When I was a strapping young lad, I liked to be seen around the traps with good-looking women. It did wonders for the ego.
I had that same old feeling as I drove the large, bold and brassy 6.7-metre Bar Crusher up the Parramatta River, under the Harbour Bridge and out to sea. If my fishing mates could just see me now!
If you are into fishing out wide and don’t just want, but need, a solid platform under your feet, the big, new, roomy 6.7-metre Bar Crusher Hard Top Weekender more than fills the bill.
We have seen the Kiwis foray into the Aussie market with tin boats before and most have been strong and represent good value for money. The new Bar Crusher (this name is for Oz only, as the boat goes by another name in NZ) is no exception. With 5mm bottom and 4mm sides, this plate boat will withstand an earthquake. The BC is more than half dinky-di, as it’s now assembled in Melbourne and it won’t be too long before it’s completely made here.
The boat is basically a cuddy cab with a very strong hardtop welded over the helm and passenger stations. When I say strong, it can be stood on as an observation platform, that’s how rigid it is. As an option, the hardtop can be gas-strut mounted, allowing it to be folded down where height is a limitation for storage. I loved all the grab handles under the hardtop for when the boat is under way.
Another strong feature of Bar Crushers is the water ballast keel for stability at rest. Simply put, there is an open tunnel built into the keel that fills with water when the boat stops to give more stability at rest. With the water trapped inside the tunnel, the boat sinks a bit deeper, resting on the chines. This lowers the centre of gravity and stops the wallowing associated with lighter, higher-riding aluminium boats. The tunnel completely empties immediately the boat is under way to lessen the load.
Water-ballast steadiness is not unique to the Crushers, as a few manufacturers have incorporated this system, but I can say it works and works well on the Bar Crusher 6.7. With two of us hanging over the side there was very little tilt and the boat showed catamaran-like stability when fishing at anchor or drifting on open water.
Our test boat had a powerful 175HP Yamaha HPDI (High Pressure Direct Injection) two-stroke, spinning about a 19” alloy prop. This gave the Bar Crusher plenty of go-forward while the Yammy cruised at 4000 revs (giving around 18 to 20 knots) with the feeling it could go all day and night at that setting. This is more the real speed that craft travel to the wider grounds, as it gives both fuel economy and a comfortable ride.
As I edged the beast out from Wharf Road boat ramp at West Ryde, my eyes kept finding little extras the boat had to make a day out just that little more comfortable. The transom-mounted cutting board with three rod holders, the fire extinguisher, reticulating live bait tank, six coaming-mounted rod holders and overhead rocket-launcher on the hardtop were just some of the bells and whistles seen at first glance.
We cruised along and others became obvious, like a two-tiered shelf on the passenger side. On closer inspection, I noticed the lower shelf was stainless and indented. It doubles as a drained sink with pumped fresh water from a 20-litre tank in the cuddy, dispensed by an overhead tap. Above the sink/shelf, there is a four-bottle holder – all very cleverly designed.
There were non-slip pads on coamings, on the transom – in fact most places where feet have to pass. There is a cockpit light and a light in the cuddy, both run off a very fancy six-way switch panel. Other switches controlled navigational lights, pumps and the all-round white light cleverly mounted atop the rocket-launcher – well out of the driver’s night vision.
With the pod and well-rounded, strakeless bow, the boat is big on the water and looks even bigger on the trailer. Bar Crusher logos are all over the boat but the standard decaling is attractive and stylish. Large boarding platforms run the full width of the transom and the engine is well podded out. A handy T-Bar swings down as a step (aided by a couple of grab rails) for getting in and out of the boat, whether it’s on the trailer or in the water. A small berley pot is incorporated in one of the platforms.
The cockpit is huge. At more than 2.7 metres long and 1.7 metres wide and all useable space, there is room for a pool table. Across the back there is a full-width seat that, when in the down position, reveals the twin battery set-up, 9000-litre-per-hour bilge pump, Racor water-separating fuel filter, oil tank and four-way battery isolating switch.
There’s a separate pump to keep water reticulating in the transom-mounted live-bait tank with smoked plastic lid. The floor is sealed chequerplate and self-draining. A drained hatch in the floor, to accommodate the catch of the day (on ice?) was easy to access. Between the two forward seats, mounted in the floor, is a fuel gauge giving instant status on the 200-litre under-floor cruise tank. A small breather vents the tank on the starboard side.
Two small rear quarter grab rails are not quite long enough for crew to hang on to in rough weather. If extended just a metre further forward along the coaming, their safety factor would be greater. Two full-length pockets run under the super-wide 310mm coamings for all the fishing bits and pieces needed on a trip. By the way, coamings are an incredible 740mm off the deck – they would come to belly height on short people!
Helm and passenger seats are mounted atop open-sided metal boxes. Both boxes have internal shelves for even more storage for things like the EPIRB, torches, spotlight and so on. Bar footrests at the rear of the boxes have a dual purpose. By climbing on the rest, it gives one greater height, allowing easier removal of rods from the rocket-launcher. And when the seat is spun around for fishing, the rests give foot support.
Both upholstered Reelax seats are very comfortable. Helm seating turns through 360°, something I like as I constantly monitor engine, passengers and the cockpit _ something I could do easily by swivelling the seat. Passenger and helm positions have grab rails for extra support. The carpeted dash has enough room for playing board games, so you could fit electronics to your heart’s content.
Yamaha’s extensive twin multi-gauges give a very clear indication of engine functions and there was a compass, Humminbird sounder/plotter and 27meg radio. Also included on the dash is a 12-volt power outlet for small appliances or a spotlight. Both the skipper and passenger have small, private pockets over 750mm long for personal knick-knacks.
The large, three-piece windscreen with glass side screens gave excellent visibility seated and standing. Small holes, sealed with rubber plugs, were drilled in the bottom of each of the three screens, ready to accept optional electric wipers.
The sliding metal door into the drained cuddy is lockable but with only 440mm entry, was a bit squeezy for us big blokes. Natural light comes through two small fixed side windows and a smoked plastic window in the large front overhead hatch. The cuddy is fairly big at 1.9 metres by 1.8 metres – big enough for two people to curl up for a nod when things get slow. I could sit on the bunk and not have to bow my head, due to the excellent headroom height.
Marine carpet is everywhere, with little bare metal exposed. Two pockets (which slightly impinge on the sleeping area) run the full length of the cuddy for dry and secure storage. The large, outward-opening hatch has thick rubber gaskets for waterproofing and gives good access to the anchor well, anchor post and urethane bow roller. Split bow rails allow a safe grip when lowering or retrieving the pick but I was a little disappointed at the size of the drained anchor well. A boat this big needs at least one big anchor supported by a hefty length of rope and chain. It would be hard to fit all this in the small space provided.
There was enough hand support and gunnel width to walk back to the cockpit from the bow but I wouldn’t call the boat a walk-around configuration.
It took us a while to head for open sea from West Ryde but it was a pleasant day and Warren, from Blakes Marine, provided good company. Under the Harbour Bridge we struck the usual turbulence that can be quite unsteadying to small boats. The Bar Crusher hardly pitched as we cruised through this high-traffic area.
As we headed out to sea, the largish swell gave me an opportunity to test seaworthiness. The boat eagerly leapt forward as I increased revs to get speed as she came off the back of a wave. I bent my knees and braced as the 1300kg boat went airborne. The Crusher came down with a bit of a slap as the belly took the brunt of a heavy landing. Water sheeted wide as the large turned-down chines swept it well away from the cockpit.
The breeze put some spray on the windscreen as we beamed the sea and the large forefoot, aided by a little down trim, made easy work of the persistent chop. With a following sea and a large swell behind, the boat gave no sign of wanting to broach as I backed off the power. This lack of wanting to go left or right is very important when crossing the bars these boats are named for.
Hydraulic steering made manoeuvres nice and easy and although it doesn’t turn on a sixpence, the Bar Crusher is still quite responsive to the helm. In full reverse, water gurgles around the pod with the boat showing no intention of squatting or digging in. I started to have nice feelings about this boat as I put her through situations most of her owners would not even dream about. I didn’t detect any streak of nastiness or bad temper at all. As we cruised back up-river to the ramp, I could visualise a lot of serious fibreglass offshore fishos going for this platform and they wouldn’t be disappointed.
Warren reversed the tandem Sea-Link multi-roller trailer down the ramp. With submersible lights, spare wheel, swing-up jockey wheel, galvanised springs, mechanical disc brakes, bearing buddies, and metal guards with incorporated steps, this was a trailer designed for the long haul. Yes, I would like to be seen more and more with the 6.7-metre Bar Crusher. It would do wonders for my ego!
Transom height25” Long Shaft
Fuel Capacity200 litres
Approx tow weight1850kg
Rocket Launcher, live bait tank plumbing, Reelax bucket seats, removable cutting table, bunk cushions, painted hull
27meg radio & aerial, rigging & set-up, boat & trailer rego, 12v power outlet on dash, offshore safety gear for six, fire extinguisher, 2 heavy-duty marine batteries, in dash compass, rear boat tie-down strap,water-separating fuel filter, berley bucket, engine instruments, navigation lights, Humminbird NS25 sounder/GPS.
Cost of package as tested: $69,990 Inc GST
Test Boat supplied by Blakes Marine, 1 Railway Road North, Mulgrave, NSW 2756. ph. (02) 4577 6699, fax (02) 4577 2696
Email --e-mail address hidden-- , Web Address www.blakesmarine.com.au