The Baron rises again
In Greek mythology, the phoenix bird rose from the ashes to be born again. In real life, and in our time, the Baron hull from yesteryear has been reborn, as BARRY WISEMAN reports after trialling the Outrider V2000 LS.
THE Baron Sportsman was a common sight at boat ramps across Australia 40 years ago and they’re still around today.
However, like the phoenix rising from the ashes, they have returned with a total revamp thanks to long-time Perth marine specialist Alan Briggs from Big Five Marine at Wangara.
Alan left school in Zimbabwe at an early age and got an apprenticeship with a boat builder.
Later moving to Australia, he has been on the Perth boating scene for decades.
Having known the late owner of Baron Craft in South Africa, Alan approached his widow with a view to resurrecting the vessels, which she was happy to do.
The 6.5m Baron Outrider series, plus the larger Orca range, are now made by a South African company called Oryx, named after the African antelope which brought itself back from near extinction by learning to live in almost desert surroundings.
The Orca boats are 7.5m in length and are rated to carry 300hp on the transom.
For this review, we were on the 6.5m Baron Outrider V2000 LS which comes with a 2.4m beam, and a transom rating to 200hp.
The vessel is optioned up with a Lone Star anchor winch on the bow, plus LED spotlight fitted to the stainless steel safety railing.
The soft top has an extended awning over the rear deck, deluxe Relaxn seating with bolster cushions, and for the fisher a top quality and practical baitboard which doubles as a table during those family picnics.
A soft roll-up canvas door leads to the twin bunks up front, with an infill cushion soon converting it into a double bed.
There’s heaps of storage under the bunks plus room for a chemical toilet.
Families may opt for that addition and with Big Five Marine being a major marine servicing centre it specialises in all types of boat maintenance and repairs, plus fitting chandlery.
While the Oryx vessels are production craft, by talking to Alan owners can request whatever and wherever they require to suit their needs.
For the rock lobster fisher for instance the review vessel had a dedicated factory-built mounting for a cray winch, with pot hauler gunwale mountings on the opposite side.
Unlike a lot of production boats, Alan says the builder will do everything possible to meet the owner’s needs.
Realising the amount of electronics now available to boaters, the dash on the V2000 LS is big.
On this vessel the Mercury engine management gauge, switch panel, and anchor winch switch were located to the right, with a Fusion sound head unit fitted on the lower left.
The latest cradle-mounted Simrad Evo NSS12 sounder/GPS combo was located on the dash shelf directly in front of the skipper.
This left a good two-thirds of the dash face still available for other flush-mounted instruments or a lockable glove box for your valuables.
Step-down entry into the cabin was on the port side and the dash shelf here was fitted with a recessed cool drink holder for the passenger, leaving no room for the usual positioning of the glovebox.
The throttle controls for the Mercury were neatly flush mounted into the right-side cabin wall.
The model Outrider LS refers to Long Shelf, or the length of the side pockets in the cockpit.
In this case the shelves ran the full length from the transom to the cabin bulkhead.
Its brother, the SS model, comes with short shelves, stretching from the transom to the back of the fibreglass seat boxes.
In place of the seat boxes on the LS version, the swivel bucket seats are mounted on stainless steel frames allowing for stowing ice boxes or tackle kits on the deck.
We had two Dometic ice boxes safely secured to the steel framework, one for food and drinks and the other for the catch of the day.
The steel seating frames are all the rage these days, allowing for greater use of deck space.
Surfers can put their boards full length in the cockpit, divers can store scuba cylinders, and at the end of the day come wash-down time the deck is easier to keep clean and tidy.
The side walls of the cabin had deep shelving plus a recess lower down the port side for the EPIRB or fire extinguisher.
The Outrider LS also features a distinctive design along the transom compared to the SS model.
It has two storage hatches/live bait tanks, plus a transom door on the port side – a must for bathers, spearfishers and divers.
That opening leads to the marlin board and folding stainless steel ladder.
The SS model has three hatches along the transom for those who are happy to sit their bum on the aft quarter and swing themselves across to the marlin board. Extra storage versus walk-through.
I prefer the walk-through transom.
In fact, when I boarded the vessel, I stepped from the jetty onto the full-width marlin board aft, past the Mercury 150hp and into the cockpit via the door on the port side. Easy.
The Baron Outrider comes with an inside gunwale height of 750mm which is an excellent safety factor, especially with children on board.
However, it does mean a big drop for the less agile of us as we get older.
The choice of using the marlin board at the rear and entering the vessel via the rear door makes it simple.
The same when you return to the jetty after a day on the water.
The Mercury motor has a clean and simple fit-up when installed, requiring just one main umbilical cord, so the marlin board is left clean with no cable litter.
The Baron’s rear platform comes with storage hatches with good-sized lids to access the rear pod to fit the motor and sounder transducers, plus there was a stainless berley bucket and folding ladder.
A courtesy light also illuminates this area at night.
The deluxe baitboard comes in handy too, providing hang-on support when traversing the transom area.
The stainless railing around the back and sides of the board had four rod holders, two drink holders plus two knife racks welded to it.
It’s a good-looking thing and very usable and comes with a removable cutting board, but the whole thing can be removed if need be.
However, I would imagine it would stay there much of the time and its solid build offers a means of support in rough waters.
Two large hatches along the transom wall can be plumbed or used as dry storage for tackle and mooring ropes, etc.
The refuelling cap is also found at the transom near the door and outside the cockpit area.
Below the waterline at the rear, a multi-coloured light was installed just above the keel for night fishing for squid or baitfish.
Rod holders and recessed mooring cleats were fixed to the gunwales.
The 12-inch Simrad on the review vessel was hooked up to a 1kW TM265 transducer which gave accurate readings of the bottom during our sea trials off Hillarys Boat Harbour.
The Mercury 150hp motor can deliver a top speed of 39 knots on this Baron Outrider, not that I reached those figures while at the wheel.
We had a stiff north-easterly prior to a storm the following day so I was content to get the feel of the boat doing a leisurely 20 knots, which according to Alan is somewhere around the sweet spot.
Customer feedback he is getting seems to favour the 26-knot zone for easy and safe cruising.
With any new boat I am happy to play it cautiously so I can get the feel of the craft.
One thing for certain, the Baron Outrider is a heavy vessel.
There was a good winter swell off Hillarys which the Baron took effortlessly in its stride.
The flared bow did exactly what it’s designed to do and kept the tinted screen and clears dry during our time on the water.
On the review boat the underfloor kill tank had been sacrificed for a large 400-litre fuel tank.
A good combination with the Merc 150hp, plus you have the twin ice boxes for your refreshments and catch. These can be upgraded to fridges.
The deck wash was in the port side pocket and drainage via three stainless grills along the base of the transom.
Dual bilge pumps work automatically, one in the hull and the other in the rear pod.
Alan is a tall guy but there was still plenty of head space for him under the soft top bimini.
As we were heading out this winter’s day, the clears above the screen and the sides gave us good protection.
The vessel comes with a galvanised tandem-axle trailer fitted with electric brakes and skids for drive-on retrieval.
On the road, a bow bra is fitted to guard against stone damage plus there is an extended drawbar for launching off the beach or in northern waters where the tides dictate your boating schedules.
Oryx Boats offers a five-year structural warranty on its craft, the fibreglass hulls being hand laid and coming with level flotation.
As part of Big Five Marine’s package, the boat leaves its premises with a full tank of fuel and in the case of the review vessel, that’s 400 litres.
The Baron Outrider V2000 SS has plenty of room to easily fish three of four people in the rear cockpit or pull rock lobster pots, plus it comes with some serious quality extras.
The flared bow and solid planing hull certainly delivered on the day.
NUTS & BOLTS
MODEL: Baron Outrider LS (Long shelf)
OVERALL LENGTH: 6.5m
DRY WEIGHT: Hull only – 1050kg
POWER: Mercury 150hp four-stroke
FUEL: 400 litres
MANUFACTURER: Oryx Boats, South Africa
AGENT: Big Five Marine; 1/85 Achievement Way, Wangara; Alan Briggs – 0447 691 566; www.bigfivemarine.com.au
PRICING: $129,050 drive away, including EPIRB, fire extinguisher and safety gear, plus 400 litres of fuel.
PROS & CONS
- Total upgrade on earlier Baron hulls
- Hand-laid glass fibre and beefed-up sub frame
- Foam-filled level flotation
- 400-litre fuel tank
- Lone Star anchor winch included
- EPIRB and safety gear
- Quality fittings and Dometic ice boxes (can be upgraded to fridges)
- Flared bow and full-length strakes
- Awning extension
- Five-year structural warranty
- Drawbar extension
- Front screens made from tinted perspex instead of glass