The new ICEage


M50MS, the Ultimate SUV of the Ocean


Like most kids, it was some time before vegetables became enticing and Blue cheese was outright disgusting till I reached my thirties. Now it takes top billing! My ultimate expedition boat has taken a similar route. At 18, I figured the best boat was Sir Robin Knox Johnston¡¯s Suhali, a 32 ft double ended Ketch, that he sailed solo, non stop around the world, becoming the first ever to do so. I began building a cement replica. Since then I have owned all manner of interesting boats, most bought or sold through Tradeaboat , which is surely the subject of another story.

My Tastes began to change when in 2003 I sold Sir Hubert Wilkins (Huey), the cutest little expedition ship you have ever seen. At 36mtrs and 600 tonne, carrying a helicopter and with an Ice class hull, the previous three years had been all action in Antarctica and treasure hunting in the Philippines. Then boat-less, I immediately bought a ¡°deceased estate¡± Radford 68ft, aluminium schooner, in need of some serious TLC. After a failed attempt to sail it back to Sydney, I loaded all 25 tonnes of it onto a truck for a week and pulled it across the dusty deserts to Yamba, on the NSW coast, ready for the ultimate refit.

During the previous 20 years, I had been involved with all manner of expedition and ¡°hose out¡± type boats that had carried out serious voyages all over the world. With Antarctica and the Reef on the itinerary, great numbers of people came along for the excitement.. My wife Margie and I have never had an en-suite or any real privacy in any of our boats. In fact, apart from ¡°Huey¡±, we had never even owned a hot water system on a boat. Not the done thing for ¡°Adventurers!¡± With the prospect of another lengthy refit looming and then owning another ¡°utility type¡± expedition yacht, Margie and I started to question our plans.?

With the sale of ¡°Huey¡± came some soul searching about retirement and ¡°superannuation¡± (never on the agenda if you play continuously!) ) Our Super was only worth about $12,000 at the time, as we were self employed. We had always spent our money on ¡°toys¡±. We decided to get out of McIntyre Marine Services Pty Ltd after 20 years, close our boat building factory and do some property ¡°stuff¡±, which fortunately for us worked.? Right then!¡­now we could get a real Boat!

It began with a clean slate, but was influenced by a recent three month trip along the Great Barrier Reef and up into New Guinea. I was skippering a beautiful 78ft semi displacement power boat named ¡°Belize¡±. It belonged to a mate, Marcus Blackmore. Margie was cook and deckhand. We had an absolute ball and came to like the luxury of a wheelhouse when the weather kicks in. Not having to deal with sails or wet weather gear was simply extraordinary. How could we now not consider a boat with a fly-bridge, air-con, flat screen TV¡¯s, ice-cream maker, Queen Size beds etc. We weren¡¯t quite ready to lose sails altogether and it needed to be a four wheel drive of the sea. Importantly it was just for us and needed to be able to freeze into the ice, should we latter decided again to over- winter in the Antarctic for a year.

Five star ideas came freely with the expectation that we would need to spend about 2 million dollars if we built in Australia. I knew China was the place to be, so a two year hunt began. It proved very challenging to find a yard prepared to build a custom steel, ice strengthened motor sailor, that you could trust, let alone get a quote or estimate. At the beginning of this process I had read in Passage Maker magazine about George Buhler Diesel Ducks (DD), built by Seahorse Marine (SHM) in China. They were rugged steel Troller yachts with a strange get home rig. I brushed them off as not for me. They looked a bit too agricultural. Two years later I was cruising the web and WOW!? Seahorse Marine had re-worked the concept into something that looked the part and their new prototype DD462 caught my eye. Seven boats had been ordered in just a few months and the prices were unbelievable when compared against the standard spec. Could this get close to what we wanted? I was knocking on their door within a few days..

The American owner of the yard Bill Kimley had been in China since the 80¡¯s and with his Chinese wife Stella, they knew what they were doing. So began an interesting relationship over the next three years, which included 15 visits to China and around 45,000 man hours, building what has now become our own prototype of the ¡°McIntyre 50 Motor Sailor¡±. If you ordered a standard production DD462, you would probably make one visit to the yard before you picked up your finished boat. Not so with ¡°ICE¡±. The workers are capable of matching the highest quality anywhere in the world, but they did not understand the Southern Ocean, so were very amused at some of my modifications.

I struck a deal with Bill and Stella to build me a fully custom boat, with what eventually amounted to nearly 400 modifications, large and small. ¡°ICE¡± is the culmination of 30 years experience with the new objective to have a boat that can truly go anywhere, anytime, in 5 star comfort, carrying plenty of toys, with just Margie and me or a bunch of friends onboard. In my opinion it is one of the best boats SHM have ever built. Amongst the ¡°Duckers¡± (a cult following of those who have, or dream of having a Diesel Duck.) ¡°ICE¡± has attracted a lot of interest, with more than a few enquiries about wanting a copy. More commonly they are just amazed at the systems and features. Often DD¡¯s are the essence of simplicity built in someone¡¯s back yard. With SHM you get a lot of boat for your Buck! That includes a huge standard inventory. Bill will build you a complete package standard DD462 for US$499,000 drive away. With the Aussie at $.93 that is a deal!? ¡°ICE¡± is incredible value for money, but the McIntyre 50MS is nearly double the price of a standard DD462. For 29 years in the Marine industry I have always said, you get what you pay for and in this case you get a bit of me thrown in! There are no options on the McIntyre 50MS, it is all included, turn key, as you see it here (except for the toys and electronics). I will personally supervise construction with an independent surveyor and you will get an Ocean Going SUV.

A McIntyre 60MS is also on the drawing board. With the same beam and draught, it will be 2 ft longer in the engine room/pilot house and then have an extra 8ft forward of the saloon, allowing two double cabins port and starboard. The ketch rig stays, but will carry a much bigger sail area becoming a 40/60 motor sailor.?

Now you have to think of this as me telling you about ¡°my boat¡±, rather than an independent ¡°boat test¡±. Yes I have a vested interest in promoting the boat, but this whole story idea was driven by the response to my first column months ago, talking about motor sailors. This is not your average boat! If you want one let me know. If you have not come to appreciate Blue cheese yet, no problem.


George Buehler is the master of simple, honest, solid passage makers, with all the information at . Diesel Ducks have made and continue to make some incredible voyages all over the world. I like everything about its heavy displacement and full bodied design that carries the beam forward and aft. Smart features like no flare on the hull lets you cut through waves without sending spray up and all over the boat (this stops Icing up by the way). The Huge buoyancy forward creates plenty of lift without being jerked up by extreme flare. I call it a modern fishing boat that¡¯s hard to call a ¡°she¡±, as ¡°it¡± is more akin to a work boat than a graceful yacht. A five star work boat mind you, built like a ship, to Mega yacht standard. All 40 tonne of it!


ICE strengthening came easy for this hull, as scantlings are way oversize from the start. Only the second highest grade of certified steel available in China is used (the highest is reserved for the military!). When the structure is complete, all welding is x-rayed by the China Ship Classification Society, CCS (equivalent to Lloyds) who also carries out a full stability check when launched. ICE is completely self righting through 360 degrees. The sandblasting and Epoxy protective systems inside and out are too numerous to mention here. This boat will be on the water for 100 years plus! Hatches and Ports are all big ship standard that simply will never fail. The 20mm thick laminated Pilot house windows are also heated up forward to stop any condensation or Ice build-up. The Pilot house top, Fly-bridge and all deck lockers and aft cockpit are Fibreglass which works well. To protect the 32 inch Stainless steel Prop and rudder (all removable while afloat) ice fins and an ice knife are fitted, as well as a custom machined rope cutter that will rip anything apart. From the moment you step onboard the McIntyre 50MS the ¡°feel¡± hits you. You are on a very solid structure.?


Think solid teak, hand built, with real care by craftsmen. This is not a mass produced interior. Insulated to Antarctic standards, the three reverse cycle air conditioners, Diesel central heating and engine driven hot air blowers can cover it all. Ultra leather and laminated foam keep you comfy with enough storage space to supply a family for a year. You could let anyone loose with a sledge hammer inside this boat and it would take them some time damage it. Four water tight compartments, plus the anchor locker forward will keep you afloat and a double hull through the front half of the boat adds extra security if you think 8mm steel is too thin. SeaGlaze Watertight doors from the UK secure all compartments and as rugged as they are, their ease of use and good looks match the style. You have complete access to very part of the hull, under cabin soles and behind lockers. Servicing plumbing and systems is achievable.

The forward cabin has an upper and 1.5 size lower berth, hanging locker with chest of draws and dresser. The saloon has a starboard side lounge with a pilot berth behind. The computer station is complete with a lock away stool and space for scanner/printers. Opposite the desk on the port side, is the forward head and shower (with manual salt water flush head- aft head is electric fresh water flush), then the large Dinette and a servery between it and the galley. The Galley has it all, including granite bench tops, domestic fridge freezer and chest freezer, convection Microwave, garbage compactor, water filters, range hood etc. Even the Pressure water is backed up with filtered fresh and raw salt water foot pumps. All systems are designed to operate with little or no power or in ¡°save fresh water mode¡±

Beside the Galley is something I have always dreamed of¡­a ¡°Real¡± red tool box, workbench and drill press, in a stand up engine room. It is an amazing space. You could eat your dinner in it, it is completely watertight with dual everything and the John Deere sits pride of place. Moving into the aft cabin is a world of its own, with a huge Queen bed, and ensuite, plus a washer dryer. The 750 kg Battery bank in under the bed and access to all the steering gear is very easy. All eight sleeping positions have lee cloths.

The Pilot house to me defines the motor Sailor and the McIntyre 50MS has an impressive one. It is bigger than the hut I lived in the Margie for a year in Antarctica. You can cruise along in the helm chair with the windows, hatches, doors open listening to music or button everything down to crash through the worst of it, all while it happens before you on the other side of the glass.You are not in the bilge down below which is the case on most yachts and you are not in the cockpit getting wet. The Stidd helm chair is so comfortable you need the watch alarm to keep people awake at night. Glare shields pull down over all the side and forward windows and everything onboard can be monitored form the ¡°Stidd¡±. You can eat dinner there if you want, or the off watch can sleep on the Pilot house settee and still have others sitting around. The chart table is big and will hold anything you need for a circumnavigation.

Engine room

King of this space is the John Deere. This is ¡°the¡± motor for a tough boat. Their reputation is big in the trawler market. so I know it will be good for 20,000hrs. The 150 Hp, Fresh water cooled, Turbo charged engine is matched to a 3:1 Twin Disc gear box. The drive chain includes a PVC flex coupling to cover the ultimate prop ice strike, then a constant velocity joint and thrust bearing to help any alignment issues , all on a 2inch shaft through a PPS dripless shaft seal. The Shaft and rudder bearings all fit in a Fibreglass sleeve, inside the steel tubes to last forever. The Photos show a ¡°temporary¡± Exhaust heat wrap, while my custom built heat shield Exhaust Thermal Blanket was being modified. The exhaust runs dry for most of the way and then is a wet exhaust for the last third through a muffler and can be closed off if needed.

Start up can be done from the helm position or in the engine room to begin the engine room checks. There are two forced air inlet blowers and one hot air outlet blower, each with individual switches that can reverse the blowers to allow hot air evacuation at shut down. You can also pull air-conditioned air from the pilot house into the engine room if needed at any time.?

Two sea chests are fitted. Everything runs off the main forward unit, but the secondary covers a backup for the primary functions and can be brought on line at any time. The generator has the option of swapping to a Keel cooler and dry exhaust if the boat is sitting in a block of ice with no liquid around it. (When that happens the toilet becomes a bucket!)? Fuel has the usual Racor filters and a fuel polishing system set up. Five Diesel tanks are all under the saloon sole and a sixth is under the marina deck aft, giving nearly 1900 gall. (5000 miles) You can transfer from all tanks to the duty tank, through a simple manifold and transfer for trim to all tanks. The tank breathers are very good, running up and into the Stainless hand rails on deck. The large single Diesel fill point and excellent breathers make spills nearly impossible.

Oil Changes are very simple with a Jabsco oil pump plumbed in direct to the engine, gearbox and generator. A Lube-oil polishing system is set up, which means if you don¡¯t want to change oil for a few years, you can use it instead with a few additives.

Every Important issue is monitored on an alarm panel at the helm position. A fire flood system will activate automatically, or can be fired from the helm should the ER fire alarm go off. A video camera allows the helmsman to keep an eye out for steam, or smoke between engine room inspections. The engine room door has a small port for the same reason.


Unfortunately I don¡¯t have space to write a book on this but I could. It is all built to ABYC specification and starts with everything running in conduits and finishes with Solar panels and an X-Air wind generator. Necessity dictates a 12/24v and 110/220v system with Victron Chargers/inverters linked to a 9Kva Northern lights Generator. The John Deere has its own alternator and a second 120amp/24v Balmar to top up the 750 amp 24v battery bank, made up of 2volt cells guaranteed to last 15 years, but should go 20 years. Redundancy is the name of the game with options to back up and switch between everything. All Electrical controls and Battery switches are outside the engine room and everything is alarmed and has excellent monitoring panels. All runs are labelled, as is every individual electrical fitting (and there are plenty) allowing a cross match with the electrical drawings at any time.

There are 26 different lights just in the saloon (most LED) and some very effective mood and night lighting, right up there with any Mega Yacht. That concept carries through out. You can burn up the power, or conserve it if you are frozen in the ice. Your choice! There are plenty of Aqua signal deck floods and a remote spot/flood spot light.


All Hoses are certified for the purpose. Each water tight compartment has electric and manual pump out facilities. The engine room has the ability to use the engine cooling pump in an emergency. The hot/cold pressure water in the heads, drain to a separate grey water sumps for pump out and there are two ¡°black-water¡± holding tanks Fwd. and Aft, with gauges and alarms. A Katadyn 160, 24v desalinator keeps the 250 gallon fresh water tanks topped up. Tanks have level gauges as well as sight glasses the meet ABYC spec. The Aircon¡¯s are supplied cooling water from one large 220v pump, with a second standby pump fitted ready to go. The high pressure salt water deck wash is also backed up by a fresh water pump. You blast the salt/dirt off first with salt water, followed by a fresh rinse if you have it. A strong fresh water rinse goes to the heavy duty windscreen wipers.

As the ultimate back up there are two portable salvage pumps, one 220v, and the other 24v ready to put anywhere or even act as a fire pump. Still don¡¯t know how you get through 8mm steel though!

Deck gear/layout.

Nothing will break believe me and it is all stainless. Bollards everywhere and Massive anchor handling gear are simply the way it should be on a 40 Tonne boat. The 120lb CQR is self launching and the second roller has vertical side rollers to stop all rope chafe. Mud dams keep the deck clean and the second anchor is locked in place securely ready to go. There is a huge 68lb Fortress anchor and 70lb Fishermans anchor under the sole in the aft cabin. Anywhere a rope or wharf will come in contact with this boat Stainless anti-chafe is fitted. The Stainless Anderson winch forward allows the crew to use braided lines to set up moorings in heavy weather while the bigger stuff is positioned. Even Jessica could do it!

The cabin top rope reel holds 2x200 mtr floating mooring lines and the aft rope reel holds 100mtrs of 20mm nylon and then on top of that is the same again with 15mtr of chain for the 2nd anchor warp. A second 100 mtr length of anchor chain is carried below; (under the aft cabin sole) should the 400ft main anchor chain ever be lost. Sounds like a lot hey, but on the first voyage to the Philippines, we had to run for cover and sit out a Typhoon. I used plenty of it and the Fortress saved the boat!

The two aft Quarter bollards are set up to shackle a bridle to them for towing management, or a drogue. The aft Targa has two swinging cranes on each side that lift outboards, the Flopper ¡°Fish¡± or anything we should recover from the deep!

The Fly-bridge is the best thing on the boat and probably the cause of comments from people walking down the marina when they say ¡°what is it!¡¯¡­you rarely have sails and a fly-bridge so it confuses people, but I am here to tell you it is fantastic. If the weather is good, bad, or indifferent, day or night, what ever, it is always more fun up there. I have had the best night watches on the fly-bridge. As for sundowners, bring it on! This boat is all about Fun and Exploration, possibly even blue cheese!

If you cannot find a slip big enough to haul out, there are four massive SS lifting lugs for the boat connected to huge ring frames. Just find a bloody big crane with bigger shackles and you can lift this boat onto the wharf.

The cockpit and deck lockers are Fibreglass and there are plenty of them. On the marina deck down aft is a 60 gallon SS Petrol tank for Zodiacs and flying boat with hot and cold shower, duck board and swim ladders. Fishing gaff is in the big lazzaret on the port side.

The aft cockpit is out of the sun and wind and is a safe place in heavy weather, if you¡¯re not using the side door into the Pilot house. The huge side decks allow easy movement around the boat and even our custom built, lockdown/ removable wheelie bin for Garbage will roll to the side gates, which drop to form a ladder to the marina.??


Supplied by Allyacht spars in Queensland, the mast is built to Southern Ocean specifications, double sleeved to the spreaders and designed for easy handling with a furling boom and Batten cars/lazy jacks on the Mizzen. Steps and a crow¡¯s nest are good for the Reef, Ice or just pure fun! One person can handle every aspect of this efficient sail plan. With only two tonne of lead in the keel ICE is incredibly stiff. Sailing in 25 kts of breeze on the beam and full sail, we get 4kts, enough to get you home if you run out of gas. With the John Deere ticking over with sails, you save a heap of fuel, with 7kts at 1 gall an hour. Importantly with the sails, you can always balance the boat in extreme weather and seas to assist handling in virtually anything. With a Trawler yacht in the Southern Ocean this is vital. If you do not want to sail, just leave them packed away and for a couple of gallons an hour you make 7kts. The lee sails from Hong Kong include a storm jib and all have been specified by me. No spinnakers as I am happy to motor, but there is a booming out pole for the right conditions.??????


This is where the fun starts. If you have never sailed with stabilisers before you don¡¯t know what you are missing. They are great. These are exactly the same as used on Nordhavn and most other world travelling Trawler yachts. Jointly engineered by Allyacht spars and SHM to my specifications, they are easy to launch and recover. When deployed the Fish create drag costing less than half a knot, but the comfort factor is extreme. At anchor they will kill all rolling, so life is good! Just like that cheese..


Ever tried to keep up with the latest computers? Electronics are the same, so I keep mine stand alone and relatively simple. I don¡¯t believe in Technology for Technologies sake. I wanted the old Raymarine Pathfinders as they were built proof and found some old stock. I have sonar, two radars, an EPIRB direction finding and alert system for lost zodiacs, people or Polaris, all the usual radios and satellite comms. A SkyEye real time sat. Weather/Ice picture receiver, twin Auto pilots, plus a watch alarm to stop the helms-person falling asleep. I have a screen by my ¡°Bed¡± (too comfortable to call a bunk) in the aft cabin to monitor everything and an intercom to the pilot house and bridge.


Name your poison! To me cruising is all about people, places and TOYS!? I have a big dive compressor, four complete dive sets and 6 cylinders (the dive buckets fit in the rack on the aft cockpit cover) underwater coms and metal detectors, a Big black Zodiac, two long boards, a Walker 10 sailing sail boat, inflatable Kayak, Folding bikes and my own Polaris Flying Inflatable amphibious Boat. (Google Polaris FIB) I hang the Polaris in the aft davit and then fit a second lower davit for the Zodiac. Did I mention the Ice-cream maker?


The devil is in the detail and there is a small book of specifications for the McIntyre 50MS, far too many to bore you with here. If you need more info on this or the standard Seahorse Marine DD462 I will happily give it to you. Not everyone likes Blue Cheese and I can see the nose of a few die hards squirming at the thought, but I am here to tell you that this boat is all about the things you can do and the fun you can have with it, not about what looks normal. I think it would be hard for anyone NOT to have fun on a boat like this. My biggest problem is finding time to use ICE, as life is full, but the time will come. Pass me the crackers please!?


Any comments or suggestions , contact Don McIntyre at

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