|  First Published: October 2006

It’s nice to see that some of the better Kiwi imports are making their presences felt in our waters. I’ve boated in NZ and believe me, craft that can handle their treacherous bar and sea conditions will quickly gain acceptance over here.

I recently reviewed two crafts from the current Buccaneer range: the 605 Exess and 550 Classic. These two cuddy cabin craft are ideal for family boating or offshore fishing trips.

Both craft featured similar underwater lines although the deadrise of the 605 Exess was 22.5 and the 550 Classic’s was 23. Both also featured a 25cm wide central planing plank and solid under hull moulded strakes to enhance the craft’s stability and handling. The spacious cuddy cabins offered plenty of room and were topped with biminis on solid frames. Both frames include six rod holders and each craft comes with bimini clears plus road covers for travelling.


The 550 Classic XL Wide Body is a sleek 4-5 person craft with plenty of fishing room. The cockpit’s self draining deck features full carpet, four more rod holders and a pair of removable transom corner seats. There is lots of room in the cabin thanks to its decent width, good head height and large side shelves. There is also plenty of below bunk storage. I can see two adults and a couple of youngsters sleeping on the 2m bunks easily. The cabin is equipped with elliptical windows plus a central forward hatch to allow anchor well access.

Both craft employed a similar forward seating set up which involved roomy wrap-around style swivelling bucket seats on storage boxes for the skipper, a well padded back to back style seat for first mate and one aft passenger. This seat module lifts upwards, incidentally, to allow access to a large storage area below.

The dash set up on both craft involved gauges to monitor the engine, plus Humminbird sounder/GPS units, the 550 Classic sporting a Humminbird 77c unit with the driver of the 605 Exess being treated to a Matrix 97c unit. Forward controls were side mounted, with switches and marine radios also handily placed for easy use.

Rear seating arrangements were the major difference between the two Buccaneers. Corner cushions of the 550 give way to a 3 person lounge to starboard on the 605 Exess, with aft entry to the cockpit of the larger craft being via a door to port. The lounge seat is entirely removable to extend fishing room if required. Entering the 550 with it’s near full height transom after a swim will require a step over the transom, both craft being equipped with boarding ladders.

Seating differences or not, these wide craft offered a lot of fishing room and I would see four anglers working aft in either boat without much difficulty. Cockpit side pockets were impressive (being over two metres long) and capable of swallowing up a lot of gear. Funny thing, I’ve never yet seen a boat with side pockets too large, but plenty with pockets too small.

Performance of the 550 was sparkling thanks to the willingness of the 150 Yamaha 4-stroke. The 550 was super quiet at idle, and the rig planed at 24.4km/h at 3,000rpm. At 4,000rpm the GPS recorded 53.3km/h, 5,000rpm some 60.7km/h and WOT of 5,800rpm produced 76.9k/h.

This is a fishing boat, not a race craft, but there might be times when the willing performance of the Yamaha is needed.


I’ve already outlined substantial details of this rig’s layout but it’s worthwhile noting that while both craft come with hull inner liners, (with foam between the liner and outer hull shell for noise reduction as well as positive flotation) and have a 5 year factory warranty. The 605 comes with a livewell within the transom (which also carries two batteries in an off floor mount) plus a rapid-fold bimini targa which can be let down in minutes for easy storage. An electric anchor winch makes anchor chores a piece of cake. Trim tabs, always a handy addition to a larger craft, are also fitted.

The large cabin includes 2m+ bunks with a cushion infill and there’s also room to install a marine toilet. Naturally, a privacy curtain is available.

There is a slight difference with the dash layout with a section of walnut veneer adding a nice touch. There’s also timber on the gunwale tops, extending just aft of the bimini mounting points right through to the transom.

I liked the foot rest-cum-bed end set up to port on both craft. The foot rest is handy for the first mate, sure, but it also makes a great bed end.

With an extra 0.55m in length and 0.15 of a metre in width over the smaller 550 Classic the 605 Exess is rated for up to 6 aboard but easy fishing would be best with 4, perhaps 5 at a pinch. This craft’s side pockets also feature rod racks set up to take up to 4 rods per side.

80km AT WOT

That 175 Yamaha HPDI 2-stroke was a feisty bit of gear. It kicked into life at first turn of the key and provided seamless power at all revs. Planing sweetly at 24km/h at 2,800rpm the big Buccaneer moved along at 31.6km/h at 3,000 rpm, 54.3km/h at 4,000rpm, and 74.1km/h at 5,000rpm. A snappy 80.2km at 5,600rpm certainly impressed me given that the ride was smooth as silk in the light northerly chop off Manly. Ride and over all handling was impressive thanks to great hull design.

I don’t think that rough offshore conditions would phase either rig given their great gunwale height, the protection offered by the cuddies, and overall stability. Only offshore testing can confirm all of these things. I would have no hesitation in recommending either rig to a new chum to boating.

The test craft were supplied by Westside Marine. The 605 Exess sells for $71,115, the 550 Classic for a drive away price of $55,900. Westside can be contacted on telephone number (07) 3818 0400, or fax (07) 3818 2533.


550 Classic

Warranty, hull:5 year
Engine:150 Yamaha 4-stroke.

605 Exess

Warranty, hull:5 year
Engine:175 Yamaha HPDI 2-stroke
Reads: 7506

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