Boat Review Date: June 2012
Author: Mike Brown
Kirby Naiads are for the few who both lust for them and can afford them. And it is probably as well that the numbers are not large because they take an astonishing number of man hours to build. Every buyer has strong ideas on the detail of his boat, and the amount of customising typically adds up to a virtual prototype with each boat built.
The latest 10m Naiad is almost a new design. The hull has the chines raised forward to allow the boat to pick up reserve buoyancy more slowly when it hits a sea, slowing vertical acceleration and softening the ride still more. The twin planing steps in the bottom have been removed for interesting reasons, and the upperworks are considerably reshaped.
These boats are bought mainly by time-poor fishing enthusiasts who want no obstacles when they actually have some leisure time. They have to deliver high speed in virtually all weathers, and have to offer the very best in fish catching ability. Among other things that means fish finders that perform immaculately at speed. Steps in the bottom cause aeration that slows fish hunting speed down to three or four knots. There are still problems minus steps, and scads of engineering went into the Naiad’s set-up. The pair of enormous Furuno 2kW wet-faced transducers installed delivers near perfection in 3-D at 15 to 20 knot speeds.
Four people ride in extreme comfort on $5,000 Swedish suspension, jockey-style seats, and another four or five on the folding rear lounge. There is room for them all to fish and stability enough for that many more again. In case one of them hooks up something interesting a wide angle video camera is mounted to cover the cockpit. As a side occupation from hook and line a pot winch and tipper are laid on.
While sport fishing is the number one purpose – a day out of Fremantle for the owner can include a spell 20 miles off Bunbury – Rottnest weekends are possible too. The cabin is roomy, with a height that is a careful balance between headroom, vision from the driving position, and an attractive profile. Intensely practical, it houses two long bunks, a king size portable fridge, and a flushing toilet. The holding tank for this is detachable for easy emptying. Cooking is done Weber-style in the cockpit.
Shade for the driving position is provided by a soft top. Possibly uniquely Naiads have grab rails above their soft tops, easing the way along the side walkways – unlike the twitchy progress of lesser boats. There are overhead rails inside too, things you need on a 50-knot boat.
A pair of 300hp Yamaha four-strokes delivers this speed. The owner could have opted instead for a pair of 350hp lightweight Cummins diesels, clones of the VW Touareg’s power unit, and giving around 200 more miles range per 750L tank full.
Almost no fitting on board is off the shelf. Naiads are designed to be driven hard – the builder says drive it like you stole it - and owners usually oblige. Anything not robust fails. The Yamahas have extra special connections to the transom; the trim tabs are extraordinarily tough offshore racing models especially imported. Trimming is not so much important for performance as for maintaining a laterally level ride.
RIBs are not an easy boat to give style to, so the results here are especially creditable. Besides getting form and proportion right, Kirby gave a lot of time to the details. For example, what looks like a rakish Targa support is actually the trademark Naiad side ladder reshaped. The stainless steel anchor is near invisible, being housed in a hawse pipe below the chine.
An interesting piece of attention to detail is the CCTV camera mounted above the anchor. With a boat that works this hard it is just possible that wave pressure could overwhelm the windlass brake and release the anchor at speed. Because the anchor is out of sight Kirby added this safety feature.
$290,000 and upwards for a 10m boat is a lot of dollars per square metre or whatever, but for the owners it could be seen as a bargain replacement for say a 15m sports fisher. It has at least as much comfort, perhaps twice the speed, and can be trailed so the whole of the coast is a fishing ground rather than just the area around the home port.
Price from $290,000 to $350,000
Length overall 10.0m
Fuel capacity 750L
Fresh water 75L
Motors fitted 2 x 300hp Yamaha four-srokes