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Boat test: Black Rhino 660 walkaround
  |  First Published: September 2014



Black Rhino is a new name in boating circles, but they’re built with input from some very prominent New Zealand and Queensland based alloy manufacturers, and the quality is evident. From the eye-catching styling, angler-orientated features through to a ride and degree of sea-keeping that needs to be experienced to be believed, the Black Rhino is an outstanding craft well suited to the sort of long distance travel that many Queensland anglers enjoy.

I recently reviewed the Black Rhino 660 at Mission Beach with the team from The Tinnie Shack at Mission Beach. They’re in an ideal location, being situated between Townsville and Cairns, attracting buyers from virtually anywhere north of Mackay. There’s a big demand in the North for well appointed and high performing fishing craft that can get quickly out to the reef and back in genuine, no-compromises standards of comfort.

Unfortunately the review day was not within a bull’s roar of what anybody might regard as ideal, but time constraints saw us launching from Clump Point at Mission Beach where we were confronted by rain scuds, wind squalls and a 1.5m swell rolling across from the east. However, despite the rain and strong winds, the Rhino’s excellent performance shone through. In retrospect it was an ideal situation to put the rig through its paces, and I came away very impressed with the Rhino’s capabilities.

Construction and Finish

The boat’s plate alloy construction sees a solid 5mm bottom linked to 4mm topsides. This beamy walkaround equipped centre cab is 2.4m wide, and its styling is impressively eye-catching with flowing lines stretching from the cabin up to the all alloy hard top on its massive yet very tastefully crafted framework. Under the floor there’s a huge stringer arrangement and an extensive foam fill to stop annoying noise.

Waiting for the rain to ease I had time to thoroughly inspect the Black Rhino at The Tinnie Shack’s yard and I was amazed at the extremely high standards of construction and finish throughout. They were right up with the very best I’ve seen.

All welds were smoothed to the point of invisibility, corners were neatly rounded and proportions throughout the craft were designed for maximum comfort and easy use while aboard. Paintwork and upholstery were also of a deluxe standard, and the joinery and attention to detail was so neat that I initially suspected that the hard top was moulded glass. I was wrong, it was smoothly formed alloy, the same as the rest of the craft.

Layout and Features

Launching could not have been easier thanks to the dual-axle multi-roller Oceanic trailer which saw the rig slipping easily into the Clump Point harbour. Walking around the craft on the 35cm wide section between the high bow rail and centre cab as we motored out into the rough stuff, I noted an anchor well up front large enough for a lot of ground tackle plus a winch (although the test rig didn’t have one fitted).

A Minn Kota 112 electric motor, unusual on an offshore oriented rig, aroused my curiosity. The explanation was simple: with live bait fishing so important in northern waters the electric motor ensured a stealthy approach to bait schools so a cast net could secure a good supply of livies. Cunning.

The centre cab featured a three-piece glass windscreen aft, a very neat yet ruggedly strong frame linking the hard top while front and side upper clears (with zippers) afforded further protection for skipper and mate. Seven rod holders were set up at the rear of the hard top, within reach of the cockpit floor.

Within the soft lined centre cab I noted a bunk large enough for a family with a couple of youngsters to overnight in, sufficient leg room for comfortable seating, room for a marine toilet and plenty of storage area as well. A small table was stored under the bunk of the test craft, and would be easy to bring up when required.

Helm seating consisted of a two-person well padded fore/aft bolster seat. A multi-function gauge for the Mercury Verado 200 was set above the wheel on a raised dash area, while banks of switches for electrical items, trim tab controls as well as the side-mounted engine controls fell to hand quite readily. An important feature was the full visibility all round.

Excellent use was made of the sheltered area under the hard top where a marine radio, sound system and a very impressive Humminbird 1159 Sonar/ GPS unit were tucked away from the elements. Other items of interest in the helm area were storage compartments (one lockable) just above the checkerplate floor while immediately aft of the seat was the craft’s floodable underfloor fish box. Note that additional seating is available for this seven person rig, as per buyer’s specification.

A four angler cockpit

The cockpit provided plenty of space for up to four anglers to work in comfort due to a beam of 2.0m and almost as much length. Thanks to the checkerplate floor, 660mm high interior sides, rod holders in gunwales, side storage compartments plus a deck wash, bait station and live well, there’s everything needed to keep an angling team happy while fishing form this boat. And let’s not overlook the fact that a couple more anglers could fish just as easily up front thanks to the Rhino’s wide walkaround area plus ample bow space.

For convenience both engine and house batteries plus isolator switches and filters were mounted off floor in the transom area while a boarding ladder was set to port. Large scuppers aft were provided to facilitate wash down of the cockpit interior and floor after fishing.

Ride and Handling

I have saved the best for last! The ride of the Black Rhino 660 was simply in a class of its own. The hull design featured a very fine entry mated to considerable upper flare topsides, while massive 35cm wide reversed outer chines on the 20.5° Vee hull’s underwater extremities combined to provide not only an outstanding bump and noise-free ride but a feeling of overall balance. That feeling is often lacking in a lot of today’s larger craft, whether they be alloy or glass. Trim tabs were fitted but hardly used as the rig handled very well without them.

What’s more, the big plate alloy’s ride was remarkably dry in the choppy and wind-lashed conditions. The stability of the 980kg hull, thanks to the input from the reversed outer chines and the craft’s substantial mass, saw three people on the one side making little difference. It was very hard to get the hull to lean.

Powered with ease by the punchy Mercury Verado 200 four-stroke (top power in a rating of 135-200hp) the Rhino eased onto the plane at a speed of 24.2km/h at 2800rpm with the Verado still virtually at idle. 3000rpm saw a speed of 39.2km/h, 4000rpm 53.5km/h, 5000 rpm 58.6km/h and WOT of 6100rpm a very slick 77km/h. Speeds were recorded with three persons aboard.

Performance of this nature from the 200 Verado indicates that the Black Rhino’s hull could well be powered by a smaller engine. I reckon a 150 would work well.

Fishability

The Black Rhino opens a virtual world of angling opportunities to the lucky owner. With a 190L fuel capacity it has tremendous cruising capacity and as such is ideal for what North Queenslanders love best: a couple of hours running out to the reef to catch some quality tablefish or a day spent trolling for the larger sportfish. Comfort levels are assured, and travel in unfavourable conditions isn’t a problem thanks to the craft’s brilliant ride and well balanced handling. It’s said that all boats involve compromises but there certainly aren’t many in this one.

Summing Up

Thanks to a high level of fit and finish matched to eye-catching styling, the Black Rhino 660 is a real head turner. Pride of ownership as well as the sheer pleasure of driving such a well performing and easy handling craft are all part of the package. The brilliant bed-of-rollers Oceanic trailer makes even single person launch and retrieval easy, and is just another pleasing aspect of owning this powerful craft.

The price as reviewed, including all electronics and the Minn Kota, is $97,500. Without the electronics and other items, and with a 150hp outboard in lieu of the 200 Verado, the price would be around the $89,000 mark.

You can find out more at The Tinnie Shack’s website at thetinnieshack.com.au, or you can phone them on (07) 4088 6125. Dean and Carla would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Length: 6.60m

Beam: 2.40m

Length on trailer: 7.80m

Height on trailer: 3.1m

Hull construction: plate alloy; 5mm bottom, 4mm upper

Deadrise: 20.5 degrees

Fuel: 190L

Outboard rating: 135-200hp

Engine fitted: 200hp Mercury Verado four-stroke.

Persons: 7

Towing: large 4x4 wagon or similar

Reads: 1757

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