Rigid-hulled workhorse sets pace
Cordina 5.4 RHB is near indestructible and smooth at sea
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.