Boat Review Date: April 2010
Author: Mike Brown
The Arvor is not a run of the mill boat, and given its French origins that is not surprising. It is the kind of boat that people either dismiss out of hand or become fascinated with. The general layout is more or less that of any number of Australian trailer boats – plenty of cockpit, and a fore cabin for overnighting – but the execution is in a class of its own.
Though it is under seven metres long it is powered by a shaft drive diesel. The space under the hardtop has a bulkhead and door at its rear – it is a wheelhouse. The cabin-wheelhouse would have been a walk-around in Australian style, but here it is offset to port so it is a walk-alongside. In fact it gives better access forward than almost anything of its size.
The distinctiveness of this boat continues, starting with its basic premise. It is a fishing boat that combines the low speed solidity and easy motion of a semi-displacement hull with respectable speed in planing mode. At rest it is supremely steady, no doubt helped by the weight of the 115hp Cummins mounted low in the hull. Its stability, coupled with an easy motion when drifting, is one of its most attractive features as a fishing boat.
The cockpit has abundant room, having only one permanent seat: this is simply the top of a locker in the quarter. Fore and aft timber benches that flap down when fishing provide other seating: as practical and durable as it comes. There is plenty of gear for the fisherman distributed around the cockpit: see-through live bait tank with electric pump, bait board, a stack of tackle drawers, rollers in each gunwale for hand lines and the like, coaming rod sockets and bulwark rod racks.
There is also that great accessibility forward, giving extra rail length to fish from. And, an advantage to the fisherman that shows up when there is any sort of air movement, the boat lays naturally across the wind.
The wheelhouse deck is set well below the cockpit, giving abundant standing headroom without excessive height. This concept is the one that seems most un-Australian – not just driving indoors on such a small vessel, but also going downstairs to do it. It feels natural enough though once you are there, and it can’t be beat for its quality of shelter. The interior is simply finished, without linings or permanent upholstery. The two seats fold up to make extra deck space but in action are comfortable, as is the settee that converts to a very large double bed.
The mini galley is essentially a shelf carrying a simple camping stove, and this is about all anyone is likely to need – the ability to brew up and perhaps make toast. The toilet arrangements follow the same minimalist theme: a simple chemical device. What is provided in abundance is stowage space: almost the whole volume below the starboard walkway is a storage bin.
What was absent in earlier models, no doubt catering for northern Europe, was good ventilation. That is cured here, a roof hatch allowing big volumes of air, and opening panels in the side windows smaller amounts. The vast windscreen is equipped with a wiper, and in the fresh breeze of the review day we needed it to handle a fair quantity of spray.
The spray was not a product of a pitching, badly behaved boat, but mainly of the short sea. The Arvor was balanced very nicely throughout, and the semi-displacement hull surely had much to do with this.
This is a very satisfying boat to drive, behaving well at all speeds from idle to 22 knots. This allowed us to select the exact speed to suit conditions, and we had a very comfortable ride. With a cruising speed of probably 18 to 20 knots, in practice it is barely slower than a fast trailer boat but provides a significantly steadier platform and uses a lot less fuel. A nice touch is the provision for tiller steering, letting you drive in the open air.
Most users of boats this size have had no experience of driving boats with a fixed shaft. It is different to manoeuvring with an outboard or sterndrive and takes a bit of practice. But not a lot: once you get the hang of using the kick of the stern to port when you reverse it will all become intuitive, and the new skill will make you feel very boaty.
Although the Arvor is a natural for rack storage it is light enough for a large 4WD to tow, and with a draught of only 75cm there are few places you could not use it. This is a boat crying out for hard use.
Length overall 6.88m
Hull length 6.36m
Fuel capacity 90L