The Bonito 685 has an enviable reputation as a superb bluewater cruiser. In moderate to rough conditions its ride and handling are hard to beat and the Scott Robson designed hull continues a Bonito tradition of exceptional offshore performance.
The 685 hull is based on the 622, a design that proved popular with bluewater boaties some years ago. The (relatively) new model has seen changes to the transom area and completely new, stylish topsides. They’ve resulted in more buoyancy aft and reportedly even better handling characteristics, especially into head seas. Rough water was not going to be a feature of our morning with a 685, although I sea tested a 685 a couple of years ago when conditions were less than pleasant. This test would consist of a run on Lake Arapuni on a windless morning when the water was dead flat. Nevertheless, it was enough to re-aquaint me with the boat’s many good features. On the trailer and loaded with fuel, all-up weight is probably around 1.5 tonnes. Over-ride brakes make stopping much less of a drama and the tandem axle trailer tracked well.
Superb design and ride
The Bonito 685 was equipped with a spanking-new Johnson 200hp. The boat features a transitional lift bottom with a 23° deadrise at the transom. This, combined with its chine and strake design and placement, plus a fine entry forward, is the secret of the boat’s great ride, but it’s a bottom-type that likes plenty of horsepower. This model goes quite well with a 150hp V6, but it’s the big V6 engines that really make it hum. With a 220hp V6, performance is great and we found that the 200hp Johnson V6 provided excellent performance, too.
Although the test boat was under-propped, it ran the needle off the 50mph speedometer, admittedly with the engine hitting the rev-limiter at 6200rpm. With a bigger (21-inch) propeller, around 55mph should be attainable. Prop selection is quite important with this hull. Bow lifters are best, and an OMC Raker would be a good choice. We were running a standard 19-inch alloy prop. Obviously, it gave excellent hole-shots and considerable grip in the turns. Cavitation was minimal, even in the tightest of turns, and the deep-vee Bonito will turn extremely tightly without sideslip. The engine could be trimmed well out. After a bit of experimentation, the motor had been set up on the second hole, which seemed to be just about right.
Stylish and Comfortable
The Bonito 685 is a good-looking craft, well equipped and nicely finished with teak trimmings and good quality upholstery. The back-to-back seats are comfortable and supportive, with ample storage in the bases, and I liked the footrests on the bulkhead. The smart-looking dash is fairly conventional and, with the dash extension panel, there’s plenty of room for gauges and electronics.
Bonitos are supplied as an all-inclusive package. This means that things like stainless steel bow rails, rod holders, dive ladders, teak coamings, carpets and the like are standard rather than cost-plus add-on items as is the case with so many boats. The standard Calais is supplied from the factory fully equipped — the dealer adds only the engine, electronics and canopy.
The list of standard features is far too long to list here, but the boat is extremely well specified. A five-year structural hull warranty is testimony to the Bonito’s solid construction — an important consideration in a boat with offshore aspirations. Optional features include a ski bracket, removable cockpit table, additional rod holders (the boat was equipped with just four), removable fish bin and cushion and several seating options; pedestal, high-low back (as tested) and King-Queen.
Multipurpose pleasure craft
As a fishing boat the 685 has plenty going for it. The Profisher version is aimed squarely at fishers and specified accordingly with vinyl cockpit flooring and flo-coated hull sides making it an easy clean after a day’s fishing. The Calais is meant to be more general purpose — ideal for diving, water skiing or just leisure boating. It’s carpeted throughout and comes with just two rod-holders each side as standard. The 685 is also available as a hardtop with either clears or hardened glass (HT or Gulf). This option is particularly attractive for gamefishers or those who want complete protection from the elements.
Cockpit space is adequate (the Profisher, which has pedestal seats, is better) and the teak-covered coamings are a good height. Rod racks along the boat’s sides will each take three rods and the side-pockets are wide enough to accept dive bottles. Rear seats are removable to make more fishing room.
With 200-litres underfloor, the 685 has a useful range. There’s a built-in reserve (20-litres) — a feature other manufacturers could copy. The cabin is roomy and well appointed. A large hatch opens onto the foredeck and the anchor is easy to work from inside the cabin, although an electric capstan would be a useful addition to a boat of this size. An infill squab turns the vee-berths into a good-sized double bed and the fully enclosed cabin has lockable teak doors.
Unlike many boats today, Bonito have opted for full bulkheads on this model. These have advantages of security (the cabin can be locked securely) but the downside is that they make the cabin feel smaller and darker. The more open-plan layout common today certainly makes both the cabin and the cockpit feel more spacious and is customised on request.
There’s plenty of storage in the boat, from the deep side shelves, through to ample space under the back-to-back seats and beneath the vee-berths forward and the handy open lockers on each side of the boat. Across the transom a small locker will take bait or refreshments; and there are two lockers behind the removable rear seats. An underfloor wet locker aft of the fuel tank will accept dive gear or store the catch.
Little touches impressed. I liked the removable vinyl skirt, which clips across the transom area to protect objects from spray and keep the inevitable clutter that always finds its way to the back of the boat out of sight.
I liked the way the boat held onto the plane as we dropped the speed back — the result of a double chine that’s a feature of the hull, and the way the boat still backs up well, despite its portafino stern and cutaway transom. We backed up at 3000rpm, admittedly on a flat calm day, without shipping water and with good directional control. In the end, we simply ran out of things to do on the lake. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to try the boat in the rough, but it was not to be — this time. Maybe next time we’ll use the boat for some bluewater cruising — an application it is best suited to.
Gunwale height: 700mm
Gunwale width: 150mm
Flotation: two airtight sponsons
Material: Aluminium, 3mm bottom, 2mm sides
Weight: 480kg approx (runabout version)
Fuel capacity: 75-litres
Power: 75-115hp ultra longshaft
Gunwale height: 580mm
Gunwale width: 90mm
Flotation: two airtight sponsons
Material: aluminium, 2.5mm bottom, 1.6mm sides
Weight: 200kg approx
Power: 30-50hp longshaft
Deadrise at transom: 23°
Hull only weight: 950kg
Recommended horsepower range: 150-250hp
Fuel capacity: 200 litres
Cockpit LOA: 2.68m
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NZ Fisherman Magazine
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