By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

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  • Trade-A-Boat

Arvor 280AS 02 Arvor 280AS 02
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Arvor 280AS 12 Arvor 280AS 12
Arvor 280AS 13 Arvor 280AS 13
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Arvor Boats are so popular that you’ll probably find one at a mooring on almost every waterway on the east coast. We test the Arvor 280 AS — the biggest model in the Arvor Boats range.

When French-designed Arvor Boats started appearing on Australian waterways in the late 90s their distinctive shape was something of a novelty. Derived from traditional European fishing boats their high sides and prominent wheelhouses highlighted a style that stood them out from the crowd.

If the looks of these new Arvor Boats wasn’t enough, then their strong build and roomy interior, good sea manners and the economical Nanni diesel engine won further approval.



Arvor 280AS boat

According to importer Peter Collins, Arvor boats are seen locally as more of an all-rounder boat – he describes them as simple day boats with the ability to overnight if that takes your fancy.

The Arvor 280’s overall length of 9.5m makes it the largest of the Arvor Boats fleet and the review boat was kitted out with a number of options to add a touch of glamour without taking away from its fishing appeal.

That’s not to say the standard boat is lacking in features. Quite the opposite in fact, as every boat comes with a bowthruster, trim tabs, Quick anchor winch, hydraulic steering, windscreen wipers, shore power and battery charger.



Layout on Arvor 280AS

From the front it is easy to get a good appreciation of the deep chines running back along the sides where they form a gullwing underwater profile to provide improved lift and stability at rest.

Peter Collins tells me that a deep keel and a stainless steel cover protect the four-blade prop and shaft from damage, a big advantage for negotiating shallow water.

Boarding is simplified by a full-width swimplatform and a central walkway protected by a stainless steel gate when underway, while a stainless steel rail across the transom increases security when travelling.

Genuine teak gunwales and fold-up seats around the sides have removable blue canvas covers to help keep the timber shipshape when the boat is on its mooring. In the starboard corner a plumbed livebait tank has a window, while the other side has a similar hold that could be used for even more bait, or as an icebox, or for general storage.

A large starboard side locker adjoins the transom and is ideal for storage – although it would make it a bit awkward to get into that corner to fight a fish.

Arvor 280AS livewell and benchseat

A tackle locker, self draining deck, monster kill tank, rodholders on the decks and on the cabin walls, walk-around ability as well as a second outside helm station, all add to the fish-chasing capability.

On the other hand, and showing the Arvor’s versatile nature, the seats and removable table lean more to relaxing under the locally made extended canvas shade.

Walkways to the bow are either side of the cabin with the port side a fraction narrower as a result of the asymmetric design of the cabin layout and giving meaning to the boat’s 280 AS name. The offset is hardly noticeable and does not detract from the look of the boat – I doubt anyone would pick it from a distance when the boat is under way.

The bow is well protected by a rail that runs from amidships. The ground tackle includes 50m of chain and a plough anchor which is easily retrieved by the electric windlass.

It is likely the slightly wider starboard walkway will find more use especially as the skipper has a sliding door that allows him to get better vision for easier docking on that side.



Cabin on the Arvor 280AS

The concept of the enclosed cabin for chilly European conditions translates well to our shores and makes the boat an all-year proposition.

Dark timber accents offset white fibreglass and cream upholstery and give the cabin a merry nautical feel. A well-upholstered lounge to port has room for three crew and a lifting section makes a comfortable transverse feet-up perch for a crewmember.

The helm area has a raised captain’s chair and spoked timber wheel that help create a confident big boat impression. Instruments are laid out in a rounded timber panel and their SmartCraft digital input gives a full guide to engine diagnostics.

Overhead, a timber panel houses a Fusion sound system with Bluetooth, a Garmin VHF and a Garmin 5012 GPS-sounder. This seems a strange place for the GPS and probably would not be my preference but Peter points out that its 12in screen can be easily seen from the cockpit when fishing.

Three steps lead down the central companionway to the living quarters, again with generous head height. It’s a well-organised space, neatly finished with a beige ceiling liner, well lit and ventilated by a roof hatch and side portholes.

To starboard of the companionway is a fibreglass-lined head with less height than the cabin but still enough height for my 5ft11in to not feel too enclosed. An electric flush toilet is connected to a 61lt holding tank with macerator, while a stylish granite-style vanity has hot and cold water and an extendable showerhead. Taller crew might like to take advantage of a second hot shower at the transom.



Arvor 280AS handling and ride on the water

To put the Arvor through its paces we headed down Sydney Harbour and out through the heads where a lumpy one-metre sea on a one-metre swell would give us a good feel for the offshore capability of the 280AS.

Perched high on the substantial helm seat I had clear vision and easy access to the electronic throttle and hydraulic steering. With the diesel chugging away at low revs in the go-slow zone we were sipping down 2.2lt/h at just under 6kts. That’s a pretty economic trolling speed.

Out in the channel we were on the plane at 14kts and 2500rpm and acceleration was reasonable as the 320hp in-line six-cylinder got up a head of steam.

Between 3500 and the 4000rpm top end there is a noticeable surge of acceleration, although the engine is best run for extended periods no higher than 3800rpm which gave about 23.5kts and 50lt/h.

There is no hiding the fact that there’s a biggish motor sitting under the cockpit floor but the noise is suppressed fairly well and I didn’t notice any of the turbo whistle one finds on some boats (although my ears are not what they were after too many years of loud music).

 Handling on flat water is interesting because the boat maintains a flat position even with a fair amount of lock at speed. I’d put it down to the prominent gull wing design maintaining lots of buoyancy at the sides, much like a twin hull.

Out of the heads and pushing into a one-metre sea we had a soft ride at an easy 20kts while in a following sea we tracked true with no sign of broaching.



Arvor 280AS hardtop

The Arvor 280 AS may not be what we consider as a traditional shelf-runner chasing big tuna, but in that role it would make a lot of sense and would be in keeping with its rough-water heritage. With its frugal economy, 390lt fuel tank and comfortable ride at a safe 20kts it won’t be far behind most boats to the fishing grounds with the benefit of a cosy enclosed cabin for a trip home in poor weather.

But if fishing is not your bag then the 280 AS also ticks a lot of boxes as a family cruiser. Handling is simplified with the bowthrusters to get you into the dock looking like an expert. There is plenty of safe cockpit room and freeboard for young children, along with overnight accommodation, to spend quality time in a quiet anchorage for the weekend.

With options like the electric toilet, hot water showers and Garmin navigation the price as tested comes to $213,000 but starts at $194,500 with a good list of standard features – not bad for a boat that fulfils many roles and has a deserved reputation as a well-sorted brand.



• Simple practical design with European flair

• Economical diesel power

• All-season pilothouse

• Ability to overnight on board

• Good sea manners



• Diesel can be noisy underway

• Exposed second-helm conduit



Single Mercury Diesel QSD4.2 engines and four-blade oversquare propeller.


SPEED (kts)

FUEL BURN (lt/h)










2500 (planing)









4000 (WOT)



* Sea-trial data supplied by author.







Hot water shower inside and out, electric toilet and holding tank, Garmin GPS-sounder, bimini and windscreen washers






MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Monohull


BEAM 2.99m

DRAFT 0.95m

WEIGHT 3600kg (inc. engine)



PEOPLE (NIGHT) 9           

FUEL 390lt

WATER 137lt



MAKE/MODEL Mercury Diesel QSD4.2 engine

TYPE Six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine


WEIGHT 460kg





Unit 26/17-21 Bowden Street,

Alexandria, NSW, 2015

PHONE +61 2 9319 5222



See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #455, July / August 2014. Why not subscribe today?

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