- This new Stormforce will undoubtedly set another highly credible milestone in Redbay’s 40-year history.
- The new Stormforce 1250 is a joy to helm.
- The cabin is well soundproofed, comfortable and equipped with all manner of latest technology.
- The shock mitigation seating installed on this test boat represents German craftsmanship at its best.
Redbay 1250 Stormforce
Hugo Montgomery-Swan visits the rugged Antrim coast to bring news of another milestone in Redbay Boats’ 40-year-long history. It comes in the guise of an all-new offshore vessel that has the potential to appeal to both the professional mariner and the privateer wishing to own the ultimate ‘grand tourer’…
Redbay Boats are a true success story – a testimony to commitment, vision and sheer hard work. Tom McLaughlin has run this family affair from its inception 40 years ago and taken the company from being a local supplier of clinker wooden fishing boats to a small ‘shipyard’ responsible for building some of the most capable all-weather vessels of their type up to 16 metres in length anywhere in the world. At the heart of the company’s success is the passion and understanding that its key personnel have for their line of expertise.
Tom and his family are first and foremost people of the sea, with both Tom and his son Conor in particular living and breathing the environment every day of their lives. If you’ve ever met them you will know they have an appetite and constitution second to none for anything remotely connected with salt water, not to mention the odd drop of Guinness! Lifeboating too is genuinely in their blood. Tom, therefore, in particular has the advantage of having acquired years of invaluable first-hand knowledge of handling craft in extreme conditions. He and his team know only too well what standard a vessel needs to meet if it’s going to operate effectively in such sea states, and this knowledge is put to good use within the company’s design and build programme. (If you wish to learn more about the abilities of the Stormforce hull design, Chapter 12 of the book Heavy Weather Sailing, 7th edition, published by Adlard Coles, provides a powerful testimony to what even Redbay’s smaller Stormforce RIBs are capable of handling when the going gets really tough.)
Upon stepping aboard the aft deck, you’re immediately impressed by the spaciousness of the area and its high degree of on-board security. Non-slip surfacing, deck guard rails and top-grade fixtures and fittings impress upon one that this is a serious craft. Deck engine hatches lift to reveal an airy and well-appointed engine bay, home to a pair of Yanmar 8LV-370 diesel sterndrives with Yanmar ZT370 sterndrives. Access to all the key components, both mechanical and electrical, is exceptionally good, and the installation of these inboard diesel engines is first class. The only ‘Achilles heel’ with a design such as this, as opposed to a vessel of engine room design, is that in a heavy sea, if access to the engines was required, opening the deck hatches to the weather could seriously compromise the security of the engines. One green sea sweeping the deck would take out the electrics and the engines in a single blow. It’s an issue relevant to a good number of inboard craft in this size category, and something that the operator just has to consider if such a need or occasion arises.
Stepping down into the wheelhouse-styled cabin through the watertight access door, the impressive German-made Gramma shock mitigation crew seating installation flanks the companionway. These seats provide the ultimate comfort, and besides allowing the occupant to strap him/herself in for additional security, the Grammas are also fully adjustable. In fact, they’re among some of the best suspension seats of this type I’ve come across. The main electronics on this craft are chiefly Garmin and these have been installed to create what might be accurately described as a ‘flight deck’. This area possesses a very impressive array of equipment indeed and includes two Garmin 7416xsv touch screen multifunction displays, the latest Garmin radome radar system, a VHF 100i DSC with repeater and a Garmin GSD22 echo depth sounder. The starboard-mounted wheel and dual throttle configuration provides additional evidence that the ergonomics of the boat’s interior have been given very careful consideration. This not only translates into increased comfort, but also helps to keep fatigue at the wheel to a minimum while enhancing the helmsman’s overall control of the craft. With regard to the latter, this vessel is fitted with joystick control, a system that makes the tricky business of docking or coming alongside absurdly simple. We were unable to test the strength of this system against a contrary wind, but Conor McLaughlin, who hosted my time on the 1250 this day, assured me the system works very well.
The degree of light afforded through the cabin’s toughened glass windows is excellent, and these provide both cox and crew with exceptionally good all-round visibility. The main access door to the rear of the cabin also allows for a rearward view and sight of the aft deck. Overhead, a skylight contributes to the cabin’s natural light and provides a useful source of additional ventilation. The forward-facing windows are rearward raked – one of the Stormforce’s few design features that don’t take their influences from the annals of typical lifeboat design. A heavy-duty, multispeed Roca W25 wiper system ensures the effective clearance of salt spray and rainwater from each of the three forward windows.
A second, smaller cabin up in the forepeak of the vessel, accessed at the head of the main companionway beneath the bank of navigation electronics, offers the owner the flexibility of having either a generously sized storage area/‘glory hole’ or a full-head-height cabin, which, as in the case of the test boat, can be fitted out as a sleeping compartment with two berths. (This model can be designed to accommodate up to eight berths in all.) The test boat also had a galley installed on the starboard side of the main cabin as well as a heads compartment on the port behind the most rearward seat.
The standard of the main cabin’s internal fit-out is first rate, as is the quality of the materials and key components chosen. I could see no obvious flaws in either its design or its execution. It was highly functional, ergonomically sound and showed itself to be the work of a builder who knew exactly what was required of a boat intended for the offshore environment. In my view, this approach to boatbuilding becomes evident in the detail – revealing whether or not a vessel has been designed primarily with its crew as the priority. I mention this because I’ve been aboard so many craft in the past on which, though they may have had all manner of expensive systems lavished on them, the end result has been let down by poor positioning and installation, or even by the suitability of a particular item for the task in hand (the latter being the example of ‘touch screen’ technology on an open boat). If not addressed, such issues show a lack of practical insight and working knowledge on the part of the builder – to the detriment of the owner/user of the boat.
Design & Performance
As I’ve alluded to, you can certainly tell where McLaughlin and his team draw their design influences from. On stepping aboard this monster RIB, you can’t help feeling that you’re setting foot aboard a lifeboat, albeit a comfortable and very well-appointed one. (Given the fact that a Trent Class RNLI all-weather lifeboat costs 1.1 million pounds of donated charity money to build, it makes one wonder why the RNLI doesn’t commission the likes of a Stormforce to be built instead, at a cost of between 260 and 300 K …) While this particular boat hasn’t been designed with any one specific role in mind, it’s clear she represents a strong crossover between what could be described as a professional operations vessel and a serious private offshore adventuring craft. In the case of the latter, as many of you will know, Redbay have all the experience necessary to custom-build for any requirement. So, exchanging some of the crew seating pods for berths and installing a shower cubicle and heads as well as other associated amenities commonly found on a cruising craft presents little problem for the in-house design team. In fact, few boatbuilders have as much experience in building for this niche offshore leisure market, and so either way, whether a Stormforce cabin RIB is bought for work or for leisure, clients can have every confidence they’re dealing with a company that has an impressive track record in fulfilling both requirements.
The Stormforce hull features a constant deep vee from stem to stern. Its marriage to the Pennel fabric tubes or sponsons means the latter are set at a height to just allow their rearward section to make contact with the water. This provides additional stability at rest and at low speeds, while not inducing unwanted drag at higher speeds. At over 3 tonnes, this 13m LOA sits pretty solid in the water, but thanks to the degree of power in her engine box, she’s no slouch either when asked to perform. She’s nimble, possesses good ‘out-of-the-hole’ acceleration and remains responsive right through the RPM range. The top speed achieved on the test day in smooth seas and little wind or tide was 35 knots. She cruises comfortably at a speed of 25 knots/3000rpm, which is a very respectable speed for a craft of this size and with a tonnage of over 10 tons. At 3000rpm she burns 110 litres an hour.
Once up and away, one quickly appreciates too how sea-kindly the Stormforce hull really is. Its fine entry slices through the seas without causing her head to fly unnecessarily, while at the same time, the spray rails and the reverse chine cutaway just ahead of where the tubes lock into the hard bow give her exceptional recovery in a following sea. The Stormforce’s high sheer and sharp profile to her bow also aid the vessel’s head-to-sea performance in steep waves. Redbay tend to favour this distinctive ‘hard bow’ type of RIB design because, besides the cabin compartment it affords internally, it increases the RIB’s forward buoyancy and also gives the overall structure of the vessel, particularly a larger boat such as this 12.50m, very much greater rigidity. On deck, the ‘hard bow’ likewise provides a very useful working area forward, and, just as in the case of the rear deck, the addition of stainless steel guard rails to the gunwale provides a good degree of crew safety.
The new Stormforce 1250 is a joy to helm. The cabin is well soundproofed, comfortable and equipped with all manner of latest technology. The shock mitigation seating installed on this test boat represents German craftsmanship at its best and makes the business of travelling aboard this boat an absolute pleasure. The vessel is most certainly built ‘fit for purpose’ and possesses a first-class pedigree into the bargain, which will sit very well alongside the smaller Redbay cabin RIBs in the range, as well as the soon-to-be-released 16m Stormforce currently under development in Redbay’s newly built, 40,000 sq. ft. facility.
The 1250 is a rare example of a craft that would fulfil the role of a ‘grand tourer’ or that of a professional ‘offshore operations vessel’ equally well and equally ably. Coupled to the power and engineering excellence of the Yanmar engine installation, this new Stormforce will undoubtedly set another highly credible milestone in Redbay’s 40-year history.
- LED navigation lighting
- LED low-level external deck lighting
- LED floodlights on afterdeck
- 2 x Garmin 7416xsv touch screen multifunction displays combining colour GPS/plotter with GMR18HD radome
- Stand-alone Garmin depth sounder
- Garmin GSD22 echo depth sounder
- Garmin VHF 100i DSC VHF
- Compass w/backlight
- All connections terminated to ISO 10022 including waterproof junction boxes
- 3 x AGM gel batteries (2 x 120Ah and 1 x 200Ah) with crossover coupling and Blue Sea smart charge relays
- Roca W25 wiper system
- Concealed under aft weather deck with over stern drainage through recessed ring moulding
- Double lid access with gas-assisted hatch lifters
- 2 x Yanmar 8LV-370 diesel sterndrives with Yanmar ZT370 sterndrives
- Electronic fly-by-wire control systems
- Ultraflex UP28F hydraulic steering system
- Automatic fire-extinguishing system
- Automatic bilge pumping system
- Triple AGM gel battery system w/link switch and autocharging relays
- Fuel tank level indicators
- Twin Racor 300FG fuel/water separators with drain-off facility
- Scott Bader Crystic Fireguard protective lining in machinery space
- Maritex sound attenuation on bulkheads and machinery space lid
- Machinery space light
- Machinery space camera system
- Whale Gusher Titan manual bilge pump system through deck external access point
- New Voyager cabin as per attached drawings (12″ additional internal beam)
- Seaglaze Marine windows
- Seaglaze Marine specification full-height door
- Equipment console with walk-through access to forward cockpit
- Carpet headlining in cockpit and cabin sides
- 4 x KAB 524 suspension seats in customer-chosen fabrics
- 2 x berths under stern bench seats as per attached drawings
- 2 x coffin berths under helm seats as per attached drawings
- Aft saloon seating with folding table as per attached drawings
- Twin berths in forward cockpit with under-storage lockers
- 2 x cabin roof hatches
- PASSAD cabin heating and demisting system
- Teak and holly cabin sole finishes
- Stainless steel bus poles and grab handles throughout
- Labcraft LED lighting throughout
- Standing toilet compartment with shower and sink
- Folding table in main cabin saloon
- Length overall: 13.5m
- Beam overall: 3.30m
- Overall weight: 10.5 tonnes
- Tube diameter: 560mm
- Tube material: Hypalon
- Max. berths: 6 to 8
- Hull deadrise: 25 degrees
As tested with full spec inclusive of all ‘extras’: £295,845 (exc. VAT)