By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Rick Huckstepp

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Rick Huckstepp thinks of the good old days as he puts the 650 through its paces


Hark back 25-odd years ago and the 'gun' alloy trailerboat to be on around those times was the Yellowfin. They were well built and tough and are still seen plying various waters, though age has seen most of them refurbished with a new paint job eliminating branding decals.

They were built by Alf Stessyl who is still on the job producing trailerboats for the small end of the market, out of Geelong in Victoria. His lad, Tim, is busying himself in South East Queensland with the larger end of the market and producing the plate alloy Mako Craft once again.
We took the 650 Island Cab for a spin recently to check out its credentials, and making it of particular interest is the fact that this boat is built from some of the specs of the earlier Yellowfin.


Jumping aboard, one finds a walkaround abeam of the centre cabin structure that is wide enough to traverse foot-over-foot. This is made possible by a rebate in the coaming adjacent to the cabin side and it runs all the way forward.
At the anchor well, which is open to the elements, one may slip the front of their feet under the box that forms the well, which is suspended off the deck making for a good stable position from which to work the ground tackle. You can also lean back and park the backside in a cushioned rebate on the forward brow of the cabin.
Although there are no grabrails on the cabin roof or side, those on the forequarter gunwales are robust with 25mm stanchions and 38mm top rails. In the aft quarters, where the gunwales go full width, are a couple of rodholders rebated each side while below this section is an equivalent length side stowage pocket.


The liner for the engine well is centrally located in the transom bulkhead and runs flush to the cockpit deck. In the port corner, batteries are installed on a shelf that is raised off the floor allowing feet to be tucked underneath for fishing standing. The deckwash is installed in this space below the battery shelf.
The inside edge and part of the topside of the 650 Island Cab's cockpit gunwale is upholstered quite neatly and this section, while encroaching into the opening that leads to the batteries, is hinged and swings up to offer full access to this void.
In the cockpit's starboard corner, a half-height walkthrough transom has been fabricated with a carpeted swinging door. The two slide bolts holding it closed were a little light on for this purpose and one was damaged. They looked like chromed brass so a replacement with sturdy stainless steel types would serve the purpose better.


Centred on the transom bulkhead is the portable bait rigging station. Rather than being custom built for the boat, it is an accessory item but one that is practical. The cutting board is lipped so rubbish is retained rather than spilling everywhere and nylon lined knife blocks are at each end while there are four rodholders across the back along with drinkholder rings.
Over the back of the Mako Craft transom you'll find two carpeted boarding platforms. That on the starboard side has a telescopic foldaway boarding ladder mounted underneath and a pair of cockpit deck drains each side.
Above the helm is the neatly lined padded upholstery of the alloy hardtop's ceiling. The struts holding the hardtop aloft are manufactured beams with an eye-catching profile while the Perspex windscreen is wraparound and mounted remotely from the hardtop struts. There were no grabrails for the helm passenger, so a couple of those would not go astray.
The 650 Island Cab's helm seat is another pre-manufactured accessory but very practical. This one had been mounted on 100mm alloy blocks so that a WAECO electric fridge can fit underneath.
While the seat's framework consists of sturdy metal posts, with surrounding rails where items can be tied off to, the seat base itself is fibreglass with stowage under the hinged cushion and a row of rodholders across the back edge. The backrest can be repositioned with its posts fitting into two (of these rodholder pots). This makes it easy to swing the legs over and race down the back when on a hot strike.
Width wise, the helm seat would fit two large adults at a squeeze but it has been purposely kept narrow to offer a wider passage into the island cabin.


The helm was neatly laid out and there is plenty of room for large cabinet electronics. The instrument panel is a moulded plastic insert and upholstered panels were fixed to the port and starboard side helm station liner.
The inside edge of the cabin entrance is slotted to take a two-part lockable door for securing gear inside. When climbing in here you will be surprised at how much space is available for a structure that from the outside seems small in comparison.
The infill covering the leg well forms part of a full mattress set that will sleep two adults. The well itself is very deep and holds a portable toilet with stowage forward of that. Even long johns won't bang their head on the ceiling in here ? it is very high.


Power plant wise, this rig is fitted with a 150hp VTEC Honda four-stroke outboard. It had reasonable holeshot, though not startling but good enough to get a crew on the plane and keep the boat well positioned on the swell when running a dangerous bar.
Typically quiet for this brand of engine, the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Electronic Lift Control) system is one aspect that you will enjoy. It cuts in at around 4200rpm and gives the engine a turbo-like boot in the power output when it activates.
There wasn't too much sea to really challenge this boat running the Mako Craft 650 outside the Seaway on the Gold Coast but what was there showed the vessel's ability to handle big chop and track straight with a following sea.
Under full steam, the Island Cab rode the chop without excessive banging and was noticeably quiet as far as ambient water-to-hull noise was concerned.
A lot of this noise has been removed from the equation due to no strakes being fitted to the hull which has a 38-degree deadrise at the bow and a 17-degree deadrise at the transom. This gives it a fine cutting edge and the reason for the soft ride.
Such a steep deadrise tends to make hulls of particular weights ride high and lean when wind is on the beam so trim tabs are the order of the day with this boat when making the initial purchase. (They were fitted to the test boat.)
We mentioned the Yellowfin boat earlier, well, the 650 Island Cab is a follow on from that craft hull wise. The exception is that it is 240mm wider than the 'Fin and has downturned chines for stability when dead in the water.


This hull planed easily at 20kmh and 3170rpm with the Honda consuming just 12.4lt/h. At 3500rpm and 24kmh it was using 15.6lt/h while at 4000rpm, 20.8lt/h were going through the injectors for a speed of 48kmh. WOT of 6100rpm and 64kmh saw the highest consumption of 55lt/h which is still good in anyone's books!
All up the Mako Craft 650 Island Cab is a nice boat with the best of both worlds; that is, a big cabin for the kids and some serious fishing characteristics for those with babysitters. It's definitely worth a test drive.


Big cabin even with a walkaround
Economical at all speeds
Soft and quiet ride


Transom door latches need to be beefed up
Safety grabrail required for helm passenger when standing next to the skipper, such as a grabrail on the cabin roof or side


Specifications: Mako Craft 650 Island Cab

Price as tested:    $89,000      
Options fitted:    Hardtop, self-draining deck, freshwater tank with deck shower, deckwash, oversize fuel tank, LED lighting, rear steps, concealed ladder, portable head, two-tone paint, radios and electronics.     
Priced from:     $65,000

Type:      Walkaround cab mono hull                 
Material:     Plate aluminium; 5mm bottom and 4mm side      
Length overall:    6.5m   
Beam:     2.5m        
Deadrise:     17° at transom     
Weight:     1070kg (bare hull)      
Floatation:     Basic underfloor      

Fuel:      330lt        
People day:    7      
Rec. max. load:    1000kg        
People berthed:    2       
Rec. max. HP:    225       
Rec. min. HP:    135              
Rec.max. engine weight:      280kg

Make/model:        Honda 150 VTEC         
Type:          Four-cylinder four-stroke petrol outboard
Rated HP:         150     
Displacement:        2354cc       
Weight:         217kg         
Gearbox ratio:        2.14:1       
Propeller         19in Titan 
VELS rating:        3-star

8 Industrial Avenue,
Molendina, Qld, 4214
Phone: (07) 5564 7712

Originally published in TrailerBoat #241

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