REVIEW: WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 S

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

The Williams 385 tender is no slouch. John Ford dons his Gucci glasses and Armani loafers for a closer look.

The Williams 385 tender might well be the best tender money can buy — and at around $52,000 it certainly should be. It can take five friends to shore or into the casino in style but it’s a lot more than a simple vessel of "ferryment". It’s a thing of much merriment.

It’s a shame the Williams is so fastidiously finished because all that attention to detail is reflected in the price. If it was cheaper everyone could have one, but maybe that’s the point...

 

WILLIAMS JET TENDERS

Following its world debut at the 2013 Sydney Boat Show, it took some time to book a ride on a Williams 385 for a test. They simply come into the country and are snapped up. It wasn’t until well into 2014 that one became available for a blast around Sydney Harbour. Oops, I mean a serious and considered review of this nautical masterpiece from England.

 

LUXURY TENDER

WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 S

The 90kg twin has four valves per cylinder with an intercooled turbo capable of producing up to 155hp with a remap of the ECU. They can spin to over 7000rpm and the Williams versions come in 100hp and 120hp. But as well as being offered on the standard 385, the 100hp motor is also shoehorned into the new 285!

An intake is mounted forward under the hull and the motor blasts water through a 140mm jet for propulsion and steering. Advantages of jets include the lack of a propeller, which makes them safe around swimmers and their ability to negotiate shallow water. They are also less bulky.

 

HYPALON MATERIAL

WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 S BOW

Rigid inflatables have benefits over fibreglass and aluminium tenders due to their inherent stability and ease of operation. A rigid inflatable has an air-filled Hypalon tube fixed around the fibreglass hull, with the sponsons offering stability and the hull providing smooth passage through the water.

Williams use Hypalon exclusively in its tubes because it is has the highest UV resistance and is the most durable of the products available. The tubes have a lifespan of around 15 years and are easily detached from the fibreglass hull for repair or replacement. 

As the boat accelerates, the hull lifts the tubes clear of the water, reducing drag and increasing speed. In turns the boat leans onto the outside tube thus providing stability. The same principle applies at rest, and even with people moving around the boat it remains stable.

 

LAYOUT

WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 LAYOUT

Within its 3.82m length and 1.82m beam there isn’t a lot of room for the designers to play with, and yet they have slotted in seating for five, demonstrating another benefit of inflatables:  their load carrying capacity.

Design is a simple and stylish blend of grey and white Hypalon tubes and elegant curves of white fibreglass mouldings. It sits low in the water with the silhouette showing only the tubes and the tops of seats and dash.

Up front are an unobtrusive mooring cleat and an upholstered bow seat with watertight storage below. A teak floor runs back to a full-width seat with generous padding and stylish backrests. There is room for three when the boat is being used to ferry passengers or on a leisurely cruise, while a set of arm rests fold down to provide secure seating for a single passenger on adrenalin infused kamikaze runs.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

For our test on Sydney Harbour we had a 10 to 12kt north-easterly blowing into Rose Bay, so we decided to head to the northern side of the harbour for photography and speed runs but even there we found the breeze was blowing up a short 0.3m chop.

On taking the helm and starting the motor the jet is immediately engaged and starts to move slowly forward even in neutral, which is a little disconcerting at first, but especially when trying to pass camera gear back to the photo boat.

Across the harbour we chased some ferry wash to get an impression of the ride in more interesting conditions and the little Williams handled things well without us getting at all wet.

Under full acceleration in calmer water the Williams rocketed out of the hole with hardly any lift from the bow as the jet propelled us forward. In slow manoeuvres the boat tends to lean well into turns but as I became more used to the handling Neil urged me on to more daring tricks and as speed and confidence increased the 385 just kept impressing.

In wide fast turns, it remains fairly flat but the fun is sharp turns where the jet of water pushes the back of the boat around much more quickly than you would expect, after being so used to prop-driven hulls. Like the Jet Rides on the harbour, the boat can be turned so quickly as to almost immediately face the opposite direction and come to a stop.

 

JET ENGINE PERFORMANCE

WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 TENDER

It takes a while to get used to the impression of speed that sitting so close to the water creates. 25kts seems fast. 35kts seems really fast but Neil insisted the factory specs say the boat is capable of better.

 40kts had us skimming across the short chop with the hull chattering and the turbo willing the twin engine Weber past 6800rpm. It wasn’t good enough for Neil who, from his perch ahead of the console, insisted we go faster. OK, let’s give it the full juice.

By the time the engine hit 7200rpm it was screaming excitedly underneath me and the handheld GPS confirmed 43kts, which isn’t bad with two on board.

In a nod to sanity, there’s a secret key that turns down the power to 50% so you can safely hand over the controls to your teenagers.

 

HIGHS

• High quality finish

• Thrilling performance

• High carrying capacity for its size

• Safe and stable

 

LOWS

• It’s expensive

 

WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 S PERFORMANCE

2kts (4kmh)

@1500rpm

3kts (5kmh)

@2000rpm

4kts (7kmh)

@3000rpm

8kts (15kmh)

@3500rpm

13kts (24kmh)

@4000rpm — on the plane

18kts (33kmh)

@4500rpm

23kts (42kmh)

@5000rpm

28kts (52kmh)

@5500rpm

31kts (57kmh)

@6000rpm

33kts (61kmh)

@6500rpm

41kts (76kmh)

@7000rpm

 

WILLIAMS TURBOJET 385 S SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$52,000

 

GENERAL

TYPE Rigid inflatable jet

MATERIAL Fibreglass and Hypalon

LENGTH 3.82m 

BEAM 1.76m     

WEIGHT 360kg

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 5            

REC. HP 100-120               

FUEL 50lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Weber 850MPE 120hp

TYPE Two-cylinder turbo four-stroke

WEIGHT 90kg    

DISPLACEMENT 850cc   

PROPELLER n/a

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Williams Performance Tenders

Oxfordshire England

WEB williamsjettenders.com

               

SUPPLIED BY

Sirocco Marine South.

79-81 Cawarra Rd, Caringbah NSW 2229

PHONE (02) 8061 6475

WEB siroccomarinesouth.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #452, May/June 2014. Why not subscribe today?

Find Williams boats for sale.

 


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