It may sport an all-black colour scheme that will see it disappear into the shadows come sundown, but as Dave Marsh discovered, this particular Scorpion Silurian RIB is no shrinking violet …
The Scorpion Silurian is a big craft – 10.8m (35ft 5in) long and 3.25m (10ft 8in) wide to be precise – and with twin 300hp Mercury outboards propelling its twin-stepped hull to 54 knots, it is powerful and fast too. It could have been even more brash had its owner chosen the twin 400hp petrol outboard option instead, as that would see it leave 60 knots well behind. Although the big Mercury engines do not emit the same arresting bark as the competing Evinrude E-TEC outboards do, at full chat they do produce a lovely sonorous wail.
With such bravura on display, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the simpler question ‒ why we would choose to buy a big RIB that costs upwards of £200,000 rather than a conventional 10m+ sports boat. I reckon one of the main attractions is safety and ease of use. Low tubes have the potential to make side-boarding and stepping on and off a pontoon easier. Plus, if you’ve ever had to haul a waterlogged man-overboard back onto a conventional boat, then you will know that unless you’re blessed with superhuman strength or a high-low bathing platform, it is a frightening and physically punishing experience. By contrast, a RIB’s low-lying tubes make it far easier to gradually roll an MOB, or indeed an exhausted wakeboarder, back on board.
If you watch the owners of big RIBs manoeuvring at close quarters, they often exhibit remarkable boat-handling skills, even when they are denied a bow thruster. I’m convinced this is because those spongy inbuilt fenders remove the helmsman’s usual fear of damaging their own craft or those around them, so their lack of apprehension allows them to become more adept. In their early days, newcomers to boating are more inclined to practise close-quarter manoeuvring too, for the same reasons. Moreover, it’s far easier to precisely judge a RIB’s distance from the pontoon because the extremities of the collars are so clearly visible to the helmsman; the same can’t always be said for the hidden expanse of topside that’s going to strike the dockside on a conventional boat.
In my experience, you don’t often see RIBs as big and heavy as this 3.2-tonne Silurian being towed. Still, if that is what you end up doing, RIBs are often lighter than their conventional counterparts, and their tubes can be deflated to reduce their width. Both these aspects make them easier to tow and launch.
Although you cannot put a monetary value on it, there’s a clubby feel that comes bundled with RIB ownership that is not easy to find elsewhere. There are official owners’ clubs for well-known motor boat marques such as Fairey and Rampart, but these have relatively small and highly focused memberships. Conversely, the rallies that the likes of Sunseeker and Princess organise require active participation. The great thing about RIB club membership is that it’s free, instant and open to all.
A step forward?
Club or no club, though, we all secretly like to feel we’re a bit different to the next Joe, a bit special. Of course, fulfilling this urge has always been one of Scorpion’s key strengths. Fancy Day-Glo orange tubes? Yes, sir, that will be fine. Extra-large fuel tanks? Yep. Inboard diesel sterndrives instead of petrol outboards? Shock mitigation seating? An all-black boat with a special raised pulpit and a wrap-around bathing platform in black powder-coated stainless steel? Yes, yes and yes again. Notwithstanding structural, regulatory and common-sense limitations, with Scorpion, the answer is invariably going to be yes.
Well, almost. Unlike the similarly sized and similarly powered Scorpion Sting that we tested in Issue 156, this slightly larger Silurian is only available in stepped-hull form. Along with the Silurian’s generous wrap-around seating and its wider beam – 3.25m (10ft 8in) versus 3.07m (10ft 1in) – these three things are principally what separates it from its narrower sibling.
If you are swithering between the two – Sting or Silurian – the Silurian’s stepped hull is probably the most crucial aspect you should be pondering. Why? Well, we were lucky enough to be able to test the Sting and the Silurian – both with twin 300hp petrol outboards – on the same day in May, so in identical conditions, which ranged from flat calm to the usual wind-over-tide chop that the Hurst Narrows kick up, just outside Lymington. And very revealing it was too. In theory, a stepped-hull boat will invariably be more fuel-efficient than its otherwise identical non-stepped twin. Granted, the Silurian is slightly wider and heavier than the Sting, but the test data from our twin 200hp-propelled Sting (207Lph at 56 knots versus 220Lph at 54 knots for the twin 200hp Silurian) suggests that, in this particular case, there’s not much in it once you’ve factored in the differences.
More significantly, as expected on a stepped-hull boat, the Silurian ran along at pretty much the same level of trim regardless of how we trimmed the Mercury outboards ‒ so much so that I could even leave the outboards in their raised running trim and power onto the plane from a standing start, with almost none of the usual aggravating cavitation or aeration. Running along at everything from a gentle 20-knot cruise to 54 knots flat out, it was the same story – the Silurian took care of the trimming and ran along quite level.
So here is a boat that carries out some of the crucial work for you, which is especially handy in challenging conditions because it leaves the skipper free to concentrate on the driving. However, there is a trade-off. The resolute nature of the stepped hull will make it far more difficult for the current crop of brilliant trim systems to do their work. Ultra-fast-acting interceptor-based systems from the likes of Humphree and Zipwake sport numerous trimming services, such as neutral-G turns and even quasi-stabilising functions. And although the conventional trim tab-based systems from Lenco and Bennett may be slower, they too offer myriad useful auto and manual trimming services, including self-levelling. It may be that all you want is the ability to level your boat in a crosswind, in which case this is no big deal. But don’t underestimate just how useful and effective the best of these trim systems can be nowadays, given the chance.
The way the Silurian trimmed was to be expected. Steps aside, their hull shapes are remarkably similar, so what I hadn’t anticipated was that the Silurian would not dish up as smooth a ride as the non-stepped Sting. And nor was our Silurian’s handling as sweet and effortless either. The Silurian is the wider boat by approximately 6%, and it is heavier too ‒ Scorpion reckon by a whole tonne (3.2t versus 2.2t) ‒ and it does feel that way on the water. The low-lying custom-made bathing platform tended to drag in the water in the tighter turns, but that would not affect the ride, just the handling. So weight and width are the only two reasons I can find for the differences.
Inevitably, the Silurian is going to garner many of the same accolades as its narrower sibling, the Sting. For many, its price will put it firmly into aspirational territory, but for the lucky few, its top-notch quality makes it worth every penny. The high level of customisation on offer means that a Scorpion buyer ultimately has very little to whinge about – if you don’t like what you see, then just ask Scorpion to build you something more to your liking.
- Length overall: 10.80m (35ft 5in)
- Beam: 3.25m (10ft 8in); 2.90m (9ft 6in) deflated
- Tube diameter: 0.56m (22in) tapered
- Fuel capacity: 900L (198 imp gal)
- Water capacity: 100L (22 imp gal)
- Draught: 0.65m (2ft 2in) bottom of hull; 0.97m (3ft 2in) bottom of props
- Air draught: 1.92m (9ft 2in) (inc. T-top)
- RCD category: B (for 15 people)
- Displacement: 3200kg (light, ex. engines)
- Design: Scorpion Ribs
- Outboard and inboard options
- Biggest engines: Twin 400hp
- Test engines: Twin 300hp Mercury 4.7L V8 outboard
Pottering Gentle cruise Flat out
RPM 2000rpm 4000rpm 5900rpm
Speed 10 knots 32 knots 54 knots
Fuel 25Lph 80Lph 220Lph
Consumption 0.40mpl 0.40mpl 0.25mpl
Range 288 288 180
Speed in knots. Range in nautical miles and allows for 20% reserve. Calculated figures supplied by Scorpion Ribs and based on readings from on-board fuel gauge. Your figures may vary considerably.
Terrific build quality all round
Scope for major customisation
Race-proven hull design
High quality ‒ but you do pay for it
From: £200,000 (inc. twin 300hp) ##
As tested: £290,000 (inc. twin 300hp Mercury) ##
## please note, I am still waiting for confirmation from Scorpion whether these prices include or exclude VAT ##
Custom bathing platform; custom bow boarding step and pulpit; high-grade steering; bimini & fold-down sunshade extension; toilet and internal full-height shower room; shore power; custom windscreen; upgraded sound system; all stainless steel powder-coated in black; special colour GRP
Scorpion Ribs Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)1590 677 080