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In Hot Pursuit
  |  First Published: December 2004



There are always going to be boats dedicated to fishing and other boats designed for family days, and then there are some like the Pursuit 550F that lend themselves to both.

Pursuit Boats are built in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, and while there is presently only the 550F Cuddy, there’s soon to be a hard top and bow rider on the same hull.

Small manufacturers that have spent quite some time in the industry in one way or the other often produce some outstanding boats. Because the boats are built by a small team, where the owner is often the designer, the builder and the salesman, you end up with a very good package. The boat is a reflection of the man.

Northside Marine in Brisbane has taken on the Pursuit boats, no doubt seeing the quality and the potential that this particular boat has.

It’s handy to have a boat that’s 5.5m long because it gives you just enough length and room for an offshore fishing hull while giving a reasonable back deck and enough room in the cabin to lie down if you need to.

While many boats look great and have some top selling points there are a couple of crucial factors to keep in mind when buying a boat: ride and stability.

Unlike a car, a boat doesn’t have zippy manoeuvrability, steering and stopping, and you certainly don’t have the stability you have in a car. There are these things called waves, wash and wind that significantly affect the ride and stability of a boat. Add to this the uncertainty of what the boat will do when you’re at the wheel, especially of you’re not very experienced, and you’ll see why some people are easily put off boating.

Sure – a deep veed hull in fibreglass may have a soft ride, but it can lean into the wind and be unstable when side-on to the wash of another boat or when too many people move to one side of the boat.

When it comes to the 550F Pursuit, however, you can feel confident in its ride and stability.

TEST DRIVE

Our test run was on one of those days when we thought it might be better to call it off and do it another day. About 25 knots of northerly blowing straight down the centre of the bay against a run-out tide creates quite a messy sea.

Nonetheless, we slipped out of one creek and travelled about 5km or so in the mess into another inlet where I could at least hop off and take a few pictures.

Taking the Pursuit for a ride in the rough was probably the best thing we could have done to appreciate just how good the ride was.

Heading into the short, sharp chop was (as you would expect) met with some banging, but thankfully the jar was gone and working the waves about you could keep up on the plane. With the boat being just that little longer than 5m you have that bit more planing area on the hull to keep you up at slower speeds.

The real surprise was the ride back home. There’s nothing quite like a hull that gets up and goes in a following sea with no broaching. We rode beautifully back home at around 20mph, and it wasn’t until we meet those steep pressure waves going back in the creek that we had to drop off the plane.

There’s a fair scope of engines that you can run on this rig, from 70hp up to 150hp. Should you just be poking around the estuary, a 70-90hp will be fine. Around 115hp is a good all-rounder, and the speed and power of a 150hp is more suited to water sports.

The test rig came with a 115hp two-stroke Mercury, which had plenty of power. There was no load on but we did have three adults, but there was no trouble at any stage getting us going, with a top speed of over 40 knots. That’s not bad going for this kind of rig.

While out in all that mess I made sure I had a good look at the stability. The lean coming sideways down the sea was of no concern, and neither was a few of us standing on the one side of the boat, as you might do when fishing. There are a number of design factors that have gone into the hull to achieve this result.

DESIGN

Instead of the centre keel coming to a vee there is a planning plank, which is basically a flat section that increases the planning area so the boat can slip onto the plane easier and maintain the plane at slower revs. It also aids the stability.

The hull itself has full-length planning strakes and the outer chine is wide enough to create more lift, downturn spray and to greatly aid stability.

The hull is classed as a variable deadrise though the deadrise at the transom is 19. That’s enough to soften the ride but not too much to start losing stability.

LAYOUT

Just as much thought has gone into the interior layout as went into the hull, making the Pursuit a good fishing boat as well as a family day-tripper.

Full-length side pockets grace the aft deck, and these are nice and deep with padded sides and toe room underneath.

Across the stern there’s a two-section folding bench seat, which is handy when seating the family or crew. One side or the other can be folded down (or both) when fishing.

To maximize the cockpit area the storage boxes or bait wells have been located out on the duckboard where they actually form a step up and over the transom. Looking down at the lid they don’t look all that big, but it’s surprising at just how much room is inside one of these. They also make the ideal spot to throw a few ropes when pulling tubes or skis.

With watersports in mind, a folding extension ladder is fitted to the transom as well as full-length grabrails down to the duckboards to help pull yourself up out of the water.

Recesses in the side decks provide the mounting for rope cleats, and the rod holders are made from stainless steel.

At the helm, two pedestal seats offer plenty of leg room and both swivel 360. Driving the boat is good from both the standing and sitting position.

As far as the dash goes, it’s nice to see a dash that has been laid out to accommodate a variety of instruments, with adequate room to flush mount or dash mount electronics in a practical manner.

Moving into the cabin, the entry has been formed with a cutaway recessed area to make it easier to get in and out without scraping your back in the process. There is a grabrail either side of this, to help you get in and out.

The cab isn’t a big one, but considering it’s only a 5.5m boat they have done well to give enough length and width for two people to lay down.

The cushions are all covered and the cab lined with carpet. A centre cushion slips into place and you end up with one big bunk. Storage below the bunks and in the internal side pockets provides quite a bit of room to keep maps, safety gear and a few clothes etc when overnighting.

As far as overhead protection goes, we had a simple cover which attaches from the windscreen back to the rocket launcher to keep the sun off. There are a few options here depending on your needs, which can be worked out when ordering the boat.

The overall appearance of the boat features smooth curved lines and subtle pin-striping.

The 550F Pursuit would have to be one of the best boats in its class that I’ve been in for quite some time, and I’m sure that those interested in such a style of boat won’t be disappointed.

Don’t just take my word on it though – Northside Marine is nice and close to the water and welcomes water tests for those who are keen. For further information contact Northside Marine on (07) 3265 8000.

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model - Pursuit 550F

Style - Cuddy cab

Construction - fibreglass

Length - 5.5m (5.8m o/a)

Beam - 2.44m

Weight - 660kg (hull only)

Deadrise - 19 degrees

Max hp - 150

Fuel - 130L underfloor

Height on trailer - 2.3m

Flotation - no (foam fill optional)

Price - $39,890 as tested

[CAPTIONS]

1. Anglers and their families will be pleased with the smooth ride and stability of the 550F Pursuit.

2. The Pursuit has a lot to offer for everyday boating, including smart presentation.

3. With the 115hp Mercury outboard this rig is no slouch in the water. It can accommodate engines up to 150hp.

4. It’s not a huge cab but there’s enough room for a sleep and some gear.

5. When boats double up for fishing and family day, a folding rear seat is handy for the extra seats and adds room for fishing when folded away.

6. External steps on the transom double up for storing a bit of bait or ropes for watersports.

7. The bow features an anchor locker and step-through hatch from the cabin.

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