Boat Test Parker 660

Boat Test Parker 660
Boat Test Parker 660
Words and photos by Peter Poland
Parker Boats’ new Pilothouse 660 arrives in the UK . How
does it fare in this competitive market?
The ‘sports fisherman’ is one type of boat that has gained
great popularity over the last decade. Indeed in some
harbours it has almost taken over from what we used to
call ‘speed boats’ or ‘sports boats’.
In many respects, this is easy to understand. A welldesigned sports fisherman hull will perform every bit as
well as its flashier sisters because most share similar
V shaped hulls; although some sports fisherman types
have more pronounced keels and skegs in order to dry
out on beaches when the tide goes out.
The smaller ‘sports fisherman’ boats usually offer
an all-weather wheelhouse, rudimentary sleeping
accommodation and a large (and deep) self-draining
cockpit. So they are versatile craft that can take a team
of lads fishing one weekend, and a family on a short
cruise the next. Many companies offer ranges of these
boats, including Jeanneau and Bénéteau in France and
Quicksilver and Arvor in Poland.
Now a newcomer to the market has just launched the
Parker Pilothouse 660 in the UK. And it’s up there with
the best of them. Many may not have heard of Parker
Boats (in Poland), but the company is actually one of
the biggest and most successful RIB manufacturers
in Europe. Over many years, the Parker RIB range has
grown to include eleven models ranging from 5.1 metres
right up to 16 metres. And that’s a big RIB! Parker’s
clients include police and military users as well as
commercial operators. Indeed, if you fancy an exciting
high-speed trip to see the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, a
Parker 900 (9 metre) Baltic RIB operates out of Poole
(www.pooleseasafari.com).
Parker has now decided to use its RIB building
experience to branch out into a different market: hence
the new Parker Pilothouse 660. I was invited down to
Littlehampton by distributor Mick Mills of Littlehampton
Marina to test the first Parker 660 to land on these
shores.
First impressions are good. The Parker’s pronounced
pilothouse and large cockpit announce its intentions.
This boat is designed to do a job. However it succeeds
in looking different to run of the mill sports fisherman
types of its size. The hull has a pleasing reverse sheer;
which increases space and security amidships and
looks good; especially when the boat is moving at high
speeds. The pilothouse is substantially built, with all
round glazing and a traditional ‘forward leaning’ curved
screen that should shed water easily in rough conditions.
And I was pleased to see that it had a substantial marine
windscreen wiper from Vetus; as opposed to the micky
mouse wiper blades fitted to so many smaller boats these
days.
Standing or sitting, the helmsman has
a good all round view
An extra (and optional) outside helm
Stepping aboard, I was impressed by the boat’s stability
and the size of its cockpit. Some modern sports
fisherman boats of this type have cut back on cockpit
size in order to have a longer roof. But the Parker has
not made this mistake. There’s space galore for several
people to relax (on optional side benches and portable
‘director chairs’) or fish. And there’s a fold-down table
for drinks or a pic-nic. What’s more there are five lockers
beneath the cockpit sole offering easy access to fuel tank,
water tank, holding tank (for the marine w.c.), battery and
seacocks. And there’s also loads of stowage space. The
two aft lockers will hold your bait and all the fish that
are caught. Two other small lockers accommodate rods
(starboard) and a pump and shower hose (port) so you
can sluice down the fishy decks with seawater. This all
shows Parker’s experience and attention to detail.
Parker’s experience also shows in other areas. A second
steering position forward in the cockpit is an unusual
and very effective option (£1272 extra with the Verado),
and a neat ‘bus driver’s’ knob on the wheel means that
changing direction quickly is simple. A massive stainless
steel grab rail ahead of the engine well stops anyone
from falling backwards. A neat step (to port) gives safe
access to the side decks that are genuinely ‘walk-around’.
And once you are on deck and moving forward, beefy
stainless steel grab rails fall readily to hand. There are
two lockers in the bow (for anchor and warp etc) and
a forward facing seat. About the only thing missing on
the demo boat was a stemhead fitting; but Mick Mills
assured me that this was coming.
The Parker Pilothouse 660’s accommodation also works
well. Access is via substantial (and lockable) sliding
patio-type doors. To starboard is a small galley area
with sink, single burner cooker and stowage lockers;
and opposite to port is a double settee (which hinges up
to reveal an electric cooler box under) and another big
locker. Then ahead of these are the inside helm position
(starboard) and crew seat (port) which has an effective
‘hinge down’ foot brace. Plenty of fresh air is available
through sliding windows (both sides) and an overhead
hatch. The helmsman’s seat is worthy of special mention,
because it is of high quality for a boat of this size. It is
well upholstered and has a ‘flip up’ swab forward so you
can stand to steer as comfortably as you can sit. In total,
four people can sit in the warmth of the pilothouse. And
there’s 6’6” headroom, so moving about is not a problem.
The double berth and w.c. are located up in the bows.
The w.c. is a proper marine flushing type and is accessed
by hinging up a section of the bunk. This is simple and
effective; albeit potentially a bit public. Extra creature
comfort on the demo boat was provided by a Webasto
blown-air heating system (£2007 extra inc. diesel tank).
The Parker Pilothouse 660’s performance is equally
impressive. The demo boat is fitted with a beefy
supercharged Mercury Verado 135 four stroke. Heading
out of the harbour at 1500 rpm, it purred along at 5.9
knots. With revs increased to 2500, it planed at 9.6
knots and this shot up to 15.5 knots at 3500 rpm. A
comfortable (and still peaceful) cruising speed of around
20 knots came up at 3,500 rpm. This would be ideal for
covering distance at speed and economically. Top rpm
of 5,600 brought up an impressive 32 knots. I was also
astonished by the acceleration from standstill. The Parker
would definitely double up as a potent water-ski boat
with this engine package.
If you prefer a less powerful (and expensive) engine,
Parker claims that the 660 still hits 29 knots with a
Suzuki 90 clamped on its stern; and saving around
£6,500 in the process. And now that marine diesel costs
around £1 a litre, I foresee that modern and economical
four stroke outboards will become increasingly popular.
You will have to do a prodigious number of hours to save
the extra cost of an inboard diesel.
As one would expect from a long established and
successful builder of RIBs, the Parker 660’s hull
lines produce precise handling and good sea-going
characteristics. Unfortunately the conditions were
relatively benign on the day of the test, but even when
powering through its own wake at high speed, the Parker
gave a commendably soft ride. The deep ‘V’ sections
forward cut effortlessly through the water and the wellpositioned spray rails kept things steady on high- speed
turns. When I peered under another 660 sitting on the
Boat Test Parker 660
hard, I could see just how sweet the Parker’s lines are.
This is not a flighty skimming dish; it’s a proper highperformance hull designed to go to sea.
I was also impressed by the Parker’s quality of build.
GRP moulding work looked well executed and robust.
Even the locker lids were neatly finished on their
underside. The structure of the glazed pilothouse sides
also looked strong and well finished, and all the fittings
and stainless steel work looked chunky (rather than
Boat Test Parker 660
flimsy and cost cutting). The trim in the wheelhouse and
cabin was also neat and modern.
The UK importer, Littlehampton Marina, has twelve years
experience of new and brokerage boat sales. It has also
been the main Larson importer for the UK and Ireland for
eleven years and operates a 120 berth marina with space
for 200 park and launch boats. There’s also a 3000 sq.ft.
service workshop, undertaking all types of work such as
engine servicing, trailer servicing, GRP repairs and OEM
work as dealers for Suzuki & Mariner.
To launch the Parker Pilothouse 660 in the UK,
Littlehampton Marina is offering special introductory
prices and discounts of around 10% for orders placed by
August 30th 2010. Net of this discount, the standard boat
ex engine comes in at an introductory £22,106. There
are also many engine options. As examples, the standard
boat with a Suzuki 90 is £31,081; while with the big
Mercury Verado 135, this goes up to £36,973 when fitted
with twin controls.
Even though this was one of the early 660’s off the line,
I could find little to fault. But then Parker is hardly a
newcomer to production boat building, even if the name
is not yet very well known on these shores. Littlehampton
Marina will be exhibiting the Parker Pilothouse 660 for
the first time at this year’s Southampton Boat Show, and I
suspect that it will become a major player in its market.
Above: This well designed hull handles well at speed
Below: The crew seat and double settee (with
fridge underneath)
Right page, top left: The deep V forward flattens off
nicely aft
Right page, middle left: The seawater hose cleans
the cockpit. A neat idea.
Right page, bottom left: The boat handles well at
over 30 knots
PARKER Pilothouse 660
LOA......................................................................... 6.6 metres
Beam................................................................................ 2.5
Weight ex engine.............................................................1100 kg
Fuel tank.....................................................................140 litres
Water tank.................................................................... 40 litres
Waste holding tank.......................................................... 40 litres
Maximum HP.......................................................................140
Standard equipment: pilot seat with flip-up bolster; second forward facing
seat; flushing sea toilet; holding tank; fresh water tank; fuel tank; 12 volt
cooler box; gas cooker; sink with fresh water pump; salt water deck pump;
hydraulic steering inside helm; navigation lights; windscreen wiper.
Prices after introductory discount (valid orders placed by 30th August 2010)
Price standard boat with introductory discount ex engine:............ £22,106
Standard boat with Mariner 100 EFI four stroke........................ £31,205
Standard boat with Mariner 115 EFI four stroke........................ £32,657
Standard boat with Mercury Verado 135 four stroke................... £35,707
Standard boat with Suzuki 90 four stroke................................ £31,081
Standard boat with Suzuki 100 four stroke............................... £31,689
Standard boat with Suzuki 115 four stroke............................... £31,689
Standard boat with Suzuki 115 four stroke............................... £33,347
Standard boat with Suzuki 140 four stroke............................... £34,419
Importer: Littlehampton Marina, Ferry Rd, Littlehampton, BN17 5DS.
Tel: 01903 713553 email: [email protected]
www.littlehamptonmarina.co.uk
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