THE BLUE FIN 5.25 Gulf Explorer is a lot of boat for its length. This beamy, high-sided Blue Fin suits anglers who like a lot of room to move, and appreciate the added security of plenty of gunwale height. The 3mm sheeting on the bottom and sides also offers that extra bit of durability to the hull.
The Gulf Explorer is certainly built to take a pounding, with 11 full-height ribs. With a chine-to-chine internal width of two metres, and a floor to gunwale height of 790mm, it will certainly also appeal to anglers who like a lot of volume inside the boat.
Having the console well forward leaves a large work area in the stern but it does mean that the ride isn't as soft for the crew if they stand beside the helmsman. This configuration was developed at the request of a number of Gulf boaties who want the large floor area at the back.
The test boat, supplied by Tableland Marine and Outdoor in Tolga, comes with a standard console seat which had been removed at the time of testing. The seat is padded and the box has a drain plug, so it can be insulated for use as an esky or just as a kill pen or for dry storage.
The full-width pod has a checkerplate top for excellent grip and easy boarding and alighting over the stern. A grab rail, running from the pod to the top of the transom, offers support for both the pod and crew. The hull bottom carries right through to the back of the pod, creating another 30cm of planing surface.
The rear cockpit is completely clutter-free, with a small floor hatch to access the bilge and an under transom shelf, holding the battery to starboard, with usable storage space on the port side. Other built-in storage consists of two side pockets and a shelf under the centre console, as well as a dash compartment in the fold-down section of the console. The screen and dash fold forward to allow low clearance storage. The perspex screen is fully surrounded by alloy tubing for support, and a grab rail is fitted on both sides for passenger security.
A fire extinguisher is located inside the console, and the instrumentation includes a six-switch panel, a compass, a 12-volt power outlet for spotlights and the like, a Humminbird 350 sounder and standard Honda instrumentation of fuel gauge, taco and tilt meter.
The maroon paint job, from gunwale to chine, looks fantastic. The white pinstripe and the finish throughout is top notch. Blue Fin take a lot of pride in making sure the welds are extra strong, with full welds used in all structural areas rather than the oft-used tack welding.
The anchoring system in spot on, with the low profile bowrail feeding the anchor rope straight onto the bow roller, positioned on the end of a small bowsprit. The self-draining anchor well is an open cut in PVC tray, which reduces noise and prevents ding marks in the bow. The cross bollard is positioned on the rear side of the anchor well for easy access. The excellent gunwale height at the nose gives a very secure feel when working at the front.
The super-quiet 90hp Honda four-stroke got the Gulf Explorer on the plane in a hurry and provided plenty of top end speed. At 3000 rpm it produced 28km/h (17 mph, 15 knots), at 3500 rpm is went to 32 km/h (20mph, 17 knots), at 4000 rpm it provided 41 km/h (25 mph, 22 knots), at 4500 rpm it wound up to 47 km/h (29 mph, 25 knots), at 5000 rpm it went to 52 km/h (32 mph, 28 knots) and at 5500 rpm it did 58 km/h (36 mph, 31 knots).
Lake Tinaroo had a nasty short sharp chop, whipped up by a strong south-easterly, but the Blue Fin handled it with ease. As a result of having so much weight forward, it was a bit stiff running straight into the chop - but at all angles it was very dry. The 50mm spray chine, which runs from the nose to the shoulder, helps keep down any spray that might be thrown.
The Gulf Explorer turned beautifully in as tight a circle as I was game, at any speed.
The Blue Fin 5.25 Gulf Explorer will certainly find plenty of fans who like a heap of gunwale height and a stack of working space at the rear, in a boat that is built to take a pounding.
Hull-only price: $11,451. For further information contact Tableland Marine and Outdoors on (07) 4095 4284.
Overall Length - 5.42m
Beam - 2.25m
Chine to chine floor width (inside) - 2m
Floor to Gunwale Height - 790mm
Weight (hull only) - 470kg
Bottom Plate - 3mm
Side Plate - 3mm
Pod Plate - 4mm
Fuel – 85L under floor
Max Transom Weight - 90hp four-stroke or 130hp two-stroke.
1) The Blue Fin 5.25 Gulf Explorer has internal volume to burn. Having the console well forward leaves a huge work area at the back.
2) The Gulf Explorer rides high in the water and the spray stays low to create a very dry ride.
3) The anchoring setup is simple and functional.
4a & 4b) The top of the console folds forward for low clearance storage.
5) The transom setup allows easy access over the stern, while maintaining a full height transom.Reads: 3307