BOAT TESTS: CORALINE 700 FX OCEANRUNNER + SF 670 CENTRE CONSOLE

By: JEFF STRANG, Photography by: ELLEN DEWAR

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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Jeff Strang notes the Coraline 700 FX Oceanrunner and SF 670 Centre Console are both honest and practical craft, built tough for the rigours of Aussie boating

BOAT TESTS: CORALINE 700 FX OCEANRUNNER + SF 670 CENTRE CONSOLE
The best of the West: WA's Coraline 700 FX Oceanrunner and SF 670 Centre Console plate-boats.

I could tell it was going to be good day. A brilliant sun beamed down from an impossibly blue Western Australian sky, doing its darnedest to erase the memory of a long and oppressive Melbourne winter. Waiting dockside at Hillarys Boat Harbour, like pair of happy dogs awaiting their owner at walkies time, was a couple of pleasingly unpretentious plate boats from local stalwart builder, Coraline Boats. Clearly, this wasn't going to be a suit-and-tie day. Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite warm enough for boardies, but as I strode down to say g'day - "How do you do?" would have been completely inappropriate - I could feel the vitamin D surging up from my pasty feet, happily clad as they were in a pair of long-forgotten thongs. God I love testing trailerboats; they're so fabulously down to earth.

Of course it doesn't stop there. With one notable exception, almost the entire Australian trailerboat industry is family based. The CEO is often the marketing manager, bookkeeper, head of sales, designer, welder and even the receptionist. When you sit across the desk from one of these guys, no-one ever talks about "helicopter views" or "going forward". And Graham Gow is no exception.

Graham didn't found Coraline but his association with the brand via his Perth dealership, Boat City, is almost as long as the stable's existence. So when he got financially involved recently he already had intimate knowledge of the product and its place in the market. With financial control came the opportunity to refine what was already a very solid product into a boat he knew would have few weaknesses in the eyes of his West Oz audience.

Graham knew his boats had to do three things well to be successful: they had to catch fish, catch fish and catch fish. Spot the common theme?

Unfortunately, we would not get to go fishing - I said it was a good day, not a great day. Nevertheless, we had ideal conditions to give both the Coraline 700 FX Oceanrunner and 670 SF Centre Console a solid, if fish-free, workout.

At the waterline both vessels are identical, aside from the fact the 700 is obviously 30cm longer than the 670. Beyond that these boats fill somewhat different niches in the market. The 700 FX Oceanrunner is the classic family-capable fish wagon, while the 670 Centre Console shouts single-minded blokes' boat, where the added comfort of a full cabin has been sacrificed to ensure no fishy opportunity is lost.



FIRST IMPRESSIONS

On initial appearances alone the 700 FX Oceanrunner was my favourite. With her powder-blue paint job, strong sheer lines and robust cabin top she balances good looks with durability.

From the outside, several features, like the long bowsprit that prevents hull damage on automatic anchor retrieval, hint of the designer's familiarity with the way fishing boats are actually used. Climb aboard and you are quickly immersed in a swathe of practicalities any fisherman would praise - killtanks, livewells, long-range fuel tanks and more.

Perusing the builder's website reveals both boats are presented with more or less the same hunter-gatherer-orientated accessories list, which I will cover in more detail later.

The deck area of the 700 FX Oceanrunner is certainly substantial enough. A billiard table-sized working platform leads to a structurally impressive cabin area. Manly-looking custom helm seats are bolted firmly to oversized storage boxes. A white, uncluttered dash frames a stage of superb visibility. The helm seat is high enough to ensure even the most vertically-tested are afforded a clear, and more importantly, safe vista.

An architect might suggest some of the lines on display to be hard and slightly agricultural, but that doesn't take away from the fact they are functional and easy to keep clean.

The forward cabin is exactly as you would expect in a vessel of this class. The seating arrangement, under which is plenty of storage, converts to a (nearly) full-length berth, with room for the optional head unit. Shelf space is available and a hatch facilitates anchor access in less agreeable weather.

In contrast to the 700 FX Oceanrunner, the 670 SF Centre Console's dash is compact and superbly designed for purpose. A two-person bench seat faces a tidy console. I am often critical of centre console dashes, finding their layouts, with particular reference to the wheel and throttle control angles, less than ergonomic. From that point of view, I found the 670 SF's to be a step up.

I was also enthused by its full-height windscreen, with options for complete enclosure of the helm station via the roll-up rear and side clears. I am sure those who've huddled behind the glowing tip of a cigarette to stay warm blasting to the grounds on crispy mornings will appreciate the effort to add comfort to what can be a rather exposed style of boating.

Given it's a centre console there is no forward cabin on the 670 SF, rather a single step leads up to the bow area. A large killtank/accessories storage compartment takes up virtually all of the subfloor.

The carpeted surface, which continues throughout, ensures surefootedness for anglers trying their luck in the bow, and the gunwales are high enough to aid stability when needed. Personally, I would like to have seen a couple of extra rodholders in the bow for the sake of convenience.



THE WAY YOU LIKE IT

Clearly, the 700 FX Oceanrunner boasts a much larger cockpit space than the 670 SF Centre Console. Allowing for a usable fishing platform forward pushes the console on the smaller boat aft, constricting the space slightly. It's a horses-for-courses approach - the Oceanrunner's larger cockpit and added shelter favours family fishos and dedicated blue-water hunters, whereas the walkaround ticks ample boxes for the technical enthusiasts, who like to keep as many options open as possible.

Regardless of your particular bent these boats take their piscatorial brief seriously. The option list needed to augment each boat's capability is long and covers most of the bases. According to the website specifications, both models can be supplied with freshwater tanks, shower, refrigeration, galley and a toilet. Where you would put the toilet on the 670 SF Centre Console I don't know, but wherever it goes the view will be to die for.

Additional options well worth considering including extra killboxes, livebait tanks, berley buckets, deckwash pumps, dive-tank racks, long-range fuel tanks, tackle drawers and a bow ladder for disembarking at the beach. I suspect adding some - such as the long-range fuel tanks - will compromise others like the freshwater storage, so make sure you consult on the details with the builders before going crazy on the box ticking.



SPARE HORSES

Boats aren't all that different to race cars: the smaller they are the more fun they are to drive. That's why F1 drivers all rave about their days on the karting circuit. Taking away all the technology removes all the buffers between your senses and the road.

As editor of Trade-a-Boat most of my time is spent driving vessels up to 120ft. Handling at that level leaves little room for instincts; most owners take a dim view of insurance claims incurred from any she'll-be-right decisions. I can't deny the opportunity for a little by-the-seat-of-my-pants driving on this pair of Coralines was a mouth-watering prospect.

Both boats sported shiny new Yammie four-strokes - 225hp on the 700 FX Oceanrunner and 150hp on the 670 SF Centre Console. Given the Oceanrunner is only 30cm longer than the Centre Console, it would be natural to expect it would have the superior performance, but that only turned out to be partially correct.

The Coraline 700 FX Oceanrunner definitely has longer legs than the smaller boat. Its longer waterline and slightly better power-to-weight ratio translate to more top-end speed and in a straight line. We didn't get the chance to collect any fuel data, but I suspect it could be slightly more economical at higher speeds, too.

If this proves correct it would add weight to my argument that the bigger boat is, the better the blue-water hunter of the two. However, my unfettered blast of the 670 SF Centre Console put the bigger smile on my dial. As is often the case, the Centre Console configuration proved to be the better balanced hull.

The redistribution of weight lifts the nose slightly, providing a flatter, drier ride in a boat that performs as nimbly as its looks promise. Yes, I admit we are seldom confronted with a slalom course at sea but if you were, the Coraline 670 SF Centre Console could twist through the gates in a hell of a hurry.



THE WRAP

WA is Australia's ultimate boating destination in so many ways. The sheer scale of the place provides an endless variety of opportunities to please all who live for the water, and its remoteness - and mostly sensible fisheries management policies - should ensure bountiful catches for generations to come.

On the flipside, the often weather-beaten coastline demands a pragmatic approach to boat design and to that end Coraline delivers. Both the 700 FX Oceanrunner and the 670 SF Centre Console appear well built, with the added assurance of local servicing and a five-year limited structural hull warranty. They ride fairly well and look good doing it, although the latter slightly outperformed the bigger boat in my opinion.

The icing on the cake with Coraline would have to be the wide range of options on offer. Certainly, anglers of all persuasions can be catered for, which ticks plenty of boxes in my book.



[HIGHS]

› Good working space

› Fully enclosed console on centre console

› Excellent paint finish

› Wide range of accessories

› Comfortable seating

› Easy clean



[LOWS]

› More rodholders on CC

› Slightly basic internal lines



[TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS… ]

Both the 700 FX Oceanrunner and the 670 SF Centre Console appear well built, with the added assurance of local servicing and a five-year limited structural hull warranty. They ride fairly well and look good doing it, although the latter slightly outperformed the bigger boat in my opinion.







Specifications: Coraline 670 SF Centre Console



PRICE AS TESTED

$87,806



OPTIONS FITTED

All safety gear (including EPIRB), and GPS-sounder



PRICED FROM

$79,908



GENERAL

MATERIAL Aluminium (5mm bottom, 4mm sides)

TYPE Planing monohull

LENGTH 6.7m

BEAM 2.5m

WEIGHT 1950kg (BMT)

DEADRISE 20°



CAPACITIES

PEOPLE (DAY) 6

REC. MIN HP 130

REC. MAX HP 225

FUEL 225lt



ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Yamaha F150A

TYPE Fuel-injected four-cylinder petrol outboard

RATED HP 150

DISPLACEMENT 2670cc

WEIGHT 228kg

GEAR RATIO 2:1

PROP 15in stainless steel Yamaha



SUPPLIED BY

BOAT CITY

430 Wanneroo Road,

Balcatta, WA, 6021

Phone: (08) 9345 4311

Web: www.boatcity.com.au; www.coralineboats.com.au





Specifications: Coraline 700 FX Oceanrunner



PRICE AS TESTED

$109,870



OPTIONS FITTED

All safety gear (including EPIRB)



PRICED FROM

$107,000



GENERAL

MATERIAL Aluminium (5mm bottom, 4mm sides)

LENGTH 7m

BEAM 2.5m

WEIGHT 2200kg (BMT)

DEADRISE 20°



CAPACITIES

PEOPLE (DAY) 7

REC. MIN HP 150

REC. MAX HP 250

FUEL 300lt

WATER 80lt (optional)



ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Yamaha F225F

TYPE Four-stroke V6 petrol outboard

RATED HP 225

DISPLACEMENT 4169cc

GEAR RATION 1.75:1

PROP 15in stainless steel Yamaha



SUPPLIED BY

Boat City

430 Wanneroo Road,

Balcatta, WA, 6021

Phone: (08) 9345 4311

Web: www.boatcity.com.au; www.coralineboats.com.au

 

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #436, January 2012

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