Aluminium boat-building company Kingfisher Boats is based in Tauranga.
Previous owner, Wayne Bakewell, started the company over a decade ago, relocating the original facility from rural Te Puna around five years ago.
In September 2004, Kingfisher Boats changed ownership, with Chris Carter and Jonathan Martin buying the operation. Both come from a marine-retail background.
Kingfisher foreman, Steve de Groot, is a certified welder and has a keen eye for detail. Along with colleague Dwight Payne and contractor Glen Warner, the team continues to turn out the high-quality hulls Kingfisher is known for.
With steady sales of their own Kingfisher hulls, in addition to custom designs, this company has established a good reputation as a maker of solid, dependable, sea-kindly boats. The original hull design is well proven, so the focus of the new management is on refining the finish and layout, with emphasis on what potential clients are looking for.
Along with the re-vamped Viking hardtop range, the introduction of a smaller Kingfisher, the 530 Striking, has added a new dimension to the range. Establishing a small, dedicated dealer network, while retaining the ability to offer the client some customizing options, is part of the plan.
I travelled to Tauranga to investigate one of the revamped Viking 680 hulls, fitted with a Volvo-Penta diesel inboard.
The base hull for the Viking 680 is what Kingfisher used to call their 6.5m hull, renamed to be more in line with how other manufacturers measure their hulls. With the addition of the bowsprit, a vertical rather than portafino stern (to accommodate the inboard engine) and boarding platform, the overall length is 7.2m.
The hull has a fine entry leading back to a transom deadrise of 18°, 5mm bottoms (an upgrade to 6mm is optional), 4mm sides, 3mm and 4mm topsides, and 3mm chequerplate decks. There are six longitudinal bearers of 5mm aluminium and six frames (plus transom construction). Deck supports are at 200mm centres.
Keel construction consists of the bottom plates being butted up to a keel bar and fully seam-welded, inside and out. An external wear-cap has been added and seam-welded for a total of six continuous seam welds. Likewise, the chines are fully seam-welded and external capping added, forming a slightly down-turned chine. These are good, solid construction techniques.
There are two sealed buoyancy chambers under the cockpit deck and a third under the cabin sole. Buoyancy figures were not available for this model at the time of writing. As designs are transferred to CAD, additional gunwale buoyancy is being added, so this should be available in the Viking 680 in the future.
The test boat, Guna–Do, was built for local dairy farmer, Graham Burns, who added a number of custom touches himself, including custom-made wood joinery, nicely done in macrocarpa by a mate.
Power and performance
The test boat was powered by a Volvo-Penta D3 (diesel) 160hp inboard with a Duo-prop leg. Fuel is supplied from a 180-litre underfloor tank. Running it inside Tauranga Harbour, with the tide but against 15-20 knots of wind, we achieved 33.6 knots (62.2km/h) at 3700rpm. The rig cruises very comfortably at 19 knots and 2500rpm.
Economy is good (with owner Graham doing a run from Tauranga to Mayor Island and back on 40 litres of diesel, this breaks down to about two kilometres per litre), and the rig is a fairly quiet runner.
On test day we had 15-20 knots of SW wind and about a half-metre chop outside the Tauranga entrance. The boat was a pleasure to helm, with hydraulic Hydrive Admiral steering giving good control over a very manoeuvrable hull. The engine provides heaps of torque and when the turbo kicks in, it is out of the blocks very quickly indeed. The weight of the engine in the stern sits the bum down well, and in conjunction with the fine entry and no strakes, makes for a very soft ride.
I was particularly impressed with the new Volvo QL trim-tab system, with the individual and dual-attitude controls and indicators being very easy to use and understand. This was particularly useful for trimming out the wind heel caused by the stiff breeze, which changed constantly as I altered the heading of the boat. All-around visibility was good through the lightly tinted TaylorMade curved safety glass forward windows and safety glass sliding side windows. Visibility astern was fine, with windows fitted in the rear of the cabin and sliding glass doors.
Overall, a very good performance.
With non-skid flooring fitted around the sides and grab rails on the roof, it is easy to climb around the sides to the bow, where bow rails offer the extra security necessary. It is also easy to stand on the berths and work through the hatch on the cabin roof, should you wish to freespool the Maxwell freedom 500 warp and chain winch. This feeds into a chain locker in the bow, which can be accessed through a hatch in the forward cabin bulkhead.
The winch is controlled from the helm, and other anchoring features include: a Sarca anchor permanently mounted on the fairlead; Decktread to protect the foredeck from the chain damage; split bowrails; and a substantial bollard welded to the foredeck.
The fully-lined cabin can sleep two adults when the berth infill supplied is used. A toilet can be fitted. There is stowage space under the berths and on narrow side shelves. The wiring behind the consol can be accessed through a screwed-on plate.
The wheelhouse has a large dash with heaps of room for stowing odds and sods. A dark marine-carpet finish helps cut internal glare, while a compass and electric fan (both mounted on wooden bases) are attached by Velcro.
Electronics are all flush mounted: a Lowrance Globalmap 5500C GPS, Furuno FCV 582L sounder in the dash, and a GME Electrophone GX600 VHF and Majestic sound system overhead.
The helm seat is a comfortably upholstered swivelling-slider mounted on an alloy box base, with two storage levels inside, capped by a wooden worktop. The passenger seat is a bench seat with reversing backrest, allowing it to be used to face a small fold-down wooden table behind it. A further bench seat against the rear wall also has stowage beneath.
Plenty of grabrails are fitted, including two under the cabin top. Sliding, locking doors at the rear of the cabin insulate the occupants from the elements and secure equipment should the boat be unattended.
Out in the cockpit are more grabrails on the sides and top of the rear of the cabin. Two large under-deck holds have connecting bungs that allow back-flushing through a piped drain to the transom. Behind these is the engine box, which has been custom-fitted with an attractive macrocarpa laminated wooden top.
The sealed chequerplate decks drain to two sumps fitted on either side of the engine box and fitted with 1000gph pumps. A third pump is set in the engine-well and is float-switch activated. Tube matting makes the footing comfortable for bare feet.
Side pockets are fitted in the cockpit, around two metres long, and an enclosed transom shelf houses the wash-down hose pressure pump and twin battery system with cross-linking.
Access onto the boarding platform is aided by grabrails and a pull-out, fold-down stainless ladder fitted under the platform. Continuing the wood-trim theme is synthetic Flexiteak trim on the gunwale tops, transom top and boarding platform.
A wide range of options are available, including cooker and sink for overnighting.
Owner Graham likes a spot of fishing and has made allowance for it. The diesel inboard makes for economical trolling, and some believe the low-frequency diesel sounds are better for raising gamefish.
The hull is stable, the footing good, and there is toe room and mid-thigh support all the way around the cockpit (except where the engine box is of course).
Rod stowage is well taken care of, with an especially built rack that stores four rods vertically inside the rear cabin wall, a six-position rocket-launcher on the hardtop, and six through-gunwale rodholders. Two are used to mount the bait station on the transom, but this loss is countered by a further two holders mounted on the sides of the station. A livebait tank fitted under the boarding platform is an option.
This boat has all the basics to make a good fishing boat, and is certainly blue-water capable.
The Vikings are supplied on Voyager trailers, a galvanised cradle A-frame design. The 680 is carried on a model with eight pairs of wobble rollers per side and a keel-entry roller. It is a tandem-axle trailer fitted with galvanised rims, zinc-treated leaf springs and Bearing Buddies.
Other fittings are a dual-ratio manual winch, wind-down jockey wheel, hydraulic brakes, dual coupling and dual safety chains.
Tow weight for the rig (with 100 litres of fuel in the tank) is 2200kg.
All in all
This is a great boat. The construction methods are very strong, the finish is great, the sea performance is excellent, and it is set up to make a pretty useful sort of fishing machine. Outboard versions are available, but with the ever-increasing fuel price spiral, the economy of a diesel inboard makes a lot of sense (and cents) to those wanting to put in the hours trolling for gamefish.
This article is reproduced with permission of
NZ Fishing News