Issue: August 2006
SHORT & SWEET
This neat and nifty cruiser heralds a return to the simple things in boating life.
WORDS + PHOTOS ANDREW RICHARDSON
With all the glitz and glamour on the water, it's nice to come across a vessel that brings back the simple pleasures of boating. The diesel powered French built Beneteau Antares 710 offers this through efficient cruising, an outdoor focus and competitive pricing.
There are quite a few petrol powered express cruisers this size, but there seems to be a short supply of 7m vessels with traditional cruiser characteristics. The Beneteau Antares 710 fits the description of traditional cruisier, but the twist is, the vessel has a top speed a tad more than 20 knots.
The moment the modest Nanni diesel's turbo kicks in and pushes the Beneteau Antares 710 over the hump, old displacement cruiser and new world boating concepts converge.
And a big part of that convergence is this boat's clever layout.
The wide walkways, high topsides and well-positioned grab handles make this craft a crowd pleaser for all ages. The oldies will enjoy the easy stern access, creature comforts and high bow rails, while the kids will enjoy a safe ride from the bow seating areas. The youngsters won't have to fight over this prime position either ? the bow seat is wide enough to fit three.
Access to the well-planned bow area is easy, with moulded step-ups to the walkways and grab rails covering every stage of the trip forward. Once on the bow, the anchor locker is deep and features an electronic windlass with remote control and manual override.
The blunt end of the boat is also well thought out. The 'must have' swim platform and ladder option transforms the Beneteau 710 into a versatile, multi-purpose vessel suited to family cruising and fishing. Simple access to the platform is achieved via an easily removed barrier.
Another feature of this vessel is the second helm, which is a tiller. Why is this such a good feature? Because enclosed helms on small boats get noisy on long trips. The 710's tiller allows the captain to break free of the enclosed helm to take in the fresh air and enjoy a quieter ride. If anything, the tiller would benefit from a yacht style tiller extension. They're about 80 bucks and would complete the functionality of the outdoor steering set-up that already features a second throttle.
The vessel's fully enclosed main bridge has ample ventilation provided by opening side windows. The windscreens have wipers but no fresh water wash system. The double-seated helm drive position is comfortable with good all-round visibility. The full-length footrest helps make long range cruises much more pleasant.
The helm instruments appear simple but cover most things except communications. The optional Navman electronics fill any gaps not covered by the analogue gauges. The solid timber wheel adds a touch of yesteryear to a layout that otherwise feels contemporary.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Once on the helm, the vessel displays great displacement cruiser characteristics. The 8-knot range is quiet and can be used all day long. With a nudge on the throttle the turbo diesel powers the craft confidently out of the hole where she runs nice and flat and feels sure of her planing ability. When we were travelling at around 21 knots, cabin noise levels at the helm were high, but this fell back to comfortable once a sweet spot was found around 2800rpm with a cruise speed around 16 knots. I found the helm a tad heavy with a slight pull to Port, but this could have been masked by the hydraulic steering.
Beneteau didn't get too carried way with the 710's saloon. It feels Euro, with pleasant use of timbers and some useful stowage areas. The settee converts to a single or tight double berth and the enclosed head has a manual toilet. The headroom is good at the entrance to the saloon. The galley features an electric fridge, sink and good natural light. Overall, finish throughout the vessel is good, with balanced use of timbers inside and out. Parts of the cabin look a little rushed, and the grab handles had unexplained holes in them, but these are minor things (and easy fixes) on a competitively priced vessel.
Beneteau, in designing this vessel, has produced a comfortable open cockpit. The use of removable timber corner seats and teak combings provide boundary seating that keep most of the cockpit clear, which is good for fisherman. The deep aft stowage area has room for a couple of deck chairs and small table if outdoor dining is required.
Engine room access is simple and the box works to provide a bit more seating. There was only one battery on the vessel servicing both house and engine. Anyone who has experienced the perils of electric fridges draining batteries would either add a house battery or include a jump booster battery as part of their cruising kit.
Overall, at around $130,000, Beneteau has produced a vessel with lots of appeal and good, efficient performance. The outdoor areas are a stand out part of this European-styled vessel. She's short and sweet, bow to aft!
ABOUT JW MARINE
JW Marine are the importers and distributors of Beneteau Power Boats in Australia and New Zealand and are part of the largest boating network in the world. They've been in the business for 120 years and operate in 49 countries.
Beneteau is one of the leading yacht manufacturers in the world and has been producing vessels since 1884. At present, JW Marine has more than 25 new Beneteau Power Boats across three different model lines from flybridge cruisers, runabouts to the unique passage maker, the Swift Trawler 42. JW Marine has current stock available for demonstration right across its dealer network.
A Nanni 155hp T4 diesel power the Antares 710.
With two people onboard in calm conditions the Beneteau 710 recorded the following performance details.
KNOTS - RPM
4 - 1000
6.3 - 1400
6.9 - 1600
7 - 1800
8 - 2000
12 - 2500
18 - 3000
21 - 3400
MAX HP: 180hp
ENGINE: Nanni 155hp T4 Diesel
+ Good economy; Secondary aft tiller steer
- Slightly heavy helm