BOAT TEST: FREEDOM OFFSHORE 595 WALKAROUND

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford


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The Freedom Offshore 595 Walkaround caters to the serious fisho, especially if they plan to take the family along, too, writes John Ford

BOAT TEST: FREEDOM OFFSHORE 595 WALKAROUND
FREEDOM OFFSHORE 595 WALKAROUND

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
The Australian boating enthusiast has never had a wider choice.  Over the last few years the American dollar has meant that imports from that country have tempted the local buyer like never before. Meanwhile the local market has continued to produce quality products in a very competitive market.
Like many businesses, boat dealers are finding it hard going as the economy finds its feet as the waves of uncertainty radiate from the latest turmoil in Wall Street.
With this in mind it is good to see local manufacturers targeting the value oriented buyer.

FAMILY FISHERS
Freedom Boats from Noosa in Queensland is run by Glen Grams who is producing a range of boats with features that will impress the fishos as well as keep the family happy. The company has been in business since 1992 and turns out up to 150 boats a year over its range of four models between 5.3 and 6.4m.
The Offshore 595 Walkaround, as the name implies, targets the more serious fisherman, but with room and comfort enough to be enjoyed by the whole family.
Our test of the 595 took us to sea from Merimbula on NSW's south coast. It was a good indicator of the boats ability as we were able to run it in the sheltered waters of the bay and then head offshore to the fishing grounds off Long Point.
The first sight of the boat on the trailer is impressive. The hull shape and the well crafted targa top and rocket launcher have a purposeful look. The boat is a relatively wide 2.5m and the scalloped mouldings of the topsides give a fast-looking modern design.
The hull itself has a deep-vee 21-degree deadrise but with noticeable reverse chine and a concave section in the keel line designed to give the boat more lift on takeoff and a more efficient flow of water towards the motor.

FLYING KEEL
The keel design takes inspiration from Gram's interest in flying. He describes the feature as a hydralift concave and says it gives the hull free lift in a similar way that modern waterskis work for more efficiency.
The hull is traditional chopper gun layup with polyester resin but with a hand laid 990gm biaxial fibreglass sheet set into the bottom of the boat. Stringers are of glass and timber, the transom is constructed with specially treated ply, and the hull cavity is foam filled for a softer and quieter ride.
The transom features a generous sized portside boarding platform with access via a moulded door. Grabrails are fitted each side of the boarding platform where the standard folding stainless swim ladder is on the port side.
The starboard transom has a drained storage section which could be plumbed to use as a livebait tank. The fuel filler is easily accessible in the centre of the transom cut-out near where a bait prep table could be fitted, but is not a standard fixture.
The rear section of the cockpit has a vinyl covered two-person seat with a large storage box underneath that is easily movable allowing access to the bilge which is fitted with a manual bilge pump. On the cockpit sole, each side of the bilge, reside the battery and oil container. A single battery is fitted as standard but there is space here for a second. The seat-box is also removable, thus freeing up room for good access to all points of the cockpit if serious fishing is your intent, but that does reduce storage.
The cockpit sole has good quality marine carpet, while an underfloor aluminium fuel tank runs the length of the cockpit. At 175lt it provides a good operating range for fishing the shelf in most places of Australia.
A full-length single tier shelf each side of the cockpit provides accommodating storage for rods and gaffs. Gunwales are wide enough to comfortably sit on at rest, and are fitted with a rodholder and a stainless steel pop-up cleat each side.
Although no step is fitted there is easy access to the bow along the sidedecks for the crew to perform anchoring and mooring duties.

BEHIND THE WHEEL
The helm has two vinyl upholstered bucket seats mounted on moulded fibreglass boxes for storage. The driving position is comfortable and there is good vision ahead when seated or standing.
The seats are not height adjustable, but the skipper and passanger do have moulded footrests on the bulkhead. The passenger has a stainless grabrail fitted to the dash and provision could be made for a second grabrail for someone standing in-between underway. A smallish storage area or killtank is located under the floor between the helm seats.
The generous sized dash has plenty of room for instruments and screens. The controls fall easily to hand and all instruments are clearly in view.
The stainless steel targa top is solid and attractively styled. The canvas bimini with the removable optional clears are nicely fitted and the targa, itself, folds back into the cabin by removing a pin and undoing a turnbuckle each side. This is a bonus for storage in a garage. It's an easy and fast operation which proved invaluable in our test when we had to drop the top to get back under the bridge at Merimbula on a rising tide.

COZY CUDDY
The Freedom Offshore 595's cuddy cabin has full-length vee-berths covered with quality commercial grade material and storage under the berths. There is room for a six-footer to stretch out full length plus plenty of head height to sit out of the weather.  The cabin is surprisingly roomy given the space taken up by the walkaround deck. A real bonus of this style of boat on family outings is being able to get the kids out of the weather, provide space for a sleep and a safe children's play area while at rest.
The finish in the cabin is good and it has the usual sidepocket setup on each side of the cabin plus a neat fibreglass cover to protect the back of the instrument panel.
The cabin is airy with plenty of light coming from large windows each side and a hatch lifts for access to the bow. This hatch has no means of staying open, but this will be remedied on future models, I was told.
The bow area is protected by solid side rails which split at the bow over a serious-sized bowsprit and anchor mounting gear, while the large anchor well is covered by a lifting hatch.

DRIVE TIME
The sea off Merimbula was perfect for our test. The bay was flat and offshore, there was a half-metre sea on a one metre swell running.
The immediate impression of the Offshore 595 is its eagerness to get going. 
Even with three aboard and a full tank of fuel, the 135hp direct injection Mercury spinning a 19in stainless steel prop launches the boat onto the plane with ease.
The hull certainly seems to benefit from the design of the concave keel line which gives plenty of lift out of the hole.
As speed progressed, the boat provided responsive handling and predictably steered well into the steepest of turns. At sea, we punched into the swell and launched off several waves. The landing was soft and with little breeze blowing, the spray was directed well away from the boat. The hull and fittings gave a feeling of being solid with no banging or rattles, including from the targa and clears.
We set a trolling speed at around 12kmh were the boat ran quietly and would be comfortable in most seas at this speed. Fuel consumption at that pace was 4.7lt/h making for a very frugal day of dragging lures.
The boat comes onto the plane at around 18kmh at 2000rpm. By 3000rpm we were doing 23kmh and consuming 13lt/h. A comfortable cruise is achieved at 4000rpm for 50kmh and 24lt/h. Revs of 5500rpm gets you moving at 67kmh and 47lt/h, while WOT will send you to 71kmh gulping down 48lt/h.
Those figures aren't bad for a boat with hull weighing in at 950kg, and with 175lt of fuel on board there is plenty of scope for some serious fishing or fun. The boat is rated up to 200hp, but there would need to be a pretty big load on board to warrant the top power.
The Freedom Offshore 595 Walkaround is a good performer and well finished model at the lower end of the price range for this style of boat.
It is pretty much a no frills product but without compromises to build quality and finish. There is plenty of scope to customise the boat to suit individual needs but as a basic package, it will make a fine fishing platform and double as a very useable family runabout.

WHAT WE LIKED
Well constructed
Good finish
Fine handling
Quailty targa

NOT SO MUCH
Lack some features but is a base model to build on
No stop for front hatch (but this is to be rectified)

 

Specifications: Freedom Offshore 595 Walkaround

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested:   $58,500
Options fitted:  Targa, bimini, clears, colour GPS/fishfinder, GME marine radio, stainless steel prop, and upgraded trailer
Priced from:  $49,500

GENERAL 
Type:    Cuddy cab
Material:   GRP
Length overall:   6.2m
Beam:    2.5m
Deadrise:    21°
Weight:    950kg (hull)

CAPACITIES
Fuel:    165lt
People:   7
Rec. min. HP:   135
Rec. max. HP:   200

ENGINE
Make/model:  Mercury OptiMax 135
Type:    Direct injection two-stroke
Displacement:   2507cc
Weight:   195kg
Gearbox ratio:  2.00:1
Propeller:     19in stainless steel

SUPPLIED BY
Merimbula Outboard Service,
Lot 22, Sapphire Coast Drive,
Tura, NSW, 2548
Phone: (02) 6495 9634
Fax: (02) 6495 9345
Websites: www.merimbulaoutboard.com.au; www.freedomboats.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat # 238

Find Freedom boats for sale.

 


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