Redbay Boats Stormforce
Review by Paul Mahy
Cushendall on the north east coast of Ireland is ideal for serious cruising
throughout the neighbouring Scottish coast and islands, but the weather
there can change over a matter of minutes, from a fine sunny day to angry
skies and low temperatures.
Those who do cruise around these seas are always prepared for the worst and the
best that weather can throw at them
Redbay Boats are based here and have been building RIBs for 24 years from 4.5
to 12 metres. Their expertise not only comes from living in such a place but
also from the fact that four of the Redbay team are crew and coxswains of the
So, if anyone should have a good idea of what they want their boats to achieve
it"s them. Aiming for those who want to cruise in comfort
and safety Redbay recognise a number of factors that make life easier
and dare I say comfortable even allowing for the most miserable of days.
Unfortunately, my quest for a test didn"t get me to go to the beautiful
scenery of Northern Ireland, but to Essex and Pitsea.
My reason was a 7.5 metre Redbay with a 225hp Evinrude Ficht owned
by local gent Dave Walford.
The Man Behind the Name
Dave is an admittedly cautious person by nature, so instead of launching
himself into the deep end, he has taken care as his experience increased.
he found himself taken with the benefits of using a RIB via a friend, which
eventually led him to his first purchase of a Cobra. Gaining experience
and taking RYA instruction he learned how to handle his boat and began
to fine tune his requirements.
As family use was paramount, Dave wasn"t in the market for something
that blasted around at 50 knots and after a few family trips discovered
how much the wet and cold can ruin a day out. After much deliberation
Dave found himself in Cushendall talking to Tom Mclaughlin, owner of
Redbay have long extolled the virtues of canopies in conjunction with protective
wrap around consuls, affording those on board more security and protection from
the elements and it was primarily for this reason that Redbay were chosen, not
to mention their substantial commercial specified hulls and rugged build quality.
Moving up a metre in size, it was decided that the best option for Dave at this
stage, was the 7.5m wrap around version, with a 225hp Digital Ficht engine from
Sitting smartly alongside a yacht on the estuary was the 7.4, looking bigger
than her actual length due to her canopies being fully rigged. Her tubes a refreshing
green, she seemed to be sitting to attention waiting for our test.
On boarding, I got my first taste of some of the unique aspects of this RIB.
As I had to climb down from a yacht, I expected the tubes to deform slightly
with my weight, but as the console uses up the internal beam amidships and one
then has to use the tubes for access forward and aft, Redbay have fitted a "C" cup
that encompasses the tube along the console section, on top of which a solid
deck sits offering a secure walkway when needed. Not only providing security,
the cup also serves to hold the tube far more securely, a point that is reflected
at the stern, as the after
end of the tubes also have a smaller section, to cut down on tube movement
and once again hold the tube firmly.
The rear section of the canopy was stowed, the warps let go and off we went for
a ride. The consul is laid out for simplicity and practicality.
All the controls are ergonomically well placed and readouts and equipment well
sighted. Stowage for the necessary charts is all provided on the dash and in
stowage nets placed in the relevant places. Sitting on straddle seats the driver
and crew have plenty of room to enjoy. Even if kitted out in full foul weather
gear, the consul sides are near enough to lean on, but not so close that they
would cause injury if the boat were being thrown around in a nasty sea. With
the canopies still up we started some
speed runs. To say they are effective is an injustice, keeping all the
wind out they can be completely closed to the weather without any hindrance
to the boat or crew. And for those winter days there are even a couple
of heaters installed to take away the chill. With seating for four inside there
is a bench
seat aft for two and though still outside, the canopy still offers some
small amount of shelter.
Redbay like their RIBs uncluttered so, in addition to a practical layout, they
have made sure there is adequate storage for equipment. The top of the bench
seat opens to reveal a small chest, while the seat bases and consul supply
the rest. After a short while we dropped the canopy,
an effortless exercise that took two and a half minutes and naturally
her looks changed significantly.
Although not designed to, she looked quite sporty, enhanced by two double
steel "A" frames, one in the customary position aft and the other over
the consul to support the canopy as well as house the aerials and antennae.
Weighing in at around a tonne and a half, this is a substantial craft,
but the Evinrude got her on the plane quickly and she shot up to her
top speed of 38
knots. Using very little trim, she sat firmly in the water and required little
trim to plane, or compensation once there. In turns, she was nimble but not lively.
There was not a tendency to skip or slip and before long I was revelling in locking
her over at full speed easing just a couple of hundred revs before locking in
and powering those "G"s" back on to exit the turns. For a while I forgot
this was a cruiser!! Even with the canopies down, the console and screen did
a masterly job
of deflecting wind and I realise now why even living on the Essex coast,
Dave is now no stranger to Calais! There was absolutely no wind, or
even a ripple on our test day, so the best parts of this craft I was
unable to test, but reports from Dave and others confirmed what I had
thought, that these are capable of dealing lousy weather.
There are some really nice touches on the Redbay. On the front of the console
are drop down steps port and starboard, so you don"t have to stretch to mount
the side decks.
Other niceties include waterproof console storage, interior lights, treadmaster
decks, heavy duty wear and tread patches on the tubes and 3/4 length safety lines.
All in all the Redbay is a very well set up RIB, the canopy really
extends the cruising capabilities thanks to the reduction of elemental
exposure and in turn
makes even cold rainy days fun. I asked Dave what he would have if he didn"t
have this particular RIB," he
said " An 8.5m diesel Redbay of course!