TESTED: OUTER REEF 630 LONG RANGE
Team Trade-A-Boat soaks up the sun, and catches a few zzz’s on the sparkling emerald waters of Moreton Bay, thanks to the soothing rhythms of an Outer Reef 630 Long Range motoryacht.
Perhaps it was the hangover from the preceding night’s red eye Perth-Brisbane flight, or maybe it was just a few hectic weeks catching up with me but I must confess to grabbing a nap while testing the Outer Reef 630 Long Range.
Very unprofessional certainly but who could resist such somnific rhythms? The metronomic pulse of the twin propellers, the relentless swishing of water passing under, and that caressing Queensland autumn sun.
Besides, we were on a day off! A demanding schedule meant I had to drag my artistic companions, head photographer Ellen Dewar and videographer Stephen Dwight out on Anzac Day. Not that they were complaining much – a perfect day, a gorgeous boat and a cruise to Moreton Island and back. Many would happily pay for the privilege.
Ellen’s partner opted to join us on this busman’s holiday, which was nice as David is something of a passagemaking aficionado. Yes, his two passions are big beautiful blue-water cruisers and highly talented photographers. He also collects two-stroke Suzuki four-wheel-drives and dreams of cruising Australia, and then the world, with one of these noisy beasts onboard and his personal snapper in tow to chronicle the adventures.
Chatting with David next to the dock, he commented that the vessel’s name didn’t do justice to its size.
Visually, the Outer Reef 630 Long Range is a big boat. Imposing gunwales suggest the vessel’s claimed seagoing credentials may be well founded. A moderately flared bow sweeps up to a strong bowsprit adorned with twin stainless steel 75lb Bair CQR anchors.
A Portuguese bridge adds confidence to the look and topped off as it is by a classic flybridge, this boat looks for all money the long-range cruiser it’s billed to be. Oversized hawse pipes and even simple features like the reed switch in the crew cabin/engineering access, which lets the skipper know if the watertight door isn’t completely sealed, reveal the builders have taken the brief seriously.
At more than 35 tonnes loaded it’s a heavy boat – a fact that became apparent shortly after leaving the dock. The 630 rides with purpose, defiantly ploughing through some not insignificant waves thrown by freighters hurrying for the horizon. Clearly the idyllic conditions we were blessed with on this day weren’t likely to give us any real indication of how the vessel would perform in the conditions it was designed for, but even on this day the weight and strength of the boat was unmistakeable.
With a rendezvous organised with our photo boat for the day, at a yet to be pinpointed location a couple of hours to the north, David assumed the role of skipper as we set course and pushed the speed up to 13kts.
David looked right at home at the flybridge command station. A single, quality Stidd pilot chair sat behind an oversized stainless steel wheel. It might sound critical but I did feel the helm could have benefited from a second chair. Regardless, it is comfortable and very ship-like, affording excellent views under a rigid targa-styled hardtop with easy-open clears in place for some manual climate control.
To ensure the role of skipper will not be a lonely one Outer Reef have included a couch for three or four and a small table on the bridge, as well as opportunities to easily retrofit a barbecue, fridge and a decent wetbar. Supporting this potential is an abundance of cupboard space, all complete with teak gratings to keep stored items clean and dry and off the deck.
Much of this space would be ideally suited as storage for equipment likely to be used on the Outer Reef 630’s tender. Sadly there was no tender resident during our cruise off the Brisbane coast, but the location built to hold one was impressive enough just in terms of scale.
For you own reference take a look at one of the boat photos pictured hereabouts. Looking at the top deck, the area from the aft side of the targa arch back is a dedicated tender home complete with an 800kg-rated Aritex davit in place to handle launching duties.
This top-deck utility area is very large. I paced it out to be around nine metres long and there’s room for extra toys like jetskis, or perhaps even David’s two-stroke Suzi adventure enabler.
BEHIND THE DOORS
Leaving David and the rest of the team to pinpoint the exact location of our photographic tender in the vast blue-on-blue panorama in front of us – I was confident they had the technology on hand to be successful; the Raymarine e-120W system was complete with radar overlay and digital AIS identification and tracking – I headed below to check out the accommodation quarters.
Now before we get into too much detail I will say that with two double-berth cabins, a twin single and a small crew space aft,
I thought the boat to be slightly short on bunks for such a big vessel. An extra twin single would be nice. That said, what is on offer
is abundantly spacious and very well appointed.
Access is via a classic enclosed and curved timber stairwell which winds down to the lower accommodation deck. In my notes I wrote, "It’s like descending through an ancient tree to enter a fantasy-like grotto below." Perhaps somewhat whimsical but a fair acknowledgment of how I felt at the time.
To forward, a VIP double cabin with more rich panelling boasts a generous semi-island double with staircase access to either side. Appropriately for such a big boat it features an enormous overhead hatch that would also facilitate any emergency exit necessities.
This cabin shares a warmly presented en suite with the third cabin, which offers bunk-style quarters for two. I did note the top bunk to be particularly high, no doubt to make the most of the space offered by the increasing flare of the adjacent hull.
Back aft in the very heart of the vessel lies the impressive full-beam master. In this layout (for which there are a few options), Outer Reef have taken a slightly different approach running a full super-king-sized bed laterally with the headboard up against the portside wall.
The effect is to free-up even more space and seems to allow for almost crazy amounts of storage. Referring to my notes again I wrote, "Storage, storage, storage, storage – open a door and find even more storage." Even better is that much of the cupboard space has been deliberately designed to facilitate the servicing of the hidden engineering – like the stabilising rams and the bilge racks – very sensible if you ask me.
AT CLOSE QUARTERS AND LUNCH
A call for all hands came from above. We had reached our rendezvous with the photographic tender, another gorgeous pilothouse-style cruiser from a slightly earlier era.
Manoeuvring these beasts can seem daunting to the uninitiated yet in reality it is a doddle. Relatively deep drafts (in the Outer Reef’s case 1.47m) reduce the effect of windage, while precise electronic controls and the liberal application of bow and stern thrusters allow competent skippers to operate such vessels with a much higher degree of predictability and accuracy than is usually possible on a trailerboat.
Soon enough our creative crew was transferred safely and we were pirouetting around like a pair of elephants at the Bolshoi. As you can see on these pages Ellen and Stephen made the most of the opportunity to capture the magic on such a magnificent canvas.
With the hard work completed, it was time for lunch. And what better place could there be to enjoy a fresh salad sandwich than with such good company, basking in the Queensland sunshine on the back deck of this lovely boat?
A SNOOZE ON THE CRUISE
With our stomachs full the decision was made to start ambling back towards Brisbane. Homeport was still around a two-hour run away, which would work out perfectly for an evening shoot in the setting sun.
With time on my hands, a full belly and a contented smile I grabbed the opportunity for a kip in the sun. Seldom do I sleep as deeply as I do on a boat and soon woke remarkably refreshed, ready to finish my notes.
By now the light was mellowing perfectly, which is the ideal time to inspect and shoot the middle deck’s internal spaces. The spilt-level living deck is divided into three sections with the main helm to forward and supported by a comfortable four-person semi-casual dining table.
The helm itself is a study in long-range navigation with its top-quality leather seat by Stidd and warmly enclosed ambience providing a very acceptable place to put in the hours required in comfort on such endeavours.
Twin Raymarine e-120W nav systems providing all the important external data, while ABT-TRAC stabilisers help ensure the ride is kept as level as possible. It’s a very ship-like setup and is completely appropriate for a vessel in this class.
On the same level, but slightly aft, is one of the best galleys I have seen on a boat in several months. In fact I noted the galley as the Outer Reef 630 Long Range’s number one feature.
In simple terms it’s a full kitchen with an abundance of bench space outfitted to perform at least as well – with its four-burner stove, proper high-volume oven and full-size side-by-side fridge/freezer – as any kitchen could be expected to, even at home.
And it’s not just the bling that makes this galley stand out. The classic timber panelling and flooring, the black-topped counters and the views all add up to make this an inviting place to spend time preparing delights for the guests.
Down a level and farther aft, the Outer Reef 630 offers an enclosed saloon. Like the rest of the vessel this space is uncluttered and finished nicely.
With the radiance of the day well faded and with the lights of Brisbane beckoning, I took the opportunity to have a last stroll around the deck absorbing the late-evening atmosphere.
I liked the wide overhead-covered walkways and the high stainless steel handrail-topped gunwales. They add a sense security for those attending to tasks outdoors at sea. The heavy door in the Portuguese bridge, which accesses the bow section, speaks volumes of the boat’s build quality.
Back aft on the stern platform another very heavy door provides access to a small crew cabin, which on this boat has been set-up as a laundry and engineering space, and moving through you enter the main engineroom. It’s all done to the highest standards down there – clean, well labelled and prepared for a life at sea.
With 5000lt of fuel onboard and with fairly miserly C9 Caterpillers producing 503 horsepower apiece for propulsion, this boat will have a range which would not be stretched on the Australian coast. Even so, I would want to get my calculator out before pointing her into the Pacific. Fuel aside I would be happy to plan such a journey.
Clearly the Outer Reef 630 Long Range is the real deal. The build quality and engineering certainly appears to be to the highest standards. Research revealed all Outer Reef Yachts are built to Open Ocean Category "A" (wave heights 18 to 20ft and sustained winds of more than 40kts) so it is with confidence, but without responsibility, that we say that.
Looking at the interior I have to say that I was impressed. For the most part it is very well presented and is tasteful without being overstated. Personally, I would like to see more accommodation but what is available would suit many owners.
I would like to extend Trade-A-Boat’s thanks to Andrew Coffey and the Australian Outer Reef team for going to such an effort on this day. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done with this boat.
› Genuine blue-water credentials
› Likely to be misely on fuel
› Absolutely first-rate galley
› Generous application of timber trim in the interior
› Storage, storage, storage
› Slightly short on accomodation
› Some small improvements, such as cedar in the cupboards, would be nice
Clearly the Outer Reef 630 Long Range is the real deal. The build quality and engineering certainly appears to be to the highest standards. Looking at the interior I have to say that I was impressed. For the most part it is very well presented and is tasteful without being overstated.
SPECIFICATIONS: OUTER REEF 630 LONG RANGE
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL Handlaid GRP hull w/ PVC core sandwich above waterline
TYPE Semi-displacement monohull
LENGTH 19.22m (overall)
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Caterpillar C9 ACERT
TYPE Inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATE HP 503 (each)
DISPLACEMENT 8.8lt (each)
Outer Reef Yachts,
9 Edwin Avenue,
Avalon, NSW, 2107
Phone: +61 2 9997 7333; +61 416 045 142; +61 2 9918 3395
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #440, June 2013
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