Clark Boats have seen some interesting developments over the years; not the least their acquisition by Stessl, a company that has certainly undergone some transitions of latter times. In many respects it’s been an evolutionary process for the Clark line-up of fishing boats, and the new 5300 Searanger with its powerful 90hp Suzuki as a great example of that process.
As a half cabin rig the Searanger 5300 offers the crew shelter within the half cab for times when weather is foul, the chance of an overnight stay on the wide twin bunks with their under storage capacity, and the enhanced sea-keeping that this style of boat always brings with it. It would to take a very messy sea to cause any slop to come over that half cab and into the cockpit proper of the Searanger.
The half cab came equipped with an overhead shelf all around for extra storage. Entry is via the space between the skipper’s and first mate’s seats (there is no door). A forward cabin hatch allows access to the front of the craft and was within easy reach of the deep anchor well. Exiting onto a beach via the cabin hatch would be no effort thanks to a split bowrail.
Back within the cosy environment of the helm and front passenger area, an overhead bimini with front and side clears provided extra shelter in conjunction with the three-piece windscreen. There is a very wide flat shelf aft of the windscreen, great for storing personal items, in conjunction with the smaller shelf – also of full width – a little lower down. A locking glovebox was provided for the passenger.
Gauges to monitor the new model Suzuki 90 on the transom were set into an upright section of the dash directly in front of the skipper. I found them easily monitored from my position in the skipper’s comfortably padded pedestal seat with its decent foot rest built into the back of the starboard bunk.
All round visibility was fine from the skipper’s seat, and the seat’s front section offers good thigh support when you’re standing and driving. Enhanced visibility (for foul weather travel) was available via the zip open section of the above screen clears. That zip open/rollup section would also be appreciated when travelling in hot weather. Roll on summer!
Completing the helm set-up were an array of switches to starboard of the wheel, with forward controls mounted on the side nearby. It is user-friendly and uncomplicated to the extent that a boating novice could take control and be confidently boating in no time.
The cockpit layout of the Clark 5300 Searanger saw an underfloor storage compartment with in-floor hatch between the skipper’s and passenger’s swivel seats; paired rod holders installed within each of the wide, fully-welded decks; side pockets; grabrails and a backrest-equipped aft seat in each quarter. The Searanger’s engine battery, isolator switch and fuel filter were snugged into the starboard quarter below the seat cushion. The cockpit depth was around 660cm which gave the rig a very high degree of sea-keeping ability given its modest 5.3m length.
The beam, at 2.3m, was very generous and contributed to the excellent cockpit work area which, in my view, would fish four anglers without much effort. Completing the craft’s stern features were a full height transom and engine well, a boarding platform and grab rail to port, plus a pair of grab handles astern.
The Searanger has a fine enough bow entry area to avoid any pounding or harshness when running into chop and sufficient V aft to make easing onto the plane hardly any chore at all for the new generation Suzuki 90 on the transom.
Directional stability was enhanced by the quite prominent keel, plus a pair of track rail like (there’s Stessl influence here!) strakes extending from the underside of the hull. These V-shaped extensions did not run full length under the hull but were neatly welded onto the last quarter or so of its length.
They resisted side slip in fast cornering manoeuvres and also doubtlessly played a big part in keeping the hull on a level keel at rest. Even with two of us to one side the hull remained quite level, a feature not to be overlooked by anglers looking for a budget priced rig to take on offshore fishing expeditions.
I would like to have taken this offshore orientated craft for a serious offshore run but the best we could do on the wind-dominated test day was a bit of a play around the ‘Pin bar. I put the craft through as much chop and swell as possible without any adverse findings. Naturally, with such high sides and the half cabin’s protection we stayed quite dry at all times.
Thanks to a decided feeling of balance, the Searanger’s hull drove just as easily down off the incoming rollers as it travelled into them, and the hydraulic steering meant that driving was effortless.
The latest Suzuki 90 proved to be a winner in the performance stakes. Rated for engines from 90 to 115hp, the long-shank Suzuki 90 did a very good job of powering the 550kg dry weight Clark hull.
The Clark planed at 17.1kp/h at 3000rpm, registered 39.6kp/h at 4000rpm on the hand-held GPS with 5000rpm showing a speed of 47.8kp/h. Whisper quiet at idle, the Suzuki 90 was able to provide instant performance virtually anywhere within the rev range of the engine. Even when travelling at 4000rpm, a push of the throttle lever resulted in instant response.
While the test boat wasn’t a hard-core fishing rig (there’s no livewell or dedicated kill tank) the Clark 5300 Searanger would still fulfil a lot of fishing applications. With very good all-round sea-keeping ability the Clark begged to go offshore and a smart owner would soon organize a means of keeping some livebait kicking, plus set up a big ice box for the catch. A family would also find their Searanger great for a weekend on the water with the addition of said ice box, plus some water containers and a spirit stove. With a bunk infill, Mum, Dad and a couple of youngsters could sleep aboard overnight without much trouble.
Launching and retrieving from the single-axle Oceanic skid/roller trailer revealed no issues that a buyer would find disappointing.
At a price of $38,500 the Clark 5300 Searanger – rated for six persons – has a lot going for it as a general all-rounder suited to a host of fishing applications where sea keeping ability would be appreciated, and protection from the weather is a great bonus. While in many respects it is a budget rig, it still has great fishing potential in my view.
Overall finish was quite neat, and the paint job and upholstery were of good quality. While welds were visible, they were also smoothed.
The reviewed rig was supplied by Pacific Marine Centre of Loganholme, and you can reach them on (07) 3801 1722.
|Length on trailer||6.5m|
|Height on trailer||3m|
|Construction||3mm bottom and sides|
|Engine fitted||90 Suzuki four-stroke long shaft.|
|Towing||Family 6 wagon or 4WD|