Testing the Allied Boat Works RB-19 and RB-20

In 2011, New England Boating’s Mike King and I drove to Portland, Maine, where we met up with the team from Allied Boat Works to test the company’s rugged RB-19 and RB-20 Downeast-style skiffs on a chilly and windy Portland Harbor.

Allied owners Dave Cunniffe, Gene Foss and Steve Packard were waiting for us at Portland’s East End Beach boat ramp, along with three boats they had trailered from the company’s Peru, Maine, facility. Winds were blowing at a brisk 15 to 20 knots out of the north as we took the boats for a spin around the harbor.

Stable, Versatile Platforms

If you’ve seen these boats at a show, you’d know that they are based on a classic Downeast hull. They boast a beam of 8’ 4” to 8’ 10”, making them incredibly stable platforms for any type of water activity, including fishing and hauling loads of lobster pots. Indeed, the boats are proving popular among working watermen from Maine to North Carolina. That said, some of Allied’s recreational customers also use the boats to pull waterskiers and tubers, so versatility is a key benefit. Lake fishermen have expressed interest too, especially those rigged with hydrofoils. The shallow (nine-inch) draft and wide-open cockpit makes this a great skiff for people who want to ferry the family—plus a ton of stuff—to the beach for the day.

Both the RB-19 and R-20 feature a sharp entry for parting headseas, transitioning quickly to a flat bottom, with a shallow keel running two-thirds of the length to aid in tracking and drifting beam-to the seas. Bolted-on spray rails fore and aft help keep thing dry.

The boats really shine when running downsea, as we learned during our test. The trim tabs help keep the bow up and the flat bottom surfing nicely along the waves, while the shallow keel helps it track straight. Running up-sea requires some tweaking of the throttle and trim tabs to achieve the best ride, but the hull feels rock-solid when running through heavy chop, with no flexing or shuddering. All hardware is bedded with marine adhesive, through-bolted and backed.

Safe & Efficient

Safety is yet another selling point, as the boats are equipped with a self-bailing deck and large commercial-grade scuppers that drain water rapidly. They also feature foam-filled decks that will keep them afloat in an emergency.

Like all traditional Downeast boats, the RB-19 and RB-20 are not designed for speed, but they are very efficient. Wide-open throttle with a 90-hp Evinrude E-Tec is 35 mph. With a 75-hp Evinrude E-TEC, WOT is 33 mph, and with a 60-hp Evinrude E-TEC it’s 30 mph. Adding weight does not greatly reduce speed, according to Allied’s Dave Cunniffe, who noted just a slight drop in mph after running the boats with an additional 800 pounds. Fuel burn numbers were not available as of this writing.

Interior features are Spartan, but Allied can add whatever custom items you desire, such as live wells, additional seating, rod holders and so forth. As Cunniffe explained, Allied is a semi-custom builder, and will happily work with the customer to add whatever features he or she desires. Currently Allied works with dealers in Wellfleet, Massachusetts (Bay Sails Marine), and Old Lyme, Connecticut (Old Lyme Marine), but interested buyers are always welcome to drop by the headquarters in Peru, Maine.

Of course, the no-frills, low-maintenance aspects of the Allieds are a big attraction for many boaters. There is no wood on these boats, and the trim (if you want it) is made of Trex composite material, which requires virtually no maintenance other than periodic cleaning. Allied does all of the cutting and joinery in Maine, and the quality is top-shelf. At the end of the day, or end of the season, the boats can be hosed off and put away until the next trip. At 1,800 pounds (average boat with layout with 60-hp remote steering), they are light enough to be trailered with a modest truck or SUV.

Last but not least, the RB-19 and RB-20 are attractively priced. Base models begin at around $19,000, while fully tricked-out boats still sell for under $30,000, and that includes the motor and trailer.

We’ll have more on these boats in the weeks ahead, including a video from our day in Portland. Stay tuned!

For more information:

  • Allied Boat Works
  • (207-418-0387)
A look at the Allied’s hull bottom.
Packard and Cunniffe demonstrate the RB-19’s smooth downsea handling.