To be accepted in the Brooklyn neighborhood where I grew up, you had to prove yourself in the schoolyard, usually by playing basketball and baseball. So when Bobby Harris moved in, we kids were all waiting to see what he had&mdaash;to see if he could make it. Well, Bobby turned out to be a terrific athlete, a good friend, and an integral part of the neighborhood.
With its line of family cruising boats, Rodman Yachts is the new nautical kid on the dock, and the Spanish builder has a daunting task ahead of it that is every bit as challenging as proving one's ability at schoolyard ball. After all, it's not going to be easy moving in on turf occupied by established domestic and imported brands like Sea Ray and Azimut.
Yet Rodman is serious. With yards in Vigo, Santo Antonia, and Moana, Spain, it currently offers 11 models in Europe, and that will be an even dozen with next year's launch of a 64-footer. And it's experienced. It's been building commercial ships since 1974 and has delivered more than 10,000 vessels, many for military and commercial applications. As I boarded the Rodman 565 for a test, I wondered how well her builder was able to translate the commercial and foreign expertise into a boat for the American market.
The basics certainly sounded promising. Rodman has received ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 Environmental Standardization certification for all its boats. It also employs auto-CAD in developing each model and subjects prototypes of them to a series of sea trials, then dismantles, evaluates, and reassembles them, before beginning production. To maintain production quality, it regularly subjects a variety of building materials to laboratory testing.
You can see the emphasis on strength in the 565's hull, which is solid FRP below the waterline and balsa-cored above it and has six full-length longitudinal stringers. For strength and rigidity, she also has transverse frames every five feet that are tabbed to the hull, from the deck joint all the way through to the bilge, and balsa-cored decks that are laminated to the hull.
Rodman's military and commercial roots were particularly evident in the engine room, where I saw fully encased wiring, squirrel-cage exhaust blowers, diamond plate covering the shafts, exhausts supported from the top as well as the bottom to cut down on vibration, and a pair of optional three-inch auxiliary engine-driven bilge pumps that could dump some serious water overboard in an emergency.
All this takes on added significance when you factor in price. At $1,022,121 as tested, the Rodman 565 is competitive with, and in many cases priced significantly below, other boats in her size range with comparable equipment. In fact, many similar vessels come in at between $1.3 and almost $1.6 million.
It didn't appear that Rodman scrimped on the interior to get this price advantage either. I was pleased to find comfortable and well-thought-out interior accommodations, albeit the plan is much like many other cruising boats of her size. All three staterooms—the master forepeak, the twin guest to starboard, and the VIP to port&mdaash;are tastefully decorated and nicely finished in cherrywood.
I found plenty of stowage in each stateroom, too. The master has drawer space below the berth, a pair of night tables with shelves, and a pair of hanging and stowage lockers. The guest quarters has a drawer below each berth, a night table cabinet, and a large hanging closet and stowage locker. The VIP has the same arrangement.
Headroom is also noteworthy. There's almost 6'5" in the staterooms and a whopping 7'2" in the area shared by the starboard-side lower helm and the comfortable seating-for-six, port-side dining area. And if you really want some space, try measuring from the starboard galley-down sole to the overhead: 11'5".
That galley is just as nicely equipped, with a Bosch refrigerator/freezer, L-shape Corian countertop, a pair of stainless steel sinks, a four-burner Bosch electric stovetop, space for an optional dishwasher, a Samsung microwave built into the aft bulkhead, and enough drawer and cabinet space to stow plenty of ships stores for your onboard meals. There’s more stowage in the standard teak and holly sole, accessed by a hatch.
But the 565’s appeal goes beyond equipment. On many lower-station-equipped boats I’ve been on, the view ahead has presented problems: Either the overhead is too low, compressing the windshield, or the helm seat lacks sufficient adjustment for the driver to get a good view out. Not so on this boat. The lower helm has some of the best sightlines I’ve seen. I’m 5'9" and had no trouble finding an easy-to-drive sitting position in the adjustable helm seat. I was able to see directly into the seaway ahead and to the sides, even with the substantial supporting mullions in view, thanks not only to the height of the chair but also to the high overhead and the large windows forward and to either side.
The saloon provides more creature comforts and equipment. There’s a couch to either side of the room and an entertainment center located aft and to port complete with a flat-screen TV, DVD player, and stereo. A pull-out bar lies just forward of the port-side couch, and just forward of that, a stainless steel and wood ladder leads to the bridge deck. Furniture and trimmings are all of cherrywood.
Climb that ladder or the one on the cockpit to the bridge deck, and you’ll find a centerline helm, a circular seating area with table to starboard (with stowage beneath the seats), and an electric grill, sink, and refrigerator cabinet to port and aft. The grill top is cut out to allow for fingers to lift it, a good thing, since there’s only a screw-locking arm to hold it up instead of a gas-assisted ram. My boat was also equipped with optional teak decks here.
There was an optional teak sole in the cockpit, which is nicely shaded thanks to the bridge deck that stretches almost to the transom seat. Access to the engine room is here as well, via a hatch in the cockpit sole, and the side decks are almost 14 inches wide, allowing for easy and safe access forward underway.
So far, I couldn’t see anything the 565 was seriously lacking, but I still hadn’t taken her out on the water. Unfortunately, seas were dead calm on test day, so the best I could do to challenge her was to head down the coast. During a few maneuvers, she responded quickly to helm commands and tracked straight and true, so I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Along the way, she hit a WOT speed of 37.4 mph, with the twin 715-hp Volvo D12 diesels turning 2350 rpm. Backed off to 2000 rpm she still broke 30 mph and manged a range of more than 360 NM on her 740-gallon tankage. With those range numbers, cruising the Rodman 565 is limited only by your imagination...and the next fuel stop.
With all that going for her and an attractive price, the 565 should be enticing to U.S. buyers. Last year Rodman sold nine 565s overseas, and since the 565 made her American debut at this past Miami International Boat Show, Rodman says it has logged orders for 18 more, many destined for American buyers. Welcome to the neighborhood, kid.
Raymarine ST 6001 autopilot w/repeater; rudder-angle indicator on bridge and lower helm; BBQ and refrigerator on bridge; cherrywood interior; 18-piece Rodman crockery set and 6-piece coffee set, 16-piece Rodman cutlery set, and 12-piece Rodman glassware set; Mandelli door hardware; bow thruster w/controls on bridge and helm; 2/Racor fuel-water separators; 10-kW Onan genset; 20 gal. water heater; 2/SeaLand Vacuflush MSDs
Besenzoni passarelle; teak cockpit, side decks, and bridge-deck sole; 17-kW Onan genset; Rodman trim tabs; oil exchange system; emergency PTO bilge pump; Raymarine electronics package including L-760 sonar/chartplotter, Raychart 530-C plotter w/repeater, RL-80CRC radar in lower helm, and RL-70C radar repeater on bridge; crew quarters; 54,000-Btu CruiseAir A/C
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/615-hp Volvo Penta D12 diesel inboards
- Transmission/Ratio: Twin Disc/2:1
- Props: 31 x 40 4-blade Nibral, no cup
- Price as Tested: $1,022,121
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.