November 2011; Middle Harbour, Sydney: Boat designers are becoming additionally clever every year at fitting more into less, and here’s a prime example. This seven metre Arvor Weekender can sleep five people and provide them with a compact galley and separate toilet compartment as well as a good-sized self-draining cockpit, safe walk-around side-decks and a commendable foredeck with proper anchoring facilities including a power winch!
Now it is true that if the five people weren’t close friends before, they would certainly know each other very well after a weekend onboard together. But it could be done in fair comfort, and those that are a family group, or indeed already good mates, would have great fun. For a couple, or a typical family with two or three youngsters, the accommodations would be wonderful for this easy-to-handle-size boat.
Until this model, Arvors have been fishing-oriented craft with a strong following attracted by their ruggedly honest approach to design and construction matched with a contemporary-adapted traditional style. Whilst fishing was the ‘raison d’etre’ (reason for being – Arvor is French!), the boats still proved family-friendly although with some lack of enthusiasm on occasion from the distaff side.
Peter Collins has been the Australian distributor for Arvor since 1998 and is one of those valued sellers-of-boats who takes the time to ask what a client is looking for before trying to market his product to them – or not, in the case they want something he doesn’t sell. It’s an old marketing technique not seen so much these days called qualifying the client, and it can save a lot of wasted effort for both parties. Peter has observed many a gentleman see an Arvor fishing boat by himself on Friday at a boat show and be as keen as mustard to buy it, only to bring his wife on Sunday who takes a look, shakes her head and walks away.
That’s fair enough too if the lady of the house wants to share her husband’s passion for boating, but also wants him to share her needs and wants afloat. So Arvor decided to adapt its proven hull designs and has introduced this new Weekender model to better suit the male-female balance with a very comfortable enclosed cabin, dinette area, two-burner stove, sink, fridge, separate toilet and so on – it genuinely lives up to its name! Plus it’s still a beaut fishing boat.
Originating in France and built in Europe, Arvor boats are designed to handle the often rough conditions of the English Channel and similarly demanding northern waters. That makes them ideal for Australian conditions too. The hull design has strong forward sections with plenty of buoyancy and with a full keel plus a skeg that continues underneath the prop for protection. The amidships mounted diesel engine with conventional shaft drive gives an excellent balance to the boat and the power plant’s deep-in-the-hull position keeps the centre of gravity lower which adds further to the Arvor’s renowned performance in a seaway.
The fishing Arvors range from 20 to 28 feet and the over-350 sold in Australia through Collins Marine are solid proof of their acceptance in our market. This new Weekender model has much the same seaworthy hull design although the beam is carried further forward for more interior space.
The boarding platform has a couple of useful features with a drop-down swim ladder and an integral bracket for an owner-supplied auxiliary outboard. Even better is the stowage neatly moulded into the back of the boat for fenders – two either side of a central walk-through into the cockpit. A pull-out shower is housed in the side of the walk-way with pressure (cold, fresh) water for convenient use after a swim. A drop-in panel closes the walk-way when required. Grab rails curve around each aft corner of the boat and have thoughtful padded sections that act as backrests for the rear seats in the generously sized cockpit. More seating is to port with stowage below, and in the starboard front corner is a step up to the pleasingly wide side decks. Under that step is a storage locker that could hold a barbecue which would neatly clamp to an aft rail for convenient operation.
The sole of the cockpit has imitation teak decking which looks good and which will never need re-oiling or other maintenance. The cockpit is well above the water line and is self-draining for convenience and safety. A large hatch in the sole gives access to the fuel tank, transmission and other ancillaries, plus has room for storage. A table is provided that mounts into a bracket in the floor. Adding to the versatility of the cockpit, the rear seats can convert to a double-berth-sized sunlounge – good for relaxing through the day, and for sleeping on calm nights beneath the stars. Peter can optionally provide a shade cover to owner requirements extending out from the back of the cabin.
A sliding door in the cabin bulkhead makes it easy to move into the interior of the Weekender where there’s a dinette to port and a small galley to starboard. The dinette has L-shaped lounges around a table which lowers to form a base that, with an extra cushion, converts the area to a double berth. More storage is under the back seats, and there’s a hatch nearby that lifts for day-to-date engine checks and maintenance.
The driving position is forward on the right and the back of the seat cunningly folds forward to reveal a sink with pressure water supply. Aft of that is a slide-out marble-look work bench over a two burner methylated-spirit stove with a locker for kitchen goodies underneath. Aft again is the 12 volt fridge with a small food preparation area above. The galley is compact and positioned a bit lower than usual, but it’s entirely workable and makes excellent use of the available space. For a seven metre boat it’s very good indeed.
Large windows bring lots of natural light into the cabin with an overhead hatch and a sliding starboard window for ventilation. An angled panel centrally above the windscreen contains a standard-equipment VHF marine transceiver and an AM/FM/CD stereo system playing through speakers beside the panel plus another pair in the cockpit.
The overall cabin layout works very well with up to say four people able to sit around the dinette and keep the skipper company. Anyone could sit facing the skipper for easier conversation, or relax facing forward with legs stretched out along the side lounge to very comfortably watch the world go by, or maybe to read a magazine – or even to study a chart and navigate for the helmsperson. The area also means everyone has great views whilst dining.
A step-down takes you into the forward cabin with a separate toilet compartment on your right. That has a portable loo, a basin with pressure water and a storage locker plus a porthole for light through the day. Down the left side of the cabin is a three-quarter berth, and there’s an extra cushion so it converts to a double berth when required. As well, unexpectedly, there’s another single berth running back under the seating of the dinette – a great spot for kids to use as a cubby-house through the day, or for one of the crew to sleep. In front of the toilet compartment is a storage cabinet, and a shelf down the port side would take smaller bits and pieces. An overhead hatch brings in light and fresh air, whilst there’s a mirror on the bow bulkhead. A balanced blending of carpet, fabric and woodwork makes the cabin quite welcoming, and it’s also imminently practical and low-maintenance – as is the whole boat.
The engine is a Cummins CMD 150 hp four-cylinder turbo-charged common rail diesel that is surprisingly smooth and quiet. It operates a traditional straight-shaft drive through a hydraulic forward- neutral-reverse gearbox with a 2:1 reduction ratio.
The helm station is neatly set out with a handsome wood-rim wheel. A small, slightly recessed dash panel in front of the wheel houses an analogue tacho with an inset multi-function digital display that cycles through read-outs for engine management such as fuel flow, total fuel used, volts, water temperature and oil pressure. There’s also an analogue fuel gauge plus, on top of the dash and a bit further forward, a magnetic compass. To the right of the wheel is a bank of switches, and up a bit is the control for the standard bow thruster – that’s impressive in this size of boat, and very useful too.
The thruster is another good example of the boating philosophy espoused by both Peter and Arvor - make it easy to use and the owner will happily use it more often. It’s not always effortless to dock or moor a boat, especially with stronger winds or currents, and a skipper that can more precisely position his boat with a bow thruster so that his crew, often his wife, can quickly and easily secure the lines is well on the way to having an enthusiastic crew, or wife! They’ll be keener to go boating, and everyone feels good about the way they can handle the boat.
To the left of the wheel are two more controls for happier boating – a set of rocker switches for the standard trim tabs and a rotary switch for the electric anchor windlass. The anchor self-stows on the bow roller and can be seen from the driving seat, so it’s a snap to lower and retrieve it.
The helm seat is deceptive as it looks a bit small, but it’s comfortable with a very supportive back that wraps around more than most to keep you feeling secure. Neither the wheel nor the seat is adjustable, but their relationship was close to being right for me. I had to lean forward slightly, and the throttle/shift control on the side panel was just a tad too far away, but anyone with marginally longer arms would find it perfect. There’s no drink holder for the skipper, but it would be easy to fit one.
Visibility is excellent, and the quarter frames in the screen are further aft than in most boats, so the view forward is panoramic. The steering is light (five turns lock to lock) and the trim tabs are effective without being sensitive. You don’t have to use the tabs, but they do lower the bow a bit at higher speeds which can give a more comfortable view ahead, and they’re handy for balancing the boat laterally if one or more of the crew are heavier and sitting to one side.
The Weekender was a pleasure to drive and could idle along at 6 knots to admire the scenery or charge along at up to just on 21 knots if you’re in a hurry to get home before a southerly buster comes through. The hull responded quickly to the wheel and could turn as tightly as you’d want – warn the crew before you try full lock at speed! The gearshift was very smooth, as was the ride of the boat through wakes and wash. We didn’t have a chance to run outside, but the Arvor reputation and the feel of the boat during our run are clear indications of the Weekender’s ability to take care of itself, and its crew, in rougher waters.
On longer cruises when you’re likely to want to move around a bit, you could stand to drive for a while, either in front of the seat, although that’s a bit of a tight fit, or standing in the centre of the cabin where it’s still easy to steer and operate the controls.
From that carefree ‘take your time and admire the views’ 6.3 knots at 1,600 rpm, the Cummins diesel lifted the hull on plane and ran on to 10.2 knots at 2,800 rpm whilst a very enjoyable cruise speed was found at 3,200 rpm and 13.4 knots. Top speed was 20.9 knots at 4,100 rpm and even then noise levels in the cabin were low enough for normal conversation. Sound reducing foam under the engine hatch, and some fabric-covered panels on the cabin sides helped in that regard, and it means the Arvor would not be tiring on long cruises. Just the opposite in fact – this is a boat you could cheerfully cruise all day with the economical diesel, an efficient hull and a comfy cabin.
The Weekender was priced at the time of the test at around $115,000 depending on the exchange rate, and that’s very good value for all the inclusions and quality hardware. You’ll need to factor in the price of an anti-foul if you’re keeping the boat in the water, or a trailer. With a beam of 2.78 meters, the Weekender would need a Wide Load permit and sign to tow, but lots of other boats this size do that without trouble.
Our review boat had been sold before it even hit the water. A couple loved the style and are planning to put it to good use with their family and grand-kids. Peter is expecting a number of current Arvor fishing boat owners to make the changeover to take advantage of the better family-orientation offered by the Weekender. The Arvor catch-phrase is ‘Comfort, Safety, Style’, and this boat delivers on all three counts. Go see for yourself!
SPECIFICATIONS: ARVOR WEEKENDER
Hull Length: 6.96 metres
Overall Length: 7.65 metres
Beam: 2.78 metres
Draft: 0.85 metres
Weight: 2,300 kgs
Fuel: 135 litres
Water: 100 litres
Power: Cummins CMD 150 hp
Top Speed: 20.9 knots
Price (from, at time of review): $115,000