Serious hunting machine
  |  First Published: July 2005

The Spacecraft 5.2m centre console is one very serious offshore fishing machine. This plate alloy boat, built in Toronto, near Newcastle, is both simple and functional.

Owner Dave Powell, who worked closely with Spacecraft builder Larry Wiltshire to design the layout, had some very specific requirements. The carpeted main cockpit is totally free from clutter, providing a huge work area for anglers. Dave didn’t want an underfloor kill pen behind the console as he loves handlining for reds in deep water and says there is nothing worse than trying to lift a hatch to get a fish into the box with 50m of nylon all over the floor. The Spacecraft also has wider than standard side pockets to accommodate the large handlines used for deepwater fishing.

What the layout has in simplicity, the bait board has in complexity. While it may look like a standard bait board at first, on closer inspection it has some subtle yet significant modifications. Under the board are two clips to hold the Col fluoro light, which throws plenty of light through the interior of the boat without shining in anglers’ eyes. Most of Dave’s reef fishing is done at night, so this is an important feature. There is still enough light reflected from the fluoro to cut up baits on the board above.

The bait board has five standard rocket launchers on the back side, with the outside two angled out at 45 degrees for trolling. In addition Dave had welded on two horizontal rod holders, which he uses for his other fishing passion, chasing big Spaniards around the Franklin Islands, south of Cairns. He uses two 7-foot flick sticks, mounted with Penn 850 Spinfishers and 30lb braid to troll for Spaniards and finds this set-up just perfect.

I commented to Dave that I would worry about the rods falling out during rough weather, but he said that because the flick sticks have extra long butts, it has not been an issue. The ends pass right through the tube and the line drag forces the butt against the tube end, creating an edge that stops it pulling out. The rods act like outriggers, so if you need it, there is a stack of room up the centre to run a third bait or lure in the prop wash.

The V6 135hp Optimax has electronic idle control, which allows Dave to tick along with the Mercury doing 540rmp and a big wolf herring or gar gliding through the water at snail’s pace. At trolling speed the Optimax uses 1.2L per hour, which equates to six hours of trolling for a mere 10L of fuel. The Optimax is also very economical at higher speeds with a typical run to the wide reefs (about 1.5 hours each way) using around 60L.

At the top end of the dial the Optimax really makes the Spacecraft fly. At 3000rpm it produces 22km/h (12kts/14mph), at 3500rpm – 29km/h (16kts/18mph), at 4000rpm – 41km/h (22kts/25mph), at 4500rpm – 57km/h (31kts/35mph), at 5000rpm – 64km/h (35kts/40mph) and at 5500rpm it is flying along at 71km/h (38kts/44 mph), which is more than fast enough for a fishing boat.

Another feature of Dave’s Spacecraft is the totally bare hull. Other than the Quay Marine signs and rego sticker on the side there is nothing but bare alloy. Painted hulls just get scratched and look unsightly as far as Dave is concerned.

The hull design itself is more complex than meets the eye. It has a centre tunnel which floods with water when at rest, producing an incredibly stable platform for trolling and bottom fishing. I have spent hours trolling for Spaniards with Dave in over 20 knots and it is the most stable platform I have fished from.

The other big advantage of the centre tunnel is that the Spacecraft can still have a deep V for a soft ride. The boat is quite heavy, with a 5mm bottom, 4mm sides and top deck and 3mm console, so along with the deep V (with a 17 degree dead rise) it produces one of the best rides I have experienced in an alloy boat. Its only weakness is a long slow porpoising at high speed, but it doesn’t take away from the comfort of the ride, which is exceptional.

As the 5mm plate bottom indicates, the Spacecraft is built to last, with everything overbuilt to blazes. The cross bollard is a good example: it has a 40mm alloy stem and could be used to tow a trawler. The bow sprit and roller are also extra heavy duty and the clip-down anchor well hatch has hinges and a design that will last the life of the rig.

Dave’s two-year-old son Joseph joined us for the photo shoot and having him wandering around on-board was no problem. The extra deep interior meant Joseph could only look out over the gunwale; there was no way for him to go over the side, short of crawling up the inside of the hull.

The deck drains back into a wet well, which houses a single scupper. This self-draining design keeps water from sloshing across the floor, while allowing the hull to drain. Dave has glued non-stick siding to the underside of the carpet in the main cockpit so it won’t slip but can still be removed for easy cleaning. The carpet in front of the console is glued to the alloy deck.

The low profile (1m x 1m) console has a full width shelf with a weatherproof box underneath, which is accessed via a Sopac hatch. Electronics are all Navman, with a VHF radio, 4500 colour sounder and Tracker 5500 GPS controlled by a six-switch panel. The low profile perspex screen has a wrap around support bar and there is a passenger grab rail on the dash.

The 210L Eva Cool esky doubles as a helm seat with the added comfort of a padded lid. The esky fits into lugs welded to the floor, so it can be taken out for cleaning but won’t slide around at sea. Dave uses the underfloor kill pen in front of the console to store safety gear and instead has a lift out Bermuda poly kill pen, which he sits behind the console seat when at sea. It has an access lid with a section cut out at one end so fish can be slid in without having to lift the lid.

The Spacecraft 5.2 in one serious hunting machine, which is designed for trouble free fishing. For further information….


Length Overall - 5.2m

Beam - 2.3m

Deadrise - 17 deg

Max People - 6

Underfloor Fuel – 120L

Bottom - 5mm

Sides and top deck - 4mm

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