BOAT TEST: INTEGRITY 320 EXPLORER
The entry-level Integrity 320 Explorer brings affordable, no-fuss boating to the masses. JOHN ZAMMIT is smitten…
It's been two years since Integrity Motor Yachts released its 35-foot 350 Mk II flybridge cruiser onto the Australian market. At the time, it was bucking the trend by releasing a back-to-basics trawler-style boat, with a single non-electronic engine, cable controls and analogue gauges - sans the glitz and glamour.
The boatbuilder banked on there being customers who didn't necessarily need, or want to pay for, the latest whizz-bang technology, electronics and gadgetry, and just wanted a reliable, well-built and easy to maintain boat. It seems Integrity was right on the money! With hull No. 20 currently under construction it has found a niche and appears to be setting a trend.
Not content to sit back and relax, Integrity Motor Yachts Australia principal Brett Flanagan and national sales manager Peter Hill say they've been listening to the market and, as a result, have released the Integrity 320 Explorer. It's essentially a scaled-down version of the 350, but with a single cabin and no flybridge. The concept remains the same, though, a back-to-basics boat without the bling.
At 9.72m (32ft) LOA, this boat will appeal to a specific sector of the market for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's priced in basic form at $299K, which in itself is an attraction. But don't think for a moment it's lacking in creature comforts. Actually, it's quite nicely fitted out; just add an electronics package and go. Second, it's got a waterline clearance of less than 3m meaning it can get under low bridges, and thirdly, there are those who just don't want a flybridge, not the least of which is the hassle of stairs.
We had a good look at the Integrity 320 Explorer recently, took it for a run and found it impressive in more ways than one.
Stepping into the saloon from the cockpit, the interior is pleasantly open, bright and airy, in a straightforward layout that maximises space. The L-shape seating around a fold-up table to starboard comfortably seats four and, if needed, converts to a double bed. Opposite, is more seating that lifts to reveal a handy 80lt icebox that's fully lined and with an overboard drain could easily be converted to an Isotherm 12V freezer.
Forward is the portside galley, incorporating a Corian bench top, stainless steel sink with flick-mixer tap and a cover for more bench space, and a twin-burner gas cooktop. Handy power points are within easy reach and there's a 140lt fridge-freezer fitted under bench. The only thing I'd be inclined to add here is a microwave.
Incidentally, the boats are built in China but all appliances, including the stereo, CD/DVD and TV which come as standard, are all fitted locally, ensuring compliance with Australian standards and no warranty issues. Storage isn't a problem either, with ample drawers and cabinets, both above and below the bench.
The interior is detailed in Burmese teak timber with a teak and holly sole, all contrasting with the light colour of the bench top and seat fabric. Overall, it's a warm ambience. Also, with high ceilings (2.03m), four large opening windows, two opening doors (one beside the helm to the sidedeck and one to the cockpit) and two large ceiling hatches, there's stacks of light and ventilation, giving the impression that you're on a much bigger boat.
Engine access is via a hatch in the saloon sole, three hatches actually, one hinged with gas strut for day use and two larger hatches for serious servicing. Getting down is easy thanks to an inbuilt step and once in there's loads of space to get around the big 150hp Iveco 6.7lt naturally aspirated power plant.
Future models will see John Deere engines fitted, as Flanagan and Hill say they've negotiated a deal to standardise on the engine brand throughout the Integrity range. Iveco will still be an option.
The engineroom is nicely laid out with everything you need to get to, like the Racor fuel-water separator, coolant top-up, batteries, and so on, all handily located. There's a 40lt hot-water service (that operates on AC or the heat exchanger) and a battery charger here, too.
Incidentally, there are five batteries onboard: three 200amp/h house batteries, one 200amp/h for the engine and a separate 150amp/h battery for the bowthruster. Yes, the bowthruster is included as standard. Meanwhile, there's plenty of room leftover for a genset, although I'd consider an inverter with solar panels, which the large flat cabin roof lends itself to.
Outboard either side of the engineroom are twin interconnected fuel tanks, which can be independently isolated in the case of a fuel problem. Both tanks have sight gauges, while there's a fuel gauge at the helm, and carry a total fuel capacity of 950lt. What I thought was really practical is a sump in each tank with a drain cock. If you have fuel contamination issues, the tanks can be drained, with side inspection hatches to get inside.
At the starboard helm, it's all no-nonsense practicality. There's analogue gauges for fuel, water, oil, temp and tacho, and rocker switches for wipers, horn and winch, alongside bowthruster controls, gear and throttle levers, and that's about it. If you're thinking of doing coastal hops, and that's a genuine choice for this boat, you should add a GPS-plotter-sounder and possibly radar for travelling at night. But if you just want the 320 Explorer as a social dayboat and occasional overnighter forget the radar.
There's no room on the dash for anything but the smallest screen, so realistically these need to be independently mounted on the windscreen sill. While partially obstructing the view forward, it's not a major issue. After all, and to keep things in perspective, we're talking about a 32-footer at around $300,000. The fact that we're even suggesting coastal cruising says a lot about the boat!
In regard to the inbuilt single helm chair with footrest, I generally like to stand at the helm and lean against the seat on this type of setup. A sliding helm door to the walkaround sidedecks allows the skipper to quickly go forward or aft and, with an adjacent opening in the rail above the raised bulwarks, it's literally three steps from the helm on to the dock, ideal if you're berthing singlehanded.
Leaving the price aside there's still plenty to like about this boat, covered walkaround sidedecks with raised bulwarks and high siderails means getting around is safe and easy. Up forward, the bowsprit contains a Quick anchor winch, a 27lb anchor and handy seawater washdown. There's good-size hawsepipes and cleats all round and going aft, a surprisingly large, fully covered and carpeted cockpit.
A transom door leads to the swimplatform, making boarding easy, especially for young kids and older folk, while there's also a hot-and-cold transom shower with enough hose so as to double as a deckwash. A lazarette located under the cockpit sole provides access to the rudder gear, emergency tiller, water tanks (450lt all up) and house batteries. You'll also find room here to store quite a bit of gear.
The single cabin located in the bow can be closed off for privacy. Like the saloon it's light, bright and airy, courtesy of nearly 2m of headroom, opening side windows and an overhead hatch. There's a queen-size island bed, ample hanging space, drawers, shelving and plenty of room to store all those things you'd need for extended time onboard.
The bathroom has a separate shower room, an electric head (with holding tank) and a vanity basin. This is a good use of space and quite a practical layout for a couple. Both sections have large opening windows providing good ventilation
There's no doubt that these boats have been built to a price, but that's not to say they're built carelessly, far from it. The savings come from sticking with older, simpler, technology, not from skimping where it matters. In fact, the engineering, general finish and the standard inclusions are impressive.
Take the AC system as an example. The electrical wiring, rated to AS3000 Australian Standard, is numbered and incorporates a series of RCDs (Residual Current Devices), the same safety trip switches you'd find in your own home.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The hull is full displacement with a large keel, a fully protected prop and large rudder. The Iveco engine is rated to 2800rpm but on the day of our test we managed 3100rpm. I'm not sure if the tacho needed calibrating or the pitch on the large four-blade prop needed a tweak but at that rate, we managed to get her up to 10.8kts running against a bit of current.
The 2400rpm mark was about the number that sounded right to me and that produced 7.5kts against the current and 8.6kts coming back. Either way, the boat handled quite well; she went where pointed and traveled nicely.
While we never got the opportunity to test the Integrity 320 Explorer in any sort of a sea, a bit of wash from a couple of big cruisers on the Broadwater was about the best we could manage. However, this boat did make the trip from Brisbane to the Gold Coast in foul weather and I'm told she comfortably handled the conditions. I don't doubt that, given the hull is based on the 350 Mk II and one has been to Lizard Island and another crossed Bass Strait to Tasmania recently.
(Facts & figures)
INTEGRITY 320 EXPLORER
AT THE WHEEL
One thing I can say is that the Explorer spins on a coin thanks to a robust keel and large rudder. Back off the revs, turn the wheel and give her a bit of stick and she almost turns in her own length. Throw in a bit of help from the bowthruster and she's very easy to handle, even at the closest of quarters.
PRICE AS TESTED
Single 150hp Iveco 6.7lt diesel
RPM SPEED FUEL BURN RANGE
1000 4.9kts 8.99lt/h 518nm
1250 5.6kts 11.69lt/h 455nm
1500 6.2kts 13.41lt/h 439nm
1750 7.1kts 16.42lt/h 411nm
2000 7.5kts 18.19lt/h 392nm
2250 8.2kts 20.46lt/h 381nm
2500 9kts 22.99lt/h 372nm
2800 10.5kts 23.05lt/h 433nm
* Sea-trial data supplied by Integrity Motor Yacts
TYPE: Hard-chine displacement monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 9.72m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 8.28m
WEIGHT: 7 tonnes
HOLDING TANK: 150lt
PEOPLE (NIGHT): 2+2
MAKE/MODEL: Iveco N67 MNA M15
TYPE: Naturally aspirated six-cylinder diesel
RATED HP: 150
WEIGHT: 530kg (dry)
GEARBOX (MAKE/RATIO): ZF-45A / 2.45:1
We think this boat has a lot of appeal: it's low maintenance, easy to understand, economical and perfect for a couple who want to get away for a day, a weekend or longer. How you use the boat will determine what you'd add by way of electronics, additional refrigeration, genset, inverter, watermaker, and so on. But that flexibility means the Integrity 320 has exceeding broad appeal.
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