Ocean going plate aluminium craft are serious bits of work, and none more so than the brilliant 6.5m TABS with its 200hp Yamaha four-stroke.
Big, bold and beautiful – that’s how I saw the 6.5 Ocean Series centre cab craft as it rolled off its tandem trailer into the Tweed River recently.
Once aboard the big TABS and taking stock of its many features, I soon started to appreciate just why these boats have earned a reputation as solid seagoing craft. The cockpit depth of 0.75m is a sure indicator of seaworthiness and offshore ability, and you can easily see that a lot of attention has been paid to detail as well.
The hull’s layout provides two distinct fishing areas, one forward of the steering position and another within the cockpit proper. To go forward to the carpeted front section you just step up around 30cm onto the amply wide (approx 50cm) walkaround area on the side of the cuddy-style cabin. It’s as easy as pie thanks to the numerous handholds on the large targa frame and windscreen brace. Even in offshore conditions I’d see no dramas with the process.
Up front there’s a natty one passenger style seat built into the leading section of the centre cabin. I reckon that sitting there with the wind whistling through your hair at around 70km/h might be a very pleasurable bow riding experience, especially if the skipper is intent on running down a departing school of tuna! And once fishing commences there’s room for a couple of anglers to cast, work jigs or bottom bounce bait rigs with ease.
A deep anchor well (carpet lined for quietness and durability), massive bowsprit and roller and a beefy T bollard all help to make anchor tending chores easy, while a high bowrail provides peace of mind in rough conditions. Mind you, that’s only part of the purpose of a bowrail, they are also useful to tie off from or to push or pull the boat onto a beach or around the trailer.
Down in the main cockpit things are ship shape as well, with forward seating for two plus an inviting fully-lined cabin in which to rest. To access the cabin you just slip straight in between the skipper’s and mate’s seats to enjoy a rest out of the weather.
The well padded full-width bunk provides an inviting place to have a kip, and there’s a lot of storage space below the bunks which, on the test boat, came with an in-fill cushion. On these bunks you might need to curl up somewhat as they are not quite full length, but because there’s plenty of width it shouldn’t take much effort to make yourself comfortable.
Seating for skipper and mate were comfortable buckets set on pedestals atop large seat boxes, which incorporate storage bases. Sheltered by the bimini mounted on the overhead targa frame, things were quite comfy. At the wheel the visibility was excellent all round, the paired Yamaha multi-function gauges on the instrument panel were easily monitored, and the forward controls for the engine were within handy reach. There was also a lot of room on that neatly finished dash for additional navigational aids if required.
On the test boat the cockpit work area was virtually all fishing space as the boat wasn’t fitted with a rear seat, although it’s certainly an option. A carpeted floor made for steady footing, with the very rear-most section of the floor left in natural checkerplate configuration for easy washout after fishing. The floor is self draining, of course.
A large transom door is set in the aft port quarter with a boarding ladder tucked in astern. The cockpit came set up with useful side pockets, aft transom shelving for the paired engine batteries and side rails as well. One thing I did like about the TABS’ cockpit was the terrific side height which was up around the thigh at 75cm; a very comforting feature when combined with the full-height transom. This degree of freeboard, of course, provides high level of safety when you’re fishing in choppy conditions or in offshore swells when you need to brace from time to time.
A good sized bait station with cutting board and rod holders was set up centrally on the transom, and I found it to be at just the right height for easy use. There’s also a large livewell within the transom to starboard.
Finishing off the big TABS was the neat Whale Tail transom with boarding rails and boarding platform to port. In all, a classy bit of work.
The Yamaha was a smooth as silk, never seemed to be working very hard at any stage of the game and was remarkably quiet. At idle it was virtually only the telltale’s trickle that indicated the engine was running. Surprisingly, at planing speeds of around 18kph at 2600 rpm the Yamaha was still almost as quiet.
It was a pleasure to drive the big plate alloy craft, and I enjoyed easing the throttle forward to a purposeful cruising speed of 32.7 kph at 3,500 rpm. The soft feel wheel made steering very easy and during turns across decent sized areas of wash or chop I found the craft responded very well to driver input, both in steering and in regard to trim settings. 4000rpm saw 42.8km/h on the GPS unit while 5000rpm gave us an exhilarating 58.4km/h. Top speed of 70.8km/h was at 6000rpm.
It would have been great to have run offshore but conditions were atrocious so we contented ourselves with running hard across sections of wash or wakes left by some of the much larger craft sharing the area.
With a fine bow entry and a 16 deadrise aft the TABS took it all in its stride beautifully. There was no way we could get the hull to pound or bang, such is its design. Offshore work would be an enjoyable part of boat ownership for anyone lucky enough to have one of these big plate craft. Ride, roominess, plus plenty of freeboard give the craft terrific sea keeping ability while overall standard of finish was top shelf as well. In all, a very desirable boat to own: just wish I had a lazy $63,499 sitting around doing nothing so I could buy one!
Test boat supplied by Endless Summer Marine, ph. (07) 5513 1633, email --e-mail address hidden--
Length - 6.5m
Beam - 2.5m
Bottom - 5mm plate
Sides - 4mm plate
Fuel - 250L
Deadrise - 16 degrees
Max power - 225 hp
Power as tested - 200 Yamaha four-stroke
Price - $63,499
1. Massive reversed chines on the TABS deflect spray and provide stability at rest.
2. The 6.5 centre cab’s Whale Transom is an eye-catching feature of the craft.
3. Side pockets within the TABS 6.5 centre cab are well off the floor but large enough to hold a lot of gear.
4. A wide walkaround is a useful feature of the big TABS centre cab.
5. The craft’s pedestal style seating incorporates large storage boxes and was a very comfortable set-up.