The Northstar Orion 8 is a 8.40 meters center console boat with accommodation for 14 people and a draft of 0.70 meters. The boat has a fiberglass / grp hull with a CE certification class (B) and can navigate no further than 200 miles off the coastline.
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||5.5 seconds|
|Load||2 persons; 400 lbs US|
|Climate||92 deg; 65-70% humidity; wind 9-14 kts; 1-3’ seas|
1 x 350-hp Mercury Verado
1 x 350-hp Mercury Verado
Northstar Orion 8 RIB
Captain's Report by Capt. Gregg Clark
The Orion 8 is a multi-purpose, high-performance, recreational RIB built in Turkey by Northstar, a division of Marintek Group’s RibTech Division. The Orion line falls in the middle of the size-range of Northstar’s four recreational RIB classes. It features a stepped hull designed by UK Designer Andrew Younger, known for bringing his work in designing championship winning racing powerboats to the consumer markets. Combined with the Mercury Verado 350 hp powerplant, the Orion 8 produces impressive performance and handling.
The Northstar Orion 8 is a multi-function 8m (26’) RIB. She will perform equally well as a platform for family watersports, a tender to larger yachts, a support vessel for sailboats or a commuter for short to medium distances. The Orion 8 brings power and stability to all her operations and should be considered for anyone looking for a 25’ to 30’ RIB.
Test day was hot and humid with temperatures in the low 90s and relative humidity in the upper 60% range. Winds were moderate at 9 to 14 knots out of the ESE. Seas on the ocean were 1-3’ just outside of Port Everglades inlet in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Performance Test Results*
Our first performance runs focused on determining speed, fuel consumption, range, and noise levels (measured in decibels or dBA) at specific RPM.
Acceleration Times & Conditions*
For the acceleration runs, two tests were conducted and then averaged to get the time from 0 mph to select speeds. With the Mercury Verado 350 hp engine, the Orion 8 had an acceleration time of 5.5 seconds from 0 mph to her average planing speed of 21.2 mph, and 20.6 seconds from 0 to 50 mph, about 1 mph below her maximum speed.
Range and Optimal Cruise
The numbers from our tests show the Orion 8 has a range of 414.6 miles at her idle speed of 2.8 MPH and a range of 163.2 miles at her average maximum speed of 51.5 MPH.
Based on our analysis and Mercury information, optimal cruise for the Orion 8 is likely between 4000 and 4500 RPM.
The Orion 8 handles like most other 25’ – 30’ RIBs in close quarters. However, as the Orion 8 is slightly heavier than peers of the same size, the ability to control her with minimal throttle input was exceptional.
Note – turn radius (the distance required to turn through 180°) is actually turn diameter but is commonly referred to as turn radius.
Design and Construction
On the design side, Northstar has accomplished several objectives with the Orion 8.
First, she is a stable platform with a feeling of safety and stability sometimes missed on other RIBs of this size. She feels like you’re inside the boat as opposed to riding on top of the boat.
Second, the Orion 8 has a level of aesthetics and attention to detail that I believe is among best-in-class. This will increase her appeal across all her potential uses but especially as a yacht tender.
Third, teaming with Andrew Younger has created a fast hull form that accelerates to planing in 5.5 seconds and to top speed in 24 seconds.
The hull of the Orion 8 is fiberglass infused with a non-water-permeable vinylester resin.
Turkish boat builders are known for excellent construction techniques and attention to detail. When combined with the thoughtful design, the Orion 8 is an attractive boat both operationally and functionally. Stainless cleats, sturdy tubes, powder-coated metals and expertly stitched materials combine to make the Orion 8 stand out among peers.
• CE Category “B” – Ocean Certified Vessel
• Mercury Verado 350hp
• Two Mercury VesselView 9” MFD
• Fusion stereo with 6 JLAudio speakers
• Concealed marine sanitation device
• 10 Person Capacity
As the R and I in RIB stand for “rubber” and “inflatable”; the best place to start reviewing the features of the Northstar Orion 8 are the tubes.
The Orion 8 has Hypalon tubes that are 1’ 10” in diameter. The tubes have 7 chambers, 1 more on each side than some boats in this size range.
One noticeable aspect of the Orion 8, which can be seen in the picture above, is the depth of the cockpit inboard of the tubes. In most RIBs, I feel like I’m riding on the boat, whereas in the Orion 8, I felt like I was riding in the boat. It gave a sense of safety and security.
Tube handhelds are sturdy and can be placed as each costumer desires.
The Orion 8 has an optional aft sunshade. The support poles are stored inboard of the port and starboard tubes on top of a narrow ledge of hull that prevents them from protruding into the walkway.
Walkways are an important consideration for RIBs. Regardless of how wide they are, I always wish they were wider. In concert with the width of the walkway are the handholds available to increase security when moving fore and aft on the boat.
The Orion 8 has 1’ wide walkways coming from the bow to the aft edge of the helm station. The walkway then narrows to 9” next to the helm seat station and the aft-facing seat. Throughout the boat the decking is Eva Faux teak decking, designed to accent the colors of the tubes and hull.
The Orion 8 has multiple handholds built into her design. When coming aft from the bow, the forward T-top support bar makes for strong and secure support. Along the helm station, there are stainless handholds for the transition aft. Lastly, the aft T-top supports on centerline behind the helm seat make for secure movement to the aft section of the Orion 8.
Let’s review the features in each section of the boat in more detail.
The anchor locker holds the combination stainless steel / rope rode for the 15-pound stainless Ultra anchor. There is also a stainless-steel windlass with remote control.
The bow area, or forward cockpit, of the Northstar Orion 8 is 4’ 10” wide by 12’10” long. It can be configured in two ways. First is open seating that accommodates 3 people on the forward, aft-facing bench and 2 people on the forward-facing bench. Second, two pads, which are stored in a hatch under the forward cushion, convert the forward cockpit into a sun lounge for 2.
Few RIBs of this size have a head, a feature much appreciated by families. The Orion 8’s head measures 2’ wide with a head room of 4’8”.
The Orion 8 uses 4 fixed points for lifting onto a trailer or a larger yacht, 2 in the forward cockpit and 2 in the aft.
Northstar has designed a symmetrical cockpit for the Orion 8, meaning the helm is on centerline and the walkways are of equal size both port and starboard. Some RIBs in this class have an offset helm resulting in only one fore to aft walkway.
The faux leather on our test boat was an attractive contrasting color with diamond stitching in center panels. The helm and passenger seats feature a fold-down bolster to allow running while either seated or standing.
The instrument panel features two Mercury VesselView 9” MFDs; all the required toggle switches for the boats systems and two cup holders. Below are the Mercury engine controller, key/kill switch, glove box and Fusion stereo head which powers 6 JLAudio speakers.
A feature I appreciated was a footrest that was secure and just the right height when operating. In addition to space to stand on top of the footrest, there is also space below for those who want feet flat on the deck without having to stand too far away from the helm due to a footrest molded into the deck.
Under the helm’s passenger seat is a 42 l (11 gal) refrigerator drawer.
The Orion 8’s T-Top has 6’ 4” of headroom under the center of the top and 6’ 2” of clearance on the sides of the top.
In between the forward support tubes for the T-Top is a 3/8” thick acrylic windscreen. One element of the windscreen that I would like to see addressed is the field of visual distortion caused by the two-step bevel near the outside of the windscreen.
The aft cockpit features seating for 5 and a cocktail table, which stores in the locker under the forward bow cushion. Under the aft- facing seat is an integrated cooler. Under the aft seat is a compartment with access to the battery switch and key systems. Access to the swim platform is via a walkthrough to port.
There are two well thought out design features in the aft cockpit of the Orion 8. First, the aft scuppers in the cockpit drain overboard to port and starboard as opposed to going straight through to the stern section as with most boats in this class. This prevents any seawater from entering the cockpit when backing.
The second well thought out design feature is the horizontal, or flat, battery switch under the aft seat. Most boats in this class have vertical battery switches either under the forward bulkhead of the aft seat or in a small port with a lifting lid, which makes seeing the battery switch an acrobatic endeavor.
There are three strong stainless steel telescoping cleats on the Orion 8; one at the bow and one each port and starboard at the stern.
Center-line just aft of the aft seat is a telescoping towing pylon.
A telescoping swim ladder is in line with the walkway from the aft cockpit.
The tow aft lifting points are in the stern cockpit and the back of the aft- facing wall.
The Northstar Orion 8 is a sturdy and well-built boat with appealing aesthetics and many well thought out design features. Her performance is impressive and she feels stiffer and more secure than other boats in her class. Her Andrew Younger designed two-step hull combined with the Mercury Verado 350hp engine propel her to both planing and top speed rapidly. Turkish boat builders are considered by many to be some of the best in the world and those characteristics stand out with the Orion 8. For anyone considering a RIB in the 25’ – 30’, the Northstar Orion 8 should be near the top of the list for consideration.
Remember, life is better on a boat!