A few months ago I gave the 6.7m New Zealand built Bar Crusher a good workout off Sydney and was impressed by the way it performed on blue water. Its smaller relatives, the 5.3m and 5.6m versions, were the next cabs off the rank for a review.
These boats are the first to be totally manufactured in Melbourne and I was interested to find out whether they’d live up to their big brother’s reputation. I waited for the boys from Blake’s Marine at the end of Wharf Road in West Ryde where there’s an excellent two-lane concrete ramp with a floating jetty. Unfortunately, on the day of the test the seas were huge and even the Manly Ferries had been cancelled. Because of this, I gave the boats a test at a place where I knew the water is always turbulent – underneath the Coat Hanger.
Bar Crusher is earning a sound reputation for making soft riding ‘hard core’ fishing platforms. These plate boats have a unique feature in that part of the hull fills with water when the boat is at rest. Now, before you panic and think, “I don’t want a boat that fills with water”, let me explain.
Running along the full length of the keel there’s a cavity in the bottom of the deep V hull, open at the transom end. When the boat stops, this fills with water and becomes ballast, lowering the chines into the water to provide greater stability. The moment the boat moves forward, this water ballast is jettisoned in seconds allowing the boat to fly up onto the plane. This feature is common in all Bar Crushers and adds to the stability of the boat at rest – ideal for the bait fisho targeting snapper, jew, kings and so forth. In drift mode, the boat has a low profile so it won’t act as a sail and scoot along, lifting baits off the bottom.
We took both the 5.3 and the 5.6 out for a spin and I was impressed at the standard features which make boats these ready for fishing ‘out of the box’. In this article I’ll concentrate on the 5.6 version. The 5.3 has the same characteristics as its slightly larger brother and will appeal to those who have a tighter budget.
You get a lot for your buck with these boats. There are plenty of ‘fisher friendly’ inclusions and I’ll list them as we look at the boat from stem to stern.
The split bow rails are high and firmly secured to the deck. A small bowsprit has as standard a Sarca anchor which is held in place by an elasticised cord. The drained anchor well holds a mile of rope and has not one but two cross bollards for securing the ground gear when the boat is kellicked.
The boat has a cuddy design and has a smallish cabin in which a couple of kids could stretch out and sleep on the two padded bunks. An optional infill will convert these bunks into a double bed.
There are full length pockets in the cuddy for personal items as well as ample storage under the bunk cushions, and a cabin light is provided for night illumination. A sealed hatch that measures 480x890mm gave even a big fella like me enough room to lean out right over the anchor well to work the ground gear.
The three-piece windscreen is constructed out of toughed glass and has a black, non-reflective frame. This screen can be unclipped and swung forward. The rocket launcher can also be removed or swung back, lowering the profile of the boat which enables the whole rig to be stored in a standard garage.
Both the passenger and helm seats from Raeline are adjustable forward and back, and are atop a box (strung with elastic rope for hanging towels or rags etc.) which includes a parcel shelf for extra storage. The comfortable seats are padded and have armrests. Lower vision is slightly restricted by the thick black frame on the top of the windscreen but is excellent when standing. Both wheel and throttle are well placed and allow for comfortable driving. The full-length carpeted dash will fit whatever electronics you need, remembering the boat comes standard with a Hummingbird Matrix 25X depth sounder. A fold away drink holder is provided for the passenger, not the helmsman!
On dash there’s the standard Yamaha Multifunction digital gauges showing speed, revs, fuel, trip meter, battery status, hours and trim plus oil and temperature warning lights. A 12V power outlet for accessories and a six-way fused switch panel complement the electrics. As required by law, if the boat is used offshore, a 27meg radio and aerial is supplied as standard as well as a compensated compass. Sensible features included in the boat package are a fire extinguisher and an air horn.
The full checkerplate deck from bow to stern gives a very solid feel underfoot. Between the seats is the filler for the 150L cruise tank. This tank is vented by a skin fitting on the starboard side.
I love the extra wide coaming that can double as seats. As well as width they are tall at 770mm. Supplied are six rod holders but that can be added to for those who like a lot of hardware out when fishing. Full-length off floor pockets run from the seats right back to the transom. They are 80mm wide so you can store nets, gaffs, handlines and so forth off the deck
A full-width transom seat that can be collapsed and tucked away provides extra seating. Behind the seat is a shelf that supports the twin battery system controlled by a four-way switch. Fuel separating filter, prime bulb and oil bottle are also shielded by the seat.
For ease of boarding and to slide large gamefish through, a transom door is provided on the port side. On either side of the podded motor there are checkerplate boarding platforms, with the port side having a folding two-step ladder and handrail. A large bilge pump ensures all water that finds its way in is expelled immediately. Two bungs drain the hull as well as a partly hidden third bung inside the water ballast channel that must be secured before launching – a bit of a trap for the unwary.
A fully reticulating live bait tank with a smoked plastic lid is sunk in the transom and a cutting board complete with three extra rod holders and a Teflon base (all removable) is just the right height for rigging and cutting baits. A tube takes the waste from the cutting board to a berley pot fixed in the starboard platform.
The test boat had an 115hp two stroke Saltwater Series long shaft Yamaha spinning a 17” propeller. After launching I headed upstream underneath the Harbour Bridge where we encountered the predictable choppy water.
Full bore into the chop didn’t bother this plate boat at all. There were dull thuds as she squeezed her way into the head sea. Trim was important as it lightened the load on the wheel. She liked it tucked in a tad and this put more of the forefoot into the water, cushioning out the rough stuff. In hard turns there was no chine walking (this is where the boat wants to flick back then rebound back again). Full reverse wasn’t a problem, with water only coming to the bottom of the outboard lid.
Being a deep V, the Bar Crusher was a bit sensitive to weight distribution and I recommend you sort this out before setting out to keep the boat level when underway. The stability test at rest showed the boat lean a few degrees, then it stayed there with no inclination to go further.
The boat comes complete with a Sea-Link fully galvanised trailer as part of the package. With 13” alloy wheels, spare wheel, submersible lights, swing-away jockey wheel and disc brakes, it’s a strong towing platform for the boat. I drove the Bar Crusher straight onto the trailer and within a minute we were off the ramp, tying down the boat for its trip home west.
With the entire standard fishing paraphernalia that comes with the boat, I felt a strong urge to wet a line – something I’m sure future owners will experience every time they climb into their Bar Crusher. These boats have nearly everything I look for in a total fishing machine. I know I can fish wide with safety in a Bar Crusher as it’s there with me all the way, making my sport just that bit more enjoyable.
Hull length - 5.6m
Length overall - 6.1m
Beam - 2.25m
Material - plate aluminium
Bottom thickness - 4mm
Side thickness - 3mm
Transom shaft height - 25” extra long
Fuel capacity - 150L
Weight (hull only) - 640kg
Tow weight (approx) - 1350kg
Max hp - 140
Total length on trailer - 6.8m
Height - 2.2m (with screen and rocket launcher folded)
Folding rocket launcher, plumbed live bait tank, walk-through transom, removable cutting table, Raeline seats, painted and decaled hull, Sarca anchor and deck clip, bunk cushions, berley bucket, safety gear, all registrations, dual battery system, 27meg radio and aerial, depth sounder, 12V power outlet, compass, fire extinguisher, water separating filter, motor flusher, boat tie-downs, air horn, padded bunk cushions.
Price of boat as tested - $39,990 Inc GST
Includes a Sea-Link trailer with Galpack, all registrations, and on-water tuition.
Price with 115hp Yamaha four-stroke - $44,235 Inc GST (drive away)
Price of 5.3m model - $35,990 Inc GST (drive away)
Includes a Yamaha 90HP two-stroke.
Boats supplied by Blakes Marine, 1 Railway Road North, Mulgrave NSW 2756.
Ph (02) 4577 6699. Fax (02) 4577 2696. Email: --e-mail address hidden--
Bar Crushers have earned a sound reputation for being soft riding ‘hard core’ fishing platforms and the 530 is a great example.
The hull’s intelligent design effectively deflects spray and the hull shape pushes through chop with ease.
The BarCrusher has a generous anchor well, roller and split bollard.
The internal layout is simple and effective with room to move, fish and play.
The test boat had an 115hp two-stroke Saltwater Series long shaft Yamaha spinning a 17” propeller – ample power to get the 560 up and running.
Conditions on the test day were calm, but Bar Crushers are renowned for handling the roughest of seas. The 560 seems to call for some serious water punishment when restricted to flat estuary work.