Tom McLaughlin of Redbay Boats brought the company’s new 16.5 metre Stormforce RIB on a demonstration run from home base in Cushendall to Campbeltown today.
Launched for her first sea trials on 28th June and in Pilot boat configuration, this latest version of the already legendary Stormforce series is a strong commercial proposition.
Her Volvo Penta engine has full onboard access so does not need to be lifted out for normal servicing, which can be done in situ. She will carry something like 30 in passenger service mode and has a serious cruising range.
In Campbeltown today, the Kintyre Express passenger ferry team went out on a trial run in her with owner Colin Craig and Skipper Haydn Chambers taking the helm. Both felt she handled remarkably deftly for her size.
Her high bow gives her a distinctive look and in one of the photographs on the Rednay Boats website, she’s moored up alongside a fishing trawler and the bows are almost identical in height above waterline. Above she’s berthed beside the Campbeltown lifeboat on a similar comparison exercise.
She’s steady and focused in a muscular sea, which promises well for her passenger service role. Her top speed is 27 knots, with the same cruising speed as the 11 metres, at 22 knots (out on a scud today above) – although the 11 metres ( like KEII below) have a top speed that is a cracking 38 knots.
This is a very grown up boat. Never quite having managed to grow up, it will be hard to displace our affection for the 11 metre, but the 16.5 is an impressive craft with an obviously successful commercial future ahead of her. We’ve seen her at two stages during construction at Cushendall and, boy, is she strong.
She’s called Caledonia – and Tom McLaughlin’s 11 metre demonstrator is Corryvreckan. The cultural links with the Argyll west coast of Scotland are clearly strong. Dalriada lives on.
Mind you there are a lot of Redbay Stormforce RIBS in Argyll waters. Puffin Dive in Oban have Nos 1 and 2 in their distinctive yellow and black waterwasp livery – and they’ve rarely given any trouble in their lives. KEIII, the latest boat in the Kintyre Express fleet, arriving in February 2012, was No 75.
It will be interesting to see what configurations of the 16.5 prove the most popular on the market – and interesting to see which Argyll business is the first to deploy it.
The photographs accompanying this article are by Mairi Johnston of Kintyre Express.