by Shane Mensforth

Arvor boats are really quite unique. Designed in France and built in Poland, they have gradually created their own market niche here, winning plenty of accolades from those who understand and appreciate the Arvor concept. None of the boats in the range are intended to break speed records, but instead to provide a stable and extremely capable fishing or diving platform.
I’ve tested most Arvor boats now, and was delighted to climb aboard the new 690D recently. This is one of the pilot-house models, which features a distinctly cabin design. It would be a stretch to call the 690 handsome, but if it’s not cutting edge aesthetics you’re after, the upgraded cabin is extremely functional and user friendly.
It has been interesting to watch the Arvor range grow and evolve since the brand arrived here more than a decade ago, and the 690D is a perfect example. Provided you don’t need to be anywhere in a hurry this boat is great for offshore fishing, wreck diving or long range cruising.

Like all Arvor boats, the 690D hull is built with a substantial keel that provides exceptional stability and terrific handling in adverse sea conditions. The hull is designed to work with far less horsepower than you’d expect in a craft of this size, and although ‘semi-displacement’ isn’t exactly the correct terminology, it does give you an idea of how Arvors differ from true planing hulls.
Arvor 690D 3
Arvor 690D 17
If there’s one factor that hasn’t changed during Arvor’s sortie into the Australian market it is the build quality and standard of finish. These boats are superbly put together, and I’ve yet to hear of a single construction issue or warranty claim. Craftsmanship throughout is first class, and particularly so when you take a good look at the joinery work in the cabin, the deck fittings and upholstery. I doubt you’ll find better work on any trailer boat.
The 690D offers a terrific balance of cockpit space and cabin. Out back there’s enough room to fish five quite comfortably, with the mid-mounted engine quite easy to work around. The engine compartment protrudes only a few centimetres above the cockpit floor, so it’s really no problem at all. The deck is self-draining via two large scuppers set either side of the bilge recess.
In keeping with Arvor’s desire to present efficient, angler-friendly fishing boats, the 690D’s cockpit comes nicely equipped. There’s a handy-size live bait tank with Perspex front panel, concealed deck wash system, port side transom door, tackle storage cupboard, dual bait lockers and plenty of high quality rod holders. On either side there are drop-down seats for when the bite is slow. These are now stylish and upholstered, whereas the original versions were made from basic timber and weren’t comfortable at all.
Arvor 690D 12
Arvor 690D 5
While the 690D cabin isn’t as flash as in some of the larger models, it’s still functional and comfortable for overnighting. The helm station is presented in contrasting grey, with a single angled panel. On the test boat it accommodated a Simrad colour sounder/GPS, Fusion stereo, accessory switches and SmartCraft instruments. Seats for driver and passenger are adjacent, and are equipped with collapsible squab cushions that facilitate both standing and seated operation. It’s a very comfortable boat to drive over long distances.
A small butane stove comes as part of the standard cabin inventory, and there’s a sink immediately inside the cabin door that’s handy for washing up. I really like the full glass door that encloses the pilot-house, which brings plenty of light into the cabin and allows the operator to see exactly what’s happening out in the cockpit. All round vision from the helm is probably better in this boat than any other I have tested. There’s ventilation through both cabin side windows, as well as through a decent sized roof hatch.
One quite nifty cabin feature is a removable timber floor, which can be taken up or replaced in no time at all. With the floor in, there’s no step down as you enter from the cockpit, while with the floor out, you pick up a little more headroom. This caters for operators of different stature and provides a simple solution to an age-old problem.
Arvor 690D 7
Arvor 690D 13
Moving from stern to bow in this boat is pretty easy, courtesy of its well thought out walk-around design. Sturdy grab rails are positioned on the cabin roof and the split bow rail provides handy security while you are going forward. An electric anchor windlass is part of the standard package, as is a starboard side windscreen wiper and bow roller.

The standard Arvor 690D package features a Mercury 115hp common rail diesel with shaft drive that winds out to a maximum of 3000rpm. It’s a 2.0-litre engine that provides 310 Newton metres of torque and weighs in at around 250kg.
This doesn’t sound like a lot of horsepower for a boat as bulky as the 690D, but it fits perfectly with the Arvor concept and provides steady, consistent performance and exceptional fuel economy.

It has been difficult to find a bumpy morning off Adelaide so far this summer – a nice situation for those who enjoy fishing in friendly conditions, but not exactly ideal for comprehensive boat testing. In keeping with this trend, St Vincent’s Gulf was like the proverbial millpond as we slipped the Arvor in at North Haven Marina and headed out for a spin.
Arvor 690D 2
Arvor 690D 21As anticipated, the Mercury inboard diesel didn’t exactly throw us back in the seat when I throttled on, but we were up on the plane soon enough and heading southward for a decent run. Recreational boats were scattered right along the metropolitan foreshore, with most pulling plenty of succulent blue swimmer crabs in their drop nets.
Cornering is certainly a different experience with the Arvor. Due to the keel and hull shape, the boat leans outward in turns, much in the same way as power catamarans. This takes a bit of getting used to, but after a few minutes on the water you tend to forget about it.
Top speed in these conditions was around 23 knots at 3000rpm, while at 2500 revs we settled into a comfortable cruise of 18. This is where optimum fuel economy is found, and also where the Arvor seems to feel right at home. An interesting feature – and one some serious anglers will appreciate – is the trolling valve, which enables the operator to drop trolling speed down as low as three knots without reducing engine revs below 1000.
Although it was dead calm on the test day, I can vouch for the fact that we would have travelled at the same speed with similar economy in a 1.5m sea. A bit of swell or bump won’t bother this hull at all, which is why the Arvors are becoming popular in South Aussie locations like Port Lincoln and Robe, where those conditions are the norm.
Stability is way above average with the 690D. Having the engine mounted sub-deck certainly helps, as do the substantial keel and 2.5m beam. It’s a very safe boat to walk around while fighting a decent fish, and it drifts nicely while you are working deep baits over offshore reef. As far as trailerable fishing boats go, this one offers the sort of stability that few others of similar size can match.
Arvor 690D 18
Most of the early Arvors came on EasyTow tandem trailers, which are excellent. However, it’s now possible to buy your boat on a Mackay custom alloy trailer, and this is certainly the “ants’ pants”. Due to Arvor’s keel and propeller, the trailer has to be set up with a combination of skids and rollers, and the one carrying our test boat was a beauty.
Aluminium assists with keeping the towing weight down, and also minimises the likelihood of corrosion. Just a few days prior to our test run, Peter Heinrich from Sports Marine had towed the rig from Adelaide to the South-East port of Robe behind a 3.0 litre dual cab and had sat comfortably on 95km/h. He said the Arvor was a snack to tow for the entire 700km round trip.

Once you get used to driving an Arvor and watching the world go by at a slightly slower pace they are easy boats to fall in love with. The 690D is the product of considerable refinement and enhancement over its predecessors, and I can see why this model is already gaining popularity with recreational anglers, divers and those who enjoy high-comfort cruising.
The test boat was supplied by Sports Marine, Adelaide.
Arvor 690D 10POSITIVES
Terrific fuel economy
Great stability
Vastly improved layout for fishing

They are definitely not speed machines

Price: (as tested) $108,950.
Construction: GRP
Overall length: 6.88m
Beam: 2.54m
Dry weight: 1600kg
Fuel capacity: 90 litres
Maximum hp: 115
Engine fitted: Mercruiser 115hp four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel with shaft drive
Maximum load – 560kg