Boat Review by: Richard Crowder
Zodiac Nautic refers to its Open 5.5, one of three models in its Open series, as “the SUV of the seas”, a “cross-over (that) can be converted into comfortable seats for a family day-out or into an empty space for fishing trips with friends.”
The Zodiac Open series consists of three models; this smallest 5.5, the Pro Open 650, and the Open 7. The number in the model name approximates the metric length overall of the boat; in the case of the 5.5, the metric length is 5.40 meters or seventeen feet, nine inches.
This Open series is one of four series of RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boats) offered by Zodiac for 2019. Another three series of inflatables (without the rigid hull) are also offered. In business for over 120 years, Zodiac began in 1896 in France in the production of airships and “was the inventor of the inflatable boat”. Today, it claims to be “the world leader in inflatable products and services.”
The deep-V polyester hull and stringer grid system and floor with surrounding “lip” mates to the removable outer inflated buoyancy tube in your choice of Strongan™ DUOTEX™ in Black with Light grey or of Hypalon Neoprene™ fabric in your choice of Black with Arctic grey or Arctic grey with Neptune grey. The inflated tube diameter with five airtight compartments is one inch short of two feet and features both an inner and outer full length grab line and a pair of rear handles for passengers.
A substantial and wide rub strake prevents chafing the tube along the sides and a bumper cone provides further protection. Entry from the bow is facilitated by a fibreglass bow step with a recessed anchor roller. Aft of this is a large 150 Litre anchor locker which doubles as a bow seat. A bow mooring bollard, bow ring, two stern cleats, and two towing rings provide lots of tie-up and towing flexibility.
Located just ahead of midships and to starboard, the stand-up molded control console tilts forward for ease of access for installations and maintenance. It features an almost full-size, top-hinged, swing-up and lockable door in its front surface providing ready access to its entire interior suitable for storage of dive tanks, waterskis, wakeboard, beach bags, the removable upholstered seatbacks, etc. Storage capacity inside this console is 780 Litres.
A very substantial U-shaped frame supports an unusually large tinted windscreen with curved around outer surfaces providing extra protection from the elements. A large flat surfaced dash with cupholders and a 12-volt/USB socket is ready for your choice of engine instrumentation, navigation/fishfinding screens, stereo, VHF radio, etc. A glove box provides another 20 Litres of storage. Mechanical steering is standard. Maximum horsepower rating of 130 equipped with your choice of outboard power produces a top speed in the mid to upper forties (mph).
Facing this console is a functional and flexible two-person leaning post/helm seat with removable backrest for pilot and co-pilot. With the seatback removed, the seat flips forward and down to reveal a handy integrated storage unit with “Multifix” supports for Zodiac’s fishing rod holders, cupholders, lure holders, or dive flag holders. Dive tanks may also be stored beneath this bolster seat.
The molded aft full-width bench seat with removable upholstery and removable backrest will seat three comfortably and features a standard integrated portable 54 Litre (14 gallon) cooler beneath the center cushion. More molded-in storage is found beneath the outer two seat cushions.
Additional standard equipment with the Open 5.5 includes a portside transom-mounted, three-step telescoping stainless steel swim ladder, semi-recessed inflation valves, two high-volume bailers, bilge pump, navigation lights, battery switch, integrated 100 Litre (26 gallon) fuel tank, water separating and fuel filters, two paddles, foot pump and pressure gauge, and tube repair kit.
The few available factory options are all highly desirable and include a T-top for added sun and weather protection (as well as looking extra sporty), an extra-high watersports tow bar, filler cushions to convert the entire bow area to a sunpad, extended bow handrails, Fusion stereo, a pair of molded extended swim platforms which includes moving the boarding ladder to the end of the portside extension, and comfortable EVA cockpit flooring in Grey with Black accenting or Black with Grey accenting.
Fully equipped with all the options, the Zodiac Open 5.5 is a fast, fun, flexible, fulfilling, and stable, smooth day boat ready and equipped to take on any watersports activities you or your family most enjoy.
|Dry weight:||1,290 lbs||585 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||26.4 US gals||100 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Outboard|
|Engine HP:||Max 130|