Boat Review Date: August 2011
Author: Mike Brown
Bow riders have a lot going for them, but one thing they generally don’t have is genuine offshore capability. The bottoms are usually on the flat side of sharp, with freeboard sacrificed for style. But then there are the Signature bow riders.
These use the same cunning hull shapes as all the other boats in the Signature range – boats renowned as probably the best-riding monohulls Australia builds. Deadrise sharpens from chine to keel, to a maximum of 33deg, forming a hollowed section bottom. A planing plank, essentially a shaved off section of keel, takes away excess low down buoyancy and makes for easier planing, especially at low speeds.
Combine this with more than generous freeboard, and you have a serious boat you can enjoy frivolous times in; I freely admit to having great fun playing with the Signature 600BR on its review day.
The 600BR probably gives a slightly bigger than average share of overall length to the main cockpit, and it makes sense. The people who immediately bag the bow cockpit as their own are the children, and this is something to encourage - they are permanently under the helmsman’s eye. The big people get the big space, and in this six-metre boat it is big.
The official maximum capacity of the 600BR is eight adults, and that is how many seats are provided. Three adults can get comfortable forward, and a removable table with drink holders increases the comfort. A lounge aft gives generous space for three, and the driver and offsider have superb armchairs. Between lounge and chairs is a lot of deck space for a picnic table, eskies, bean bags or whatever else you might find indispensable for a day out.
The obvious day out is a picnic cruise, but there is no reason to ignore fishing possibilities, and skiing is such a winning choice that Signature provided a ski pole. Under the deck is a storage space than runs for half the length of the boat. There is room here for skis, wake boards, scuba gear – all at the same time: this is a cavern of a locker.
And there is plenty of room elsewhere for tidy people: side pockets, of course, bulk space under rear and forward seats, a lidded bin ahead of the navigator, and bins ahead of the moulded foot rests – just the place for shoes, which you surely don’t want on your feet.
The armour glass windscreen curves around and runs well aft for good protection, and has a couple of neat touches. Moisture finding its way onto the inside of a windscreen generally runs over the windscreen’s landing and drips onto legs and feet. Not here: Signature has fitted a mini gutter that leads water outside the cockpit. The other feature is small but significant: the windscreen’s opening centre section has rubber pads in the right places, so no banging when it is opened. It’s a good screen in use too. Sitting, you look through its mid height; stand, and you are well up in the breeze – just as it should be but often isn’t.
Our 600BR had a 150hp Suzuki that proved well capable of producing a breeze. The recommended power range is from 140 to 200hp and, judging from our results, 140 should give stimulating performance and 200 an adrenalin rush. Our motor was previously unused, so we used full throttle only momentarily but recorded some excellent figures.
Our briefly held top speed was 46 knots which, with some hours on the motor, should improve by a couple. Pushing an all-up weight of around 1250kg that is good going for 150hp. Acceleration was impressive too, but not as impressive as the boat’s low speed ability. If we put the 600BR on the plane and then gently throttled back it stayed on the plane down to eight knots. At that speed the throttle opening and hence fuel consumption was tiny, meaning economical passages through speed-limited areas.
Economical but probably frustrating. This is a boat that demands to be played with; a demand we were happy to obey. The driver’s seat, the wheel, throttle and dashboard, are very sports car-like in their relationship to each other. Sink into the seat, take a light grip on the wheel (that’s all the hydraulic steering needs) and hit the throttle. There is not so much a bow rise as a jump, and the 600BR is up and boogying.
Reaction to wheel orders is instantaneous, cornering is on rails and accurate. And that is if you are just playing. Get serious, fine tune the trim, and this boat will cope with the ocean better than anything else in its class. It would be a great boat to take the family or friends to Rottnest for the day, confident that, whatever the sea breeze got up to, it would deliver a safe ride home. For occasions without a full passenger load, a standard tonneau cover prevents any spray coming aboard.
A big aid to safety, and especially reassuring with children aboard, is the depth of the cockpit. A pre-schooler would barely be able to get his or her elbows on the coaming.
At cruising speed the Suzuki has a subdued sound, and a notably quiet hull matches this: the non-resonant fibreglass hull has all its voids foam filled. This is good news for the AM/FM-CD system with its four speakers.
Other goodies on board include pop-up cleats, carbon fibre dash and wheel, moulded cockpit liner, clip-in carpet, and anchor roller on a bowsprit. That last item, of course, is pretty much standard on Australian boats, but is remarkably rare on imported alternatives.
I can see people, who might otherwise have chosen a very different style of boat, buying a 600BR. It is not an ideal fishing boat, but it will handle just about any other task in fine style.
Model: Signature 600BR
Length overall: 6.25m
Hull length: 5.95m
Hull weight: 850kg
Towing weight: 1,900kg
Height on trailer: 2.15m
Fuel capacity: 230l
Power range: 140 to 200hp
Motor fitted: 150hp Suzuki 4-stroke
Price as reviewed: $75,000