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MV Margaret port bow Noosa River
03 MV Margaret Dining Deck
07a MV Margaret Main Deck Saloon
08a MV Margaret Main Deck Saloon
14 MV Margaret Owners Stateroom
MV Margaret at Jetty 33
main deck saloon
main deck saloon
stair void
MV Margaret starboard quarter
main deck terrace
24 MV Margaret Lounge Deck

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Full Architectural Services
2021 - 2022 (completed September 2022)

Services Provided: 

  • Project conceptualisation

  • Interior design

  • Professional consultant coordination

  • Construction drawing preparation

  • Construction supervision

  • Household small equipment selection 

M.V. Margaret arrived at Jetty 33 in her home port of Noosaville in August 2022 after a design and construction period spanning just over 20 months. Procurement coincided with the brunt of the pandemic, in itself a significant achievement, considering the resulting shortages in supply chain and labour. Regardless of these challenges, it has been an immensely satisfying project for all concerned.   


M.V. Margaret has a length of 14.68m, beam of 6.99m, draught of 0.425m, air draught of 5.9m, has a displacement of 27 tonne and is constructed of aluminium. The vessel is in survey 4E and is certified to carry 30 day passengers and 10 overnight guests.

Two Yamaha 150hp outboard engines easily achieves a cruising speed of 5 knots and top speed of 7 knots. The engines are equipped with a Helm Master digital control system to enhanced manoeuvring capabilities. Outboards were selected for ease of maintenance and reduced draft and weight, but more importantly for their ability to tilt up and allow beaching without risk of damage to propellers and rudders. The engines are concealed within two tilt-up engine boxes.

House power is 220-240v and is provided by a combination of solar panels and a 7.5kw generator, all controlled by a Victron Energy battery management system consisting of a six bank 230A/h batteries (equalling a total of 1380 A/h) with a 12v/5000watt Quattro inverter/charger.

A Stella Aquarius fully automatic desalination plant makes 120 l of potable water per hour, keeping two 750l freshwater tanks topped up.


The vessel is purpose designed for service on the Noosa River and in particular Jetty 33, the only privately owned jetty in Noosaville. The relationship of the design team with the project started with the previous owners of the jetty. They operated an Air-BNB venture from an old houseboat moored there and wanted to replace the aging vessel with a new luxury accommodation pontoon. They approached the design team following referral by a previous client for whom the team designed a series of houseboats. The team was already in the advanced stages of development of the Aqua Casa “floating real estate” concept which was ideal for this application, and a two bedroom model was selected for customisation. Shortly thereafter the current owner made an offer to buy the jetty and to follow through with the construction of the envisioned floating accommodation.             

And so, architect and naval architect became novated to the new owner of the jetty. For the first few months we continued to develop the stationary pontoon concept, though increasing its size and accommodation, until the owner decided it would be a lot more fun to upgrade the project to a self-propelled houseboat. This would allowing him and his family and guests to enjoy all that the Noosa River has to offer.


The vessel is first and foremost designed to enjoy the natural beauty of the river. Every space aboard offers spectacular views. To ensure that the extensive glazing does not come at the expense of privacy and solar heat gain, internal roll-down blinds and performance glazing is applied to every window. External blinds are also installed along the starboard side to protect against afternoon sun while the vessel is tied up to the jetty.

The relationship of the main deck to the jetty was another important consideration, with the main deck at the same level as the jetty boardwalk at average mid-tide. This facilitated ease of access and resulted in a catamaran hull which offered both the ideal freeboard and functional voids within the hulls. A monohull barge would have been too shallow to accommodate, or allow easy access to, plant such as water maker, generator and battery bank. The resulting draft is less than 0.5m, allowing docking close to shore. The catamaran hull, combined with the twin motors, also achieves excellent stability and manoeuvrability.


Great care went into the external styling of the vessel, not only to soften its substantial mass, but also to give it a unique appearance. The Noosa River is home to many classic and historic vessels and M.V. Margaret recalls some of their characteristics in a contemporary manner. Vertical mass is visually broken up through the use of horizontal ribboning, but also through sweeping lines that reflects the function directly within. As a result the port and starboard sides differ in appearance.  

Walk-around decks are provided on both main and upper deck on the starboard side only, thereby maximising internal space. The external blinds are positioned to the outside of the starboard bulwarks, with the passage forming an air gap that prevents radial heat transfer from fabric to  glazing.           



The owner described his vision for the project quite simply as “a floating two bedroom luxury apartment”. The resulting vessel remains true to this basic description, although each space is optimised by introducing multi-functionality. For example, the second bedroom is presented as a second saloon on the upper deck, with fold-down wall bed, allowing this space to serve as a retreat from the main saloon when a second stateroom is not required. It was also decided early in the design process to use primarily loose furniture to allow various modes of use for the main saloon and adjoining “terrace”. One of these modes accommodates a twenty seat formal dining table, using the three custom built expandable tables, for the annual family Christmas lunch. Only the settees flanking the helm station are built-in, and even these convert to double beds to accommodate up to ten overnight guests.

The primary living space is found on the main deck and consists of galley, internal dining area and lounge, opening up to an open dining deck and fold down swim platform. The space is generous, informal and comfortable. Interior and exterior is united by possibly the largest sliding door set on any houseboat, requiring careful structural engineering and sequenced construction to achieve the required clear span. The unobstructed views across the stern is supplemented by a sliding door with drop-down bulwark to starboard and full-height sliding window over the audio-visual cabinet on the port side, with its 58” monitor mounted on an electric lifter to ensure unobstructed views across this quarter when not in use. Modular couches can be reconfigured or easily moved to the side to clear space for the expansive formal dinner table along the centreline. The deck area aft is equipped with a retractable awning, allowing shading and use in light showers, but can be retracted in good weather or in the evening with the specific purpose of connecting this space with its counterpart on the upper deck. The swim platform is hydraulically lowered (as is the starboard fold down bulwark) and is generously proportioned for use as more than just a boarding platform.     

The galley features all the modern conveniences one would expect, with ample storage for the cutlery, crockery and crystal required for the full complement of guests. At its centre is one of three custom resin tables, this one featuring schools of fish, conceived by the owner and lovingly crafted by a resin specialist and the builder’s joiners.          

The owner’s stateroom and bathroom is located forward on main deck for easy access. Furniture, fixture and fitting heights as well as clearances supports ambulant access. The vessel is designed to be moored bow-in to ensure sufficient draft under the propellers at low tide and as a result the forward bulkhead is fitted with smaller windows to maintain privacy from the shore. Regardless, the stateroom still features a large sliding door to starboard for view, natural light and ventilation.

A comfortable stair was a must-have for the owner and tread and riser dimensions was specified. The design team saw this element as an opportunity to establish strong connectivity between main and upper deck, with the stairwell widened to spatially linking upper and lower saloons. This further improving cross ventilation and allowing additional natural light to enter the galley from the port side. Frameless glass balustrades further contribute to this objective. The treads are beautifully crafted out of American oak and conceals storage compartments, the main switchboard, gas water heater and gas cylinders, and a laundry compartment in its base.

At the top of the stair one enters the upper deck via an observation lounge area flanking the helm station. Family and guests can gather here with the skipper during river transits. The helm is positioned on the centreline, with direct access to the wraparound deck to the starboard side. It is fitted with two 16” Garmin plotter/sounder screens, one of which displays feed from five directional cameras installed on the perimeters of the vessel. These ensure excellent visibility around the vessel during manoeuvring. The helm is also equipped with a Helm Master system, with autopilot and joystick to aid manoeuvring. The flanking settees cleverly extends to convert into two additional double beds.     

A full second bathroom is provided on the upper deck, serving as ensuite to the adjacent saloon when converted to a second stateroom.

The upper deck saloon offers the same spectacular 270 degree views that the main deck saloon does and it too opens up onto an open deck area aft. Smaller than its lower counterpart, it serves as a retreat and is equipped with its own audio-visual centre.    

Though air-conditioning is fitted to the main deck spaces, sliding doors and windows ensure excellent cross ventilation to all spaces. Opening sections are fitted with concealed vertical cassette retractable flyscreens, allowing breezes without bugs.     



The owner favoured light, contemporary interiors with a relaxed family orientated atmosphere. This was achieved through the use of a combination of American oak hardwood together with teak and matt white laminates, set against black and white woven vinyl wall linings.  

Cabinetry and some of the bespoke pieces of furniture was custom built by the builder’s exceptional team of joiners.     

In order to reduce the visual division between linked interior and exterior spaces, the decision was taken to match the colour of the floor and deck finishes in order to achieve a visually continuous floor plane. As a result all of the timbers used, be it hardwood, laminate or vinyl, were mathched to the preferred synthetic teak deck lining.

All materials, finishes and construction details were carefully selected and developed to ensure exceptional durability and continued ease of maintenance.

In addition to the interior architecture, the design team also assisted with the selection and procurement of loose furniture, household equipment, linens and artwork, delivering a vessel to the owner that was ready for use!



The design consultancies of Chapman Architecture & Marine Design (CAMD) and McDonald Smith Marine Designers (MDS) has been collaborating on marine projects for over eight years. MDS are naval architects offering over thirty years of experience, specialising in aluminium craft. CAMD are conventional architects offering over twenty years of experience, specialising in marine environments. The collaboration delivers world class turn-key vessels including private motor yachts, luxury charter yachts, houseboats, passenger ferries, tourist vessels and patrol boats.


Coral Coast Cats (CCC) has been building aluminium vessels at their Bundaberg yard for the past 24 years. Originally run and owned by Rob Goode, the yard has recently been acquired by right-hand-man Harley Mason, with M.V. Margaret being the third vessel successfully delivered under Harley’s ownership. CCC has a stellar team of tradesman, evident in the exceptional vessels they have delivered. MDS have complete twenty vessels with the yard.    


Robin Murphy is a legend in civil construction. He established Canstruct back in 1967 and the company has since been responsible for delivering impressive civil works which includes bridges in PNG, submarine cables, service tunnels under the Brisbane River and navigational aids on the remote shores of Tasmania, to name a few. As a result, few challenges are insurmountable for the man and this kept the team on our toes and coming up with innovative solutions!

The vessel is named in memory Robin’s late wife Margaret.    

TEAM: Chapman Leijenaar (Lead consultant and chief designer); Andrew McDonald Smith (Naval Architecture);  
BUILDER: Coral Coast Marine Constructions: Harley Mason (director); Chris and John Hull (fabricators); Dave Hildebrant and Troy (joinery) 

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