In the February issue of Queensland Fishing Monthly I tested a McLay 5.25 side console. This was a great all round inshore/offshore boat. On my next trip to Mackay and to Reef Marine, I was offered a chance to test a McLay once again, but this time it was a boat that is far more than a standard boat. This was the McLay 6.8m Cruiser.
This boat is one serious offshore boat; a half cabin boat with everything an angler with a big family could want. The test rig had just been finished by the mechanics so it was the boat’s first run. Everyone was keen to see how she performed.
First impressions are important and seeing this boat on the trailer at the ramp blew my mind. This is a big boat – it says 6.8 on the side but let me say this was a bigger looking boat than the sticker indicated.
It was sitting on a custom Tinka Classic fully-rollered trailer, which was very solid indeed. This duel axle trailer is fully fitted with electronic hydraulic brakes and also comes with a spare wheel and LED lights.
We backed the boat down the ramp and kicked the 200hp Yamaha 4-stroke over and away we went. The river was choppy but not what I would call rough, however it was messy enough to spend some time putting the boat through its pacers.
As we began to hit chop and swell, I noticed that the McLay hull gives the boat a different feel from other plate boats. The ribs run down the boat, whereas most other boats the ribs run across the boat. This design makes for a smoother and quieter ride.
The hull also has a clear coat protection added to it. It’s called Nyalic and it’s a clear resin coating that protects your boat for years against corrosion and many more things. The bow of the boat has a welded on 10mm thick protective keel shield
As it was a new motor we didn’t go too hard but I did manage to hit a decent speed. Although not designed for speed, it went a lot harder and faster than expected. You would expect good pace from a 200hp motor, but this boat weighs ******KG so it needs that motor to perform at its best. For those who like the maximum, the hull is rated to 250hp, but I can’t see it being worth the jump.
Cruising speed was 27 knots and at this speed fuel consumption was 24.4L/hr. This was very impressive and a necessity for a boat making long runs. The top speed we reached was 35 knots and the fuel consumptions jumped to 45L/hr. So the extra 8 knots wasn’t worth the extra fuel usage, but it was nice to know the power is there if required.
The boat performed very well running into and down the swell. It handled very well and held true through all I threw at it.
A great asset the McLay 6.8 has is a massive 300L fuel tank. For big trips to the reefs or overnight sessions, this will be enough fuel to cover you. Cruising at 25 knots will give you about 12hrs of continuous operation – pretty impressive if you’re not in a rush.
The internals of this boat have been very well planned and designed. Everything had a purpose and a place and this is very important with a fishing boat. There is nothing worse than trying to find something that’s covered by mountains of other gear when you’re battling a fish!
Inside the cabin there is a lot of room. With an infill you have a bigger bed than your double bed at home. Underneath the cushions there is enough storage for necessities like PFDs, safety gear and even spare clothes. There are side shelves for other gear like maps and fishing tackle that you want to get to easily. You can also access the front deck and the anchor well through two easy hatches – a great addition.
Coming from the cabin, the first thing you see are the helm and passenger seats. These both have insulated eskies within them and the seats can be moved to face the back. They also have a lower cushion to seat extra passengers.
The cockpit is very easy to get around as all instruments and electronics are mounted into the dash. It looks neat, it’s easy to see, use and reach. Everything is positioned well, right down to the electronic anchor button. You find your fishing spot, press a button and you’re anchored – simple. Having everything in-dash allows for unimpeded vision while driving as there is nothing worse than looking over a depth sounder or radio while navigating tricky waters.
The first thing you notice as you move to the stern of the boat is the impressive amount of room. There are huge side pockets, rod holders, a custom-built bait board on the transom and four rod holders on the gunnels. There are two side pocket options; one is carpeted and the other is uncarpeted with drain holes so your fishing gear like gaffs and nets can be thrown in here and then just washed out at the end of the day.
Under the transom there are two massive access points. These have all your pumps and batteries safely secured away but are very easy to get to. Getting onto and off the boat through the transom is easy with the rear door. This entry has a step, which is actually a live bait tank, so every spare inch of boat has been designed for a purpose.
The cabin is totally covered with a custom designed canopy. The canopy has a removable screen about the windscreen that you can remove if required.
The only thing I struggled with while driving this boat was the windscreen height. It was a little high while sitting in the skipper’s seat, and the join of the canopy added a little extra thickness to this, so it was just safer to stand up and drive. This was one safety issue I would fix.
This is a serious boat for the serious offshore conditions. I’d say there wouldn’t be too many sea situations that this boat wouldn’t handle. The McLay 6.8 is at the top of the class for its length, and you have to test this boat to truly get the feel of it and its features.
The test was done through Reef Marine in Mackay, who are always happy to take any serious buyer for a run. They also have in house finance to get you into this boat with little fuss. They can be contacted on (07) 4957 3521 or visit them online at www.reefmarine.net.
This package tested is priced at $********, but there are many optional extras you can deduct or include when buying a McLay boat. Give them a call and tell them QFM sent you!
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