BOAT TEST: OCEAN MAX MARINE OFFSHORE 24
Kevin Smith is a hard man to please, but he’s talking all boofy about the new and locally-made Ocean Max Offshore 24 centre-console.
TEST: OCEAN MAX MARINE OFFSHORE 24
When you take the time to evaluate locally manufactured centre-consoles in fibreglass, actually there isn't a huge range to choose from. Yes, these craft are suited to quite a "niche" market or buyer. And yes, they have improved designs. But there's still a lack of locally-made larger centre-consoles for serious anglers - people who want something with a touch of class, and with enough comfort to keep the whole family smiling.
Travel the waterways and you'll find the fancier ones but the majority are imports, so a genuine Aussie beast of a centre-console is long overdue. Now - finally - one has arrived in the shape of the new Ocean Max Offshore 24, manufactured on the Gold Coast by Ocean Max Marine.
At a first glance the new Offshore 24 is one of those boats that gets a "Wow, look at this!" response. It looks fantastic, with its foreign lines, massive shoulders, and a bow that looks as if it could chew up the ocean and spit it out.
What was unique with this test was that the camera boat was also one of the new centre-consoles, and privately owned at that. Not that it was a comparative test, but the camera boat was fitted with a different brand of motor and different horsepower, namely a 300hp Mercury Verado, while the test boat had a 250hp four-stroke Suzuki, so it was going to be interesting to see how the pair stacked up.
The 250hp Suzuki had the necessary balls to thump it out of the hole and up to top speeds quickly for a boat this size. These big motors have electronic controls and they're ultra smooth to use, plus they add to the engine's responsiveness. Performance through the rev range was impressive, since the boat was set up for maximum low-down torque and top-end speed. At full steam ahead we cracked 36-37kts (66kmh+) at maximum revs of 5750rpm.
That's absolutely flying on a big boat, and it's nice to know that it can reach those numbers, but when a boat's set up solely for speed, tight, fast turns are compromised. When locking it into full turns from stationary out of the hole, and at higher speeds, there was notable cavitation. This is not a major problem if you never have to launch through rough bars, but if you do it's not something you'd appreciate when trying to avoid
Personally, I'd rather sacrifice some of the speed and have the motor set down slightly, so I could knock it into tighter, quicker turns if necessary. It's not a big mission to make those changes, either. As for how the two engines compared, they both performed exceptionally well, with maybe a bit more grunt from the 300hp Verado. But there was very little in it.
Besides being a cosmetic beauty both inside and out, this centre-console boasts many standard features that would normally be bank-account-draining optional extras. The layout oozes fishability, with more than average space and a network of finely-tuned fittings and accessories.
The first thing to mention, though not so important to blokes, is the toilet built into the console and accessed through a side-door. The first thought would be how the heck do you get in there, but that's until you open the door. You actually step down into it, and as a bloke of average height I could stand in the thing. Ladies will love it!
Another innovative feature would be the seating in the bow. Centre-consoles don't normally have decent seating but at 24ft this one has loads of space and Ocean Max has used it wisely without compromising all-important fishability.
The seating wraps into the bow and creates a comfortable area for passengers to relax in, both at rest and underway, and of course there's stowage space beneath. I reckon you could even add in a drop-in table, just to take it to the next level of practicality.
The fuel tanks are yet another notable point. This machine holds 500lt in total - yes, five hundred. Long-distance trips without refuelling will pose no problem, and in fact with standard consumption, Ocean Max claims an Offshore 24 can cruise from the Gold Coast to Gladstone. I think I'd rather tow it, but that's nice to know anyway.
The balance of the OM 24's layout consists of features you get on other craft, but as I mentioned they're fine-tuned and presented exceptionally well, from the standard stainless fittings to the aluminium ones - and everything has its own little hatch or position. Examples would be the deckwash, freshwater shower hose, fire extinguisher and tackle stowage, all in separate mouldings and strategically placed for easy access.
On a standard test we get out there, push a boat to its limits, and then as testers we have a fair idea of how well it's going to fish. In this case we took the time to actually fish for a few hours during the test, and what a difference that makes to your overall impression.
These boats are designed to be fishing machines and indeed they are. When one of the lads got onto a decent-sized jewfish, I noticed how the four blokes onboard went about their business without encroaching on each other's space. In fact they all fished in the stern and that alone shows how spacious and comfortable this boat is.
That was bottom bashing though, so I also ran some troll tests. These showed superb stability, plus maintainable tracking throughout the slower rev ranges, and with good economy on both brands of motor.
The 24 is a big boat that will enable you to spend the extra time offshore in harsher conditions without being punished. As I've said, this boat has all the standard fittings and accessories like a baitboard, tackle stowage, T-top with rocket launchers and more, but it's all high quality gear. It even has a separate sink as well as really neatly recessed rodracks in the gunwales.
Instead of a standard rodrack these are actually half-racks with the front sections going into tubes for better protection of the gear. Another worthy mention on the fishing side is in the form of fully padded gunwales. I can tell you these make a noticeable difference to your comfort while fishing.
At $129,900, is this a value for money boat? Well, do the homework on similarly-styled foreign boats and you'll see there's a substantial price difference. Yes, those boats are well known and have high reputations, but there's now some local competition - and when it comes to saving a few bucks and getting good value, we all know which way to go. With the Ocean Max Offshore 24, it's a "pay less, get more" scenario, which is certainly a refreshing change.
On the plane...
Great modern lines
Super overall finish
Practical design and layout
Dragging the chain...
Motor setup affects handling
Specifications: Ocean Max Offshore 24
Price as tested: $129,900
Options fitted: Many as standard
Material: Handlaid GRP with integrated poly core girder system laminated into hull core
Length (overall): 7.3m (24ft)
Weight: 1380kg (hull only)
Max HP: 400
Max engine weight: 450kg
Make/model: Suzuki DF250
Type: Multi-point, Sequential electronic fuel-injection, V6 four-stroke
Gear ratio: 2.29:1
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
Ocean Max Marine
Tel: 0422 605 899 / 0448 717 384
Originally published in TrailerBoat 261.
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