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The Theodore 720 Offshore has an award-winning pedigree stretching from strength of construction, high level of finish to excellent sea-keeping qualities

The Theodore 720 Offshore is the latest craft in the ever growing range of vessels built by veteran South Australian shipwright Jim Theodore of Adelaide's Port River Marine Services.

Prospective buyers need have no doubts about any aspects of these fine craft, whether it's strength of construction, level of finish or most importantly, the vessel's sea-keeping qualities as Theodore craft have taken out a number of national awards in recent years.


Let's start with a look at the vessel's structure, which features a handlaid, moulded fibreglass hull with the hull and deck joint-bonded, through-bolted and internally fibreglassed to provide excellent structural integrity. The grid stringer system provides significant built-in buoyancy with sealed and divided under-floor compartments. It should be noted that by using moulded fibreglass to create this system, timber bearers, so often subject to rot, are completely eliminated.

With a moulded hull length of 7.2m, a LOA of 8.04m and a beam of 2.5m this is a generously-sized trailerable craft with excellent sea-keeping qualities, thanks to its variable deadrise, deep forefoot, three well-spaced planing strakes, solid chines and a transom deadrise of 20 degrees. Its weight as tested is 2500kg.

As well as being aesthetically pleasing, the Theodore 720 Offshore's nicely flared bow deflects water well away from the craft and its occupants, to the point where even in the open configurations of these craft, the skipper and passengers remain dry. I speak from experience having recently crossed SA's notorious Backstairs Passage aboard one a few months ago.

At the spacious helm, the well thought-out ergonomics are readily apparent and there is plenty of room for even a hefty crew, making it comfortable to skipper, either standing or seated and with good sightlines.

The test craft is significantly optioned up from standard and I will try and make the differences clear as we go along. For starters, the optional deluxe custom skipper and passenger seats are roomy, with padded armrests and generous footrests for both.

The optional lockable sliding cabin door fixes solidly in place in either the open or closed position while the fully carpet-lined cabin will sleep two average-sized adults comfortably. A large, quality hatch seals the cabin against water ingress while providing lots of light and also access to the bow section.

The roomy dash sports an array of electronic equipment plus various gauges, switches, trim tab controls and in this case, a radio also.

The test craft was set up with the 3.7lt Volvo Penta four-cylinder D4-260 engine which has a common rail fuel injection system, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, turbocharger and aftercooler. With a claimed crankshaft output of 191KW/260hp, performance with this power plant was (unsurprisingly) scintillating and made me wonder why anyone would prefer a more powerful option, although Jim offers one with the Volvo KAD 300 EDC DPG 285hp model.

A light hand on the throttle sees the Theodore 720 Offshore leap forward and the transition from displacement speed to planing is seamless. Once planning, the 720 could be thrown around with an ease which belied its size and weight.

The section of the Port River where the accompanying photos were taken was calm, with only a few wind-driven ripples, but once we poked our nose out into St Vincent Gulf things got a lot more interesting with a brisk sea breeze creating steep, short wind waves.

Powering out directly into this saw the deep forward entry cutting smoothly through the metre or so of high Gulf chop, and taking the seas on the forward quarter resulted in no unpleasant surprises.

Running with a following sea, the Theodore 720 Offshore remained stable and demonstrated no tendency to broach even when driven somewhat carelessly in a deliberate attempt to see what would result. In summary, at all running angles the craft took the conditions in its stride with skipper and passenger warm and dry in the well protected helm area.

With two adults on board plus 300lt of fuel and 100lt of water, the Theodore 720 Offshore returned the following figures. At 2000rpm the craft is doing 17kts and using 16lt/h with an engine load of 58 per cent. Increasing this to 2500rpm sees the speed increase to 27kts with an engine load of 60 per cent and fuel usage at 22lt/h. Not bad figures at all for a craft of this size and weight.

At 3000rpm vessel speed is 35kts for 34lt/h and the engine working at 70 per cent load. Increasing the revs to 3500 brings up a speed of 41kts, a 51lt/h fuel requirement and the engine working at 100 per cent load.

Certainly, despite the very soft and totally dry ride at all speeds, prudence would suggest that cruising along in the 2000 to 2500 rev range is going to deliver optimum pleasure at a relatively economical rate and a good speed over the ground.

Standard features of this craft include an electric anchor winch with anchor, rode and chain, a self-loading stainless steel bowroller, stainless steel welded bowrail, recessed cockpit grabrails, a stainless steel boarding ladder and transom grabrail, and four rodholders recessed into the coamings.

The standard cabin features include an anchor locker with self-draining bulkhead access, a V-berth moulded stowage area suitable for a chemical toilet, full lining and upholstered storage shelves with upholstered front panel.

Out in the cockpit we find a self-draining deck with self-closing scuppers, an engine hatch with gas struts, a sound-insulated engine box, moulded cockpit sidepockets, moulded stowage lockers amidships, a baitwell/stowage area and an under-deck fishbox/stowage area. The cockpit sole is finished with non-skid textured gelcoat.

Mechanical standard fittings include a 300lt underfloor alloy fuel tank with deck fill and breathers, a fuel tank sender unit and gauge, fuel filter/water separator and swaged fuel lines. Hydraulic steering is standard and there is an automatic bilge pump with manual over-ride in the engine compartment. Engine ventilation is taken care of by a natural airflow pathway.

Standard electrical equipment consists of twin heavy-duty batteries with isolation/changeover switch, a 12V fused/circuitbreaker system, navigation lights, cockpit lights and forward cabin lights.

Also standard are the moulded helm station, moulded passenger station, helm and passenger seats, stainless steel steering wheel, compass, remote anchor winch control, switch control panel, and engine instruments and controls.

Despite the impressive list of standard features, the range of options fitted to this vessel includes Volvo QL trim tabs, a pump-out for the fishbox, a high-pressure saltwater deckwash, two 50lt freshwater bladders and a handheld shower.

As well as the aforementioned seats, this craft's option list included a white tonneau dash cover, custom white helm and passenger seat covers, removable cockpit carpet, engine box cushion seats, a rear deck storm cover, and searchlight cover.

On the electronics side, the selected options included a CD/radio unit, a VHF radio and a Raymarine E02011 E80 multifunction navigation display incorporating radar, sounder and autopilot.

Up forward is a SeaLand portable MSD SaniPottie, a custom baitboard and sink with rodholding capability, six rodholders mounted to the hardtop and an extended hardtop handrail. The owner has also opted for an emergency anchor kit, outriggers, a gaff locker, tackle box, remote searchlight, rear deck halogen floodlight and a television.

At the owner's request a special trailer was constructed by Mackay Multi-Link for the Theodore 720 Offshore. It was constructed of aluminium with swing-away drawbar and which, despite adding $4000 to the price, has impressed Jim to the point where it may become a regular option.

As extensive as they are, neither the standard features nor the options listed here are complete and the reader is advised to contact Theodore Marine for more information.

- Strength of construction
- Sparkling performance
- Stylish appearance
- Impeccable gelcoat
- Super ride at all running angles
- Large, safe, high-sided cockpit
- Five-year structural hull warranty (transferable)

- Cabin a tad on the small side

Theodore 720 Offshore

Price as tested: $221,000 w/ 3.7lt Volvo Penta four-cylinder D4-260 diesel engine, and selected options
Priced from: $160,000
Options fitted: Raymarine E02011 E80, CD/radio, Volvo QL trim tabs, 2 x 50lt freshwater bladders, lockable sliding cabin door, custom helm and passenger seat, VHF radio, television, SaniPottie, and much more


Material:          Handlaid moulded GRP
Length overall: 8.04m
Beam:              2.5m
Draught:           0.87m
Weight:            2500kg w/ Volvo Penta D4


Berths: 2
Fuel:    300lt
Water: 2 x 50lt


Make/model:  Volvo Penta D4-260
Type:              Four-cylinder diesel
Rated HP:       260 at 3500rpm
Displacement:  3.7lt
Prop:               Duoprop


Theodore Marine