Boat Review Date: December 2009
Author: Mike Brown
The Kirby 10m Naiad is the fastest boat I have driven: 58 knots. That’s what a pair of 350hp Yamahas can do for you, but only on the right hull. This hull has a 27deg deadrise, a pair of steps in the bottom, and an inflatable collar; it is a RIB, or rigid inflatable, par excellence.
Naiads are the boat of choice for the Water Police, government departments and a large share of sea rescue groups. And also a few private owners, who obviously like going fast but have another reason according to the builder. They are short of time, and want to be certain that the plan for boating on a given day can be carried out almost regardless of the weather.
That super-sharp bottom and the impact-softening collar have a couple of secret weapons added to them to cope with nasty weather: special seats and special floor. The seats, four of them, are Ullman jockey-style suspension seats that have a reputation as the world’s best – and at $5,000 each that is understandable. Between the carpet and the aluminium deck is the other weapon, a fatigue membrane. I can testify that it makes a big difference to comfort.
For want of a better term, the Naiad’s layout is bow rider; a small bow cockpit is reached through a door from the cabin, or by aluminium side decks built over the collar. There are lots of handholds to make this safe, including grab rails over the soft top – a close to unique feature. Things to hang onto are important on a rough water boat and the Naiad abounds with them.
The cabin is large and lined, and the two bunks – or storage areas – are bigger than shoreside single beds. Aft of them are a large portable fridge to starboard with a toilet opposite. This is a beauty, featuring an electric vacuum flush (with its own small fresh water container), and a portable sullage tank mounted alongside it. No worries about built-in tanks, and the vacuum system with its minimal water usage means great capacity is not needed.
The review boat was geared up for long weekends of fishing or island visiting, mainly with two to four people aboard, hence the four main seats, the pot winch and the uncluttered cockpit. Alternative layouts could replace two of the seats with a galley unit (still leaving a folding lounge aft), or whatever else you could dream up. These boats are built to order, and they are fitted out to suit the owner.
Fishing and pot pulling might seem an odd occupation for a boat surrounded by a soft, inflated collar, but Fisheries Department Naiads are constantly pulling pots. Kirby fit reinforcement to all the wear points, and no one has had any problems.
Other occupations are possible with this same layout. Ten passengers could get comfortable for day trips. They could have a fifteen-minute crossing for lunch at Rottnest, or set up tables and chairs for a cold lunch anywhere. It is also a superb dive boat, with storage for loads of scuba gear in the cabin, space for gearing up, excellent water entry over the sides, and a fresh water shower after peeling off.
The performance, of course, is what makes the Naiad extra special, and my mouth probably watered when I took over the wheel and the throttles (especially them). We had about a 0.8m sea, which was completely ignorable and let me push the throttles to their stops.
Throttle and gear change controls are electronic, so no chance of graunching into gear, and no sudden death throttle movements. Just lots of power that came on progressively – and got us up to speed very quickly indeed. A lot of the sensation you might expect was absent. The motors were quiet; the hull just about silent, and not the slightest jolt penetrated the seat or fatigue membrane.
The sensations came on in the high-speed turns. Put this boat into a turn with more Gs than a centrifuge and it just hangs on. The Ullman seats let us hang on too, and far more conveniently than using our hands. Set aside the serious fishing or day cruising – people will want to buy this just for fun. If you do can I be your friend?
A 10m Naiad built for the Water Police won outright the WA boat of the year in 2009. It did it pretty easily too for a combination of exact tuning for its purpose, quality of equipment, build and finish, attention to detail, and of course for its performance. The review 10m is right up there or past it. Just one example of thoughtfulness: how many boats set out drink holders in pairs, one each for stubby holder or not?
Price From $270,000 to $330,000
Length overall 10.0m
Fuel capacity 670L
Fresh water 120L
Motors 2 x 350hp Yamaha outboards