Boat Review Date: September 2010
Author: Mike Brown
Transcontinental Maritime Services is a big name (although usually shrunk to TMS) for a builder of small leisure craft. It fits better with what the company mostly does: building commercial craft up to 40m. The review boat, a 7.6m rigid inflatable or RIB, uses the hull of a class of boat TMS builds for the Malaysian army, navy and Special Forces.
This is far from the first of their leisure boats; they won the 2006 WA Custom Boat of the Year with a 42ft walk around. The RIBs though, instead of being built entirely in WA, will have imported hulls bonded with locally built upper works and fit-out. If the prototype is a clear indicator, the local content is of exceptional quality.
The layout is centre console, with a much wider console than RIBs are usually given. This makes for more sociability, with side by side seating at the wheel at the expense of a little squeezing to get forward. Squeezing is no problem with inflatable sides. Having squeezed, you get the choice of a single seat in the bow or a double at the console front. A lounge at the transom takes the total seating to nine for the official maximum complement of eight occupants. They all get good elbowroom and above average comfort.
There is something special about bare feet on a teak deck, and there is no question that wet teak beats wet carpet hands down. Not that we experienced a wet deck, or that much spray is likely to come aboard – good RIBs tend to be dry boats. The teak illustrated how the cost of options can lift the total price of a boat in big jumps: $10,000 for this option, which is also the cost of the beautiful stainless steel work.
The other notable timber is the burr dash, and to the builder’s credit screw heads do not disfigure it. To get access to the wiring at the rear of the panel you simply slide the portable fridge out from the console front and remove it.
It is an uncrowded dash, with triple digital engine gauges, a plotter-sounder screen, and no fewer than 16 press-button switches.
The seats facing it are beauties, tilting up into bolsters for a standing driver and giving good lateral support as well great lumbar padding. Both of these are good to have because, like most larger RIBs, the TMS urges you to play hard. Our boat was fitted with a pair of 225hp Evinrude ETECs, a breed of outboard delivering notable torque and acceleration – which we were happy to use.
Top speed, reached in Ferrari time, was around 45 knots. This could be useful stuff for an urgent lunch appointment at Rottnest or minimum time wasted on the way to the edge of the Shelf. A more generally useful figure would be 30 knots, using a gentle 3200rpm. At this speed combined consumption is 70L/hr, giving a theoretical range from the 400L tank of 170 miles.
The question always gets asked about pricey boats like this: what do you use a RIB for? And the answer is the same as if you ask about the use of a hovercraft or a crawler tractor: you use it for jobs that nothing else can do, or that it does better than pretty well anything else. There are a lot of 45-knot boats around – you just give them big enough motors – but few that can use a decent fraction of that speed for much of the time. For consistent high speed with acceptable comfort RIBs are hard to beat.
They are excellent for aging backs. They are also very stable fishing or diving platforms, and the TMS is geared for those jobs. It has a 400L catch tank (so this is probably a good boat for optimists), rod holders, and 80L of fresh water with a pump and hose to let it wash down boat or diver. The builder confirmed the aging back point when he confessed that he would be an early customer for one of his own boats.
It would be happy to spend some of its time as a day cruiser, when the rear cockpit could be host to all the occupants – those side tubes double as comfortable seats. Abundant drink holders, and that fridge to keep them supplied, help the social role.
Beam is 2.8m – if you are going to exceed the towing restriction-free beam you may as well really go for it. Otherwise, with its weight with twin motors of 2.1T, it is a straightforward towing proposition for any number of 2WDs and 4WDs.
Price is pleasantly variable. Delete some frills and accept a single motor and
It is yours for $115,000. Which is a notable reduction on the fully kitted review boat for $180,000.
Price from $115,000
Price as reviewed $180,000
Length overall 7.6m
Fuel capacity 400L
Fresh water 80L
Motors fitted 2 x 225hp Evinrude ETEC outboards