Boat Review Date: January 2013
Author: Mike Brown
There was a time when the idea of inflatable fishing boats was in the same category as inflatable dart boards; perhaps the prejudice had more validity in the era of the hand line, but it is long since extinct. Large rigid inflatables (RIBs) are now the tools of choice for serious offshore sports fishermen.
They have a great deal going for them. These boats are expensive, and the paradox is that the wealthy people who buy them are usually short of time in which to use them. This means they want every leisure moment to count, and the RIBs will get them to distant fishing spots quickly almost regardless of weather. They do the job better than large sports fishers at a fraction of the price. If fishing rather than luxury is the main aim the RIB looks a bargain.
Naiads, built by Kirby Marine, are the local bench mark in WA – they have won Boat of the Year more times than any other builder – and this latest version of their 10-metre Naiad represents their peak performance so far. Like all their larger boats it was custom built to the order of an owner with a clear idea of what he wanted. It had to be a supreme fishing boat giving clear fish finding at high cruising speeds; it needed high speed and long range; it had to be trailable. And there were any number of detailed requirements on top of those.
A pair of 350hp four stroke outboards would give top speed in the high 40s, but would have to drop back to less than 3,500rpm to get 300 miles out of the 750-litre tank. And the owner planned trips to the Montebellos, Abrolhos and Kimberley, where petrol is often difficult to get; how about diesel power? There were three great advantages: diesel fuel is usually easier to get in remote places, you get more miles out of each litre of it, and economical speed is closer to full speed than with petrol.
Mercruiser’s new partnership with Volkswagen has given boating the superb 265hp V6 and 350hp V8s from the Toureg 4WD. More cleverly designed in their details than many marine engines, they are a pleasure to maintain with completely accessible filters, water pumps and so on. Kirby fitted a pair of V8s with Bravo 1 legs in a very neat installation. The result was 52 knots with devastating acceleration and a range of 500 miles. The owner was happy but realised he could have been almost as happy with a single V8. Kirby estimates that speed would still be 45 knots and range would be up to 700 miles.
The 10-metre’s hull shape has been modified to reduce vertical accelerations; it now gives dry and comfortable 35-knot cruising in the sea state produced by 20-25 knot winds. A great side benefit of the diesel installation is the hull’s behavior at high speed: the weight placed lower down removes any skittishness, and the natural straight tracking becomes tram line straight. There is also more fishing space. Removal of the motor well increased effective length, all of it accessible alongside the motor box, and a swim platform was able to be fitted.
Kirby normally fits the fabulous Ullman jockey seats, and there are two here to the rear of the driver. Driver and navigator get the even more exotic Arctic suspension full seat for maximum comfort on long hauls. These seats face a dash neatly set out with mouth watering goodies. A pair of 12-inch screens display the Raymarine package of 3-D sounder, GPS and radar; there is a kit of radios and controls for autopilot (a great fatigue saver on long passages) and any number of lights and ancillaries.
The boat will be used for a lot of overnighters, camping style. Two V-berths forward and cockpit space for a couple of swags take care of sleeping, and a toilet, fridge and fresh water tank add touches of civilisation. Provision for fishing and swimming is rather more complete: a pair of side ladders, a vast bait board and a pot hauler.
Trailing is certainly possible with the right vehicle and permits. Weight has been held down by using an aluminium trailer and fitting a soft top over the cockpit instead of a hardtop. This is a boat that says tow me somewhere exotic.
Price from AUD $300,000 (outboard powered)
Length overall 10.5m
Hull length 10.0m
Fuel capacity 750L
Fresh water 75L
Motors fitted 2 x VW-Mercruiser diesels, 350hp ea