Buyers searching for a value for money plate craft should take a good look at the Formosa 580 Centre Cab.
It's a southern Queensland manufactured craft and it features a lot of freeboard, a foam filled, under floor area plus the rigidity that goes with a strong frame construction with 4mm plate bottom and 3mm sides. Bay, estuary or offshore, this craft will take up to 5 people aboard fishing in plenty of comfort and style.
Up front a big wide anchor well is served by an electric winch – no lugging up anchor with this craft. A bow rail offers plenty of support up front, as do the high sides. Carpeted floors are also featured throughout.
There is plenty of room to move forward between the gunwales and centre cab, with the cab’s elliptical side windows not taking up space. If necessary hand holds are available on the targa and bimini framework.
The upper section, above the stylish one-piece windscreen, incorporates a set of heavy duty clears plus a handy fold down storage feature. The aft section of the targa also has a set of five rod holders.
The interior of the centre cab on the test rig had a flat, carpeted floor with a large freshwater tank below. This was slightly different from the usual checker plate floor with foot well. The 60L water tank was linked to the deck wash at the transom; I thought it was a handy option.
Entry into the centre cab is via the area between the craft's pedestal seats. The floor of the cab area offers plenty of storage for items that need to be kept out of the weather, or would be an ideal spot for children to have a lie down and rest. If the weather threatened a couple of adults might also sneak in there as well.
The Formosa's adjustable pedestal style bucket seats are mounted on open sided storage boxes large enough to tuck a PFD or two into. Footrests are set up for both skipper and mate; the first mate also has a grab rail.
The Formosa's dash layout is simple yet completely adequate thanks to modern technology.
Navigational and fish seeking aids were prominent with a pair of Navman instruments dominating the upper (flat) section with a Tracker 5607 GPS to port a Fish 4607 sounder to starboard.
The Formosa 580's main gauges are situated in a neat binnacle directly ahead, and above, the craft's five spoke steering wheel, which is linked to hydraulic steering.
A pair of Evinrude I-Command gauges take pride of place and were quite easy to use – a touch offers different functions. Their position atop the wheel made them easy to keep under observation as well.
To starboard, and a little lower, are the control switches for the anchor winch, with an array of switches for other functions below them and the craft's Navman VHF radio set to port.
Forward controls for the E-Tec are mounted on the side of the hull, on a neat, carpeted panel, and within easy reach when driving.
The Formosa's cockpit also offers a lot of useful fishing room.
With a depth of around 70cm parents would have plenty of peace of mind with youngsters aboard.
For the angler features such as rod holders, aft grab rails extending down over the transom, a folding removable aft lounge, wide strongly made gunwale decks, a large under floor fish box and the transom bait station which features a cutting board, a plumbed live well, plus another four rod holders all make for easy, enjoyable times on the water.
Boarding from astern is via a full height gate to port, with associated ladder set up on the pod astern. An ample non-skid checker board area astern makes entry easy after a dive or swim too.
When the aft lounge is removed (a simple task that takes no longer than 30 seconds) this offers totally unobstructed access to the deck wash, the E-Tec's oil bottle, engine battery and fuel filter.
I liked that neat rear lounge, too. It is easily removed when serious fishing is on the cards and it can be stowed out of the way to allow extra room to work around the bait station.
The 580 is rated for engines from 115-150hp making the 150 E-Tec top propulsion.
I saw no issues with this at all. The craft proved to be very manageable at all times and while the 150 E-Tec had major grunt it still provided ample low speed power when required.
At 190kg the engine does not put excessive weight on the transom – the hull sat very level at rest. The strong pod where the engine was mounted has been designed to cater for heavier four-stroke engines up to 150hp as well.
With two aboard the Formosa planed at 22.5km/h (2,600rpm) with 3,000rpm seeing 43.6km/h on the Navman Tracker 5607 GPS unit. Other speeds recorded were 62.3km/h at 4,000rpm, 78.1km/h at 5,000rpm and 81.3km/h at 5,200rpm.
Mid range power from the smooth running and remarkably quiet 150 E-Tec was brilliant with the craft leaping away from around 3,000rpm onwards. If a following sea was on the stern a touch of the throttle would see the craft well and truly moving away from it.
The ride and handling of the Formosa was very good. Keep in mind this is not a light pressed alloy hull. A plate craft such as this – at around the 680kg mark for a bare hull – rides in the water to a degree and that also enhances the ride.
Heading into stiff chop in the Broadwater the Formosa 580 provided a very measured, easy, ride with no hard impact on waves we hit at speed.
The foam filled hull was noticeably quiet too and contributed to the pleasure of driving the craft, as did the fact that the hull was quite dry thanks to its height above water.
Seated on the comfy bucket driver’s seat at the wheel I found visibility was excellent all round and it was fun to throw the craft about in tight turns with such minimal input thanks to the hydraulic steering.
Stability of the hull was very good too. Formosa don't embrace the deep Vee concept in their centre cab models and at around the 14º mark the hull’s deadrise aft provided plenty of stability at rest. Two of us on one side hardly caused the hull to lean, a handy feature in a fishing craft.
The Formosa 580 Centre Cab is a well turned out craft with great potential as a fishing boat. The standard of finish is excellent, with all welds quite neatly executed. The paintwork is very well done and the marlin graphic is outstanding.
Features are there to make the 580 a useful fishing rig for up to five folk and are matched to a hull offering a smooth ride and handling package that leaves little to be desired. Not all buyers will opt for the maximum power 150 E-Tec but it sure does get up and go.
The Formosa 580 with the premium 150hp E-Tec will start from $54,900. Log onto www.formosamarineboats.com.au for information on your nearest dealer.
|Construction hull:||4mm bottom, 3mm sides.|
|Hull weight:||Approx 680kg|
|Engine fitted:||150hp Evinrude E-Tec|
|Towing:||family six sedans or wagon|