BOAT TEST: LEVEY FIBREGLASS OFFSHORE PRO 630

By: Paul Tuzson, Photography by: Paul Tuzson


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Likes its name suggests, the Offshore Pro 630 is for serious offshore angling pursuits. Paul Tuzson tests it out on a rough Port Phillip Bay.

BOAT TEST: LEVEY FIBREGLASS OFFSHORE PRO 630
Levey Offshore Pro 630

There's nothing quite like taking things to the limit and there's a bit of both in this test. Firstly, the Offshore Pro 630 exceeds the toughness and endurance expected from most GRP boats. Levey Fibreglass Pty Ltd has long experience in boat manufacturing and has only been manufacturing this boat for about two years. In that time, it's gained a reputation for toughness in rough seas. This is due to the extreme thickness built into the hull. In many sections it's close to double that of most boats of comparable size, but that's not the whole story.

The extra thick hull is also extremely well reinforced by a box formed stringer insert. Like the hull, this is made from thick, heavy-duty fibreglass. It's first glued into position, and then bonded to the interior of the hull by layers of heavily woven cloth, sandwiched with plenty of chopped strand out of the gun. We had to see this for ourselves and sure enough, the construction was everything we'd been led to believe.
In the shot of the hull under construction, the insert had been glued in, but not yet been glassed over. There's no timber bracing used anywhere in the boat with the exception of the transom. This eliminates any concern about water penetration over time. Mark Levey says that for the same mass, there's nothing that offers the same strength and resilience of plywood in this position.

 

USING SPACE WISELY
There's a generous bilge drainage channel down the centre of the boat and the under-deck killtank is plumbed into it. This tank sits in the rear part of the long void in the reinforcing with the front section housing the fuel tank. A separate smaller void at the front forms the footwell between the V-berths in the cabin. The outer areas between the reinforcing and the hull, and also the interior of the reinforcing insert itself, are filled with foam.
Laying down thick sections of fibreglass can introduce problems if it isn't done properly, but examining offcuts of the work done by this company shows top quality work. This comes from decades of building all sorts of boats for a wide range of manufacturers. So, although the Offshore Pro is relatively new in the market, Levey Fibreglass has actually been making boats for a very long time. All this experience culminates in the 630.
The boat could certainly double as a platform for pleasant family outings with a few more seats and some carpet added, but it's not really intended for that. In its current configuration it's intended to get anglers to the best offshore locations and then make it as easy as possible to get some serious fishing done. The kill and livebait tanks and available space support this, along with conventional features like plenty of rodholders and a rear mounted bait table. Even the foldable section of railing across the transom gate still carries a couple of rodholders.
Practicality rules at the front of the boat too. The large diameter (32mm) outset front rails are configured so that you can actually get to the front of the boat on the outside of the cabin if you need to. Of course, there's a decent clear hatch in the cabin roof, but the inclusion of a powered anchor winch makes its use unnecessary for anything more than ventilation, or perhaps tying up at a jetty. There's also a sturdy rail around the inner top edge of the windscreen; essential for the sorts of seas the boat is built to cope with. As you'd expect, all the rails are high-grade stainless steel.

 

LISTEN AND LEARN
Mark and his father Ron listened carefully to a great many fishing enthusiasts when designing the Offshore Pro and it's evident in the final result. For instance, the freeboard was set so that a typical fisherman could reach the water when bringing up a catch. Mark says, "Some people consider the gunwales too low for an offshore boat, but they're wrong." He also suggests that lower boats are more stable at rest, and that's important.
During our test on Port Phillip Bay a severe chop was running, quite deceptive, as it's not obvious in every photo. Every seven waves or so, a wave seemingly twice the size rolled by, however the helm remained pretty dry, with the clears serving their purpose from time to time.
The front to rear 22-degree deadrise is a compromise between wave-top performance and stability at rest, and it seems to work. During TrailerBoat's test, waves were generally about 1.5m with a few larger ones. With a decent bit of speed up and trim, the 630 cuts across the crests quite comfortably. The prevailing conditions didn't seem to restrict handling to the expected degree. Turns were easy in all directions and the boat felt quite comfortable and stable crossing waves and wakes at all angles.
Many of the passes I photographed were at full throttle with Mark at the helm. He knows we generally like to see a boat get some air for more spectacular photographs, so he had the prop trimmed out to get airborne off the crests. While doing this certainly achieved the desired results, it's also a bit misleading in terms of how the boat rides in these conditions. In normal use you wouldn't be coming off waves in this way.

 

TALENTED TESTING
As I opened throttle to WOT, the Yamaha 250 responded beautifully but we slammed into a freak wall of water with so much force that both Mark and I instantly broke the swivel mechanisms of the seats. Are swivel mechanisms low quality? No - these were a new type that the company was evaluating for possible use. Needless to say they failed the evaluation and the much stronger types that match the strength of the Offshore Pro will continue to be fitted.
The separately moulded instrument panel conceals the rear of the instruments nicely and is well thought out. The dedicated mounting point for the compass, for instance, is a good idea. The radio is set down at the side where it's close to hand but also out of the way. You can see a Lowrance LCX-112C combination display fitted along with Yamaha speed, tacho and fuel displays. However, nothing about this boat is standard except the basic build quality. Everything else can be customer specified.
The boat we tested was supplied by Central Marine in Hastings (Vic). Despite the flexibility available from the builder, the configuration of this particular boat is a pretty good fit for many customers in this market. The weight of the Offshore Pro requires some power to get it moving, with the absolute minimum being 200hp. The company suggests 300hp as the maximum. The hull alone weighs 1350kg and the complete boat is about two tonnes or more, so you'd want a good size vehicle to tow it comfortably. A LandCruiser or similar would be ideal.

 

FINAL TOUCHES
Other nice touches on the test boat included a GME CD player mounted just inside the lockable cabin hatch, slide-out tackle trays under the seats, fairly generous storage areas (but none under the V-berths), decent spotlights for when things get busy at night and low mounted courtesy lights for the quieter moments.
You'll also note that the engine mounting section of the transom is raised somewhat. This is so that a motor with a longer shaft can be used to keep the powerhead higher and minimise the chance of water getting into the lower cylinders when stationary in rough seas. Everything about this boat is well thought out and designed for serious offshore fishing. And almost any option is available. Highly recommended for safe boating in almost all weather.

WHAT WE LIKED
Construction quality
Stability and handling
Fittings and finish
Fishing features

NOT SO MUCH
Not much really
Perhaps better foot rest arrangements at seats

 

 

Specifications: Offshore Pro 630


HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: Around $90,000 (including single 250 Yamaha and tandem trailer)
Options fitted: Lowrance combination display, and GME stereo and VHF set
Priced from: $75,000 w/ F225 Yamaha and steel trailer
Standard fittings: Anchor winch, flush-mount glovebox, large killtank, livebait tank, lockup cabin, full-glass windscreen, and under-seat boxes for ice and general storage

GENERAL
Type:    Monohull
Material:    GRP hull with full GRP stringer insert and foam flotation
Length overall:   6.6m
Beam:    2.42m
Deadrise:    22°
Weight:    Approx 2500kg (w/ engine)
Speed:    56mph

CAPACITIES
Fuel:     210lt (option for more available)
Rec. min. HP:   225
Rec. max. HP:   300

ENGINE
Make/model:   Yamaha F250AETU
Type:    Four-stroke
Rated HP:    250
Displacement:   3352cc
Max. RPM:   5500 to 6000
Weight:    278kg
Gearbox ratio:   2:1
Propeller:    14.5in 21-degree pitch
Consumption:   80lt/h at WOT; approx 60lt/h at 5000rpm

SUPPLIED BY
Central Marine,
1845 Frankston-Flinders Road,
Hastings, Vic, 3915
Phone: (03) 5979 4167
Fax: (03) 5979 7055
Email: newsales@centralmarine.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #237

Find Levey Fibreglass boats for sale.

 


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