Built for battle

Mark Robinson | VOLUME 25, ISSUE 6
By any standards, the Arvor 215 possesses striking looks
Arvors have earned a reputation for being able to fight big fish in big seas.

Northern Europeans have been putting to sea throughout most of recorded history and boat ownership per capita remains high to this day. And that’s despite their usual scenario of a dark and cloudy sky, along with slate-grey seas and icy winds. Gale warnings are common much of the year and sea conditions are often listed as rough, to very rough. Given all this, we can confidently conclude that Euro boaties are a crazy bunch. Or not …

With so much experience venturing out in less than ideal conditions, Europeans have a reputation for designing and building craft that cope extremely well with lumpy seas. Which is both one of the strengths and also one of the weaknesses of the Arvor 215; a statement that I’ll clarify a little further on.

By any standards, the Arvor 215 possesses striking looks, combining an aesthetic appeal with features that promise a high degree of seaworthiness, such as the deep forefoot, flared bow, high coamings and self-draining cockpit.

The semi-planing hull has been described as “a gull-wing-shaped, variable deadrise” arrangement, which, when it is viewed from the rear, presents a configuration resembling a tri-hull. Now, a semi-planing hull is never going to compete in the speed stakes with a true planing hull, but nevertheless, the Arvor can get along at a reasonable cruising speed of 17 knots (31km/h) and tops out around 21 knots (39km/h).

The hull features a slight keel and full skeg aft, the skeg’s role being to provide protection for the craft’s four-blade, shaft-driven, bronze propeller and its stainless steel rudder. Generously proportioned chines provide a good degree of stability at rest.

Hull length, excluding the swim platform, is 6.36m and it sports a beam of 2.54m, but the overall beefy appearance of the vessel gives it a bigger presence than the measurements might suggest. If we include the swim platform, it brings the overall length to 6.88m and other vital statistics include a draft of 0.75m, a fuel tank capacity of 95lt and a displacement of 1650kg, including the engine.

SPACIOUS CRAFT

The craft is rated for six occupants, each of whom could find room to fish comfortably in the spacious cockpit with the aforementioned high coamings and their stylish wooden capping. However, the smoothly-rounded finish where the craft’s sides join with the cockpit floor do not allow any sort of toe-hold when fighting a decent-sized fish – an omission that some might see as a disadvantage in a fishing platform.

Construction is listed as solid GRP, with the hull-to-deck join both bolted and glued. From what I could see of the gelcoat, the finish was close to flawless.

With its full walk-around cabin and spacious cockpit, a split bow rail (which is high enough to provide a good level of crew safety in a seaway), and with a spacious anchor well up forward accompanied by quite substantial hardware, it is apparent that considerable practical planning has gone into this vessel.

Earlier I said that being designed in Europe, primarily for use in the North Sea, represents both a strength and a weakness in this vessel, so it’s time I explained myself. You see, while it has less of a claustrophobic feel than some other vessels from the Northern Hemisphere, its wheelhouse’s rather small side hatch provides limited ventilation and reports from owners in our hotter parts of the country suggest that there needs to be considerably more airflow. While the large clear hatch on the cabin topsides helps in this respect, it may not be enough if your boating is either close to, or somewhere above, the Tropic of Capricorn.

Helm station visibility is very good, with the five-spoke, wooden-finished wheel falling readily to hand, and there are good sightlines to the instrumentation, which includes a good-sized compass fitted right where it should be for the skipper to view when attempting to steer an accurate compass course.

A CMD, four-cylinder, 2lt, 115hp, shaft-drive diesel motor provides power and features high-pressure, common-rail injection, which, its manufacturer claims, provides economical running, along with significant smoke and noise reduction. Counter-balance shafts on the engine are there to help smooth vibration, while heat exchangers and exhaust manifolds have been designed to reduce both size and weight.

As you can see in the accompanying photograph, the mechanical fit-out is very neat, with components readily accessible for servicing or repairs, while a SmartCraft engine display system places key information right at the skipper’s fingertips.

DIFFERENT DRIVER

The hull and engine combination makes driving this boat a somewhat different experience to a true planing hull that needs to climb over ‘the hump’ as it transfers from displacement mode to full planing. On the Arvor, pushing the throttle lever results in a steady surge forward, with the hull lifting as it does so with the assistance of several planing strakes. At the relatively slow speed of around eight knots (15km/h) it is virtually planing, with further throttle advance taking it up to a top speed of 21 knots (39km/h).

Steering is light and fairly positive, while the underwater configuration of this vessel provides a somewhat different feel to a true planing hull, with wave action from the side influencing the hull’s position to a greater degree than one might be used to. Given that, on the test day, South Australia’s Gulf Saint Vincent was in an especially calm mood, I was unable to detect this handling characteristic, however, overseas tests suggest there is a certain amount of side-to-side wandering in a boisterous seaway as the keel is pushed sideways.

In an attempt to evaluate the softness of the ride, I chased down a large game fishing boat and drove back and forth across its not inconsiderable wake. Here I found that the Arvor took the lumps fairly comfortably, with little apparent jarring. Somewhat annoyingly, the stainless bar that acts as a passenger footrest clanged with each impact, but this would be an easy fix. And while wake characteristics are only a poor approximation of a rough sea, the softness of the ride as we criss-crossed the game boat’s wash suggested the Arvor handles with reasonable comfort in the kind of sea conditions often encountered around our coastline.

Standard features on the test craft included hydraulic steering, an electric anchor winch, two electric bil gepumps, full engine instrumentation, an electric windscreen wiper, a VHF radio, an AM/FM radio/CD player, a cutting board, mooring cleats, rod holders, gunwale rollers, a swim platform with stainless steel ladder and an outboard bracket, plus a bait board and transom door.

NANNA NAPS

While not intended for lengthy cruising or onboard living, the wheelhouse V-berths are sufficient for an average size adult to overnight on or to enjoy a nanna-nap between tides, with the lockable sliding cabin door a boon in colder weather.

The two fold-up wooden benches in the cockpit are a nice practical feature for slow fishing days and can be kept out of the way when the bite is on, while the two underfloor lockers provide plenty of storage for fenders and the ones that didn’t manage to get away. And, given the inbuilt live bait tank with electric pump, plus the inbuilt tackle drawer, there’s potential for plenty of those.

The fully self-draining deck, with its generously-sized scuppers, is designed to quickly and efficiently shed any green water that comes aboard, along with any rainwater that might collect on a mooring. Safety features include the well-placed stainless steel grabrails that provide secure handholds just about anywhere you choose to either sit or stand. And the stainless steel ladder and handholds facilitate easy reboarding from the swim platform.

In the Arvor range there are six models available here in Australia and in the 10 or so years these craft have been imported, they have enjoyed a growing acceptance of their unconventional, though practical configuration.

This particular craft is well worth a close look, particularly if you go boating in our colder climes and are in the market for a quality, sea-kindly vessel with timeless styling. Equipped as tested, the Arvor 215 wears a price tag of $92,950. ¿

SPECIFICATIONS: ARVOR 215

Type: Cabin walkaround

Material: GRP composite

Length: 6.36m

Beam: 2.54m

Weight: 1650kg

Fuel: 90lt

Capacity: 6 adults

Power: CMD 2lt 115hp

For more information: www.arvor.com.au.


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