Boat Test: 2018 Highfield Ocean Master 390

Boat Tested2018 Highfield Ocean Master 390
Price As TestedNot Available
Category Inflatable
Manufacturer Highfield
Length12ft 10in / 3.91 m
Beam6ft 1in / 1.85 m
Max HP50
Drive TypeOutboard
Engine MakeYamaha Outboards
Fuel Capacity9.2
By Jon Blaicher
Highfield’s Ocean Master inflatables are heavy duty big water RIBs.

With a 3-mm thick aluminum hull and 20-degree dead rise, this OM 390 Deluxe can handle some pretty rough water. A secondary benefit to that deep-V is a very comfortable ride, which becomes more important the further you travel. Winds were light during our test, but there was enough cruiser boat traffic to find a few wakes over two feet and this inflatable had no problem handling them, even over 30 mph.

Most Highfields have oversized tubing. The OM’s tubes are 18-inches in diameter �” big for an inflatable boat under 13 feet. These large tubes offer more carrying capacity, floatation and a higher, drier ride.

All Ocean Master models have a bow step with a mooring cleat. Our test boat also had navigation lights mounted there for optimum visibility. A centre console is standard and can be mounted with some consideration for legroom. Four heavy duty lifting davits are welded to each corner of the cockpit and large floor drains with removable plugs are located just in front of the bench seat. This boat has the raised cockpit floor which sits above the hull, keeping bilge water away from gear.

There are a number of value added features included in this Deluxe model including an integrated bench seat, with cushioned back rests. It extends aft to the transom, effectively increasing the storage underneath to over 10 cubic feet. The base of the seat is held open by a gas-assist strut making it easier to add and remove contents.

One of my favourite options that can be added to any Highfield is the SeaDek marine flooring. The non-skid, shock absorbent material provides cushion underfoot, making it both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It won’t absorb water and doesn’t get hot in the sun.

A strong aluminum hull and full-length keel guard allow you to pull this boat to shore, even if the shoreline is a bit rocky. The tow arch adds functionality and improves the already rugged looks. Having the LED all-round masthead light on top forgoes hunting for light poles in the dark. The integrated fuel tank allows more capacity than a portable tank and is much easier to fill.

Our test boat was powered by Yamaha’s 996cc four-cylinder F50. Quiet and smooth are the first two words that come to mind when you first turn the key. At idle you can forget it is even running. At over 1,500 rpm, more vibration comes from the water than the engine. The added power and weight of the F50 combine to make for a fair bit of bow rise out of the hole. It doesn’t last long, but it left me wondering if the lighter F40 might be a better match for this 390. Top speed with the F50 was just under 45 mph.

Since that decision will depend on the application, it is nice to have the choice. Handling was stable and predictable with minimal steering effort, even with the big 50 on the transom. Once on plane, the deeper V and strong lifting strakes helped keep the 390 planted even during aggressive turns. Ride quality is excellent with the deeper, 20-degree V and simply can’t be compared to a 15-degree hull. There was no pounding sensation, even crossing a medium size boat wake.

If you need a tough, midsize inflatable that can handle rough conditions or you want to ride in maximum comfort, take a look at an Ocean Master Deluxe from Highfield.

50-hp Yamaha F50, 996cc inline four-cylinder SOHC with multi-point EFI and 20-inch shaft
Length: 12 ft 9 in / 3.90 mBeam: 9 ft 4 in / 2.85 mWeight: 820 lb / 372 kgFuel Capacity: 9.2 gal / 35 L Price: Contact your local dealer
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