This well-built 5.2m plate-alloy craft will undoubtedly appeal to family boaters just as much as hardcore anglers.
Comfortable design and onboard features are great when a day of pleasure boating is on the agenda, while anglers would be equally keen on a run offshore in search of some quality reef fish for the table.
And that could be the stumbling block against having the 5200 Reef Master in the garage: The boat is so versatile that the family might end up arguing about a forthcoming weekend’s activities!
This is a very well-finished craft, having been constructed by Offshore Master Marine on the Queensland Sunshine Coast by craftsmen with many years of experience in the marine industry. Jason Norup is the driving force behind the boat and build quality plus attention to detail are emphasised from stem to stern.
The company will build a craft to the client’s specified stage of completion, either painted or unpainted as required, making this an excellent vessel for those who don’t mind a DIY project for completion.
The 5200 Reef Master is a centre cab craft – which allows free and easy passage forward – with a raised casting deck up forward of the self-draining cockpit. I can see a pair of anglers working up front easily.
A heavy-duty bowsprit, roller, large anchor well and bow rails are standard features, as is a large forward storage area below the carpeted floor. There’s also a seat on the front of the cabin which would be handy for spotting surface-feeding fish – and having first crack at them, of course!
Stepping down 25cm or so into the cockpit proper, you notice the raised lip at the entrance to the centre or mini-cab – a good idea to keep out water. In the small cabin with its flat floor there are handy shelves all round plus a marine toilet. A section of floor lifts to allow access, while a roll-down door assures privacy.
Forward cockpit seating consists of a bench set-up on a large seat box. Two or three people could sit here easily and enjoy the ride.
The seat is conveniently tucked below the strongly-built bimini, which is connected to a targa frame extending overhead. This means a fair degree of protection from the Summer sun and the Winter chill. All-round weather protection is also offered by the strong perspex windscreen set up ahead of a wide, carpeted flat area for storage of personal items. Instruments on the test boat were a Lowrance X107 finder and a Lowrance Global Map GPS. Nothing done by halves here!
To starboard within the dash area is a marine radio while the wheel, forward controls and instruments for the 90hp Evinrude E-Tec, ignition and other switches, were to port. All were within easy reach when driving, whether seated on the bench or while standing. Either way, the driver enjoys a footrest, too.
Because the seat box is a large affair it’s open to a variety of usage, including (in the reviewed craft) being set up as an ice box in the forward section with a storage compartment aft.
Up top, just behind the front back rest, are six rod holders while a sink, equipped with fresh water washdown, is centrally located on the unit.
One very attractive feature is the fact that the natty spray/wash unit is actually on an extendable hose so that you could have a quick rinse-down in the cockpit on a hot day. Sure wish I had one in my boat, as it would definitely beat pouring water down the back of the neck to cool off!
A pair of handy seats is set up each side of the sink. I like these because it means passengers can be seated amidships when travelling out for a crack at the fish.
The Reef Master’s self-draining, carpeted cockpit is well set up, offering ample work room and peace of mind as it is nearly thigh-high all round, including the transom area. A huge in-floor fish box is set towards the stern while paired rod holders adorn the wide side decks with their non-skid sections.
Side pockets are full -length, which puts them over 3m, a remarkable set-up given the overall size of the craft. Handy aft deck grab rails, a padded coaming at the transom (for comfort if playing a fish at the back of the boat), pressure deck wash and a big livewell in the starboard transom are further features. On top of this there is a bait station with yet another pair of rod holders.
There is a pair of non-skid boarding platforms aft, with entry via the cockpit gate to port facilitated by a decent step and a rail above the port platform.
Because the hull is constructed of 4mm plate all round, it is a very rigid affair with strong internal cross-bracing plus stringers. Jason also pointed out that the hull is packed with blocks of foam flotation which means that if a repair is required, it can be easily managed because the foam can be moved. This offers a huge advantage over simply pouring liquid foam into the hull, which then fills every nook and cranny and makes welding a nightmare.
The 5200 Reef Master is rated for engines from 75hp to 115hp and because the 90 Evinrude E-Tec is right in the middle of the power ratings, it is very suitable for the task.
The 90 E-Tec started first turn of the key and I applied power to assess the hull’s ability to climb onto the plane. With barely any bow lift, the hull skimmed onto the plane at a modest 8.6 knots at 2700rpm. 3000rpm saw 13.2 knots on the GPS while 4000 gave the craft a speed of 24.6 knots, which I think is an ideal cruising speed. R 5000rpm it was running at 31.7 knots while wide open throttle of 5400rpm gave the Reef Master a top speed of 33.8 knots.
Driving the lively plate alloy craft was certainly no chore. The driving position was excellent, the bench seat offered plenty of support and the engine proved quite responsive. While it was a fairly calm day, I had ample chance to run the Reef Master over decent amounts of wash and waves kicked up by other craft.
Not surprisingly, the well-raked bow with its big spray chine running aft to a reverse chine at the transom, made short work of the disturbed water. The ride was also quite soft and surprisingly quiet for a plate hull, thanks to the sound-deadening capability of the foam within it.
The 90 E-Tec, well below the full-height transom and was certainly very quiet, with normal conversation possible at virtually all engine revs.
One other thing that impressed me about the craft was its stability – a couple of us on one side caused very little tilting.
The 5200 Reef Master, rated for five people, is an impressive plate craft with genuine offshore capability and sparkling performance. Features abound throughout and the eye-catching looks plus top-shelf finish certainly make her a very desirable fishing craft.
At $30,820 for a standard BMT package, the Reef Master is good value for money.
The test craft was a custom fit-out with many extras including the premium 90hp E-Tec motor. The overall price was around $45,500, which is not unreasonable given the level of equipment on offer.
Offshore Marine Master can be contacted on 07 5493 5111 or 0438 778 330, website www.offshoremarinemaster.com.au.
|Engines:||75 to 115 hp outboards|
|Engine fitted:||90 Evinrude E-Tec|
|Price as tested:||$45,500|
|Price (standard craft):||$30,820|