Review: Brig Navigator 700

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford


The new Brig Navigator 700 RIB carries 12 passengers, has a range of more than 300nm and will exceed 40kts. Not bad considering it’s one of those 'inflatable boats'.

Australian Brig importer Neil Webster describes the Brig Navigator 700 as a crossover all-purpose vessel, fitting into the Brig RIBs range between the more austere Falcons and the luxury Eagles, while absorbing some of the best bits from each. Function and utilitarianism have won out without damaging the looks of the new Brig Navigator 700.

 

BRIG INFLATABLE BOATS

Brig Navigator 700

Once a realm of police and rescue services, inflatable boats have become part of boating’s mainstream, even if their practicality might give the impression they are a bit staid and boring. Not so with the Brig Navigator 700, with a maximum power 250hp Honda outboard on the back.

RIBs and inflatable boats make a lot of sense because of their inherent buoyancy and ease of operation but when it comes to some of the bigger boats powered by larger engines. As the Brig Navigator 700 demonstrated, they are just so damned enjoyable.

As many as 12 passengers can be zoomed around at once on the Brig Navigator 700, so to allow easy movement the helm console has been biased to starboard allowing for more space on the port side. You wouldn’t know it when driving, as the wheel is on the left of the console placing the skipper right in the centre of the boat.

 

LAYOUT AND DESIGN

Brig Navigator 700 stern storage

For the marine electronics, a 12in touch-control Raymarine GPS-sounder screen sits so neatly in the moulded dash you would swear it was made for it. The engine control for the Honda 250 outboard motor is vertically mounted and looks a bit awkward but was fine in operation, even with Honda yet to deliver a digital throttle system.

There’s a grab bar for the passenger, a couple of handy storage slots and footrests moulded into the lower section of the console. The twin helm seat, like all the upholstery, is covered in a hardy grey Sunbrella material and its bolster design lets driver and passenger sit either high or low and combined with the footrests, allows you to jam yourself in tight in rough conditions or spirited driving. If you prefer to stand, it can also be used as a comfortable and secure leaning post. The seat base can be moved back to a choice of four different reinforced locations depending on your preference.

Both the console and the seat moulding have been designed for maximum advantage. They both have generous storage while the front section of the console has a twin forward-facing seat for two with a padded backrest that hinges open for servicing the instrument panel. The rear section of the seat base has a robust grab handle for the safety of standing passengers and also comes with storage bins and a couple of those stainless steel drinkholders.

Brig Navigator -70 helm

Transom seating is often the most comfortable in a boat when going through rough water and even on this soft riding RIB it will be a popular place. On some boats it can get quite wet down the back but the tubes on big inflatables tend to push water away very effectively. Three adults could make themselves comfortable and the outside pair gets soft grab handles attached to the tubes.

Another seat in the bow takes the total to eight, so with a capacity of 12 passengers it would require some to stand behind the helm or perch on the pontoons. Not that it would be a problem as the air-filled chambers have lots of give and would be pretty comfortable.

 

CARRYING CAPACITY

Brig Navigator 700 bow

Carrying such large numbers of passengers is exceptional for a boat less than 7m but it isn’t among the most winning attributes of the Brig. The ride and handling are. If you haven’t been on one in challenging conditions then get on board for a revelation.

Check out the photos here of the boat clearing the surf at Jibbon Beach, NSW, to see what’s going on under the waterline. Notice how aggressive the lines are below the sponsons. A rounded shape up high gives way to a 5in reverse chine over a deep entry and pair of planing strakes. It clearly shows water being channelled back down away from the boat by the strakes and the chine, as well as where it hits the tubes and finally by a double rubrail.

Sure the hull shape effectively disperses water but its primary achievement is a soft ride and stable tracking. Combining the fibreglass hull with the tubes adds even more softness to the landings over waves as the air dampens any shock on landing.

At rest the tubes give as stable a platform as possible to the 2.8m beam, without resting it on a rock ledge – fantastic for diving, fishing, for use as a support boat when teaching the kids to sail or for simply lolling about on a summer’s day.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Brig Navigator 700 port

As the Brig Navigator 700 moves from rest the hull lifts on the strakes, taking pressure off the tubes and reducing their drag. The faster you go the more the tubes separate from the surface, until at higher speeds only the rearmost sections of Hypalon are in contact.

But throw it into turns and the outside hull pushes into the sea, keeping the hull on an almost even keel. If you’re used to a traditional monohull it can be a bit disconcerting at first and if you are really trying, the sideway force can be quite high. Get used to driving and it’s an absolute buzz as you quickly develop confidence that the whole plot isn’t going to turn turtle.

Conditions for our boat review included a good range of conditions with flat water in Port Hacking, some gentle swell across the bar and a short 1m chop outside. Before venturing offshore we put the Navigator through some speed trials and got a feel of the handling. Any thoughts the sponsons might dampen initial acceleration were immediately dispelled as the Navigator jumped on the plane at only 12kts and took off. Being only 700kg helps of course, but so does the efficient hull design and the great torquey power of the Honda.

Thirty knots came up quickly and it’s a great cruise speed sitting out of the wind behind the high screen. That’s around 4000rpm with a fuel burn of 35lt/h and a theoretic range of 315nm from the 340lt tank with a 10 per cent safety margin. That’s a lot of cruising.

Brig Navigator 700 with 250hp Honda outboard

Trimmed right out we hit 43.5kts at the Honda’s peak of 5500rpm and the Brig Navigator 700 felt glued to the water, with no hint of roll or vagueness in the steering. Handling in flat water is just as impressive whether into big high-speed arcs or full-throttle donuts, the back end could not be made to break away nor could I get it to cavitate.

Over the gentle waves of the bar the Brig Navigator 700 was soft on landing and predictable and the Honda had loads of grunt for instant acceleration. Into the 1m sharp chop we dropped speed back to around 22kts for a safe, enjoyable and dry ride.

While most customers for the Brig Navigator 700 will have a mooring or a pen, the tubes can be deflated for a legal towing width of 2.5m, opening up hundreds of desirable destinations.

 

THE TRADE-A-BOAT VERDICT

Beached Brig Navigator 700

The Brig Navigator 700 delivers on everything requested and is truly impressive, so I guess there should be no qualms about its $108,500 price tag. This inflatable boat is expensive and a trailer will cost another $5680, but imagine hooking it on the back of a medium-sized car and having an absolute ball in our myriad of uncluttered waterways, or ferrying 12 of your close family to a secluded beach.

 

BRIG NAVIGATOR 700 SEA TRIALS

Single 250hp Honda four-stroke outboard

RPM

SPEED (KTS)

FUEL BURN (LT/H)

1000

2.5

3

1500

4.6

5.5

2000

7.1

11

2500 (on the plane)

11.8

17

3000

18

18

3500

24

24

4000

29

35

4500

35

48

5000

40

65

5500 (WOT)

45.3

81

*Sea-trial data supplied by the author.

 

BRIG NAVIGATOR 700 SPECIFICATIONS

Brig Navigator 700 price: $108,500 (price as tested)

 

OPTIONS FITTED

First antifoul, Raymarine 12in touchscreen GPS-sounder with chart, VHF radio, Fusion stereo, and mooring covers

 

PRICED FROM

$98,500

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass hull, Orca Hypalon tubes

TYPE Rigid inflatable boat

LENGTH 6.9m

BEAM 2.8m

WEIGHT 700kg

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 12

REC. HP RANGE150 to 250

FUEL 340lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Honda BF 250 outboard motor

TYPE Fuel injected V6 four-stroke outboard motor

RATED HP 250

DISPLACEMENT 3583cc

WEIGHT 288kg

GEAR RATIO 2:1

PROPELLER 19in Solas four-blade

 

SUPPLIED BY

Sirocco Marine South

79-81 Cawarra Road,

Caringbah, NSW, 2229

Phone 02 95248288

Web siroccomarinesouth.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #464, April / May 2015. Why not subscribe today?

 


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