TEST: ZODIAC YACHTLINE 470 DELUXE


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The Yachtline 470 Deluxe is marketed as a tender to big yachts but John Ford finds a wolf in sheep’s clothing in this up-market commuter.

TEST: ZODIAC YACHTLINE 470 DELUXE
TEST: ZODIAC YACHTLINE 470 DELUXE

Cruising down Sydney’s Pittwater towards the Patonga Hotel with the crew from Evinrude, I felt like the master of a million-dollar yacht out for a day of fun in his harbour runabout.

The Zodiac Yachtline is marketed as a tender for those expensive yachts you see tied up to marinas everywhere, but it’s so much fun to drive you’ll wish you had an 80ft floating-gin palace just so you can have the Yachtmaster to play with.


Find Zodiac inflatables for sale.


Zodiac claims the range of inflatable boats is the natural complement to the modern yacht, but they shouldn’t be restricted to a big-boat owner. This is a boat for the masses to enjoy. It’s a legal jetski, a family skiboat, a harbour cruiser, a dive boat and an easy-to-drive dayboat all rolled into one. Sure you might not want to fish it over oyster beds, but that aside, this is a boat that screams enjoyment.

Zodiac claims the range of inflatable boats is the natural complement to the modern yacht, but they shouldn’t be restricted to a big-boat owner. This is a boat for the masses to enjoy. It’s a legal jetski, a family skiboat, a harbour cruiser, a dive boat and an easy-to-drive dayboat all rolled into one. Sure you might not want to fish it over oyster beds, but that aside, this is a boat that screams enjoyment.

As the name implies the 470DL is a mere 4.7m long, but with a 2.05m beam it has a capacity of nine passengers, so it’s also the people-mover of trailerboats.

It’s from a range of Zodiac rigid inflatables (RIBs), which means it has a fibreglass hull attached to an inflatable outer ring that gives it floatation. The hull has a deep-vee section for lift at speed and the inflatable ring is divided into five individual chambers for safety.

If you’re having trouble getting comfortable with the idea of putting to sea in a blow-up boat, then consider the range of activities often associated with Zodiacs. Hey, Zodiac-mounted James Bond types are forever getting into improbable water chases involving exploding fireballs and machine guns. On a more believable scenario, surf lifesavers put to sea through atrocious waves every weekend, Greenpeace activists appear on television news ramming whaling boats, our security forces charge around the harbour looking tough and serious, and inflatable liferafts are often the savior of stranded yachtsmen.

14-YEAR LIFESPAN

Zodiac claim their material is the strongest available in an inflatable. High-tech Stronglan is coated with Zodiac’s exclusive UV-inhibiting Sharc coating, which gives the hulls a 12 to 14-year lifespan if stored out of the sun, or seven years if it’s fully exposed to the elements. Unlike most RIBs, which have the pontoon bonded to the fibreglass, the tubes are slid onto the rigid section. This allows them to be easily removed for repair or replacement. The advantage of the Stronglan is that it is able to be heat welded rather than glued for repair.

Steve Arranson, from Sydney Power Boat Centre in Mona Vale, says that it takes a lot to damage the tubes and that the sort of damage that would hole a tube would probably hole a glass boat. But even with two chambers deflated the boat will still float on the other three, aided by the inbuilt inflation of the fibreglass rigid section.

Steve said that most people buying the Yachtline are those on waterfront properties who want a light easy-to-drive boat the whole family can enjoy.

The aspect of the hull is quite low allowing easy access from a beach, or floating dock, or the duckboard of your megayacht.

Once onboard, the solid non-skid floor is super stable and there are quality fibreglass mouldings for the various seats and the side-mounted console.

There is seating for two at the transom, two more on the driver’s seat, two amidships, two at the bow and one in front of the driver. All seats are comfortably moulded and have sufficient padding to take out any bumps — not that there are any in this soft-riding, air-cushioned hull.

Most seats have secure dry storage beneath them and the centre seat lifts to reveal the filler for the 85lt fuel tank.

The bow houses the ground tackle and navigation light. A stainless steel handrail runs around the bow and there are an additional four handgrips situated round the boat at strategic points.

The helm seating is extremely comfortable and racy. The wheel and controls are well positioned and the driver has the console that partly protects them from the wind.

The dash has a full complement of instruments including tacho, speed, trim and fuel. The small diameter Zodiac wheel looks like it came out of an expensive Italian sports car and the whole helm area has a sporty go-fast feel.

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

To put the Yachtline to the test we decided the best thing would be to do a cruise of Pittwater visiting some iconic spots and generally behaving like the rich and famous on holiday. But first some speed trials.

Once out of the extended no-wash zone around the sailing clubs, we wound the Zodiac out to full speed. With the 75hp Evinrude E-TEC spinning out the 17in Viper prop to 5500rpm, we achieved a credible 65kmh (35.1kts). Sitting so close to the water it feels fast and the hull gets quickly up to speed. The raised section of the bow and the faired section of the hull mean spray is pushed away giving a dry ride.

The hull works best at a steady cruise of 50kmh (27kts) at around 4500rpm where the RIB feels like it could cruise all day. The Zodiac is designed to drive from a seated position, but can be steered standing if needed when approaching your mooring or yacht. The inflatable hulls provide a natural fender up to your expensive mothership and slow-speed manoeuvrability is good.

All this sightseeing was taking its toll, so we headed in to Palm Beach for refreshments. The Barrenjoey Beach Jetty is easily approached and we found welcome coffee in the café (it’s just a short stroll across the road to the ocean beach). You could also head into the more developed shopping area at Palm Beach where you will find a number of restaurants and a very good fish and chip shop. The advantage of being able to get into the beach at these locations can’t be underrated as leaving your boat moored on the wharf can be a problem with ferries coming and going to make things difficult.

Back onboard we made our way around Barrenjoey Headland and were distracted by a mob of dolphins who wanted to play in our bow wake. Before long, we were a couple of miles out to sea where we were able to experience the Zodiac in swell. It took it in its stride as we rode easily across the waves. The hull softens out the chop and waves for a very comfortable ride.

Back in Pittwater we headed up the Hawkesbury River to Patonga. In the bay there was a short 300mm chop stirred up by the tide and wind. At 60kmh (32.4kts) the Zodiac skipped across the water with the hulls soaking up any roughness. On flat water we tried some high-speed turns and the hull just loves this sort of attention. But don’t forget to hang on as it turns flat and sharp.

HAWKESBURY HAMLETS

Patonga is one of those sleepy Hawkesbury hamlets with the old-fishing village feel of an age past. Nestled into the northern side of Broken Bay the town was soaked in warm spring sunshine and a lunch on the lawns of the hotel beckoned. Check out the display of memorabilia and photos in the hotel — most displaying the area’s connection with the water and the fishing lifestyle still so evident in the town.

The old-world charm of Patonga is well worth a visit and a stroll around town is relaxing and peaceful — at least on this mid-week spring day.

This sort of cruising is right up the Yachtline’s alley — to get right into the beach easily, safely and dry is a real bonus.

Let’s not be too coy about it, because at nearly $50,000 the Yachtline isn’t going to be for everyone. You have to weigh up how often it will be used and that’s a big plus for this boat. It’s so easy to get on the water and because it’s such a pleasure once you’re there, it will win a lot of people over.

WHAT WE LIKED

Maximum fun

Stable

Safe

NOT SO MUCH

Cost

No weather protection

Specifications: Zodiac Yachtline 470 Deluxe

HOW MUCH?

Priced from: $45,700 w/ 75hp Evinrude E-TEC and trailer

Options fitted: Trailer

GENERAL

Material: Stronglan inflatable tubes, GRP hull

Type: Rigid inflatable boat

Length overall: 4.7m

Deadrise: 21.5°

Beam: 2.05m

Weight: 390kg

CAPACITIES

Fuel: 85lt

Rec. HP: 50 to 90

ENGINE

Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC

Type: Three-cylinder two-stroke outboard w/ direct injection

Rated HP: 75

Displacement: 1295cc

Weight: 145kg

SUPPLIED BY

Sydney Powerboat Centre,

95 Darley Street,

Mona Vale, NSW, 2103

Phone: (02) 9997 7797

Web: www.sydneypowerboat.com.au; www.zodiacmarine.com.au

 


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