The strength of the Aussie dollar has seen some fabulous imported craft gracing our local boating scene.
Take the Pro-Line 23 Walk (for Walkaround) with its 200 Mercury Verado four-stroke as a case in point. This is a classy, exciting craft. Pro-Line is very well established in the USA after 39 years of manufacturing fishing boats. With a “Built by Fishermen for Fishermen” mission statement you get some idea of what this craft might offer. Of interest is the fact that all Pro-Line craft exceed US Coastguard safety standards so you can have complete peace of mind while aboard. That peace of mind is backed by a 10-year transferable hull warranty assuring resale value.
The 23 Walk is a big craft in every way; once aboard the sheer size of it impresses. It’s surprisingly long at 7.086m and there’s a beam of 2.51m. With just under one half of the craft devoted to a self-draining cockpit with a non-skid floor, there’s a lot of fishing room to enjoy.
Yet the Pro-Line’s design certainly incorporates plenty of comfort for the user. To go forward of the cabin via the wide, non-skid, walkaround surface one simply steps up around 30cm and the framework of the rigid moulded hard top guides you. Plus there’s also a strong bow rail, coming right back to where the walkaround facility starts at the rear of the cabin/helm superstructure.
The 23 Walk’s cabin is lined throughout and features a Scotch-guard treated double bunk, lighting, side and central hatches plus a toilet tucked below the bunk. There’s a hinged, folding door with fly-screened ventilation slats, to keep those mossies out!
On the topic of keeping stuff out, the 18cm high lip at the cabin entrance will keep water from entering the cabin even if a bit is sloshing about in the cockpit after washing down.
A sleek 4-piece windscreen is mounted on a raised section aft of the cabin proper and sensibly there’s a moulded side extension coming down and back past the screen’s rear extremity to offer useful protection for driver and first mate when heading into unfavourable sea conditions. This moulding also serves as a rigid mounting point for the hardtop framework.
The seating in the forward cockpit area, for skipper and first mate, is ideal for extended ocean travel and with 340L of fuel under the floor, the boat can go a long way. The very strong and highly supportive swivelling bucket seats – the skipper’s is slide adjustable – are mounted on 102L moulded boxes that double as a plumbed live well on the skipper’s side and a kill tank on the passenger’s side. The rear section of the boxes can also double as seats.
I liked the dash layout of the big Pro-Line. The passenger’s side featured a drink holder and grab handle while the Mercury Smart Craft gauges were set up on an upright area slightly to the left of the driver. There were an array of circuit breakers and the ignition key below these. Forward controls were to starboard and handily placed. On top of the dash a compass was standard and there was plenty of room for any required nav aids.
There’s no doubt about it – this is an angler’s cockpit. At 5.5 square metres, it’s a massive affair, and with a full height transom it certainly protects the crew from the briny. Cockpit coaming padding is standard and makes leaning on the high gunnels easy. The coaming padding can also be slid straight off for a wash down if required.
Three horizontal rod racks were built into the cockpit sides and I noted that these racks (with tie down straps) were large enough to easily accommodate a game rod or reef fishing outfit. Eight external rod holders were additionally featured: four mounted on the hard top plus another four on the wide non-skid decks. For the four or five anglers who could fish from the cockpit this number of rod holders would surely be enough.
Another sensible set-up is the neat quarter seats tucked into each corner of the cockpit. These seats have removable cushions that are easily stored within the cabin on days when fishing is expected to be fast and furious. With the cushions removed the storage wells below are easily accessed.
Other stern features include a boarding ladder to port, substantial areas of non-skid surface each side of the 200 Verado, plus a deck wash outlet tucked into the starboard side of the engine well.
I really enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the big Pro-Line. Hydraulic steering made for instant response in turns and the way the 200 Verado kicked the craft onto the plane with very little bow lift was impressive. That 200 certainly had power to spare but a maximum of 225HP is permitted. It just depends how fast you want to go. The 23 Walk planed at 14 knots at 3000rpm, cruised sweetly with hardly a murmur from the hi-tech Mercury at 24.2 knots at 4000rpm and scooted along at 30.5 knots at 5000rpm. Wide open throttle saw 38.5 knots at 6000rpm.
While the turn of speed was very impressive there was no taking away the absolute quietness and turbine-like smoothness of that big four stroke on the stern. Mid range power was astonishing, which meant that throttle response was immediate.
Probably one of the best aspects of the craft was the handling and ride. The hand laid glass hull is very quiet, thanks to foam filling, and as we purposely cut across large washes left by some of the massive pleasure craft in the Broadwater. I simply could not fault the manner in which even the largest waves simply became a mild bump as we shot over them at 30 knots plus. The great degree of flare in the bow, plus a large water line chine that extended to the transom, meant that displaced water was pushed well away from the hull at all speeds. As an off shore craft this one must take full honours, considering all it has going for it.
Stability was impressive, with two of us on one side there was no leaning of the hull.
Given that the 23 Walk will obviously see work in the blue water environment I purposely did some hard reversing and found that the craft reversed very freely, was responsive to steering, and thanks to the very high transom remained dry as a bone within the engine well and cockpit.
This is a no compromise craft for the offshore enthusiast. Ride, handling, sea keeping ability, and stunning performance – thanks to the big hearted 200 Verado – are all part of the package as is a high standard of overall finish and head turning looks.
As I saw it, the only thing missing was an anchor winch and that’s an easy option to fit.
On a multi-roller trailer the rig, as tested, came in at around $98,000. Alternatively, with a less hi-tech engine it would come home at around $93,000. Enquiries to Going Boating on (07) 5502 3374 or visit www.goingboating.com.au.
|Power (as tested):||200 Mercury Verado 4-stroke.|
|Price (as tested):||$98,000|