We Say: The waters of Biscayne Bay were churned up enough to make a ride on any boat under 30 feet uncomfortable. But on test day we pointed the bow of the Highfield Ocean Master 390 into the confused chop and headed out anyway. For that we were rewarded with a true appreciation of what this RIB has to offer.
And what is that? A solid ride for its size. The Ocean Master 390, from Australia, features a lightweight yet rugged aluminum hull with a military pedigree. The hull is powder-coated to protect it from the corrosive effects of saltwater duty, and it has a 20-degree transom deadrise. But what makes it a RIB is the pairing with an inflatable PVC collar. The collar, with three separate chambers, adds buoyancy to the package while acting like a shock absorber for a pounding bay chop. This boat has a seven-person capacity or a total load of 1,542 pounds. Four is the most I’d want aboard, but it’s nice to know it can handle extra crew.
We topped 30 mph (in a calm lee) and found it responded well during lock-to-lock turns at speed. Being small and lightweight, it’s sensitive to load placement; with two people aboard, it ran best with one at the helm and one in the bow.
Who’d Want One: Big-boat owners looking for a rugged lightweight tender.
Another Choice: Check out the fiberglass RIB Zodiac Bayrunner 420 ($18,500 with a Yamaha F40).
Bottom Line: $16,331; highfieldboats.com