|Max HP||450 (total/twin)|
|Fuel Capacity||120 gallons/545 litres|
|Standard Engine||70hp petrol outboard|
|Price||$78,000 with twin 150hp outboards|
|Driving this Nautica 25 out of Fort Lauderdale harbour entrance at dusk, it looked like we were going out on night patrol. The boat certainly looked the part with virtually everything above the waterline in bright yellow and the three Stidd seats giving the boat a purposeful, slightly threatening air. The seas were lively under the influence of a fresh onshore wind, conditions in which this powerful RIB seemed entirely at home. |
In this version of the Nautica 25 there was enough power to see off almost any opposition. Twin Yamaha V-Max 225 outboards is a lot of power on a 25 footer which made opening the throttles an exciting event. The boat seemed to want to accelerate forever and the Bahamas, just a hundred miles away across the warm Gulf Stream, beckoned.
The boat being tested was a very special version of the Nautica 25 but this model has a chameleon-like character, available in many different versions for many different purposes. There is the white version with open console, which can be used as a sports or dive boat, or even as a tender for large yachts.
A patrol version can be had in grey or white and offers the protection of a T-top and full height windscreen. Both of these versions can operate as a tour boat and all types are offered with the option of single or twin diesels, or petrol engines coupled to sterndrives or waterjets, or single or twin outboards.
And then there is the yellow test version. This was built to demonstrate the capabilities of the Nautica 25 and the Stidd seats enable you to drive this boat to the limits. It is a veritable rocket ship, with the accent on acceleration and quick engine response rather than top speed and this certainly makes for an exciting ride.
Using these Stidd seats adds a whole new dimension to fast boating. They are fully adjustable, sprung units with a high supporting back and you can choose a sitting or standing position. A four point harness enables you to strap yourself into the seat so that, to all intents and purposes you become part of the boat and you don’t have to hang on ‘or grim death’. This is one of the first RIBs I have driven where the three man crew all have the same seating. This means that the driver knows that his crew are coping with the conditions because he is in the same situation.
For serious patrol operations in a high speed RIB it is only the quality of seating which enables the boat to be driven to the limits in adverse conditions. Stidd seats are heavy because they have to be strong enough to hold your weight at several ‘g’. The seats are used a lot by the American military and the only comparable seats in Europe are the new Tecno seat from FB Design.
The Nautica 25 has a complex hull design, developed to operate efficiently at various speeds and loadings. The deadrise at the transom is a modest 18 degrees and there is a single step in the hull plus multiple chines designed mainly to get the boat up on to the plane quickly.
This hull is fitted with large diameter tubes which are just above the waterline at rest. The weight of a diesel installation would set them lower, but at speed the tubes lift clear to reduce drag. At the bow the tube is squared off which increases the deck space inside and all round, there is an inverted vee in the angle between the tube and the hull.
The hull shape certainly makes for easy planing with even modest power and this is one of the reasons behind the design. However, the compromises which allow this also produce a fairly harsh ride which could verge on the unpleasant at high speeds, if it were not for the security offered by the Stidd seats. You become conscious of the inverted vee between the tubes and hull in waves, but then you are grateful for the stabilizing effect this produces when executing high speed turns. The bow is another area of compromise, the square tube generating a lot of buoyancy if the bow should bury in a following sea, but also creating a lot of resistance and spray in the same situation.
This RIB is great fun to drive with the instant response to the throttles enabling the boat to be driven hard in rough conditions. The secure seating allows the wheel and throttles to be used in the way they were designed and you always feel very much in control of the situation. The boat tracks straight and true and turning the wheel brings a quick response, with the sharp angle of heel arrested once the tube touches the water and brings in its reserve buoyancy. The standard console has room for a good spread of dials and displays. On the test boat it was laid out as a one man console but it is wide enough for two, with a windscreen to offer protection. Handholds are built in and can be adapted to requirements. A double seat at the helm offers comfort but does little to help with location. With an inboard engine installation, this seat moulding extends aft to form the engine box.
Forward there is bench seating around a central well with large stowage lockers under them. Further seating is built into the forward side of the console. A forward moulding creates a good entry step above the tube and a secure mounting for mooring and anchoring fittings. An arch mast can be incorporated over the rear of the boat and a swim platform and a bimini top are other options.
The Nautica 25 is a very versatile RIB which has been designed to meet a wide variety of applications, both leisure and commercial. It represents part of the growing penetration of RIBs into the US market and it is this type of RIB which is starting to develop the adventure market in the US.
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