In a world of boating extremism, where maximum power seems to rule the waves, it's refreshing to see a craft that is minimally powered offered for review. Mike Jessop, of Ocean Craft, opted to take the minimalist approach with his 6000 Ocean Series Extreme Fisher, simply to stress the hull's efficiency.
Hence the fitting of a 15hp Yamaha plus a 30hp Tohatsu for a combined package of 45hp on the transom. It certainly was an unusual approach but these are unusual craft.
Imagine a 6m boat that falls straight into 2C and 2D survey ratings and yet has a 2.7-tonne carrying capacity, is rated for up to 13 occupants and planed at .5 knots (14kmh) when pushed by the 15hp Yamaha. Yet that was exactly what the Ocean Craft Caloundra Class Extreme Fisher achieved.
We've all seen rigid inflatables. Virtually every government body that has anything to do with water runs these craft due to their terrific sea-keeping ability, huge reserves of buoyancy and low power to deliver a lot of bang for the buck.
Ocean Craft have taken the concept further in that compartmented aluminium cylinders are melded seamlessly with a deep-vee alloy central section, on which the craft planes with ease, while the air-filled cylinders provide stability and buoyancy at all times.
This hull design also achieves enhanced efficiency under way, courtesy of the air trapped between each cylinder (sponson) and the central vee section. This means greatly decreased wetted area and reduced drag.
Not surprisingly, Mike Jessop rates a 50hp two-stroke outboard as ideal power for the big 6m rig when carrying up to six adults, or a 70hp or 90hp motor for up to 10 or more.
The 6000 Extreme Fisher is a centre-console rig with a bimini for weather protection. The sealed area below the 5mm chequerplate floor forms another buoyancy cell to complement the sealed compartments in the sponsons. One could describe the reviewed unpainted 6000 as a basic layout, a work boat if you like, or an extremely stable fishing or dive boat.
But a close look shows the potential for factory modification for serious fishing use: The addition of transom live wells and rod holders fitted to the rail along each waist-high transom side box would be great. These neatly finished boxes are welded on top of the sponsons and are essentially the sides of the craft, running aft of the console back to the transom.
The bow features a neat combination of sponsons and fine central entry section. There's sufficient shape and certainly enough rake up forward to kick spray away and even travelling slowly occupants should remain, dry thanks to a spray dodger set onto a solid bow rail.
Remember, it's the ultra-fine entry of the central vee section that makes contact with chop or swells, while the sponsons kick all water down quite effectively.
In the bow a floor-level storage compartment takes care of anchor warp if there's a need to keep it handy, otherwise it can be kept in either of the side storage boxes. Paired hatches allow access to these boxes but Mike Jessop says any number of hatches can be set up with compartments and appointments to match.
A novel feature of the big 6m craft is the way in which the sponson sections ahead of the console make handy forward seating. A Tropical icebox was floor-mounted ahead of the console for the catch or food storage and could double as a seat with the addition of some padding on the lid.
Bench seats along the sides and at the transom are certainly factory options, and with 12-person capacity some seats might be the first tick on the options list for many buyers.
Seating on the test craft consisted of a single pedestal seat for the skipper, just aft of the console with its grab rail and side engine controls. Instruments and gauges were not a feature of the test rig but there was ample room to mount them.
The aft section of the 6000 Extreme Fisher was unremarkable except for the fact that the test rig was equipped with tote tanks for the odd pair of outboards. A shelf to contain the tanks is planned for future craft. That wide transom will take two or even three engines with ease, although they need to be long-shaft models. A boarding ladder is fitted to the port sponson area.
At rest or off the plane these craft simply cannot tip one iota due to the terrific buoyancy of the sponsons. The reality is that once the sponsons are engaging the water, the boat is virtually a raft. Half a dozen people on one side will make no difference at all; hence the survey ratings and 2.7-tonne carry capacity.
The incredible stability carries through while on the plane and at speed. Even throwing the craft into full-lock turns at over 16 knots (30kmh), the ride remained as flat as the proverbial pancake. Amazingly, there was very little wash or sign of displaced water at speed.
With just 45hp on the transom I was amazed at the easy performance of this craft. At 360kg for the hull, weight is a big part of the secret of course and even such modest power returned good results. The craft planed at 7.5 knots (14kmh), cruised easily at 13.67 knots (25.3kmh) and topped out at 19 knots (35.2kmh).
As an experiment we tilted up the Tohatsu 30 and ran on the Yamaha 15 two-stroke at 7.5 knots on full plane.
There's another factor to consider with this craft: The noise levels from the alloy hull were negligible. I expected the sponson chambers to ring like church bells but they just hissed gently at speed as we cut across wash, with very little perceived impact.
The Ocean Craft concept is different but in my view it works well. The result is a modestly-priced craft with terrific potential for a wide range of boating pursuits. The Ocean Craft range encompasses a 2.4m car-topper through to the big Ocean Series which run to 8m. All share common traits of enhanced performance through slippery hulls and light weight, plus that almost unbelievable stability and steadiness at rest. The 2.5mm alloy tubes carry a lifetime guarantee and can be foam-filled if required.
Overall finish on the unpainted test rig was fine. A close look shows a high level of expertise in the full welds throughout (there are no tack welds) and while welds are visible, they are all neatly finished. Customisation of layout is OK with Mike, who is willing to modify a craft to a customer's wishes.
A couple of the other Ocean Craft present on their trailers on the test day were also very interesting. I particularly liked the smaller centre console 5200 Chinook with its 2.2-tonne capacity, 50hp Tohatsu electric start and Dunbier trailer for around $23,995. This craft is rated for 10 people.
The 6000 Ocean Series Extreme Fisher with Dunbier trailer and 50hp electric start Tohatsu two-stroke retails for around $28,000. Call Ocean Craft on 07 5499 6937 or email --e-mail address hidden-- .
|Power as reviewed||45hp|
|Price with 50hp Tohatsu||$27,995|
2 stroke elec.start.
Towing family sedan or wagon