WORDS + PHOTOS: ANDREW RICHARDSON
This imported fishing boat has a French flavour that's sure to suit the Aussie palate.
A friend of mine had been looking around for an efficient small cruiser to replace his existing 6m cruiser. What he wanted was a vessel that he could keep on his mooring, but it had to have a few creature comforts and it was essential that he could handle the vessel on his own. It also had to be able to handle rough conditions. Price under $100,000.
I had noticed the Beneteau Antares Fishing VI in a brochure last year during the research on a Modern Boating review of the Beneteau 7.10. It turned out that my friend had also been looking at brochures and decided a Beneteau Antares Fishing VI might be just what he was looking for. These days there are plenty of 6m outboard and sterndrive runabouts around, but you'll have too look hard to find a good, solid, well-founded, shaftdrive diesel cruiser of this size.
Adam Waters from JW Marine and I arranged the test and made sure my friend came along for the ride. After the review we had a bit of a chat about the pros and cons of the vessel, but it was like preaching to the converted the vessel suited his needs to a 'T'.
Adam Waters explains, "these mid-sized vessels have wide appeal, because they offer cruiser characteristics that are one notch above runabout pricing".
Most buyers have had vessels in the past and understand the value and the efficiency of a mid-powered diesel cruiser with a focus on open cockpit space. They are good value a well-built, efficient package with a lot of panache. A few obvious shortcomings, such as only having a single battery, can be easily resolved during pre-delivery.
On the downside, these boats are not as fast as other 6m planning vessels, have limited accommodation and no enclosed head. It is a day boat and not an overnighter.
The French didn't get carried away with creature comforts at the helm. While many imported vessels offer bolster helm seats, Beneteau has gone back to the basics and fitted a simple single plastic helm seat. What about your mate who stands next to you when underway, He gets a grab handle.
The vessel's saving grace is the cockpit tiller-steering arrangement, because most of the good weather steering is done outside. Suddenly, it all makes more sense and this French boat, built for a different climate, becomes well suited to
The helm features the essential engine instruments, a compass and an attractive stainless and timber wheel. There are windscreen wipers, but Beneteau forgot to include any freshwater screen wash set-up, so windscreen salt build-up will hamper navigation, particularly at night. Lucky they have the outside tiller.
Generally, the helm offers good all-round visibility and the sliding side windows, combined with roof hatch, give plenty of cross ventilation. Engine noise can often be quite high with an enclosed cockpit but the engine box is outside and good insulation helps keep excessive engine noise down.
The modest cabin has a small galley/sink with 12V fridge behind the helm seat. Next to this on the portside there's space for an optional gas cooker. Forward there's a V-settee with a table. It also conceals the head. A standout feature on the Beneteau VI is the well-proportioned concealed storage area in front of the helm. Here the spare cushions and table can be packed away to reduce clutter in the cabin.
The cabin features a balanced use of timbers, laminates and stainless steel. This, combined with attractive internal mouldings, produces a classy feel in a compact package.
The Beneteau Antares Fishing VI gains lots of bonus-points outback. The roomy, uncluttered cockpit offers simple aft seating combined with cushion seating on the engine box. The swim platform and ladder are a must for the Aussie outdoors, unless you plan to spend hours backing up on big fish. The walkways all-round offer wide treads and once forward the bow has a little moulded seat that will prove popular with the kids.
The anchor locker is huge and beckons the optional windlass, so that dropping the pick for a quick fish or dip would be a no-fuss affair. There are plenty of stainless steel grab holds for the trip forward and once there, the high bow rail offers plenty of security ? although an extra central grab handle might come in handy. The cockpit's timber coamings are attractive and functional. They incorporate rod holders, grab holds and concealed cleats.
Performance & Handling
A Volvo D3-110 shaftdrive diesel powers the test vessel. The 2.4lt engine is designed to deliver crankshaft power of 110hp at 3000rpm and maximum torque of 280Nn at 1750rpm.
Underway, the Beneteau would probably set a benchmark for 6m-cruiser handling. The high fared bow and forward deep-vee offers a confident dry ride and allows the vessel to plough easily through bigger chop and slush. After an hour on the boat I felt confident that short stints offshore on this boat would be a mandatory component of ownership.
The vessel backed up reasonably well even with the swim platform and could hold at 4 knots, which helps when you're trying to reel in a big one. At rest the two tonne vessel responded only slightly when three people moved about onboard.
The Beneteau certainly had her sweet spots when underway. For example: at 2000rpm she purred along at 9 knots consuming only 5lt per hour. Another sweet spot was around 2400rpm where she hit 12 knots. Flat out at 2800rpm the test vessel got close to 16 knots. At this level she was revving slightly below the specified maximum and, with a clean bottom, I'd hope for 15 knots as a cruise speed.
The diesel-powered vessel's EVC computer provides constant fuel consumption data. Consumption would vary with conditions at given speeds, but at 9 knots her 120lt tank would give the Beneteau a range of around 200nm.
Attention to detail and good build quality is displayed throughout the vessel. The hatches and covers fit well and are were no exposed laminates.
Prices start at $87,250, plus options. The $4100 Yacht Club Option Pack includes the aft swim platform, gas cooker, 42lt fridge, CD player and cockpit sunbathing extension with cushions. The $3000 Fishing Pack includes throttle for the aft tiller helm position, icebox and saltwater deck wash. Other options can be priced on application.
I think my mate might be ordering one and when he does, I'm going fishing!