Riviera thought the 3000 would be a first-time boat for owners who would move up to the 4000, but instead 3000 Series I owners are tending to upgrade to Series II.
If I lean far enough over the front fence I can get a glimpse of Sydney Harbour. OK, OK, it is only a glimpse of a bit of Sydney Harbour. OK, glimpse of a bit of the Parramatta River.
Regardless of what bit of Sydney Harbour I can see, I can also get a glimpse of a small private marina. "Private" means it is a marina attached to a new apartment block. Which reminds me I must ask someone why apartment blocks can have new marinas, less than full, while old marinas cannot be expanded. Hang on; I've lost the point.
This private marina is home to 18 boats, the other 20 or so berths are empty. Three of those 18 boats are Offshore 3000s. An expert in statistics would not regard this as a comprehensive survey of boat ownership, but it's a fact, the Riviera 3000 sells particularly well in Sydney because it suits Sydney particularly well.
She's a smallish boat, easy to handle in Sydney's congested waters, easy to moor and berth, yet because it is diesel-powered and shaft-driven it has the potential for bluewater use.
It is well priced and is undemanding to finance, to fuel and to maintain. Its size encourages the owner to run it down to Darling Harbour or the Fish Markets for dinner. To my mind its simplicity of line makes it an elegant boat so it doesn't hurt the image when you're berthing outside a snobby restaurant.
It's a boat that satisfies the most common demands of boat owners. They take out their boats for four-five hours on Sunday, have dinner aboard or around the harbour occasionally and at Christmas or Easter they overnight aboard with the kids or friends. It makes more sense to own a boat like this than to have $500,000-$700,000 tied up in a big flybridge boat to do the same job.
Guys who buy these are usually young corporate types with families, but we've also got a number of guys who run out to the Shelf and all they do is fish deep. Before we're accused of being Sydney-centric the qualities I've discussed here are relevant anywhere in Australia you would find a warm climate, a limited inshore waterway and the Big Blue right outside.
The US market may prefer sterndrives, because much of the boating is on inland waters and the comfort-loving Americans demand maximum internal hull volume.
The 3000 was introduced as a smaller version of the 4000, which came first; the Series II was launched on this year's boat show circuit. Riviera thought the 3000 would be a first-time boat for owners who would move up to the 4000, but instead 3000 Series I owners are tending to upgrade to Series II.
The Offshore 3000 measures 10.60m from the tip of bowsprit to the trailing edge of landing platform; hull length is 9.35m or 30' 8". Dry weight is 5500kg with the smaller of the two engine choices, the twin Volvo TAMD 41P with 147kW or 200hp. These are turboed, and have cable controls.
The only engine option is twin KAMD 300 Volvos, which are supercharged and pump out 210kW/285hp and have electronic controls. The net difference, ex-factory, is $16,215. The big-engine option brings a full engine management system and diagnostic panel, so if anything goes wrong it flashes a code to you and will adopt limp-home mode if necessary. I have not tried a 3000 with the smaller motors, but the performance with the big ones is, ah, shattering.
The Series II Offshore 3000's basic layout and structure are unchanged. Below decks is an almost-circular island double bed forward, which is only just big enough. It has a translucent hatch overhead and stowage shelves either side. Galley and head/bathroom are amidships on the starboard side; the bathroom includes a rail for a shower curtain, a big plus. The dinette (convertible) is to port. Headroom in this part of the cabin is well over 6ft.
The cabin door is a sliding curved panel in an acrylic material, which is translucent, so when closed it admits light. The Series I had 240V only from shore power; if you wanted to cook you used the barbecue. But the Series II has an inverter so a microwave is standard. The trim below is a mix of gelcoat, excellent vinyl and high-gloss beech timber.
Up three steps to the main cockpit. The driver's seat has less constricting sides than the older boat, so you can seat two at a pinch (or one in great comfort) behind the wheel, which is adjustable for rake. Behind the helm seat is a sink and the optional fridge. Opposite is the L-shaped lounge/dinette, which converts to a berth.
The engines are beneath this area, which presents an excuse to introduce the Riviera Offshore's party trick. Press a button and you discover that the entire centre section moulding, including the furniture, is hinged at its forward edge and the after end lifts to reveal the engine room. Mechanics have full access and the owner won't have to deal with grease tracked through the boat's living areas. There is a mechanical backup to the hydraulics if power is lost. The holding tank and standard hot water are in the engine room.
The aft cockpit has an improved transom door (it is now watertight) and a big stowage area under the floor, an advantage of the midships engine location. The barbie stows in a locker in the aft bulkhead; unstrap it, lift out and set up in slots in the transom.
But the big change is the addition of the Targa bar, which anchors the trailing edge of the bimini (bigger than before) and helps hold the whole bimini drum-tight.
At 30 knots into a howling nor'easter no part of the bimini even moved. There are clears for the front and sides and an optional clear, which drops down aft and encloses the whole living area.
The Targa's only drawback is that it makes it a bit difficult to climb from the cockpit up onto the sidedecks to go forward. The sidedecks however are wide and you use the bimini support tubes as handholds as you go forward.
On the foredeck you will find the Muir electric anchor winch, with footpad control. An anchor chain restraint line is standard. There are plenty of mooring cleats, fixed ones forward and amidships, retractable ones in the cockpit, and boomerang-shaped cleats on the stern quarters.
The standard boat is good for 27 knots with a 22 knot cruise speed. With the 285hp Volvos the 3000 literally leaps out of the water from a standing start and is on the plane before you have time to wonder about using the tabs. It is up and running faster than the time it took to type those words, plenty of torque is at work here. The boat rockets up to a top speed of around 34 knot.
The hull responds well to the tabs, the photographs here show the 3000 trimmed flat to look her best, but if you can't be bothered you don't need to use them at all. I suspect the 200hp units would also deliver the goods, but I haven't tried them so it is all supposition.
I am not particularly interested in luxury or status, so I find it easy to identify with the Offshore 3000. It delivers the qualities I want from a boat - easy to own and easy to use. It does not have a lot of accommodation, but when I am afloat I am there because I want to be outdoors and do not intend to spend time downstairs.
The arrangement of bimini and clears make the cockpit an extension of the living area. This will be the focus of onboard living, incorporating the barbie, the cockpit table and the upstairs fridge.
On the engineering front, the diesels (and there are two) represent safety and the shaftdrive is attractive, because they represent less machinery to maintain. And the only gas on board is to feed the barbie.
The Riviera Offshore 3000 Series II makes a lot of sense, but how often does sense rule in the boating business ? With the standard 200hp engines a Series II will set you back $218,037. Add another $16,215 for the 285hp engines.
The standard engines for the Riviera 3000 Series II are twin Volvo TAMD 41P 200hp shaftdrive diesels. The only other engine option offered is twin Volvo KAMD 300, supercharged, 285hp diesels with electronic controls.
Fitted with twin 200hp engines the boat has a top speed of 27 knots, but cruises comfortably at 22 knots. With the bigger supercharged motors the Series II will hit 34 knots, but the purchase price also jumps by $16,215.
Story by Barry Tranter