With quality and performance proven in the rough waters of the Indian Ocean, the North Shore 650 from Perth is likely to find a happy home in East Coast waters.
SECTION: Boat tests
ON Walking into Greg Wignall’s Narooma Leisure Craft Centre, I was instantly impressed with the way it was set out and was really looking forward to testing the New North Shore 650.
These boats are built in Western Australia at North Shore Boats, a company operating since 1957.
The boat was a real eye-opener. It stood out from the rest of the pack and I had only to look at it to realise that this was one serious boat. At 6.5 metres it is not exactly small, so I was keen to find out the construction side of things and how strong it was before hitting the offshore waters off Narooma.
This boat is built strong. The hull is a lay- up of triaxial and double-bias glass, with isotphthalic resin and gelcoat used throughout. No shortcuts have been taken here with the keel being 18mm thick, chines 14mm, panels 9mm and all topsides 7mm.
These West Australian boats are built to that State’s survey requirements and have a seven-year hull warranty. The floor is 30mm foam core with no ply used at all. With built-in buoyancy, these vessels are very stable at rest, even with two people on one side in a sloppy sea, as I was to find out later.
Once aboard, I was amazed at the cockpit room. There was easily enough room for four people to fish comfortably and there would be no problems with having six or seven people aboard for skiing or just cruising.
There is seating for six people with a removable, fold-down bench seat across the transom and two bunks in the cabin which are fully upholstered and quite comfortable to lie on. There are three hatches under the bunks for storage and provision for a Porta-Loo, which is a plus for family outings.
A large overhead glass hatch in the cabin area made getting to the bow quite easy and safe. There was also a lockable door to the entrance of the cabin.
The skipper’s swivel seat was positioned nicely and, aided by the footrest, made driving easy. The helm had ample room for all instruments, though no sounder was fitted.
There was also a CD player and 27-meg radio fitted into separate waterproof housings that looked smart from the outside.
The throttle controls were in easy distance of your hand. Vision through the windscreen was uninterrupted but there was only a small grab rail on the dash in front of the passenger seat.
Side compartments on the passenger port side would enable any small objects such as keys to be placed away easily and remain dry throughout your trip.
There was ample room under the driver and passenger seats for storage of objects such as lifejackets and tackle boxes.
Under the cockpit floor there was a massive 200-litre kill tank that was fully insulated and fitted with drainage bungs. This was one of the best I have seen and will keep your catch fresh and out of the way.
There were also two moulded side pockets that each could house two fishing rods and stainless steel rod holders on the port and starboard gunwales. There is ample room to put another four rod-holders positioned correctly here to maximise your lure spread if you desired.
The two live-bait tanks moulded into the transom are a little small at 15 litres but this could be changed if the boat was customised to your requirements.
What did impress me while jumping aboard from dry land was the retractable stainless-steel boarding ladder that made this so easy. It simply retracts under the one of the swim boards, which had stainless steel supports and would come in handy if skiing or swimming from an anchored boat.
The SARCA anchor was one that I had not seen before and looked quite different from what I was used to but Greg assured me it was great to use. There would be no problems lifting the anchor as a Breeze 700H electric anchor winch was fitted.
The 75-litre freshwater tank could be used for the deck wash if required but would definitely come in handy for those family trips or overnight excursions. A simple turn of the cocked lever and you switch from freshwater to an endless supply of saltwater at your fingertips.
While this boat is not self-draining, there would be no concerns with excess water inside as the large automatic bilge pump would take care of that.
The whole deck area, including the cabin, was fully carpeted and feet felt great on the feet. In this boat you feel safe, especially with the 910mm inside gunwale height, the highest that I have seen in a boat of this size.
Overall, the layout inside the North Shore 650 was nothing short of exceptional – no sharp edges anywhere and everything in its own place.
After launching the boat at a quite shallow boat ramp with no hassles we proceeded through the Narooma bar to open waters to see what the North Shore 650 had to offer.
The sea was quite sloppy with 15 to18 knots of southerly wind with a one-metre swell running. As soon as we got out there I turned the boat head-on into the sea and was pleasantly surprised at how well we were travelling.
After trimming the four-stroke Honda 150hp V-Tech engine right out, the ride was even smoother with a steady 26 knots achieved in total comfort. The same thing happened when we went across sea and then a following sea – if you stayed on top of the trim the ride was excellent.
Optimum speed both for comfort and fuel economy would be 25 to 26 knots, pulling 4500rpm. No spray at all came aboard and when we got back to the ramp the cockpit was dry.
At rest and side-on to the elements, there was no tendency to be thrown around, just a gentle rock. I would say a lot of homework has gone into this when developing the hull and I liked what I felt.
It took about 4200rpm to get the North Shore 650 to plane but, once you backed off the throttle, your forward motion lasted five or six seconds, quite acceptable for a boat of this size.
Overall, the open-ocean performance exceeded my expectations. This boat would make for a safe and reliable fishing platform.
Top speed in the estuary was 35 knots pulling 5500rpm with the Honda 150 quiet as a mouse and never missing a beat. This speed could probably be increased if you fiddled around with prop pitch.
The boat was a breeze to put back onto the trailer and, if you had to, only one experienced person could do it with ease. It helps when you have a quality trailer such as the Mackay Multilink. Towing the boat back to the shop was a breeze but I suggest towing with a vehicle rated for two tonnes and over.
This vessel would make an ideal outside fishing boat. I would make some small changes but all North Shore boats can be customised to each individual’s requirements.
For the family, this boat would be great for cruising or skiing and is an extremely stable and safe platform.
Greg Wignall tells me there is a New North Shore Sea Pro 650 Walkaround under development which should be ready by Christmas – I can’t wait to give that a spin.
|North Shore 650
|Inside gunwale height
|Outside gunwale height
Dual fuel breathers, fish hold, live bait tank, moulded side pockets, windscreen, upholstered cabin, stainless bow rail, under deck flotation, stainless foot rest (driver only), nav lights, locker doors to transom, aft cutting boards,
OPTIONS AS TESTED
All of the above standard equipment plus these options: Swim boards with stainless supports, rear grab rails, rear bench seat, passenger foot rest, 12V anchor winch, boarding ladder, freshwater shower, full marine carpet, cabin doors, deck wash, deluxe seats/bases, hydraulic steering, cockpit lights, toilet cover, 27 meg radio plus waterproof housing, CD player and speakers, aerials, SARCA anchor, ropes and chain.
Honda BF 150A4 XD motor with control box, Faria gauges, Exide marine batteries, all wiring and fittings.
Mackay PU 5750T Multi-link trailer with hydraulic disc over-ride brakes
PRICE AS TESTED: $77,335. AS an introductory Fishing Monthly special: $74,000 including all regos, 4 Guardian lifejackets, flares, V-sheet and paddle.
Contact: Greg Wignall Narooma Leisure Craft, 66 Glasshouse rocks road, Narooma. Ph/Fax: 0244762003 Mob: 0402025762 www.leisurecraft.com.au