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[ rib reviews ]
  # 025
Redbay Boats - Prototype 750-S
Review By Kevin Goulding
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Redbay Boats

Redbay's Pocket Cruiser
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Redbay Sports Cruiser - Prototype 7.5m Cabin RIB
New for 2009 from Redbay's Cushendall works in Co. Antrim N.I. comes a very special pocket sports cruiser. This latest addition to the range is a prototype open topped, cuddy cabin sporty RIB which looks to be targeted for family fun. With a safe and secure cockpit design "Ardbeg" was debuted at the recent RIBex Show on the Isle of Wight.

Occasional Gale Force 8
During the return of "Ardbeg" en route back to Northern Ireland I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a week-end to review the latest offering at Conwy and on the Menai Straits, North Wales. The week-end was originally planned as a visit to the Isle of Man for the TT Races on the Saturday, returning the same evening with a circumnavigation of Anglesey on the Sunday. The weather however conspired to have the week-end’s TT Racing postponed due to extreme weather. Facing up to a prolonged F7 to the occasional Gale Force 8 prudence kept us inshore at Conwy and in the Menai Straits. Even so the inshore seaways around Puffin Island did endeavour to provide some challenging north easterly breaking seas, often 18ft and sometimes a lot more, off the northern shores of Puffin.

 


 

These were of course excellent conditions in which to review the sea-keeping abilities of this latest Sports Cruiser. For those familiar with Redbay Boats you will know that these boats are always built based upon an uncompromising deep 'V' hull, no airy fairy stepped hulls here, and they are robust just like the proverbial brick outhouse. This new Sports Cruiser is built to the same formula. You can see the Cushendall works and learn how Redbay do the construction from our article 'behind the brochure'.

Hard Nosed
As you can see from the photograph above, "Ardbeg" sports a wrap around cockpit and windscreen. This makes for a very well protected deck area and provides not only significant protection from the elements but a comfortable and very secure feeling of confidence that the boat is designed to look after you. The bow tube is an integral hard nose (GRP construction) which makes for additional storage space in the cuddy cabin.

Four jockey seats and a full beam rear bench seat provide seating for up to seven on board. The deck space between the jockey seats and the rear bench seating is generous and would permit the fitting of a table quite easily. The jockey seat pods provide good storage areas. They did however require the seat cushions clipping down as they tended to move about when driving the RIB hard. My preference however would be for the cushions to be cut out forward to make standing up more comfortable and the addition of the latest 'winged' backrests which are now appearing on many new RIB models. The rear bench seating was very good on top of a huge rear locker, although I must say that access to the locker space was somewhat disappointing. The current design limits the locker opening to just some 12-16" which means you have to be on hands and knees to access the space. Within the rear locker is a single battery and isolator switch, my preference here would be for a twin battery installation.

The freeboard was quite high with 21” diameter tubes and a moulded GRP deck on top. Indeed access from water level would require the use of a step ladder to get onboard.

 

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Super Quick Off The Mark
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Neat Console Layout
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Cosy Cuddy Cabin
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Bench Seat & Rear Locker
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The Cuddy Cabin
A small cabin has been incorporated in the hard nose and below the steering console and instrumentation panel bulkhead. Although I managed to spend two overnights on board inside the cabin it's more suited to resting young adults or children on a week-end cruising expedition. This is one area which, perhaps with some compromise on the huge deck space, could be extended to make for a more adult sized cabin.

Storage space inside the cabin is remarkable. Five lockers/stowage areas comprising a bow and port & starboard deck lockers, plus two further open bow storage compartments. Enough space for almost everything including the proverbial kitchen sink. With a slightly larger cabin area though, provision for a small heads and hand wash basin would be possible.

How Did She Perform?
As you would expect the cuddy cabin added some very useful nose weight which was easily trimmed out when underway. This helps positively when facing moderate head seas allowing for effective trimming up when going head to head with the occasional growler. At small wave heights there was a little hull noise as she crushed anything thrown at her. The ride was perfectly dry even when the nose became partially buried into a big sea, the hard nose, cabin console and screen doing their jobs perfectly.

On 16 miles or so crossing in a gale force 8 three growlers caught us out on the port beam. Large beam seas are always one of the most difficult to tackle, but on each occasion the hull and tubes responded well as we were pushed sideways and tilted by the side swipe from the wave. The RIB responded quickly and was easily brought head to sea and back into control. One technique is to ride the top of a wave surfing along the crest until it's safe to drop off it and then to pick-up another. It's remarkable what speed can be made with an exhilarating ride at the same time!

In quieter waters the max speed, with two crew and a full fuel tank, was virtually on the 40 kt mark at almost full throttle. The engine revs and stainless steel prop had been matched up very well indeed. Tight high speed turns to port & starboard proved the stability and the grip of the hull was exceptional. No slip or skidding even as the power was increased. A very good hull performance and a craft of exceptional sea-keeping ability.

 


 

Bring On The Power
Redbay Boats have chosen to power their pocket cruiser with one of the latest Suzuki Marine UK, DF250 hp four-stroke outboards. The world's first production 250hp V6 4-stroke. It was to prove a very good match for a cruising set-up. The power unit was very responsive and acceleration remarkable, especially taking into account the overall weight of the boat which, including engine, fuel and crew, was some 2.5 tonnes.

The DF250hp has 3614cc displacement and 69hp per litre power to displacement ratio, the greatest ever seen in the 4-stroke category. The DF250 is also the lightest and most compact outboard in its class and a winner of the prestigious NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) Innovation Award, a genuine custom built marine 4-stroke.

It is based on a new 55-degree V6 configuration giving a slim more compact design; has a dual overhead cam 24-valve power head; electronic fuel injection; a tuned multi stage intake manifold to enhance engine performance by changing the way the engine breathes at different speeds; variable valve timing (Suzuki exclusive) which continually adjusts intake timing for more low and mid range torque, improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions; offset drive shaft providing a big 2.26:1 gear ratio giving fast acceleration and top speed.

There was no hesitation in getting the boat on to the plane and the throttle response was found to be very quick as proved in the challenging seas we encountered. The 250hp unit was an unbelievably quiet running outboard. One had to continually check the cooling water 'tell tale' and the engine rev counter to confirm that the outboard was still running. Yes, it really was that quiet!

The overall weight of the boat is 2050kg plus fuel. The fuel tank holds 70 gallons (320kg) and with the DF 250hp gives a range of approx 300 miles.

 

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S/S Boarding Steps
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Suzuki DF250 Outboard Engine

 


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"Ardbeg"
The Prototype
750-S
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Features:
DF250 hp Suzuki outboard. Teak deck, 4 x Pod seats, Rear bench seat. Double Stainless steel A-frame with radar reflector. Roller bunk trailer DSC VHF CD Stereo Console cover Standard Horizon 12in Chart plotter. Fuel tank, 70 gallons, typical range 300nm, and a max speed of approx 40 kts. Complete with a Run Rig CD, the essential music for cruising the West Coast of Scotland, perhaps while stopping to enjoy a wee dram of 'Ardbeg'.

June 2009

MODEL Redbay Boats - Stormforce 750-S
PRICE
Fitted DF250 Four-stroke: Demo Boat Price
£45,000
Ex Cushendall N.I.
All prices are Ex VAT

Tel: +44 (0) 28 217 71331
Web: www.redbayboats.com
Contact e-mail:
Redbay Boats

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