The increasing popularity of inshore sport fishing, especially casting lures, sees boat manufacturers looking to fill the demand for purpose-built inshore sport-fishing boats. Sam Mossman looks at the latest pocket battleship from Extreme Boats.
Extreme Boats, from its factory near Whakatane, has produced some hot fishing boats in recent years (check out their 7.0m centre console in our December 2015 issue, for example), and the new 540 SC is no exception.
The first thing that strikes you about this boat is, of course, the side-console configuration. The advantages of centre consoles are well known, opening up the space in the bow to fishing and making it easier to move right around the boat when fighting a fish. But when centre consoles are translated to smaller boats, the space around each side of the console can become constricted. This is where a side console starts to make more sense. With the console set hard against one side of the boat (usually the starboard side), the ‘walk-around space’ is concentrated on the port side and effectively doubled.
You might think, without trying one, that the side-console layout would create some lateral trim issues in the hull, but in Extreme’s 540 SC this was not an issue; a stable boat in the first place, and with passenger placement countering the helmsman and console weight, any further adjustment could be achieved by gear stowage. If fishing alone, filling the live-bait tank (on the port side) to an appropriate level can be used to counter the helmsman’s weight to the starboard if necessary.
After a stint at the Auckland Boat Show, the 540 SC was delivered to the Albany yard of Auckland’s North Shore Extreme agent, Roger’s Boatshop. I met up with Managing Director Nigel Arkell to give the new boat a spin in Auckland Harbour.
The test boat is a very smart-looking craft with its slightly rising sheer line, full paint job, and decked out (literally) with attractive SeaDek panels. (SeaDek is a non-skid, closed-cell product made from UV-protected non-absorbent EVA foam. Various finishes and thicknesses are available and a textured micro-dot surface for enhanced non-slip characteristics was used on the decks of this boat. Custom logos, text and graphics can be added.)
The SeaDek finish provided good footing, and was easy on the feet and knees. Applying it in panels with gaps between them not only looked good, but also aided deck drainage to the sump under the transom wall.
The boat’s construction features 5mm bottom plates, along with 4mm sides, superstructure and decks.
|Test engine:||Yamaha F70LA EFI four-stroke|
|Fuel capacity:||100 litres|
|Trailer:||Voyager single axle|
|Tow weight:||950kg approx|
|Key-turn package:||$37,657 (Yamaha 60hp two-stroke)|
Test boat courtesy of Rogers Boatshop
|RPM||Speed km/h||economy l/hr|
It was a decent day on the water, but with enough slop around to show the characteristics of the ride. A deadrise of 19.5 degrees indicates the 540 hull can be classed as a deep-V with a fine entry, providing a nice, soft ride. The tendency of deep-V hulls for tenderness at rest is countered by wide, downturned chines and a self-flooding ballast tank along the keel. This makes the 540 a stable fishing platform that’s easy to stand up and walk around in.
Extreme Boats supplied buoyancy figures of around 650kg with a reserve buoyancy, when loaded, of 358kg. The rig is rated for up to five people.
The test boat is powered by a 70hp Yamaha F70LA EFI four-stroke outboard with a 14-inch pitch propeller, resulting in the performance figures shown above. This engine is rated up to a maximum of 6300 revs, so the 14-inch pitch prop is a decent match; a 13-inch pitch model would probably work well, too.
A top-end speed of 55kph equates to 30 knots. With a full tank of gas and two adults on board that’s plenty, and with economy figures like those shown in the table, you have all the range you need with the 100-litre underfloor tank. For anyone who wants more boogie at lower revs, the makers rate this rig for outboards up to 90hp.
The side-console configuration makes for easy access to the bow area for anchoring duty. A decent fairlead keeps the ground tackle under control and a bollard is welded to the deck just in front of the anchor well.
Other bow furniture includes: a mounting plate for an electric outboard; two rod holders; and low-level hand rails. There is storage space under a hatch in the forward casting platform and more under the bench seat in the bow.
The main seating is provided by two smart, removable pedestal seats with three mountings. This allows seating two people side-by-side in the cockpit when travelling, with easy relocation of one to the bow when fishing – or an optional third seat could be added for another person.
Fitted with a polycarbonate screen to protect the helmsman from wind-rush and spray, the console also offers internal stowage, a grab-rail, and accommodates the Ultraflex hydraulic steering and electronics suite. This includes a touch-screen Raymarine ‘a series’ MFD for sounder and GPS, and a Yamaha digital display for engine functions. The throttle/shift is cable, but operates nice and smoothly. A three-position rod-rack is fitted to the side on the console.
An under-deck wet-storage hold in the cockpit could be used for the catch or dive gear, while side shelving in the cockpit takes fenders, gaffs, ropes and so on. A fold-away bench seat across the transom exposes a shelf for battery stowage, the isolation switch and fuel filter when in the down position.
Other fishing fittings include a live-bait tank that takes up about a third of the transom wall, and a bait station/tow point on the transom with a removable, easy-clean bait board that tips back to drain overboard, plus two rod-holders. There are four throughcoaming rod holders around the cockpit, plus two in the bow for a total of eight. Extra rod stowage is provided by the three-position rack on the console side.
Transom boarding platforms feature more SeaDek panels, grabrails, cleats, and a fold-down ‘T’ boarding ladder with non-slip finish.
Nigel Arkell and I threw a few soft-baits around, and although we had no action, it confirmed that the 540SC is a brilliant boat to fish from. Two anglers have heaps of space, and with a bit of care up to four anglers could fish from it without drama.
Back on shore, the rig is carried on a Voyager single-axle trailer with leaf-spring suspension. This features the usual fittings: wind-down jockey wheel, four pairs of wobble rollers per side and submersible LED lights. Approximate tow weight is 950kg.
INSHORE SPORT FISHERS are going to love this boat. A modestsized rig that’s easy to tow and power, and reasonably cheap to run, it looks great, cuts through the water like a knife, but also provides a stable fishing platform at rest. The layout is thoughtful and uncluttered, but provides everything a day-fisher could want. Very, very good indeed!
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