On a recent trip to Townsville I was offered the opportunity to test one of the renowned Hammerhead plate alloy craft. I came away with some very favourable impressions of the 5300 Dragonfly/150 Mercury 4-stroke combination. The 5300 Dragonfly was a very large ‘small’ boat and was in many respects a big step up from what I expected of a 5.3m long craft.
Hammerhead Boats have been making inroads into the North Queensland offshore boating scene for over four years. They currently build custom alloy monohulls from 4.5m to 10m, and powered cats from 5.5m to 10m. All Hammerhead craft are designed by naval architect Chris Tucker to AS 1799 standards, and are constructed entirely from 4mm thick 5083 marine grade plate aluminium.
The construction is of a built-to-last standard. A total of 9 full-length under-floor stringers are complimented by full cross bulkheads every 600 mm within the hull’s frame to ensure utmost rigidity and longest service life for owners. A five year structural warranty throughout the Hammerhead range is standard.
The Hammerhead 5300 Dragonfly I reviewed was an entirely open craft designed to maximise fishing space, plus offer ample freeboard and sea keeping capability. This beamy (2.3m) side console was equipped with virtually every item a serious angler would want on a purpose-designed offshore boat. Rod holders? Four per side!
A kill tank aft and recirculating live well within the transom were standard, as were transom tackle drawers. An enclosed rod locker was set up within the port side of the cockpit with a powerful deck wash set into a side pocket aft. Cruising range – so important for northern anglers wanting to head to the Great Barrier Reef – was guaranteed thanks to a 200L longitudinally located underfloor fuel tank.
The 5300 Dragonfly has tremendous room within its 5.7m overall length.
Up front, the lined and drained anchor well was large enough to hold a useful amount of ground tackle complete with an obligatory float.
A heavy duty bollard and bowsprit plus low-profile bow rails completed bow features, while a 450mm high casting deck aft of the anchor well provided ample sheltered storage capability.
Stepping down into the main work area of the craft, it’s the Dragonfly’s large amount of fishing room that catches the eye. With its fully sealed alloy (carpeted) self-draining floor areas and matte gun metal grey sides, the Dragonfly’s interior finish was designed to eliminate glare. This is a very important feature in an any alloy craft as far as I’m concerned.
The craft also had a well-designed side console plus transom lockers and a 4-rod work station at the transom.
With the Mercury 150 mounted on a lip on the craft’s stern, twin boarding rails allowed access for a diver or swimmer with entry over the full-height transom.
The privately owned test craft was customised with the owner’s specs. Paired, strongly made and supportive pedestal bucket seats were set up aft within the cockpit, with a large padded area atop a 90L removable icebox installed ahead of the side console for a passenger.
The Dragonfly is rated for up to six persons, with seating left to an owner’s requirements.
Gauges and instruments were set up on the Dragonfly’s sleek, shelf-equipped side console.
Topmost on the console was a Lowrance HDS 7 unit, with room for additional nav aids also on this upper shelf area.
Lower down were paired Mercury Smart Craft gauges with a Simrad NNS 8 unit next down. Switches were installed to port of the craft’s steering wheel, which was linked to Morse Teleflex steering.
A marine radio was installed with the console shelf, tucked away but within easy reach.
In all, a very neat side console unit, purpose-built to be functional with minimal work area intrusion.
With the forward controls for the Mercury 150 EFI side mounted by my right arm, it was a pleasure to review the Hammerhead’s speed and performance. The helm seat provided great support – very important in less than ideal conditions – and with ample leg room under the console I was very comfortable with the driving position.
I tested the Dragon Fly in a freshwater section of the Ross River in Townsville, with three aboard. Clearly, the 5300 Dragonfly is an offshore craft, and smooth water running wasn’t ideal for determining its true sea-keeping ability.
Still, there was no disguising the effortless capability of the Hammerhead’s 16.5-degree vee hull with its massive outer reversed chines to handle some solid wash from wake boarding craft. Even at full speed of close to 41.5 knots (77km/h), the solid plate hull slipped over solid walls of chop as though they weren’t there. Cornering at speed saw the hull sitting very flat, recovering rapidly from any inclination to lean.
The top powered 4-cylinder 3L EFI Mercury 150 was very quiet throughout its rev range but had a pleasing degree of overall power and responsiveness. A push of the throttle lever brought instant acceleration, which can obviously be very important in uncertain sea conditions. Overall, I saw the Merc as a great match for the solidly built Dragon Fly 650kg plate hull.
Speed runs indicated that the hull planed at 2450rpm at 9.5 knots (17.6km/h). 3000rpm saw 17.5 knots (32.5km/h) on the Simrad unit, 4000rpm 25.8 knots (47.8km/h), 5000rpm 32 knots (59.6km/h) and 5400rpm 41 knots (76.6km/h). In all, great performance from a well set up fishing boat.
Stability within the Dragon Fly was outstanding, with virtually no leaning despite deliberate crew positioning to induce some out-of-level attitude. Three people on one side caused only the merest inclination for the hull to lean, such was its excellent design.
Two privately owned Dragonfly craft were involved in this review, one used as a camera boat, and I spoke to the owners get their opinions. Both regularly take their 5300 Dragon Flys on 100km round trips to the Reef without hesitation. I wasn’t surprised, given the 1m side height of the craft, stability and easy riding capability, designed to provide excellent sea keeping ability.
Naturally, as the craft is an open 5.3m boat there’s some potential to get wet at times – something to be expected in open boats of this size. However, I did notice that when belting the Dragon Fly over big fat wash sections from wake board craft, no spray came anywhere near the hull’s 700mm high interior. The large spray chine that extended aft from the bow, forming a reversed chine aft, certainly took care of spray issues. It appeared that the faster the Dragon Fly flew, the cleaner it ran!
The Hammerhead 5300 Dragon Fly is an extremely well finished alloy craft. The standard of welds, appointments and paint are all of the very highest levels. The overall design is a winner – lines flow cleanly with form and function, combining to make a really useful and well-appointed boat that will suit bay, estuary and offshore anglers equally.
Hammerhead also make their own custom trailers, which are works of art in themselves and have a failsafe roll off/drive on capability. As reviewed, with the electronic package as mentioned and on a custom trailer with safety gear, the rig would come home for $58,000.
If you’re in the market for a serious sub-6m offshore rig that readily combines features and easy performance, you should consider a visit to Townsville to see these boats first-hand. You can also view the range at www.hammerheadboats.com.au.
Hammerhead Boats can be contacted on 0418 183 391 or at --e-mail address hidden--
Hammerhead Dragon Fly
|Length on trailer||6.7 m|
|Height on trailer||1.9 m|
|Hull construction||4mm plate throughout|
|Hull deadrise||16.5 degrees|
|Engine fitted||150 Mercury EFI 4-stroke|