The name Lewis has been associated with top quality racing and recreation ski boats for over fifty years. The company is now branching into fishing and general pleasure craft as well. The Gosford, NSW manufacturer has acquired moulds linked to the former Southern Star (which were originally the highly regarded Southwind) line of boats so we can expect to see Lewis craft actively carrying anglers offshore while their renowned ski craft are busy on more sheltered waters.
Taking things a little further we have Lewis built quality incorporated within some really great hulls, courtesy of the development of the former manufacturers, which is all a great bonus for the angling fraternity.
The ride and handling of this craft impressed me so much I am going to mention it first.
The Southwind heritage comes through strongly. The hull's lines are sweet, ant the ride and handling is exciting. There's a 23 degree deadrise which sees the hull well and truly into Deep Vee category but with a 2.3m beam, some 820kg dry weight, plus the incorporation of double chines on the water line, prominent longitudinal strakes plus a 33cm wide planing plank centrally the hull is not by any means tender. It will lean a little with two or more folk on one side, certainly, but not excessively or to the detriment of fishing pursuits.
The real bonus comes via ride quality. Thanks to a very generous degree of rake in the fine bow and degree of flare that kicks in just above the stationary water line the hull can be pushed hard into chop or swells with very little impact. Test runs were carried out within the Broadwater on a lucky morning (lucky it didn't rain on us) and with a fair degree of swell coming into the Seaway entrance it was nothing but fun to run the Lewis into and across pressure waves for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Displaced water never made it into the cockpit as we hit waves head on and it was only when crossing chop at good speed with wind from the side that a bit of spray was kicking up onto the windscreen. The cuddy cabin and windscreen provides a bulwark and we remained largely dry, but mind you a set of optional clears between windscreen and overhead bimini would round things off nicely. The bimini's aft section was equipped with five rod holders, easily reached from within the cockpit.
The big 135hp Opti was mid range power (the boat is rated for an engine between 115-175) and thanks to the hull's reduced wetted area under way – the degree of rake in the bow plus a cutaway stern effectively cuts water line considerably – I found the Lewis could virtually turn on it's own length without any propeller cavitation from the big 135 Mercury Optimax. The strakes dug in as the wheel went hard over and the big Lewis whipped around like one of their ski boats.
The Mercury 135 Optimax was a very smooth and tractable beast, and made such easy work of powering the 820kg Lewis hull that I couldn't see the need for a larger engine under normal fishing applications. Powering on at 3000rpm brought instantaneous engine response, which saw the craft surging forward. The question arises, how much power does one need in a fishing boat?
The Lewis planed at 23.2km/h at 2600rpm, travelled at 33.4km/h at 3000rpm, 52.4km/h at 4000rpm and 65.4km/h at 5000 rpm.
Moreover, the very solid construction of the craft with it's under floor fibreglass grid system and inbuilt foam flotation also meant that there were rattles or vibes as we hit waves at speed. Owners of a Lewis 590 can rightly expect a silent ride as the norm.
Visibility from the well-padded bucket seats on robust pedestals was spot on and I also noted that one could stand to drive if required.
There's a step down into a drained splash well via an open cabin doorway with a flip up top opening section for easier access. A door is optional; if a toilet is fitted either a fabric or solid door can be ordered. Inside the cabin there's ample head room and it’s fully lined with handy bunks and back rest style storage shelves. A light is standard, as is an easy-access panel for helm wiring. Further storage is below the bunks, which are narrow but they are long enough to sleep an adult.
Up top and on each side of the cabin a non-skid, drained, walk around area allows access forward for anchoring. There are also easy hand holds from the bimini frame and a high side rail. The walk around area was wide and deep enough to be safe but careful footing is necessary.
The anchor well was quite large with a locking lid. A moulded bowsprit and associated fairlead were well set up to protect the hull's deep gelcoat finish.
The first mate enjoys a side grab rail, footrest and side storage pocket. The moulded bulkhead to starboard was equipped with a very neat dash layout in the form of a compass at the top plus a pair of Mercury Smart Craft gauges which provide every engine function as well as ongoing fuel consumption at the touch of a button. Below the paired gauges a Navman Track Fish 6507 sounder/GPS was set into the moulded facia with ignition switch beside it.
The sports style Lewis wheel linked to hydraulic steering was a little lower, a set of waterproof switches to starboard. Both marine and pleasure radios were set a little lower again with the speakers for the radio/CD player being located in the side cockpit moulding, right up front. In the usual manner forward controls were side mounted and quite accessible.
The Lewis sported a large cockpit, ideal for four or five anglers. It was quite deep, too, thanks to the non skid cockpit floor being carried right down into the hull with any water draining into a bilge sump equipped with a large pump.
Padding on rod holder equipped side pockets was a nice touch, as were the rod racks built into the pockets. which were around a 1.5m long. Stainless gunwale grab rails were standard. The test rig came with one rod holder per gunwale, more are options.
Other cockpit features included lift out quarter seats with back rests plus a large rounded storage bin or live well or fish box (it can be used for whichever option you require) centrally aft which was equipped with a padded seat. This unit, could also be lifted out of the way – or right out of the boat on the day- to allow access to an under floor storage compartment below.
Aft of the transom paired swim platforms were featured, a boarding ladder being located to port.
The Lewis 590 Walkaround is a very interesting addition to the Lewis line of craft. The finish and fit out is of the usual Lewis tradition which is hard to fault. The hull's ride, handling and very good sea keeping ability combine to make the rig very attractive to offshore and bay anglers. The rig is for six. As tested the rig would come home for around $44,880 for a BMT package - very competitive indeed. Alternatively, one could opt for a Mercury Optimax 115 on the transom for $41,990 in lieu.
For more information contact the staff at Lewis Ski Boats Pty Ltd on 02 9748 1983.
|Engine fitted:||135 Mercury Optimax|