ONE boat building company that’s been making significant waves around the country over the last few years has been Trailcraft Boats, based in Western Australia. The company is always expanding and refining its range, and the new mega complex on the West Coast ensures that we’ll continue to see good things coming our way.
Many Trailcraft boats target the varying needs of anglers, and when you have a look at the coast of Western Australia it’s pretty well all about fishing and diving in some pretty remote areas. The need is there for a well-designed boat that can handle not just the water conditions but the long road trips (I’ve seen boats fall apart before they even get to their destination). The success of Trailcraft in the west has led to their expansion and they have now well and truly secured a place along the East Coast.
The centre cab range has especially been popular, offering a good fishing platform yet retaining cover from the elements and a small area inside the cab for overnight accommodation and dry storage.
Of the many centre cabs I see around the place in varying situations, I prefer the 5.8m version. Places you’d go to or seas you’d venture out in with a 6.4m boat you can still achieve in the 5.8m boat. On top of that you’ve got it over many smaller boats in what you can do and where you can go. At 5.8m you haven’t got a huge boat to tow about or handle so you get the advantages of both the big boats and small boats. The rig we tested was under $46,000 and I know that sounds a lot, but check out the various prices of boats around the place and you’ll find that this is an attractive package.
The big selling point of the centre cab is space, and Trailcraft has tried to maintain as much deck space as practical without compromising the cab space.
Most of the fishing that you do is from the aft deck, and in this case you’ll find a completely uncluttered area – no seats, no ice boxes, nothing to trip over. What you do have is a couple of decent side pockets and a built-in area across the transom which houses your oil bottle and battery as well as the livebait tank. These are all mounted up off the deck, so if water enters the boat, which can happen while beach launching, your batteries and suchlike are less likely to become covered with water.
Under this section you’ll find scuppers which can be opened to let water out or closed to stop water coming in. There’s a reasonable distance under these rear section – enough to slip a few tackle trays or low profile tackle boxes. There was no bait board on this model but it’s available as an option.
To the port side a transom door leads out to the duck board which you’ll find is very well used for getting in and out of the boat, more so if you enjoy a few watersports on top of your fishing.
The ladder on the Trailcraft is best described as a folding step ladder. It’s at a reasonable angle so you can step up and down it with ease, it’s solid and extends well down into the water or close to the ground so it isn’t an effort to get in and out of the boat. It really makes you wonder why we don’t see more trailer boats around with a decent ladder.
The rest is just open space for fishing, and when you do hook onto a big one that wants to take you for a few circuits around the boat there’s the walkway up along the sides of the cab and to the bow. The rails along the sides are nice and high so there’s no problem of falling over while you’re hanging onto that rod to get up to the front.
Up at the bow there’s enough room for two anglers to fish and, because it’s a little higher than the aft deck with no overhead canopies or rod holders in the way, it’s a great place to throw a few lures around. The beam of the boat continues up a fair way and it’s surprising just how much room there is up in this front bow area.
Under the deck, aside from the framework, there only lies the fuel tank. This is to make the underfloor area watertight. With no bung in, there’s little chance of water getting in unless you hole the hull. There’s a bilge pump in the hull and a few watertight inspection hatches.
When it comes to seating there are a few options available, and in this particular model there’s a bench seat in the cab. The cushioned seat can be used as an icebox or storage as well as sitting while driving, or you can turn around the other way and sit while you fish.
Enough room has been left down either side of the seat box so you can get in and out of the cab area on either side. In a conventional set-up the throttle is positioned on the side of the cab but here we see the throttle on a binnacle mount on the dash. This allows the driver to move in and out of the cab without bumping into the throttle and eliminates the need to move over the passenger’s side to get out.
It is quite a practical set-up and I found the throttle on the dash easy to use, although I did feel that the seat box was a bit close to the steering while driving in the standing position. I don’t have much of a stomach (maybe just a few cans’ worth) and those who are a bit wider around the middle may find it a bit of a tight squeeze.
The rest of the dash is pretty straightforward, with plenty of room around the wheel for switches and gauges and a big flat area across the top of the dash or plenty of electronics. It was good to see a decent grab rail across the dash for the passenger because, unlike the driver, they don’t have a wheel to hang onto.
When you move into the cab you won’t find your traditional bunk set-up, rather a big, flat carpeted floor with side pockets and a front pocket. You could roll out a swag in here if you wanted to, but in this particular set-up the cab is more for dry storage than sleeping. There are a few options available for the layout in here, it just depends on what you’re going to use the boat for and how much storage area you want.
The soft top version keeps the weight and the cost of the boat down. It’s nice and cool with zip off sections depending on whether you want some cool breeze through or you want to keep some cold winds and rain out. It starts at the Targa top/rocket launcher which also houses the rod holders. Keeping in line with the manageability of the boat, the canopy can be taken completely off and the rocket launcher itself also folds down. This then sees the windscreen as the highest point on the boat, measuring 2.6m from the ground to the top of the screen.
Performance-wise, the 140hp two-stroke Mercury outboard had plenty of sting for the boat. With the number of four-strokes and fuel injected two-strokes around you do notice the noise and smell of your standard two-strokes, but your standard two-stroke engine does see a few thousand dollars kept off the price.
The 140 Merc had no problems getting the boat underway and I didn’t need to give it much throttle at all to move up onto the plane and keep it there. Open the throttle and the top speed is a round 40mph. This is more than enough and gives you plenty of scope for speed and power in the mid rev range, which is where your engine will do most of its work.
On a boat this size you need to have hydraulic steering – it makes it so much easier to drive because you’re not constantly fitting the torque of the engine through the steering wheel.
Despite being quite beamy towards the bow, very little water or spray was pushed out. I actually expected to see more water pushed out than there was. Being beamy at the bow though the hull was a bit bangy when you’re headed into a chop. It’s one of those things though – you need the beam for a decent cab and walk around area but there’s a sacrifice. It’s not too bad, though it’d be worth a run in rough seas just to see if there was a pounding problem.
As far as stability goes, with a 14-degree deadrise you’ll be pretty happy and there are no problems walking around the boat and losing balance. The moderate deadrise is what helps the hull maintain low planing speeds and gives the stability. It’s also the reason we get a bit of that banging as well.
Overall they have done a pretty good job on delivering a stable and roomy fishing boat with dry storage and cab room on a hull that will suit most situations. I’m sure you’ll see a few of Trailcraft range at the boat shows in the coming months, and be sure to give them more than just the once-over.
Price as tested - $45,500. Test Boat supplied courtesy of Cunningham’s Marine (ph. (07) 3284 2342).
Make/model - Trailcraft 5.8 centre cab
Length - 5.8m (6.35m overall)
Beam - 2.55m
Weight - 745 kg hull only
Construction - plate/pressed alloy
Bottom sheets - 5mm
Side sheets - 4mm
Fuel – 250L underfloor tank
Deadrise - 14 degrees
Max hp - 200
Height on trailer - 2.6m (canopy down)
Flotation - Sealed floor
1) Trailcraft’s 5.8m centre cab is a smart rig with plenty of serious fishing room and a good, strong hull underfoot.
2) It’s nice to see a tidy deck area to work in, with everything out of the way.
3) There’s no shortage of height or width to walk around the sides of this centre cab.
4) Looking from the outside you don’t appreciate just how much room there is in front of the centre cab.
5) The cab is designed more for storage than for sleeping.
6) The bench seat is a different approach from sitting at the helm. Space either side still allows ease of movement in and out of the cab area.