Rigid-hulled work­horse sets pace

Cor­dina 5.4 RHB is near in­de­struc­tible and smooth at sea

The West Australian - - WESTWHEELS BOATING - MIKE BROWN

The Cor­dina 5.4 is pretty much in its own cat­e­gory: an en­tirely alu­minium hull, yet re­sem­bling a rigid in­flat­able de­spite noth­ing in­flat­ing.

Hence, the builder’s des­ig­na­tion of RHB (rigid hulled boat).

That said, it still has many of the ad­van­tages of a rigid in­flat­able.

This ex­am­ple has been built for South Aus­tralian Fish­eries as a heavy duty work boat — and it looks it — yet this same ba­sic struc­ture is also used for leisure boats.

This is about as close to in­de­struc­tible as it gets. The alu­minium hull is largely sur­rounded by a solid buoy­ant col­lar that is a com­bined fender and source of re­serve buoy­ancy.

Com­mer­cial fea­tures which may or may not be deleted for leisure in­clude a crash frame around the 115hp Mer­cury mo­tor, with a side­line in aerial car­ry­ing, and a board­ing ar­range­ment for­ward over the square bow.

This lat­ter could be wel­come as a sim­ple sys­tem for a ten­der: just point at the moth­er­ship and idle ahead with no need for tech­nique to berth along­side.

The col­lar is car­ried high and ta­pers for­ward, so most of the time han­dling is the same as a nor­mal alu­minium boat.

In rougher weather, though, the col­lar’s buoy­ancy would come use­fully into play.

We worked the boat hard and found the pur­pose­ful looks were truth­ful: not so much as a creak from the hull and a very good ride. Steer­ing was es­sen­tially fin­ger­tip, mak­ing park­ing ma­noeu­vres easy.

The con­sole is of beefy con­struc­tion and con­tains two lock­ers, sen­si­bly reached from for­ward.

There is plenty of hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal area for mount­ing switchgear and dis­plays, a full-width foot bar, and good hand­holds and foot space for a stand­ing driver.

Sit­ting, though, would be a plea­sure. The Shark sus­pen­sion seats from New Zealand, the source of a lot of good boat­ing gear, do their job very well.

Seats for two more peo­ple are pro­vided by a box-mounted set­tee at the tran­som. More ca­sual, and non-up­hol­stered seat­ing is avail­able on the board­ing step for­ward. This is aft of a king-size an­chor locker.

Get­ting around on board is eas­ier than on a con­ven­tional rigid in­flat­able due to greater in­ter­nal beam and full height gun­wales.

Th­ese are capped for most of their length by rails, al­low­ing safe move­ment at speed. The deck is sheathed in router-cut foam sim­i­lar to SeaDek, giv­ing a com­bi­na­tion of grip, easy clean­ing, hard wear­ing and good un­der­foot feel.

Cor­dina built the trailer, and a beauty it is; made of alu­minium, of course, im­mensely strong and fit­ted with an auto catch. A nov­elty is a com­part­ment in the draw­bar for the winch han­dle.

This echoes an equally thought­ful mini locker in the con­sole’s side that houses the bat­tery switches; no grov­el­ling to reach th­ese. Launch and re­cov­ery were one-man jobs with drive off and drive on as straight­for­ward as it could be.

The Cor­dina has a solid buoy­ant col­lar, that is a com­bined fender and source of re­serve buoy­ancy.

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