I’d never been in one of the New Zealand built McLay plate hulls until my latest boat-testing sojourn to the eastern shores of Port Phillip Bay. The guys from Warragul Marine Centre have helped me broaden my experience, and I must say, what a pleasant experience it was. On the test day, we got to ride in a couple of the models in the range – both wearing the CrossOver label – the 581 Cuddy and the 611 Hard Top.
The 611 Hard Top was recently purchased by Christine and Chris Gregory from Warragul Marine Centre, and was set up as a no-expense-spared dream rig for use on the southern coast of Victoria. Put together by David Garcia and the team at Warragul, we took the opportunity to chat to both the dealer and the customer on the test day.
“For us we were looking at either a sailboat or a powerboat to use for our on-water leisure craft”, said Christine, “but as soon as we saw the McLay boats, we fell in love with them.”
It’s easy to see why – there’s an attention to detail in the finish of a McLay that can be missed by other brands. You notice immediately that the boat is only painted in the non-traffic areas. The high-traffic areas are coated in an anti-oxidation coating that keeps the bare aluminium looking good. As McLays are a serious fishing boat there’s a good reason for this. You’ll be pulling pots, fish, kids and gear over the gunwales, and if it’s bare, you wont be worried about damaging the finish. Good thinking there, New Zealand.
If you’re in the market for a plate boat, you’ll know all the thicknesses of all of the sheets of the boats you’re researching. Add a 5mm bottom and 4mm sides to the mix, with a fully welded floor and under gunwale foam, and you end up with something that will take any punishment you can dish out to it and still float if you somehow manage to get yourself in trouble.
We were impressed with the cockpit layout. The transom door was simple and effective. You step into the boat over the windowed livewell and if you want to deploy the transom-flush bench seat, you just twist two levers and the seat drops to into position in a couple of seconds. There are no legs to fold out that can get in the way.
But here’s the cool bit – the battery compartments are right behind the seat backrest and easy to work on if there areany issues. They’re not buried out of the way.
The helm seats also feature smart use of space, with copious dry storage under the helm and an icebox-slot under the passenger seat. Both are fantastic ideas.
Underfloor kill tanks and front bunks are standard in this style of boat however, the clever design continues forward. Add the bunk infill and most humans will be able to sleep comfortably – if that’s your thing. Again, there’s endless storage under the bunks.
At the helm, the McLay will fit all of the electronics you can afford. It’s fully carpet lined (as is the cabin), which helps deaden the noise. The Gregorys had fitted a touch-screen Garmin and a sound system. The controls were all accessible from the helm, and the boat was a pleasure to drive.
David Garcia from Warragul Marine Centre described this boat succinctly, “This is McLay’s adventure boat. No matter what you want to do and where you want to go, this boat will do it in comfort,” he said.
I know that Aussies won’t be able to break it. From my time in New Zealand, I got the impression that kiwis don’t even go out unless it’s blowing at least 20 knots. They are hardened boaters and the boats are made to match.
As tested, this rig cost $97,000 to drive away from the boat yard, although packages start from as low as $68,597. Visit www.warragulmarine.com.au for more details or to organise a test drive. You can give them a call on (03) 5623 6250.
|Price as tested||$97,000|
6.15 seconds onto plane
See the full interview with Steve Morgan and David Garcia by scanning this QR code with your smart phone.