It's been a while since I've done a boat test, so was a little out of touch with the going rates for trailer boats.
One of our advertising team asked me if I could do a ‘Quick Look' on a boat at short notice.
"It's an interesting boat, a six-metre alloy hardtop - and all for under $50K," was the information given.
I wondered what sort of value one gets for that figure, and it did not take long to find out.
Family Boats is a prominent Auckland boat dealership established on Ti Rakau Drive, East Tamaki, and owned by Peter Carlson. A second branch has recently opened on the North Shore, and is run by Peter's brother, Andrew.
Peter has been around boats for years, and it would be fair to say he knows the industry well.
When NZ Fishing News advertising rep Pete Francis and I met Peter at the Half Moon Bay, there was a stiff south-wester blowing - good conditions to fairly test the capabilities of a six-metre craft.
The first impression provided by the F1 Offshore 625 was that of a smart looking craft. It had crisp lines, the hardtop having none of the ‘after thought' look of some alloy hardtops of this size, despite its two-metre headroom. The painted black hull with red and silver graphics made it stand out.
Peter explained the boat had been built to Family Boats specifications by Nigel Langdale of the Te Awamutu-based company, TA Boatsheds. Nigel has a long history in the manufacture of alloy boats, having worked for Ramco in Hamilton for five years in the mid 1990s and, since branching out on his own, contracting to the likes of Sportscraft Boats.
F1 Offshore is a marque exclusive to Family Boats, and is also available in a soft-top. They intend adding 5.6 and 7.2m models to the range in due course.
"We wanted a design that was functional as a family fishing boat and which would not break the bank - and this is what we have come up with," Peter says.
Upon motoring out into the Tamaki River, pushed along by a Yamaha 115hp Saltwater Series two-stroke outboard, I noticed how stable the boat was, and once out of the five-knot zone, Peter quickly had the hull up on the plane, the Yamaha producing a good ‘hole shot' with a relatively light touch of the throttle.
Out past Browns Island and into the Motuihe Channel I took the wheel and put the boat through some twists and turns in the relative calm. A little cavitation was soon trimmed out, and there were no vices to record.
Heading out wider into the channel proper there was a good wind chop, stirred up by the 15-20 knots of SW, which the FI took in its stride. At just over 4000rpm we were doing 44kph and still had not put any spray on the windscreen, the fine entry followed by the wide chine knocking the water down and out.
Stopping at Crusoe Rocks to briefly throw around a few soft-plastics, it was a chance to see the boat in fishing mode. With Pete and Peter casting from the wide cockpit, I was able to comfortably hold the stern into the wind and current. The port side of the transom features a cut-out, and some water sloshed through here as we backed up. A washboard would fix this, but is not included in the base price.
As a ‘test' the three of us stood against the starboard gunwale. Yes, it did heel, but not so much as to send us scurrying across to the other side in a panic to right the boat. Another tick.
With the cockpit remaining unblooded, we headed back to the Tamaki River with a good half-metre chop on the port quarter. There were a couple of bangs as the hull hit hard on a chop, but nothing that would send you to the chiropractor, and the windscreen continued to remain relatively dry.
While we could not test the boat in a big sea, there was nothing to indicate it would not have given a good account of itself, so the hull represented a good compromise between stability at rest and performance underway. Another tick.
The boat has a number of good features. The first is the number of handholds strategically placed to add to the comfort and safety of those on board.
There is a long rear seat that, when folded down, offers a padded area to sit on, as well as providing access to the transom locker, which contains the battery, oil and isolation switch, along with room for the likes of a modest tackle box, spare ropes, sea anchor and so on.
Beneath the step-through leading to the dive ladder is a plumbed live-bait tank - another great feature for the fishing minded.
There are some good storage spaces, with shelves in the cabin and hardtop sides, and a large pocket that runs either side of the cockpit. The latter are long enough to store two-metre-plus rods, gaffs, nets and the like.
Underfloor there is a 100-litre fuel tank, plus a useful kill tank forward of that. Floatation is created via three sealed compartments: one forward and two running either side of the fuel and kill tanks.
In the cabin there are a couple of short upholstered v-berths more suitable for sitting on to get out of the weather on a day trip than for overnighting. Peter points out the space has been put into the cockpit rather than the cabin, which is more cuddy style. The interior of both the cuddy and the hardtop is lined.
Access to the anchor locker is via a generous hatch, and an electric capstan can be fitted if required.
All-in-all a solid package of practical, no-nonsense boat.
So what do you get for $50K? If the FI Offshore is any indication, quite a bit really!
Length (LOA) - 6.25m
Hull length - 5.20m
Maximum beam - 2.33m
Cockpit depth(gunwale height) - 0.74m
Tow weight (boat, motor, trailer) - 1300kg (est.)
Capacity - 400kg (5 pax)
Transom - XL shaft 25"
Hull, bottom, chine thickness - 5mm
Hull side thickness - 4mm
Deadrise - 15 degrees
Recommended Max. HP 150
Outboard - Yamaha 115HP Saltwater Series
Trailer - Voyager (single axle, unbraked)
RRP basic rig, as tested - $49,995
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