Southern Pacific’s Cormorant 600 is a RIB designed for Kiwi boating conditions and is the big brother of the already extremely popular Cormorant 550. Barry Thompson checks this big lightweight RIB on Auckland Harbour.
Three years ago Southern Pacific gave designer Kevin Dibley a brief to create an all-purpose, stable platform and lightweight go anywhere RIB. It had to be comfortable dry and be suitable for local Kiwi coastal sea conditions. The result was the Cormorant 550, a boat that has gone onto becoming their most significant selling model.
About 12 months ago they added the 600 to the range and like the 550, the hull design is not a super deep vee RIB, but one that envelopes the versatility of a lightweight RIB. In fact, the total on water package, of our 600, including the Suzuki BF100D outboard, battery, 120 litres of fuel and a Viper anchor capstan was less than 600 kg. Towing weight is around 750 kg, so you don’t have to spend big on a 4 x 4 to tow it.
Southern Pacific build a wide range of inflatables from small tenders with soft bottoms through to 6m RIBs, the Cormorant 600 now the largest in the range. The five chamber thermally welded Valmex PVC or Hypalon tubes feature a durable textured exterior to protect areas of potential abrasion and hard use. Valmex is a very elastic material that is resistant to abrasion and is extremely temperature resistant. Ideal material for the harsh boating conditions we have in this part of the world.
Underneath the Cormorant is a Dibley designed 4mm aluminium hull, which adds the rigidity and stiffness to the boat, without adding excessive weight. It has easily accessible storage areas as well as a built-in fuel tank. There are now six models in the Cormorant range from the 3.9m, 390 through to the 6m, 600.
While there are a lot of similarities between the 550 and the 600, the main difference is the dimensions. Whereas the 550 is 5.5m overall, the 600 is 500mm longer at 6m, and as expected the internal dimensions are proportional more in the bigger model. The 550 is rated to 90hp, the 600 to 115hp and there is a 20kg weight difference. Other than that they are much one in the same.
Part of the original brief was to provide maximum internal space, with both the 550/600 offering 1.3m internal beam. Even with the centre console option, the 600 provides plenty of usable space, with good walkarounds either side of the console and plenty of real estate for fishing.
The layout in our test boat was one that the owner had specified to make the best use of the boat for his various boating pursuits; fishing, diving, tow water toys and generally family boating up north at Taipa. He is also an avid fisherman and says that fishing from a RIB is not an issue, (although snapper spines are not good on the tubes) as long as you prepare the tubes before you go fishing. He suggests dropping a heavy duty cover over both hulls and that alleviates any concerns about having a tube punctured. Mind you, with five chambers around the boat you’ll never be in any danger of sinking.
While there’s no fixed position of the console, on our boat it was very much the favoured spot and it also suits the jig that Southern Pacific have had made for the U-Deck flooring. There is storage in the GRP console with space for dual batteries and sizeable flat areas for a fishfinder, engine gauges and switch panel. Our boat had a 9″ Garmin EchoMap, Viper Elite Series stainless steel switch panel, Suzuki engine management, Fusion NMEA stereo, GME GX750 VHF and something I have not come across before, a Fell Mob Plus. This an electronically controlled, wireless cut-off switch which replaces the old lanyard style system. Great little unit and going to get one for my boat!
An overhead Sunbrella material bimini is held in place by a solidly mounted folding powder coated stainless steel frame with optional rod rack, twin aerials and Hella spotlight. Hella lights are used throughout.
Seating layouts vary and in our 600 we had an Icey-Tek bin with seat pad at the helm, plus a forward console bow seat. The helm seat bin provides excellent storage for either wet or dry gear. A second Icey-Tek bin seat is dropped in ahead of the transom when the owner has his kids aboard.
The 600 utilises the optional through hull anchoring system, which includes a stainless steel Viper Micro Drum winch. If you don’t want that, then you can have the conventional over the bow anchor system, but not sure why you would. The whole package works so well and if you are worried about any water the is ingested into the bow locker, don’t be, as it were self-draining and sealed off from the rest of the hull.
No matter what model you choose, there is the flexibility of having a specific layout to suit your requirements. There are a number of console and seating options, such as Jockey console for easy dismount, full bench seat aft, central seating as a big boat tender, or merely open with a tiller ¬steer to maximise space. Interestingly the first three Cormorant 600s built all have different layouts, with only the tubes and hull remaining constant. Even then there are a variety of tube colours available.
While the 550 Cormorant is a great boat on the water, that extra length of the 600 gives it the edge and it performs even better. We ran the boat on a calm Auckland Harbour and I was impressed with the positive handling plus the way the boat hooks into turns with virtually no heeling or hint of letting go. It digs in hard and tight and you can feel the wide overhang of the tubes skimming the surface and holding the stern up.
The tubes kiss the water when underway and at rest provide that extra footprint for stability, something that is so much a feature of properly designed RIBs. Two people standing on the tubes make very little difference to the heel of the hull, something if you are using the boat a diving platform is a real bonus. A couple of guys fishing one side also means you don’t get that uneasy feeling when you are leaning over to net your mates big kinghie.
The Suzuki DF100B pushed the 600 Cormorant to 33.5 knots using 32.5 lph @ 5800 rpm with four of us aboard and a full 120-litre fuel load. However, when the load is dropped to just two aboard and yet still with a full fuel load the boat is capable of closer to 36 knots. The owner of the 600 Cormorant says he likes to cruise around 4500-5000 rpm @ around 27 knots and gives a range of approx. 130 nm. Flat out that drops down to a still very acceptable 100 nm.
The 550/600 Cormorant are boats that have a diverse market, from a tender for a superyacht or larger motor yacht, to a boat that’s easily handled, towed and launched. It’s an all-purpose boat for general boating. Southern Pacific produce tubes for many fibreglass RIB builders, so were keen to stay out of that space, hence the development of the all aluminium range. Southern Pacific reinforces the Kiwi designed and made philosophy and have the ability to build to the highest quality at an affordable price. Being the builder from bow to stern Southern Pacific can custom build every boat and that’s a real plus.
- Model: 600 Cormorant
- Priced from: $54,000
- Price as tested: $69,000
- Type: Centre Console
- Construction: Alloy/Valmex PVC
- LOA: 6.00m
- Beam: 2.30m
- Deadrise: 22 deg
- Height on trailer: ??
- Trailerable weight: 750 kgs (est)
- Power: Suzuki DF100B
- Power options: Outboards 90-115hp
- Propeller: ??
- Fuel capacity: 120 litres
- Trailer: Hoskings Trailers
FUEL & PERFORMANCE DATA
Southern Pacific 600 Cormorant