Hi, welcome aboard!
As I’ve said before, just about any vehicle you can think of can be a full or part time recreational vehicle. Our show however, apart from the occasional diversion into the exotic, mainly looks at the more common ones, namely land based and water based. But how about an RV that through brilliant design and painstaking research and development, mixed with dedication on the part of its creators, is equally at home on either? Such a Recreational Vehicle is the Boat A Home – Escape II, the product of the family team at Poppy’s Fibreglass at Warana on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Poppy’s Fibreglass accepted the challenge of creating a vehicle which is both a beautifully designed, attractive and practical caravan on land, plus a high performance, seaworthy, stable and equally practical houseboat on the water.
I first saw the original model at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May 2010, having examined a couple of earlier attempts during the 80’s and 90’s, was keen to see how Brett, Vivien and Luke Golding had overcome the design challenges which plagued those earlier vehicles.
To say I am impressed is an understatement! Let’s look at the 2 functions separately, firstly as a boat…
Powered in this case by a single 70hp 4 stroke Suzuki outboard, although twins of anywhere from 15 to 40hp are also available the escape II shows a sparkling turn of performance, accelerating quickly onto the plane, running at an ideal trim angle, slightly bow up and achieving a respectable 38km/hr at full throttle, with the Suzuki purring along and allowing easy conversation, even with the aft entrance door open. And it does this at a miserly 22lt/hr, confirming the light, rigid and very strong construction. This is a recreational vehicle after all, and you would really only drive her at this speed if you needed rapid transit or were water skiing. At a more usual cruising speed of 12km/hr, the Suzuki uses a remarkably miserly .7lt/hr. And you can easily control your fuel consumption and usage by means of the Garmin GPS 750 which tells you where you are, fuel consumption, speed, how much range you have left, and anything else you want to know at a glance. It comes with the Suzuki.
The hull is essentially a shallow tunnel catamaran, with an interesting bow configuration, affording a soft ride and minimal spray generation. The soft ride is due to the fact that, at speed, the boat is riding on a cushion of foam which absorbs vertical movement, minimising hull slap. She gently heels into the turns with minimal side forces, and the pontoons down each side keep the centre of buoyancy in its place close to amidships, making it comfortable at rest even with a chop coming from abeam.
The shallow draft, along with the bow platform, allow the boat to be run up to the beach and the occupants to step easily ashore from the foredeck with dry feet. She carries 100 lt of fuel and 164 lt of water, both in tanks under the aft deck, and easily accessible. Length is 6.9mt although the hull mould allows this to be increased to 7.9M and beam is 2.4M. This is a serious houseboat, equipped for extended cruises along the Murray, Clarence or on any of our inland waterways and dams and is capable of handling bad weather with ease and comfort.
Now what about on land?
The secret here is a superbly designed dual axle trailer. Very solidly built from marine grade aluminium box sections making it light and with full length runners which allow the boat to be driven on and off the trailer with the outboard. There is a power winch, but you’d rarely have to use it. Access on the trailer is via a dual alloy stair unit mounted on the A-frame, making safe entry and exit a breeze. I was very impressed with the interior. It is elegantly presented and made almost entirely from beautifully moulded fibreglass at the factory. The galley features plenty of bench space and an integrated stove/sink unit is fwd to port, followed by the shower compartment with cassette toilet, and hot water is standard. Aft of this is a convertible lounge/double bed with a cavernous storage compartment under.
The helm is to starboard, followed by the convertible dinette, then the fridge and more bench space, the TV and the 240v power outlet. Everywhere you look there are cupboards or drawers. With full length windows the interior is light, airy and spacious. There is an impressive list of standard inclusions. I had the opportunity to observe an Escape II being assembled. Construction is almost entirely foam sandwich composite fibreglass and as you can see, even the large side panels can be easily handled into place. Poppy’s has a couple of vacuum moulding tables and in fact makes floor and wall panels for a number of local caravan manufacturers.
At 1650 kg the Escape II can be easily towed behind a family saloon or light 4wd and the light weight and good aerodynamics ensure excellent fuel economy on the road. The design challenges involved in this RV are great indeed and Brett and his family have spent considerable time and money accepting and successfully resolving them.
I’m going to start saving right now.