America and in some other parts of the world, there are not a lot of boats on the market like the Targa 44, so where exactly does it fit in? When we compare the Targa's dimensions with American-built boats we find that the Targa 44 most closely resembles the major specs of express cruisers in terms of both beam and displacement. Forty-two foot American-built convertibles are not only a foot or two wider, but also 10,000 lbs more or even heavier. The Targa 44 is 46' 8" (14.26 m) length overall with a 13' (3.95 m) beam, a draft of 3' 6" (1.10 m) and an approximate dry displacement of 22,000 lbs. (10,000 kgs.). Clearly the builder has worked hard on keeping the weight of the 44 down as low as possible. In 2004 the builder started using the vacuum resin infusion lamination process on its Targa 42, something that it has continued with the 44. This weight-saving process along with a relatively Spartan interior, few amenities and a weight conscious flying bridge, has kept the weight of this vessel down. That means that there is less weight to push and any given pair of engines will drive it faster than if it were heavier.
Low CG and High B/D Is Important
The builder is proud of the fact that the boat has a low center of gravity (CG). This is not a feature that many powerboat builders point to, but it is indicative of the kind of conditions this boat is expected to handle -- that is to say, rough conditions. By keeping the superstructure light and as much weight as possible low, the "ballast/displacement" (B/D) ratio of the vessel becomes higher. In the sailboat world, a "lead mine" used to be a boat that had a ballast/displacement ration of 50%. That is to say, the keel weighed 50% of the whole boat. That was a nearly fool-proof way of keeping the boat upright no matter what kind of conditions it encountered. In planing powerboats there is rarely any ballast, except for on occasion for balancing the boat, so the weight of the engine, tranny, running gear, and tanks become the "ballast," so to speak because they are in the bottom of the boat. This is why in rough weather, commercial freighters and tankers take on ballast water if they can -- it makes them more like a floating buoy. Likewise in powerboats heading into rough weather an owner wants full tanks if he can manage it.
The Targa 44 is "Stiff"
In the case of the Targa 44 which is said to have a dry weight of 22,000 lbs. (10,000 kgs.) the IPS600 propulsion system plus full fuel and water tanks put a total of about 7,473 lbs. (3,397 kgs.) in the bottom of the boat. That is about 29% of the boat's total displacement right in the bottom! Add to that the weight of the hull, other machinery, structures such as bulkheads and flooring, chain and any stores that might be in the bilge and you can see that the Targa 44 must have a "ballast"/displacement ratio that approaches 50%.This low CG and high "ballast"/displacement ratio combined with the boat’s relatively high freeboard means that it was designed for snotty seas and heavy weather.
The flying bridge is definitely an evolved development of these type of North Sea-type cruising boats. A boat needs a certain length before they can look right, and of course, no matter how they look, they raise the center of gravity and windage. We think the flying bridge looks pretty good on the Targa 44 and that is probably because it has been placed well aft. Also, there it will be dryer and more comfortable.
There is good full-standing headroom at the helm and in the rest of the salon. Starting at the helm, there is virtually 360-degrees of visibility, which is remarkable for this type of boat. The window mullions are minimum size around the cabin, except in the aft bulkhead, which is to be expected. But even here there are windows and a portlight.
At the helm
there is plenty of room between the front of the seat and the wheel, which is a very good thing. The seat slides forward when sitting. The Targa 44 does not have a built-in raised console for a nav screen as we are used to seeing on most boats this size and that is fine because they usually just cut down on visibility. One of the attractive things about Botnia Marin is that it tries as much as possible to customize a boat to suit the desires of the customer. While the customer who laid out the helm on the 44 pictured here might have had good reason for doing it that way, we have an alternative plan in mind.
We would ask that our helm be customized
by moving the Nav screen toward the center of the console and angle it towards the helm seat in order to improve forward visibility. Our neck gets sore quickly looking up at gauges mounted over the windshield, so we would ask that they be moved down to where the toggles are in front of the wheel. We would then move the toggles to the bulkhead left of the wheel console, or on top of the dash to the left. Mounting the VHF above the forward window would be fine with us as it is not used that often.
The boat comes with a standard windshield defroster system which is a must. The side door next to the helm is a slider and there is another one to port. The windscreens are tilted forward to keep glare off of them and the three wipers are the pantograph type as you would expect on a boat built to do serious offshore work.
To port are two optional separate companion seats (one double is standard) with a large place for charts forward on the counter and on the companionway hatch. We like this set-up as three pairs of eyes looking forward is better than only one or two. Abaft the companion seats is storage in bins and then the settee that the builder says can seat six. On the opposite side of the cabin is the ship's galley. Most notable are the large windows that let in heads of light and keep the somewhat narrow space from being claustrophobic.
The Exterior Deck
We must admit to liking bulwarks on a boat for several reasons. By having bulwarks above the deck you automatically raise the freeboard of the boat. A higher freeboard and bulwarks helps keep the deck dryer and protects doors from green water which may be shipped in really sloppy conditions. When out on the side decks in rolly, wet conditions one's foot can easily slide over a slippery toe rail. But if there are bulwarks and good handholds, one can make his way forward or aft without worry of sliding overboard under the lifeline or rail. Bulwarks also look shippy. The freeboard forward on the 44 is about 5'2’’ (1.6 m), and is about 4'2’’ (1.3 m) amidships. This ample freeboard is another element that makes the Targa 44 a good sea boat.
Table on the Bow
The 44 is a flush deck motoryacht in that it has a flush deck from the bow to the stern. The designer has cleverly built in a wrap around locker in the bow with teak on top which looks great. Put cushions of top of teak for comfortable seating at a dinner party. With that and a cushion on the little trunk cabin facing forward and there is plenty of room for party up here. Eight to ten people can easily sit at this table. The concept of a table in the bow was laughed at until about 7 years ago when they began appearing on multi-million dollar yachts designed and built in Italy. Nobody is laughing now and women love it. This is the finest execution we have seen of the concept on any boat below 60'.We like this builder's clever use of space and the natural contours of the boat for entertaining, something that one does not necessarily associate with North Sea vessels. But remember, many of these boats end up in the Med where being outside is the name of the game. The aft deck is in fact quite large and is suitable for any number of activities -- including tied up stern-to, Med style.
The accommodations in this boat are a bit unusual and will take a bit of study. Let start forward. There are two layouts which Targa makes available here. One is the standard version with a double berth tucked into the bow. There is standing headroom when you go below in the landing area, but that does not extend too far forward. Abaft the aft bulkhead is a narrow berth which builders describe as a "pipe berth" for a "sailor." (Remember these builders started life as blow-boaters.) A young child will love this cubby hole, and we can think of other combinations that could make use of this bunk as well. Of course, it can always be used for storage.
The second layout has a raised fore deck permitting full standing headroom further forward. This cabin has an island berth on the centerline with access port and starboard. The alternative configuration is called the CFC -- Comfort Fore Cabin. The raised foredeck eliminates the deep bulwarks and al fresco dining possibilities of plan A. Both layouts have the pipe berth and a wet head to starboard.
Second Cabin Below
Moving aft on the main deck we come to a step-down area that leads us to another head, this one with a separate shower. This cabin is tucked under the settee on the main deck, so when you crawl into the double bed there is limited headroom. Nevertheless it is cozy and it is probably the quietest place on the boat.
To starboard of the steps down to this lower level is yet another single berth, this one is a little larger than the pipe berth forward. With this berth, the boat can sleep six people without breaking down the settee in the salon. Put another way, there is private sleeping space for four people, should they care to sleep that way, as four men might want to.
The Volvo Penta IPS600 twin diesels are nestled under the aft deck. These 435-hp engines were designed specifically for marine applications just such as this one. The Targa 42 was lengthened two feet so that the pods could be utilized to permit joystick docking control. The yard says that the boat will cruise comfortably in the mid 30-knot range and have a WOT in the high 30s. We have not tested the boat, but sure would like to.
Missions and Recommendation
It would be hard to find a boat more versitile than the Targas. They have been used for water taxis and sight-seeing boat in Greenland. They have been purchased by authorities in Norway, the U.K., and Finland to be used for patrol work. We are told that a number have been sold in places such as Italy and Greece for recreational boating and commuting. But we can see the boat doing far more.For examlple, with the large aft deck, and big swim platform, we could see the boat being used for scuba diving. There is plenty of room on the aft deck for tank racks and bins for other gear, as well as some soaking tubs. Clearly it will also make a good cruising boat for two couples or a large family. With this boat an adventurous couple could go most anywhere. It is in fact a small flush deck motoryacht, a scaled down version of a 75-footer that has a lot of the same utility for a lot less money.While we have not tested the boat, our guess is that with the IPS600s at displacement speeds, say, 1200 rpm going 8 knots, the boat will have a range of over 800 nautical miles. Drop back to seven knots, and she should be able to travel over 1,000 nautical miles which means going transatlantic across the far northern route is possible. (Oh, and we forgot to mention it, but a heater comes standard with the boat.) So if this kind of cruising is what you have in mind, you might consider the Targa 44 a scaled down version of a long range crusier, for a lot less money.
Would we want to take the Targa 44 to the tropics? Well, not without A/C, but otherwise she has as much usable space on deck, maybe even more, than conventional express cruisers, and she has the advantage of a flying bridge as well. And if you don't think that things can get rough in the tropics, then you haven't been there. Botnia Marin Oy Ab has dealers in 21 countries, mostly in Europe. At press time the builder has no distribution in North America or Down Under. If you live outside of Europe and want to see a Targa 44 or another boat in the company's line, then you'll have to visit the factory. That will give you a good excuse to go to Finland and enjoy the hering and aquavit while you're there. But don’t go in July or the first half of August because Botnia Marin Oy will be closed so its employees can enjoy summer!
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