Now, as we all know, it would be rather unfair of the RYA to endorse or review bits of kit. Essentially, as governing body of the sport, that would simply enrage a lot of people. What we can do, however, is draft in a real expert to do it for us and who better to give his opinions than Alex Smith, Editor of Sports Boat and RIB Magazine.
Smith: Boiled bilge water
When it comes to reviews, Alex doesn't mess around and he lives and breathes the powerboating scene. You should see his kitcken: Rumour has it that he uses a 30 HP Johnson outboard as a blender, while guests to the Smith household are not offered a cup of tea or coffee, merely a mug of boiled bilge water.
If they want sprinkles on top of that, they are generally given a withering look and some ground up rust.
Currently scraping the contents of his smoothie mix off the walls and not expecting any guests for a while, here are his thoughts...
We start this month with the breaking news that an environmentally sound craft does not have to look like a pensioner’s mobility vehicle. Yes, Italy’s first fast electric leisure boat, the Super Indios 24, has made batteries desirable.
It uses a high-power electric engine, producing around 95 hp and allowing it to reach about 20 knots. And while we all know that a £15,000 Bayliner could achieve double that for far less money, you have to be impressed by this new craft. After all, generating sufficient drive without making the battery bank too heavy for use in a planing vessel is an impressive feat in itself.
To do that in a boat that looks like a classic Riva is really rather remarkable.
The downside? Well it takes nearly six hours to charge her up with two connections to shore power - and once you’re underway, you will apparently enjoy little more than two hours at 11 knots, giving you a useable range of just 25 miles. That’s not especially good but more concerning is the fact that the very concept itself is faintly pointless.
After all, until our electricity can be drawn from a combination of wind, water and recycled cattle flatulence, building electric vehicles is just a less obvious means of burning fossil fuels. Yes, it’s a pretty boat but, for now, I’m gonna have to remain an electric sceptic.
Happily though, back in Blighty, a famous name in British sports boating is back from the wilderness, courtesy of Hugh Hodgson, owner of Pembrokeshire Sports Boats.
Having bought the moulds, Hugh is once again manufacturing Salcombe Flyers from an ideal testing ground at the company’s headquarters on the Pembroke estuary in West Wales. He will launch a fresh line-up consisting of at least four craft in the spring of 2010 and I am delighted to report that the new range will retain the excellent 480 Sport and 530 Sport, as well as the 440 Tiller (for engines of up to 25 hp) and the 440 Sport (for engines of up to 60 hp).
In time, the intention is to add to this established portfolio a new 600 sports boat, as well as an eight-metre sports cruiser, allowing the marque’s many fans some very feasible upgrade routes. It’s a most welcome return from these famously capable sea boats. 01834 891616 / www.pembrokeshiresportsboats.co.uk
Of all the gear that has crossed my desk this month, this is perhaps the most ingenious. The Mini-B is a quick, convenient and comfortable alternative to setting up your full dive kit when you need to get in the water quickly and you don’t plan to stay there too long.
With the air tank, regulator, BCD and weights all integrated into a one-size-fits-all backpack, you can be ready to free a fouled prop, check an underwater ﬁtting or repair collision damage in seconds. The only additional kit you need is a mask and ﬁns and both can also be supplied by Mini-B.
In addition to the fact that this gear involves far less kitting up time, the gauges and hoses are protected inside the backpack when not in use and the whole bundle is extremely easy to stow and transport. It’s also more hydrodynamically efﬁcient, meaning you burn less energy during your dive. There are models of various capacity available so whatever kind of activity you enjoy, there ought to be a product in the range to suit. See www.mini-b.com for details.
It’s not just the new magazine that’s full of good stuff - the reader’s online forum is also making great strides, with a rather special new auction room, where equipment donated by the readers is being sold to raise money for the RNLI.
It will only be around until 29 January 2010, when all proceeds from the initiative will be donated to the RNLI SOS fund raising day, so get yourself online (www.sportsboat.co.uk), sign up for the Forum and either donate something boat-related or make a bid on the stuff that’s already been posted. It’s great fun and it’s all to raise money for those fine people at the RNLI who help keep us safe on the water.
For more on any of the above, buy the December 2009 issue of Sports Boat and RIB magazine or visit www.sportsboat.co.uk. More from me next month, when I shall indulge in my annual rant about how nobody ever buys me the presents I really want . . .