Review: Quicksilver 640 Pilothouse
The new Quicksilver 640 Pilothouse looks like an Arvor and feels like an Arvor — but unlike an Arvor it goes decidedly quicker. John Ford investigates this boat on its maiden voyage.
There are many nice things you could say about an Arvor: roomy, stable, practical and versatile are all appropriate descriptions. However, to describe the company’s rock-solid perennial performers as pulse-quickeners would be a stretch. It’s just not what they are about.
All this is relative of course and Arvor’s many owners enjoy the leisureliness – embrace it even. The payback is a seaworthy boat that runs on the smell of an oily rag. Some would argue that in a seaway it’s not often that speeds of more than 20kts are attainable anyway and an Arvor could chug halfway to New Zealand on a tank at such a pace you could comfortably nibble daintily on French pastries and sip an early morning latte.
Peter Collins has been importing Arvor boats for years but even he confessed quietly that people at boat shows, enamoured with the Arvor concept, have asked if he had something just a little bit faster. Well hello Quicksilver!
Arvor is now part of the enormous Brunswick Corporation, which also owns Mercury (and lots more), and has an R&D budget bigger than the Gross Domestic Product of plenty of small countries. It didn’t take long for someone to suggest sticking an outboard on the back of an Arvor and seeing how it went.
The trials must have been fun. Suddenly the boat we thought we knew so well has taken on a whole new personality. It’s like when your parents were away and you and your mates stuck a turbo on the family 120Y. But the conversion from Arvor 215 to Quicksilver 640 Pilothouse has a happier outcome – as we shall see.
SAME BUT DIFFERENT
From the front the Quicksilver looks the same as its 215 donor. It isn’t until we look astern that the difference becomes apparent. Where a shaftdrive diesel engine protruded into the Arvor cockpit, a huge flat hatch, with enough room underneath to store almost anything you could imagine for an extended voyage has materialised. Oh, and over the back there’s a 150hp outboard as well.
With the change of power source we lose the swimplatform but there is a super-lightweight, removable door to starboard and a folding ladder that affords easy access to and from the water. It does mean, though, that boarding from a dock will be over the side rather than from the handy platform, but you get a more fishing-friendly stern and that’s important to Peter as he feels the Quicksilver will be popular with fishos.
IT’S A FISHING BOAT
Every promotional photo for the 640 Pilothouse shows someone with a rod in their hand suggesting that Brunswick also expect this to be a boat for fisher folk. We followed this lead and even convinced Peter and his sales assistant Nick to pose for some fishing shots (after pointing out which way was up on an overhand setup).
Against the stunning backdrop of the sandstone cliffs wide of Sydney Heads the boat certainly looked the part and it impressed with great stability at rest in very joggling conditions.
My immediate impression was the Quicksilver has retained the Arvor’s purpose and presence – very European in style and high out of the water at the gunwales. Despite generous head-height the cabin remains well-proportioned and having the cabin floor set low in the boat – you step down into it – allowing the roofline to stay in proportion.
Narrow walkways either side of the cabin lead forward to a sturdy bowsprit and an industrial-strength stainless steel bollard on the cabin top. There is a horizontal Lofrans electric winch feeding chain and rode to a cavernous well with a moulded fibreglass hatch. It’s all very neat and it leaves plenty of room for a couple of people to fish up front and another along the walkway, all protected by a rail that runs back amidships.
OUT OF THE WEATHER
The cockpit benefits enormously from the transplant, becoming an uncluttered open space with a small extension from the cabin roof providing shade to the front quarter. Either side of the central well are two long, lockable hatches that could be set-up as rod lockers, but which could also be killtanks for big tuna. Stored in the central locker are a cockpit picnic table and a baitboard that slides into rodholders on either gunwale. This looks like a nice idea for occasional fishing but there is room at the transom for a permanent arrangement for a more serious fishing layout.
One of the big plusses in the Arvor is the self-draining deck and this has been retained in the Quicksilver – as is evident by large, round scuppers in the cockpit corners.
AN EYE FOR AUSTRALIA
The Australian version of the 640P comes with Flexiteek flooring throughout and it combines nicely with the timber gunwale tops and other trim around the boat. Because the sidedeck moulding runs right to the floor it does not provide any toeholds and some anglers might like to fit padding at the coamings to keep a more upright position when fighting bigger fish.
On both sides of the engine-well you will find removable teak seats, while a plumbed livebait tank – big enough for a long day’s cubing – rounds out the Quicksilver’s fishing features.
I was also pleased to see how high the motor sat out of the water when trimmed right up. This should be an advantage for a boat spending most of its life swinging from a mooring.
A sliding door and a single step down lead to the wide, open space of the cabin which is surrounded by a two-section wraparound polycarbonate windscreen to give an unobstructed panoramic view.
Head height is well over 2m and although the sidedecks take some space there is standing room for two and seating on fold-down squabs for the skipper and co-pilot. To port, and secreted under the sidedeck, is a gas cartridge stove and small sink.
Seating on V-berths can be converted to bunks and a chemical toilet is secreted underneath. These simple creature comforts contribute to a boat that would be easy to spend extended time aboard – for touring or fishing – well protected from the elements.
Because of its unusual fold-down design I was surprised at the comfort of the helm seat which offers a natural driving position with secure lumbar support. Instrumentation is limited to fuel, revs and speedo, but I would have liked at least a trim gauge. Some people, though, might like to take advantage of the comprehensive information available with Mercury SmartCraft gauges and they can be supplied as an option when the boat is ordered.
Dash layout is a carryover from the minimalist Arvor approach and there is no space for even small flush-mounted navigation screens, although there is adequate room on the dash top, and in that location they would be in the line of vision for skipper and crew. A neat switch panel controls lights, windscreen wiper, bait pump and bilge, and there is a separate control for the electric winch. Ventilation is limited to small flip-out side windows and an overhead hatch, but with the door open there was a good flow of air even at rest.
HANDLING AND RIDE
After driving an Arvor camera boat for the photo shoot, transferring to the Quicksilver was a revelation. The 150hp Mercury four-stroke is a favourite of mine and it delivered power down low and revved willingly to give a top-end speed of nearly 36kts – around 16kts more than the diesel version.
Cruising at 25kts another remarkable difference became apparent – it’s quiet. I buried the throttle and the 640 Pilothouse surged forward, only running out of acceleration at the very far end of the rev range, a small amount of trim required to optimise the ride.
Steering through the Ultraflex hydraulic system is light and the large diameter stainless steel wheel is well positioned and easy to use from either a seated or standing position.
The boat runs flat into a turn, which can be slightly intimidating and daunting at first, but as my confidence grew I was happy to throw it around at speed into sharp turns. And while it’s not a racy sportsboat, it feels safe and predictable and not likely to get anyone into trouble. Across half-metre harbour chop the boat rode evenly and without any undue jolting – even at full noise – the big flared bow and aggressive chine lines sending spray wide of the boat.
To get an impression of the 640P in offshore fishing mode we headed a couple of miles off the coast where we found a short 2m swell with sloppy sea conditions aggravated by a 12-knot westerly – the sort of conditions you would prefer not to encounter on a run to the shelf. At 18kts the Quicksilver Pilothouse was comfortable and relatively bang-free. At rest the boat is stable turning sideways to the wind allowing the whole length of the hull to be utilised by its fish-hungry passengers.
I think Brunswick has made a good decision broadening the Arvor range. Plenty of people who like the concept of a big-cabin fishing boat with the primary safety of a self-draining deck will be impressed by the added speed of the Quicksilver 640 Pilothouse. It opens up the option of running down a long harbour like Sydney’s at speed and then having the benefits of the Arvor design at sea.
› Big-volume cabin for its size
› Walk-around layout allows more fishing room
› Self-draining deck
› Big under-deck storage
› Good performance
› Well-finished mouldings
› Great all-round visibility
› Fuel tank could be bigger
› Some banging in a big sea
According to the specifications the Quicksilver 640 Pilothouse should work with power down to 115hp, which will save a few dollars, but at $63,681 with the mighty 150 as tested I think it represents excellent value. Bolt on some gamepoles, install a sounder and it’s ready to get among the serious fish. And you can still bring the croissants and coffee.
QUICKSILVER 640 PILOTHOUSE SPECS
PRICE AS TESTED
$56,637 w/ 90hp Mercury OptiMax outboard
Single 150hp Mercury outboard motor
2500 11kts (on the plane)
5500 (WOT) 35.5kts
TYPE Planing monohull
PEOPLE (DAY) 6
REC. HP 90 to 150
MAKE/MODEL Mercury 150 FourStroke outbord motor
TYPE Direct injection four-cylinder petrol outbord motor
PROPELLER 15 x 17in Black Max
26/17-21 Bowden Street,
Alexandria, NSW, 2015
Phone:(02) 9319 5222
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #440, May/June 2013
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