- If you’re a fisherman or a keen year-round boater … the 620C will do a very manly job at a surprisingly modest price.
- With its tinted wrap-around screens and its matt-black guard rails, this is an attractive boat from every angle.
Alex Smith investigates a compact new addition to Bella’s Cabin line.
Hot on the heels of Bella’s excellent 700 RAID comes a fifth entry in the company’s Cabin line – and as you might expect, the introductory fanfare is not exactly extravagant. This new offering, they tell us with customary Nordic straightforwardness, is ‘a sensible boat’ for ‘ferry, leisure and fishing purposes’. It’s also apparently the ‘ideal choice for the family’ – but it’s immediately plain that what they mean by that is tied up quite closely with the way the average Scandinavian family uses boats. With its full-beam four-man pilot house, bookended by a largely empty cockpit and foredeck, this is not about lazy summer days at anchor, but simple, trouble-free, three-season commuting.
As you would expect, when you step on board the 620, the pre-eminence of practicality is preserved with unbroken ease of movement from bow to stern. Given the peculiar positioning of the bulbous midships cleats, which perch proudly on the external walkways like booby traps for the unwary, the fact that you never have to exit the boat to go fore and aft is obviously a bonus. Even so, if I were to buy this boat, I would insist on replacing these with a pair of sunken cleats, set flush into the deck.
Elsewhere, things feel much better considered. There are large swim platforms at both ends, allied to strikingly elevated freeboards and a degree of lateral stability both at rest and underway that bodes well for those who like to fish, move around on board or shift big loads. The easy-access bow locker, which we’ve seen on various designs in recent years from Espen Thorup, is also a very neat touch. It enables you to stow (and access) your lines without the need to operate a hatch – and while you obviously still have to lift the lid to work the anchor, it saves a little weight, expense and complication while subtly improving ease of use.
Inside the pilot house itself, it’s impressively quiet with the aft door shut, but it does steam up in the rain with two or three men on board, despite the provision of vented heating. Part of the problem is the fact that most of the vents are positioned at around foot level, which is ideal for keeping you warm when the weather cools down, but is far less ideal for clear windows. Happily, the overhead sunroofs are designed so you can crack the back edges with neat twist-lock catches, radically improving ventilation without allowing the rain to find its way in.
As regards the internal furniture, the symmetrical arrangement of four forward-facing seats incorporates a compact drawer fridge and sink, plus a convertible bed, which runs laterally across the aft end of the space. It’s easy to rig, solidly built, and at 3ft 6in by 6ft 6in it’s impressively large for a boat of this type. The long, entirely unbroken side windows also provide excellent visibility wherever you happen to sit – and the fact that the only thing I can find to complain about is the awkward clip for the lid on the forward step to access the foredeck suggests that Bella have done a very sound job on the pilot house indeed.
Step back aft, though, and the cockpit is a place that will divide the masses. It basically comprises a single-level deck extending from the aft end of the pilot house to the tips of the swim platforms. Only a set of guard rails and skeletal transom gates cordon off the outboard engine from the occupants, and that enables the 620 to provide a great deal of inboard cockpit space for a boat of this scale. However, it’s so flat and open back here that when you’re sitting at rest, even moderate swells can wash their way onto the standing surface – and as there’s no external seating at all (and no option to spec any beyond a simple folding bench), it’s far more valuable for fishermen than fair-weather pleasure seekers. But if you’re happy with that design choice, it’s an indisputably lightweight, cost-effective and efficient way to configure the space.
With its tinted wrap-around screens and its matt-black guard rails, this is an attractive boat from every angle. In fact, it looks like it ought to perform with plenty of dynamism and, up to a point, it does. It’s designed to operate on a wide range of outboards, from 70 to 150 hp, and while the 115 is reportedly the most popular option, our test boat takes full advantage of the transom parameters with Mercury’s F150 outboard. Despite the weight of the pilot house, which sees us reach the plane in about 4 seconds, pass 30 knots in 17 seconds and prod 35 knots in about 25 seconds, in truth, that’s steady rather than rapid. But it’s perfectly adequate for water sports, and with a top end of 37 knots, it ought to be enough to satisfy the likely buyer of this kind of boat.
In terms of efficiency, there’s a very conspicuous cruising sweet spot between 20 and 25 knots, where the range from the integrated 144-litre tank nudges toward 150 nautical miles. That’s pretty impressive from a boat like this, and the running refinement is equally good. There’s every reason to imagine that the flat aft deck, the conspicuous exposure of the outboard engine and the presence of a wheelhouse to trap and amplify the noise might compromise passenger comfort underway at pace, but in practice, the sound insulation lavished on the pilot house proves very effective indeed.
The helm position, however, is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, visibility is very good, despite the expected obstruction of the roof in a turn to port, and while the steering is quite heavy, it’s also very positive and secure, with good feel and accuracy. The switches are also very easy to reach, and, in an astonishing break from marine tradition, the dials are all very smooth and accurate. There’s ample space for a 9in chartplotter here too, plus a pair of windscreen wipers as standard – and yet the helm seats are not quite up to scratch. Their lateral supports are too shallow and the backs too wide to give you proper support when the seas get up, and there’s also a moulding on the port side that digs the co-pilot in the shin when he plants his left leg on the deck in search of the support the seats lack. However, that aside, the driving experience, like the boat itself, is a very reassuring story of workmanlike competence, practicality and effectiveness.
The 620C was designed as a practical commuter boat with family shelter that could also turn its hand to fishing. That’s what the majority of people want in Scandinavia, and in that regard it’s extremely successful. The only issue is that people in the UK don’t tend to go boating like that. We don’t own holiday homes on private islands, and we don’t have the luxury of a workplace with a jetty, where we can tie up the boat after a daily commute by water. If you’re a fisherman or a keen year-round boater, of course, the 620C will do a very manly job at a surprisingly modest price. But for the rest of us, the absence of external features like seats, cushions, cool boxes, tables, water sports gear and cooking equipment means there’s really nowhere outside the pilot house to sit, lounge, eat or sunbathe. In short, if you’re after a trustworthy Nordic commuting tool, you’ll enjoy it just the way it is – but if you want a versatile European plaything, you’re gonna need to do some serious aftermarket shopping.
- 12v DC output and USB charging socket
- Cabin lights
- Fender basket
- Fixed fuel tank
- Hydraulic steering
- Steel rails
- Driver’s roof hatch
- SmartCraft instrument panel
- Twin windscreen wipers
- Dual batteries
- Folding aft bench
- Aft fish prep table
- Freshwater tank and tap
- Garmin GPSMAP 92 SV
- Heater (Wallas 1800)
- Stove and heat blower lid (Wallas 800t + 220)
- Mercury Active Trim
- Radio/Bluetooth player and two speakers
- Drawer refrigerator (20L)
- Rod holders
- Searchlight with remote control
- Skylight hatch
- Trim tabs
- Superb looks
- Handy bow space
- Large convertible bed
- Impressive price
- Limited cockpit versatility
- Imperfect helm seats
- More relevant in Scandinavia than the UK
RPM Speed (kn) Fuel flow (L/h) Range (nm @ 90%)
600 2.5 2.0 162.0
1000 4.2 3.5 155.5
1500 5.7 5.2 142.1
2000 6.9 8.9 100.5
2500 7.6 13.7 71.9
3000 10.5 19.0 71.6
3500 22.0 19.2 148.5
4000 26.6 26.0 132.6
4500 30.2 34.2 114.4
5000 34.0 42.3 104.2
5500 37.4 53.4 90.8
Fuel capacity: 144 litres
People capacity: 7
Power: 100–150 hp
Test engine: Mercury F150
With Mercury F100: From £41,900
With Mercury F150: From £45,500