Quality without the cost
Searano's clever extras and affordable price will interest a wide range of boaties
The 6.5m maxi tenders for big boats mooring at Rottnest are the glamour’s of the rigid inflatable world.
With plenty of desirable features and maxi motors, they have prices to match the glamour. Searano’s 5.8m has its share of goodies but the much friendlier price of $38,000.
Significantly at that price, the tubes are in Hyperlon rather than the cheaper PVC.
These tubes contain five air chambers.
The tendering task calls for load carrying capacity and the 5.8 is no slouch here: the super precise figure quoted is 1227kg, about a dozen people plus some gear.
On the other hand, people buy RIBs for more reasons than just people transport: they buy them for all the reasons they would buy any boat, plus some extras, perhaps. Divers like the easy water entry; everybody likes the stability and ride quality. Generally, RIBs are not over endowed with stowage space, but the 5.8 puts up a pretty good show.
The console, linked to the seat in front of it, is usefully spacious. The battery consumed some of the space under the rear seat but there is a little left there.
The big contributor, though, is the driver’s seat box; it would take some effort to fill this. It works well as a seat plus bolster too; actually more of a bolster without a seat. The natural position to adopt is standing and leaning – when driving this is very comfortable.
There is one more sitting spot at the bow, but the locker below it is actually the anchor well.
Arrangements for using the anchors are about as simple as could be: a plastic jamming cleat bonded to the top of the bow section of the tube.
A gantry spans the rear seat. This is equipped for towing a skier and mounts the navigation side lights, but is also the convenient mounting place for aerials and the like.
In the heroic days of boating, this is where you would have hung the water bag. Just ahead of the gantry mounts are hand grips for the rear seat passengers.
More pipe work carries a T-top that does a good job of shading the seats fore and aft of the console. The rear edge carries a trio of rod holders with room to add several more.
An unusually thoughtful touch is a rail running above and around the sides and rear of the driver’s seat cushion.
This is a likely position for standing passengers who will be grateful for having something to hang on to.
The 80hp Honda provided ample urge with a couple on board and would probably still work well with all the seats occupied. (Fitting a bigger motor is a very quick way of making a moderately priced boat expensive).
We had to rely on a wide open throttle and the wakes of obliging boats to gauge the 5.8s ability to smooth out the lumps.
There were no surprises here: the ride was very much mainstream RIB. In other words, when re-entry buried the bottom’s V the inflated collar took over and did the final softening. Quality of ride and overall comfort levels were very acceptable.
If you were going for maximum passenger capacity, all on board would be in either a genuine seat or on the collar within grasping range of a hand rail or the T-top’s uprights. As with just about all rigid inflatables – or straight inflatables, come to that – a lifeline is stretched along the top of the tubes. Here, though, instead of sagging in beckets from each attachment point it is stretched taut. That probably makes it more useful both for those sitting on the tube and swimmers hauling themselves back on board.
Other attachments to the tubes are a pair of hand grips on each side, which could probably come in handy when aligning the boat with the trailer for a beach recovery.
A lot of boat for your money.