Davidson M20 …Reduce, reuse, recycle! …

 …. This mantra of sustainable business is well illustrated with the Davidson M20s, the sturdy little trailer sailors looking good after a refurbishment and still in commercial bareboat charter after nearly 45 years. 


“Wow, I didn’t think they were still making these boats!”  A visitor to our dock in Opua exclaimed as he cast an eye over the recently relaunched Davidson M20 Carnival, prompting a well-deserved smile of satisfaction from Bill Kidman, the boatbuilder and owner of Carnival.

Whilst many of her age have been confined to the scrap heap of unloved vessels the recycled Carnival after a little (ok a lot) of hard work should be good to keep sailing for a least another 40 years.  We might not be around in 2059 but Carnival probably will!


Looking down into the main cabin. The table drops down to make a generous bunk.

First launched in 1974

When Carnival and her sister ships were launched back in 1974 bareboat charter was an alien concept, it was this design, Carnival’s sister ship Kea, the Davidson M20 that kicked off the first bareboat “sail yourself” charter yacht operation in the South Pacific, Rainbow Yacht Charters, an organisation that grew over the next twenty-five years to become the South Pacific’s largest bare-boat charter operation.  Whilst the then Ministry of Transport struggled with defining a list of standards and requirements for bareboat charter, they decided to apply the same requirements as those used on ferries. The fibreglass hull had to be extra thick, all fittings upgraded, lifelines raised to become fences. A testament to their exacting standards is the fact these hulls, whilst extremely heavy, have withstood significant use and are still sailing proudly out and about in the Bay of Islands.  Bill and Julie Kidman purchased the Sailing School and Hire Boat operation Great Escape in December 2017 and since then have been investing heavily in upgrading and renovating the fleet.  Carnival is the first M20 to have had the renovation completed.

Simplified cruising

Over recent years cruising boats have continued to get bigger and bigger, with chart plotters, hot showers, USB charging ports and full multi-media entertainment seemingly mandatory requirements.  But there is a growing enthusiasm for rolling back to a simpler form of cruising.  The M20 certainly fits the bill for reducing the size of boat and simplifying cruising, with none of the essentials, but everything you need for a comfortable week afloat.

More than adequate galley with everything you need to cook aboard.

Still out there sailing

Carnival under sail

Carnival and her M20 sister ships are still available for bareboat charter, part of the  Great Escape Sailing School and Hire Boats fleet.  They continue to be used and reused, generally out sailing a significantly higher number of days than the average recreational vessel.

The Davidson M20 is a robust well proven trailer sailor and with continued love and attention enable us to sustainably apply the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle mantra and provide affordable environmentally friendly sailing for all.

See Boating NZ April 2019, pp 76 & 77 for the full article.

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