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Facebook Beneteau Antares Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpio - a zodiac sign whose character traits are said to include passion, power, excitement and magnetism. So does the Beneteau Antares live up to its lofty moniker? He has owned a number of big cruisers before, but he fancies the notion of doing something other than driving to a destination, eating, drinking and sleeping. Goodness knows why. But motorboating, I must explain to him, can be as much about the journey as the destination.

All you need is the right boat. The French-made Antares , with some extras that earn it the appellation of Exclusive model, is most certainly a motorboat designed for enjoying the journey along the way. Timely, indeed. Traditionally, a boat like this would be the catalyst for a half-day or longer tour of a waterway and a travel kind of story, but in the course of evaluating the Antares I drove the boat down the harbour and out to sea. Designed by Andre Beneteau, the Antares is a boat on which the big French marque built its reputation.

A pleasureboat version of a North Sea Trawler, the is designed for going places - and not just upriver. The smart navy-blue hull is solid GRP, but the deck is balsa cored for weight savings, sound deadening and temperature insulation.

In other words, you can kiss the sand without fear of bending blades, damaging the stainless-steel rudder or chipping gelcoat. Good news for cruising long, skinny waterways such as Gippsland or the Gold Coast. A single hp Volvo shaft-driven diesel engine lives amidships - amidships being the best place to carry weight, of course.

Most semi-displacement boats I have driven have their engine s mounted this way. But what impressed me was the quality of the engine installations and, more to the point, the quiet ride. Too many otherwise excellent single-screw boats are compromised by unacceptable noise at running speeds. But here you could carry on a conversation at 20kt without shouting. The single Volvo engine with shaft drive will provide lower maintenance compared to a sterndrive, making this a great moor-and-store affair.

Running costs will also be economical thanks to the modest 3. The TAMD41P six-cylinder motor also has a handy turn of speed, giving better than 20kt for a fast run back home. The motor is direct injected and turbocharged, with freshwater cooling. On the downside, I suppose, is the fact that it can take a little while getting used to parking a single-screw boat. You have to walk them in - inch back and forward to manoeuvre to counter the prop torque.

But no more. On the Antares , first-timers will be able to drive like pros. Despite measuring just 25ft overall, the boat is fitted with a bowthruster as standard, making this the smallest boat I have ever driven with such a device.

It would be a neat boat for hopping your way around a waterway and using the marina amenities blocks as you go. But there is also a 10amp charger and separate heavy-duty house and engine batteries linked to a DC panel. And gas for the stove. Hot water comes via the kettle, but a heat exchanger is an option. Add an invertor and a microwave oven and the boat would be totally self sufficient.

Water capacity is lt. Being CE standard means the fuel tank is aluminium. Carrying lt, it rides aft on the centreline. The sea cocks below the waterline are all brass with valves as well. Lift a hatch in the cabin and you can access the Volvo Penta sea strainer, fuel filter and engine dipstick for day-to-day inspections.

All the pipes are labelled and fitted with shutoff valves. The 42lt fridge is a 12V number that, with shorepower connected, can be left running at the dock. Put it together and you have a boat set up for overnighting and for weekending away. And that is all most people aspire to these days. These deck areas lend themselves to everything from alfresco lunches to fishing, tending fenders and retrieving the anchor.

The test boat was fitted with an optional teak-topped boarding platform that will assist divers and swimmers. You could also elect to fit davit clips for carrying a tender on the tail.

The folding swim ladder is a one-piece number held in place by a rubber strap. If you unwittingly lunge for the ladder as a hand-hold it is entirely possible that you will end up in the drink. The transom door, in need of a better locking mechanism, leads into a cockpit measuring 2.

There is sufficient room for four people to fish or eat the catch around a table with chairs. An awning is an option. Add a BBQ yourself. The self-draining deck has a hatch to a lazarette with storage. A separate hatch gives access to the steering gear in case you want to drive on the supplied tiller arm. There are both auto and manual bilge pumps. A little gas bottle hides in a locker to starboard, while elsewhere I found an optional cold deck shower.

Navigation lights are provided but, aesthetically, a mast would be the icing on the cake. Last but not least, the deck gear appears robust. In the transom corners, fairleads lead to inboard cleats.

Two rodholders are fitted to the gunwales and teak coamings, and steps lead up to the sidedecks. That is to say, its sidedecks are wide enough to march to the bow. The bowrail lends support and there are cabin-top rails and non-skid to help your footing. I had no hesitation in making the journey to the bow at low cruise speeds. Our photographer, normally a timid fellow, made it to the bow while we were steaming.

Up front you will find a moulded loveseat big enough for two, and ankle-high bulwarks for a real sense of security. From the bow, you can cast a line, sip a drink or operate the windlass. Anchor and ground tackle, fenders and mooring lines are also supplied. This headroom extends to the companionway below decks at the foot of the forepeak cabin and into the head. The big glass windows forward, sliding plexiglass side windows and overhead hatch direct light inside the boat.

Thanks also to the windows, the views for skipper and guests while seated or standing are excellent. There are surrounding navy-blue curtains - and matching blue carpet - for privacy at the marina.

This will come in handy should you decide to convert the cherrywood dinette with the transverse lounges to port into a 1. The correct assembly of the Velcro cushions and backing boards was somewhat puzzling at first.

Twin wipers ensure you can see the road ahead in fair weather and foul, while that balsa coring on the cabin top will help keep the weather extremes at bay. Fresh air is on tap thanks to the big, opening side windows. Wearing my boat-designer hat, this writer would make two adjustments to the seating. First, I would have a deeper backrest on the helm seat.

As it was, there was only seating on the fore and aft lounge, which means if you sit next to the skipper you are facing the transom, and if you sit at the rear of the dinette the skipper will have to swivel around to conduct a conversation while cruising. A flyscreen on the cabin door would also be handy. The cherrywood galley immediately to starboard had a handy two-burner stove for making a cuppa on the run, a sink with pressurised cold water, various drawers and a concealed garbage bin.

I noticed a supplied unbreakable-plastic dining setting and baskets for keeping fruit and vegetables. Very French. Speaking of which, there was an oversized grog locker behind the helm seat. Additional lockers and sidepockets around the vee-berth provide plenty of resting places for the weekend attire and ancillaries. An optional infill made a big double bed of the vee-berth. There was room to sleep lengthways and across the bed. While supine I also noted a nice, salty atmosphere thanks to timber panelling and a blue canvass-look bedspread.

There is a privacy curtain at the foot of the vee-berth in case you have kids or a couple sleeping back up in the saloon. There is a single throttle and, thanks to a big rudder, good response to the wheel. And the bowthruster to help with close-quarters stuff too. You could, for example, assemble the emergency tiller and go trolling at 6.

Offshore, you might find a tuna doing 8kt and rpm. Comfortable cruising was recorded at rpm and Fast cruise was 20kt and top speed was recorded at Offshore, the boat is very dry and exceptionally smooth riding thanks to its sharp forefoot. From my experience, Beneteau has proven to be a force in the performance department with its powerboats and yachts.

In fact, a boat like this is exactly where a lot of people are at these days. But for the most part I drove this boat with one arm out the window, as the French would say with a laissez-faire attitude to life. The boat is tres cruisy. Little wonder it was the th Antares to roll off the production line.


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