RHÉA 850 TIMONIER
TESTED A pricey package but the 850 is beautifully made and seriously capable
LOA 27ft 9in (8.5m) BEAM 10ft 8in (3.3m) DRAUGHT 2ft 8in (0.85m) DISPLACEMENT 4.5 tonnes TEST ENGINES Twin Volvo Penta D3 225hp TOP SPEED 26 knots CONSUMPTION AT 20 KNOTS 60lph PRICE FROM £215,240 inc VAT PRICE AS TESTED £270,000 inc VAT CONTACT Marco Marine. Tel: +44 (0) 2380 453245 www.rheaboats.co.uk
Of all the boats I tested last year the 730 Timonier is one that I remember with fondness. We took it into the Solent and battled a stiff westerly against an opposing tide and though it threw water over the wheelhouse with unbridled abandon the way it plugged on through the white horses left a lasting impression. Its honest, workboat attitude to seakeeping teamed with top-notch detailing make it a unique proposition so surely its larger sibling, the 850, is going to be even more rewarding?
The principles are exactly the same: a robust semi-displacement hull with single or twin diesel engines and a wheelhouse that makes year-round, turn-key boating a reality. The 850 is a boat that, once on board, immediately feels bigger than it is. There’s the heft to the boarding gates, the chunkiness to the deck gear, the depth and width of the sidedecks and when was the last time you saw a 28ft boat with twin anchor rollers?
Of course in comparison to a sportscruiser of an equivalent size the 850 lacks comfortable outdoor living space and it’s not a boat to consider if you are in the market for a floating patio. The cockpit is relatively sparse but for fishing or carrying a standup paddleboard or kayak the cockpit and sidedecks are ideal. You can load it up with fishing gear and watersports equipment, head out for the day and then just hose everything off when you get back – a true SUV of the sea. There’s a nod to comfort in our test boat’s cockpit thanks to a set of flip-up benches, which with some cushions would be perfectly comfortable for a quick lunch.
Machinery access is superb even if you opt for the twin-engine installation. The huge hatch in the cockpit rises on gas rams to reveal a neat and tidy engine bay that makes daily service checks a breeze and more involved work hassle-free too. Everywhere you turn there is evidence that this is a boat designed by people who go boating and expect it to be used all year round. The wheelhouse is key to this as it means even in the depths of winter you can dash to your favourite waterside hostelry without being dressed up like an RNLI volunteer.
The finish is plain but it is undeniably solid and the interior is as well thought out as the deck spaces. The compact galley is packed with clever storage solutions, including a wine rack, and it’s especially useful how the forward end of the dinette flips to create a forward-facing bench to supplement the single helm seat.
As an option you can have another side door on the port side, something we would recommend to make access in and out of the wheelhouse even easier.
A central companionway leads down to the cabin where two single berths meet at the forward end, split by a central passage. Though this means a couple will be sleeping apart, this arrangement makes getting in and out of the berths far easier than if it were a big double, even if the port berth is shortened slightly by the bathroom unit. The bathroom has full standing headroom for someone of 6ft but there isn’t a separate shower cubicle.
There is a whole raft of single and twin diesel options from a host of different manufacturers but the twin Volvo Penta D3 220s we had on test are a sweet partnership. Despite the sensible looks the 850 skips up to speed in a heartbeat and charges up to a top speed of 26 knots, where it’s consuming around 100lph. Drop back to 17 knots, where the boat feels most comfortable, and the engines are consuming almost half of that. It is a little noisy, though, with sound levels registering at over 80 DB(A) in the saloon even with the doors closed. There’s nothing wrong with the way the hull goes through the water mind, it just eats up the chop and barrels along gamely. It is an easy boat to drive with very little to distract the skipper from doing so. The helm is simple and clear, sightlines are good and there aren’t even any trim tabs to think about. Simply set the throttles at the most comfortable speed for the conditions and let the boat get on with it. For close-quarters work – even with twin engines – I would specify the bowthruster to give fine touches of control when coming alongside.
You could argue that the 850 is short on creature comforts and expensive for what it is but as soon as you come into contact with it and get it out to sea it’s clear where the money is being spent. You have to remind yourself that it is just 28ft long yet it is a genuinely capable, evergreen cruising boat that few at this size can compete with.
The 850 Timonier barrelled nonchalantly through the chop
HELM Th e simple helm set- up enjoys good sightlines and a sliding side door
L E F T Volva Penta D3 220s made light work of the heavy lifting but were a little too audible RIGHT Twin anchor rollers hint at the 850’s tough nature