‘Escape’ is the perfect name for this sleek 5.25 half cabin from Blue Fin. With an esky full of tucker aboard, some cooking gear and some fishing gear in one of the many storage spaces, a family could escape for a weekend on this boat.
One of the first things I noticed about the Escape was how well it was put together. Blue Fin has achieved this with particular attention to their aluminium work along with clever blending of mouldings. This technique isn’t new to alloy craft of course; I have seen some very neat boats over the years that have had a well-crafted moulded upper section with an alloy hull. This system is undoubtedly the best of both worlds – the lines above the gunwale are eye-catching and very functional, and you also get a tough and relatively lightweight alloy hull.
Blue Fin has adopted this composite construction system superbly. The new Escape sports a very attractive moulded half cabin, with elliptical side windows and a wide central hatch for anchor work. Even when she’s sitting at the ramp the Escape looks like it’s going flat out!
The half cabin is dressed with a split bowrail, wraparound windscreen and a very neat bimini tucking in above the windscreen to shelter forward occupants from the weather.
The Escape’s cabin provides great storage under the twin bunks. The bunks themselves are a useful 1.8m in length and are set up with fabric, not vinyl. The carpeted cabin offers plenty of head room and it’s lined up to the level of the overhead side shelving, which is a nice touch. Cabin lights are standard, as is the all-important Porta Potti tucked below the cushion up in the bow section.
Tending anchor in this craft involves lifting the cabin hatch to port and then standing to retrieve or drop the pick via the bow roller. Either way, the deep anchor well with its hatch is quite accessible and the bowsprit keeps the anchor from hitting the hull.
Seating for skipper and mate is courtesy of very strong, wraparound-style pedestal buckets mounted on versatile storage boxes. These are set up with padding so they also double as an aft facing rear seat. These seats aren’t overly large, but with a bucket seat slid forward there’s certainly room for a youngster who wants to be up front with Mum and Dad, or for a tired angler on a rainsquall escape run back to the ramp!
Both skipper and mate are treated to a grabrail and quite solid footrests that also doubles as a bed end. The front left passenger has access to the craft’s large, lockable glovebox.
Blue Fin has set up the Escape’s instrument panel on the cabin moulding with gauges to monitor the 90hp E-Tec on the transom directly above the soft-feel wheel linked to non-feedback steering.
Below, and to starboard, there’s an array of switches, while up with the other instruments was a Humminbird Matrix 17 Fishing system. A compass was tucked up onto the parcel shelf, just behind the screen.
New style Bombardier forward controls for the E-Tec outboard were just to starboard and mounted securely within easy reach.
The Blue Fin 5.25 Escape also sports soft acrylic mouldings in the fully carpeted cockpit. This set-up adds a lot of class. Admittedly, the side pockets won’t take rods but that’s what the rod holders in the wide gunwales are for. There’s plenty of room for a host of smaller items in the pockets.
Gunwale height is another notable cockpit feature. It comes up to around thigh-height, which is great if you want to fish offshore. I’d see three, possibly even four anglers fishing here, and if required the rear lounge to starboard will fold in to provide more room.
The transom also features a removable bait station with paired rod holders, and each aft corner sports a cleat. The locking transom boarding gate stops well short of floor level, and while it’s easy to step over it still guards against water intrusion if you’re reversing hard into seas. Again, a big plus for offshore work.
The craft’s full-width pod is part of the hull and not just an afterthought, which I liked. This wide pod has a chequerplate non-skid surface and a handy grabrail each corner. If the kids are bored then you can just let ‘em have a swim!
The Evinrude 90 E-Tec on the back of the test boat was the latest model, with slick new Bombardier ergonomically enhanced forward controls accompanying it. Sleeker and more softly rounded, the new style controls provided silky smooth transition from neutral to forward or reverse.
In my test runs I found it hard to believe the punchy 90 was a minimal horsepower engine, but that’s the truth of the matter. The big Blue Fin is rated to 115hp, and I reckon this boat would be a real stirrer with that kind of horsepower on the back given that the 90 E-Tec pushed her to 65.6km/h at 5000rpm.
The Escape planed at 2800rpm at 17.6km/h, and 3000rpm saw her cruising at 30.3km/h. 4000rpm gave her a smooth 42.1km/h, which was a great cruising speed in the river.
The lack of intrusion from the engine was remarkable. E-Tecs are renowned for their incredible quietness, and with the 90 tucked down below the transom I could hardly hear the engine at all. It was an eerie sensation to be travelling so quickly with so little noise from astern.
The people at Blue Fin have done their homework on this craft, and it shows. The ride is excellent, thanks to a design that sees big strakes mated to a reversed chine to soften the ride and keep spray away. The Escape is responsive to trim too, which is important in a craft that might head offshore.
We hammered the 525 Escape into a vicious northerly. The rig took everything thrown at it, tracking beautifully straight with little driver input. The half cabin protected us against spray, both when running across chop with side winds and when punching into waves at reduced speed. The hull’s fine entry is much appreciated when punching into waves at slower speeds, as it takes the impact right out of seas.
The hull also had a very rigid feel, thanks to the very strong and robust construction throughout. In-built flotation is a feature of the 525 Escape, with flotation material behind the side panels as well as under the floor.
The Blue Fin 525 Escape is a very capable craft that will fulfil a variety of fishing roles with ease. Families that are keen on fishing will love this very versatile boat. Whether you’re into weekends away, exploring estuaries, rivers or impoundments, this craft will handle it. And dedicated offshore anglers will appreciate the huge amounts of freeboard, the excellent seaworthiness all round and the very good ride. And with 110 litres of fuel under the floor, the frugal 90 E-Tec will take this craft a long way.
The package price for the rig as tested was around $32,000. If you’d like more information on Blue Fin’s range of boats, or to find your nearest dealer, contact Blue Fin Boats on (07) 5571 5277 or visit www.bluefinboats.com.au.
Make/model - Blue Fin 525 Escape
Beam - 2.30m
Deadrise - 14 degrees
Weight - hull 550kg
Power – 90 to 115hp
Fuel - 110L
Price as tested - $32,000
1. The Blue Fin 525 Escape features a fine entry that allows soft progress even into decent chop or swells. The Escape’s hull design throws water well to the side.
2. A non-skid swim platform at the stern of the Escape makes it easy for the kids to have a swim.
3. The Blue Fin’s instruments are well set out and easily monitored.
4. Clever design is a big feature of the Blue Fin 525 Escape. The transom bait board is removable, moulded side panelling with storage pockets are handy features, and pedestal seating is mounted on storage boxes, with additional up front seating available at the rear of the boxes.
5. The Escape’s cabin sports 1.8m long bunks, is lined to the shelf tops, and is equipped with a Porta Potti.
6.The aft seating in the Escape folds away to provide more cockpit room if required.