BOAT TEST: NOBLE BOATS INTERNATIONAL 5.8M CENTRE CABIN


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Noble Boats are now built offshore, so we check out the new 5.8m model to see how it shapes up

BOAT TEST: NOBLE BOATS INTERNATIONAL 5.8M CENTRE CABIN
NOBLE BOATS INTERNATIONAL 5.8M CENTRE CABIN

The Noble range of boats, established by Ben Noble, has enjoyed an iconic roll among offshore craft in Australia over the last decade. They have a reputation of being well-built and very good handling vessels. The brand was recently sold and is now being manufactured by Noble Boats International and headed up in Australia by new general manager Jason Lee.

The parent company is the huge Tianjian Asian Industries with a multi-million dollar turnover. It has been in the commercial boatbuilding industry for many years and employs more than 500 people at its factory in Jiangmen, about two hours out of Hong Kong on the Chinese mainland.

Being its first venture into smaller aluminium pleasureboats, there was a great deal of staff training and retooling at the factory required, but the company now boasts international Det Norske Veritas (DET) standards for its vessels. All welders and fabricators are DET and Bureau Veritas certified specialists. It sounds impressive and is testament to the determination the Chinese manufacturer has to building a product that will be taken seriously on the world stage.

 

 

FAITH IN DESIGN

The company has such faith in the design and reputation of Ben Noble's brand that it setup a full-scale production line without taking any new boat orders.

More than 50 boats have already been produced and there's now an Australia-wide dealer network.

The standard range includes models from 5m through to 6.85m with a number of configurations including runabout, centre cabin, cuddy cabin and hardtop.

The Noble concept of a deep-vee hull, capable of challenging adverse conditions at sea, has been taken from its small custom-made operation to mass production on a world scale. Prospective buyers should be encouraged by the company's commitment to the Noble tradition of quality and safety.

The hulls are built from 4mm 5083-grade plate aluminium, which is claimed to be the best available. They are fully welded for strength and rigidity and the underfloor sections are completely sealed. Frames and stringers are close set and again are fully welded.

The decks are self-draining with large scuppers at the transom. Each section is computer-cut to ensure close fitting and the welds are x-rayed as part of a rigorous quality control. Water and fuel tanks are baffled and pressure tested.

 

 

ENTHUSIASTIC ARRIVAL

Early production models began arriving in Australia in late 2009, and we tested the 5.8m Centre Cabin with Damien from Sydney distributer Enterprise Marine.

Damien is enthusiastic about the range of boats and believes they have a big future. He's adamant that the new company has been able to produce a strong, long-lasting range of boats, but still retained the original design features.

This production boat comes with plenty of standard features, designed to lure the fishing crowd. The standard list includes killtank, a plumbed livebait tank, rocket launcher, deckwash and more. You end up with a stock boat that has many custom features. It's designed for the leisure market, but built as strongly as many commercial models.

The boat has a real presence on the trailer with the huge flare and sharp entry dominating the look of the vessel. The two-tone paint looks great, albeit a bit understated on the test boat in grey and white. A range of bold colours is available.

Once onboard there is a real feeling of practicality rather than luxury - a legacy of the metal finish rather than the moulded rounded corners of fibreglass. This is a big boat for a 5.8m vessel and there's plenty of room to move round.

The generous-sized transom housed a 150hp DI V-Max two-stroke Yamaha. There's a wide swim platform on each side and a sturdy stainless steel ladder. Big scuppers sit on the floor at the centre of the boat and sturdy bollards are fitted to either side of the stern. The starboard side has storage for the single battery, although there's space for two. A small door gives access to the swim platform. The built-in bait tank is lined with fibreglass and there's a powerful saltwater deckwash on the portside.

Full-length pockets run along the sides. These are raised from the floor for foot room and ease of cleaning. The wide sidedecks house three offset rodholders welded into each. The sides are high, giving a feeling of security and are wide enough to sit on when fishing. The cockpit is finished in marine carpet.

Amidships you step up onto the 200mm-wide sidedecks on either side of the cabin. These give access to the bow where there's a solid bowrail offering some security at sea, although it's quite low and there are limited handholds.

The rail splits at the bow where a bowsprit houses a huge bollard and anchor roller. The unlined anchorwell is generously sized.

Inside the cabin there are two contoured seats with welded footrests. The dash runs the width of the cabin and is fitted with a 20mm handrail. A four-section screen gives plenty of protection from wind and is well positioned for clear visibility forward and to the sides.

A targa bar supports a custom-made bimini and a rocket launcher with provision for six rods. The targa is designed to be easily lowered, so the boat can be stored in a garage.

The compact dash layout can be customised by the dealer and has room for a full range of instruments and navigation equipment.

The forward cabin has an infill to create a double berth, but when the centre section is removed, there's seating for four. There are two opening windows and a large front shelf. The floor is finished with marine-grade carpet and the cabin is finished in timeless speckle paint.

 

 

ON THE WATER

With the inspection of the boat's features out of the way, we headed off over the flat waters of Pittwater and out to sea for a thorough exploration of how the new model shapes up.

The initial feel as we get moving is that the boat is solid, stable and well engineered. At low speed it steers predictably and true.

It jumps onto the plane effortlessly and steers predictably through sharp turns with no cavitation and without displaying any nasty habits. With 3000 revs showing on the clock we moved along effortlessly at 32kmh (17.3kts) and burned a meagre 22lt/h. An extra 500rpm took us to 38kmh (20.5kts) and 24lt/h. A comfortable cruise is around 4000rpm at 45kmh (24.3kts) and a fuel burn of 30lt/h.

At 5000rpm we got 60kmh (32.4kts) with a 53lt/h burn. In sheltered waters we managed a top speed of 70kmh (37.8kts) at 5400 rpm with a fuel usage of 55lt/h.

At sea we encountered a stiff 22kts of breeze and a short, sharp chop on a swell of about 1m. The boat's really in its element in these conditions. It launches off waves and lands with no fuss and minimal banging considering its aluminium construction.

The ride is soft despite the fact the boat felt like it needed a bit more weight onboard. With a hull weight of 580kg it feels light, but with a bit more fuel and the usual collection of equipment one usually manages to collect onboard it would feel right.

There is no pretending this is anything other than an aluminium boat. It's a tinny after all, with the sort of metallic echo usual with all plate boats.

At sea there's a real feeling that you are on a purpose-built and safe vessel. The spray stays on the outside even in a steady crosswind.

At rest we tried a line and found the boat very stable. The boat has plenty of freeboard and the footholds give great support even in the choppy conditions we encountered. The boat allows you to move around freely - there's plenty of room and it's very stable for working fish.

Fishing from the bow section is possible at sea, although it might not be advisable in more extreme conditions. It is possible to sit on the forward part of the cabin roof with your feet braced on the sidedeck, although a few more handholds up forward could be helpful.

 

 

NO LOSS IN TRANSLATION

Fans of the Noble range will not be disappointed in the evolution of the Chinese version. They have taken this superb design and put it into large-scale production without loosing any of the solid build-quality that they have been famous for.

There are some issues with the finish on the boats - some of the welds are a bit rough - but they are working on that and it is, after all, a practical plate boat. Also, there are some design refinements in the wings that will make the range even more attractive, but in the meantime
there's plenty going for these boats if you are looking for a well-engineered vessel with a reputation of a very good sea boat.

 




WHAT WE LIKED

Solid, well-built craft

Targa folds for storage

Good handling

 

 

NOT SO MUCH

Finish could be better
Needs better handgrips forward

 

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $71,890

Options fitted: Yamaha 150hp

Priced from: $61,927 w/ 90hp two-stroke outboard

 

 

GENERAL

Type: Monohull

Material: Aluminium 4mm

Length: 5.95m (overall)

Beam: 2.4m

Weight: 580kg (hull)

 

 

CAPACITIES

Rec. HP: 90hp to 150hp

Fuel: Twin 180lt

People: Six (enclosed waters);
Four (open waters)

 

 

ENGINE

Make: Yamaha

Type: Two-stroke direct
injection V6

Rated HP: 150hp

Displacement: 2596cc

Weight: 218kg

 

 

SUPPLIED BY

Enterprise Marine,

1416 Pittwater Road,

North Narrabeen, 2101, NSW

Phone: (02) 9913776

Email: Damien@enterprisemarine.com.au

Web: www.enterprisemarine.com.au

 

 


Originally published in TrailerBoat # 254

Find Noble Boats boats for sale.

 


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