When in 10 meters of length you have managed to design a Rib with a large cabin, a separate bathroom, a spacious aft dining area and a generous bow sundeck where the members of a family of four could comfortably accommodate then you can be proud that your goal has been achieved.
When especially all these are combined with a very good build and ride quality, it is obvious why Salpa Soleil 33 is among the best Rigid Inflatable Boats in its class.
The hull of Soleil 33 features a long step that occupies about half its length, minimizing resistances and ensuring adequate ventilation.
It has two spray rails per side, deadrise of 30 degrees in the middle and is characterized by a vertical bow that increases both the length at the waterline and the interior of the hard nose too.
Soleil 33 is characterized by the excellent ergonomics and functionality of its deck spaces, the design of which indicates the extensive experience of the Salpa boatyard that brings together more than thirty years of experience.
Starting from the bow area, we observe the sunbed cushions which are almost at the same level with the upper surface of the tubes and form a very beautiful sunbathing and rest area.
The two stainless steel rails running along the tubes and separating them from the sunpad constitute without a doubt a very beautiful aesthetic touch, but our experience shows that they limit the free space as they do not allow more persons to lie down in a transverse direction while it wouldn’t be the proper place of the rib especially for children attempting dives or wishing to go out on the quay where the boat is docked alongside.
Further ahead is the hard nose, which houses the windlass and the chain of the anchor.
The anchor is nested in a special slot that is covered by a large hatch giving access to the windlass and the chain, thus ensuring a comfortable and wide step for easy entry or exit from the boat.
The helm area is highly attractive and ergonomically designed allowing the operator to have complete and immediate control over all navigation instruments and electronic devices, while the high windscreen provides the necessary wind and spray protection, offering at the same time excellent visibility to the bow.
The dashboard is large enough to accommodate even the largest screens on the market, having also the proper inclination to allow their direct inspection when driving seated or standing. To its port and starboard, there are stainless handles at the proper height which will be very useful to the captain and his company especially when underway standing upright in heavy weather conditions.
Access from the helm seats to the bow is easy through a wide step and the comfortable passageways that are to the right and left of the cabin. The passageways are 28cm wide while the stainless steel rails that are fitted to the lateral sides of the cabin constitute important hold points as we move forward.
To the port of the helm is the sliding door leading to the cabin. Going down two wooden steps we find ourselves in the headroom that is 1.78 meters high, 38 cm wide and 90 cm long.
To the left, below the window, there are two spacious cabinets that can accommodate our clothes, and to the right the wooden door is leading to the independent bathroom area which is equipped with very good quality materials and measures 1.74m x 1, 00m x 1.25m.
Forward extends the main area of the cabin where a U-shaped lounge is formed, which, with the appropriate addition, turns into a 1.82-meter-long berth and a maximum width of 1.58 meters that can comfortably accommodate two adults.
The helm seats are independent and bucket-type, offering very good lateral support, while their base is adjustable so as to be able to drive upright when we are willing to or when the weather conditions require it.
They are fitted to the wet-bar’s front surface which leaves very comfortable passageways to its port and starboard, 41.7cm of width.
Behind them there is a very well designed and very elegant alfresco galley, fully equipped with a sink, two gas stoves and a large stainless steel refrigerator in its center.
Further back, there is the large aft lounge that has in its center an electrically adjustable table, 0.95m x 0.89m of dimensions, which can convert the aft cockpit into a large dining area or a comfortable and spacious sunbathing berth, depending on the occasion.
Right and left of the aft lounge, and outside of the polyester roll bar, there are gunwales lined with teak that very wisely connect the cabin’s lateral passageways with the swimming platform ensuring easy and immediate movement from the hard nose to the engines’ area.
The space in front of the engines provides the necessary freedom of movement, while the dual large boarding platforms on either side of the twin engines, extending long behind the tubes, facilitate the access to the boat leaving large free surfaces that will also be highly appreciated when we take our shower as well as during our water activities.
On the transom of our test Rib, two 300hp Yamaha engines were mounted which with a 1.75: 1 gear ratio were turning 15΄΄ x 21΄΄ 3-blade Saltwater Serries II stainless steel propellers, constituting a very good combination that gave us excellent performance.
On the day of our sea trial, the sea was almost calm and only the short swell waves coming from the south were trying to disturb our ride. In this sea condition, we were of course not able to evaluate the ride quality of the 10m Rib, which however showed very good behavior and sweet damping when we turned it against our wake and we were trying to take it off, running at high speeds while having the engines trimmed excessively out.
With 200 liters of fuel, 100 liters of fresh water and 3 people on board, Soleil 33 was getting on plane at 2200 rpm maintaining a speed of 13 knots.
At 3000 rpm, we were running with 24.5 knots and the engines were drinking 2.2 liters per each nautical mile, while at 3500 rpm we were travelling with 30 knots with the fuel consumption remaining almost the same, at 2.3 liters per mile.
This means that we are capable to travel maintaining a cruising speed from 25 to 30 knots, depending on the weather conditions, taking the lowest possible fuel consumption by our engines and thus maximizing our autonomy.
At 4000 rpm, our speed reached 35 knots burning 2.7 liters per mile, while at 4500 rpm we were pleasantly running with 41 knots consuming 3.5 liters per mile. The Rib was keeping an excellent ride attitude at these rpm showing very good throttle response, while our short take offs were followed by soft landings, during of which we could feel the solid construction of the boat.
At WOT, we saw 5600 rpm in GPS and 52.4 knots of top speed.
You can see our detailed measurements in the table below:
Looking at the numbers we recorded, we see the very good slip percentages across the whole rpm range, with the slippage reaching its lowest value of 5% at WOT, indicating that the geometry of the Soleil’s 33 hull matches very well with the engines and propellers of our sea trial.
If we would like to create an ideal set-up, we need to switch to shorter propellers by two inches of pitch so as to allow the engines to spin them up to 6000 rpm at WOT and thus we will be able to load the Rib as much as we want without the risk of falling below the middle of the maximum rpm range recommended by the manufacturer.
In this way, it is certain that we may lose a few knots of top speed but on the other hand we will gain in acceleration and throttle response, be more efficient and seaworthy in rough seas while the boat handling will be significantly improved.
The choice is yours.
Nautica Salpa s.r.l.
Cantieri ed Uffici: SP 333, Località Bovenzi 7 81041 Vitulazio, CE – Italy
Tel.: +39 0823 622207