You’d think that 20-odd knots of south-easterly wind would be ideal to take the new 625 Cruise Craft Explorer through its paces. To some extent that’s true but with showers in addition to the wind, my commonsense safety sensor wasn’t exactly spelling ‘smart boating’. Nonetheless, we slipped the new rig into the water and worked our way over to the inside of a few smaller islands where we’d at least get some protection from the wind and the chance of a few pictures.
The conditions quickly had me appreciating the boat’s ability to stay on the plain at low revs. It’s not uncommon in rising seas to work up a bit of speed to keep on top of the water. The downside, though, is you get bounced around. And while slowing down might reduce the bumps, the boat can become bogged down in the conditions, making it difficult to drive because you’re constantly working the throttle. Furthermore, fuel consumption increases.
However, the 625 Explorer was able to maintain a reasonable speed through the chop, enabling us to sit right in the middle of the spectrum – not too rough and not struggling through the slop at slow speeds. The ride was much better once the boat was up on the plane and the engine was trimmed and backed off to find that comfort zone.
The other interesting thing I found while travelling in the wind was that there was little tendency for the boat to lean into the wind when it was abeam. Larger boats, especially those with high sides, trap the wind and lean into it and this is one reason we see many larger boats fitted with trim tabs.
While the 625 still had a little bit of a lean, it was nothing to be concerned about. I dare say once the boat is fully loaded with fuel and gear it will become even less noticeable. The shape of the hull has a lot to do with this. Cruise Craft have been able to maintain a relatively low-profile boat that still boasts a good ride with its 20° deadrise.
The below-waterline shape of the hull with its pronounced reversed chines and strakes creates a sufficient planing surface and subsequent lift to deliver the stability and ride required. When it comes time to stop and have a fish, you soon appreciate how well the boat sits in the water once you get a few anglers on one side. The boat sat nicely with no nasty lean threatening to throw the crew out each time someone moved too quickly.
The only down side of the hull shape is that it still throws up a bit of water when you cross the seas and the wind catches the spray, blowing it back onto you. When conditions are cool, it is important to make sure you’ve got full covers and front clear so you don’t get wet. Keep in mind, though, that it was rather windy during the boat test.
The 150hp engine fitted to the test boat was more than enough to get the boat up and under way. We didn’t have a chance to put the hammer down because of the conditions but they tell me it will reach just over 40mph (64kmh) on a good day, trimmed out.
With all the talk of four-strokes and fuel-injected two-strokes, there’s still room for the good old conventional two-strokes. And while they use a bit more fuel and can be fumy, they do keep the overall price of the package down.
It was good to see an offshore boat that comes fitted standard with a decent-sized fuel tank and the 240L model below decks should be plenty for a big day out on the water.
What you will find striking about the new 625 Explorer is the layout, which optimises the space around the boat to make it very roomy indeed.
New interior mouldings have helped in this regard. The beauty of fibreglass mouldings is that you can pretty well create whatever layout you want and retain nice rounded edges and curved lines that are user-friendly and appealing to the eye.
The first thing that really stood out to me was all that room in the aft cockpit. It’s been designed to provide anglers with plenty of space.
Starting from the transom, a two person bench seat tucks back neatly into the inside of the transom so it’s completely out of the way when not needed. The backrest for the bench seat is the padded coaming so you can lean your thighs against it while fishing. It doesn’t run the full width of the transom because it’s only a two-seater.
The area to port of the seat has been left for the transom door, which allows you to get in and out of the boat easily. Below the entry, a locker houses your second battery or oil bottle, mostly behind the seat. A large single live bait well is positioned on the starboard side next to the bait board and rigging area.
There have been quite a few changes to the sides of the deck. The lined moulding maintains an area under the side pocket to allow your feet under while fishing. It’s a big help when it comes to keeping your balance. The side pockets also run right from the transom to the helm so there’s plenty of length to put rods, gaffs and tag poles.
There’s certainly attention to detail in this boat, such as the integrated area for the side-fill fuel lines. There’s no mess of hoses, fillers and zippy ties to catch on things.
One of the new additions to the Cruise Craft range is the foam-filled hulls which, aside from the safety aspect, offer a quieter ride. In this model there is a large underfloor storage area that’s also a fish box. It’s certainly big enough to take a few good size fish. The foam-filled floor will be a good insulator and although the lid doesn’t have insulation, the space is ideal as a day icebox.
Continuing the theme of maximising deck space, the helm seats are mounted on stainless steel rails that run from the side of the cabin down to the floor. Unlike pedestal mounts and box-mounted helm seats, the space below can be used to store your eskies and tackle boxes. It’s a big area so there’s plenty of room to slip in a good box that can be held in place with stretchy straps.
The helm area is neat and tidy with the potential to flush-mount electronics in front of the wheel or to one side of the dash. There are got pockets to the side, a drink holder and a home for the EPIRB.
The cabin is a good place to take a bit of a nap and to stow gear rather than a place to comfortably spend a few nights. While it is not large, you can still manage to sleep two, with additional storage in the side pockets above the bunks and general storage under the cushions.
The walk-through hatch in the upper cabin features a step in the middle of the bunks that makes getting in and out and anchoring a bit easier. The overall finish of the new internal mouldings is very well done and you can’t help admiring it, especially given the huge cockpit for anglers.
The 625 Explorer follows the Cruise Craft tradition of always striving to achieve excellence in design and performance.
Test Boat supplied by Cruise Craft.
Make/model - Cruise Craft 625 Explorer.
Construction - Fibreglass
Length - 6.215m
Beam - 2.45m
Weight - 2100 kg (BMT)
Dead rise - 20°
Fuel - 240 litres underfloor
Rec HP -150 hp
Height on trailer -2.43m
Flotation -foam filled
Price as tested -$67,700Reads: 4617