BOAT TEST: NORTHBANK 600

By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Rick Huckstepp


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Rick Huckstepp looks at two configurations of the South Australian-built Northbank 600 family fisher

BOAT TEST: NORTHBANK 600
NORTHBANK 600

 

SOUTHERN OCEAN STYLE


With a few thousand frequent flyer points to burn and pushed for time leading up to Christmas, TrailerBoat hit the air to South Australia to review the Northbank 600 from the local manufacturer there.
The Northbank is manufactured on the south side of the City of Adelaide and distributed to a network which tends to be dominant across the south of the continent.
The boats of interest were the six-metre models from the range; branded 600.
While the original boat was a cuddy cabin, we spotted one that was having the finishing touches put to it before being handed over to its new owner who is an employee at one of the distributors for this brand, Christies Beach Marine.
This particular rig was fitted with a hardtop and it was destined to spend its life on the waters out from Port Victoria, a fishing village on the shores of Spencer Gulf. We thought we would put that one to sea for you also.
The head height in the wheelhouse would suit someone to 6ft3in or 190cm. The top was extremely sturdy and looking at the brow on its front above the windscreen, it measured about 13mm thick.
The hardened glass front panels of the windscreen are an acutely curved wraparound making for an obstruction-free view out the front and to the forequarters, save for a join in the centre and a stainless steel post connecting the hardtop to the dash. Often where glass is curved such as this, distortion creates havoc when navigating and looking for channel markers and the like, but a close inspection showed it to be distortion free.
A support in the sides of the wheelhouse separated the hardened glass screens from sliding Perspex windows. A console in the hardtop housed two marine radios and a lockable glove compartment.
The remainder of the boat, with the exception of the powerplant, remained similar to the other boat which was the 600 Cuddy.

 

 

HELM FEATURES


At the helm, the wheel was fitted to a vertical bulkhead with room above on an angled fascia to install electronics. On the cuddy, both radios and the chartplotter/depthsounder were fitted here. There is a flat shelf above that and in front of the passenger seat, a lidded compartment was recessed below a rebate in the topside that will prevent chattels flying around the place in rough seas. The seals for the hatch of this recessed compartment were basic and could be improved upon at a later date with little effort and expense. Between these two locations, the area aft of the screen is flat and large enough to be used for mounting large-screen electronics.
Both swivel seats at the dash on the cuddy were adjustable fore and aft and mounted on modules which had an aperture on the inside wall through which gear could be stowed. Their bases could be folded back to provide a bum lean rather than a seat when travelling in rough seas. Both seat locations also featured a sturdy stainless steel footrest fixed to the vertical bulkhead. When standing either side in rough seas, the knees do not get near this bulkhead and there are plenty of sturdy handrails to grasp.
The seat modules on the hardtop incorporated a rebated aft end which was cushioned for a seat with insulated ice stowage below. Instead of an open entry for stowage as in the cuddy, the hardtop featured a hatch for the passenger module and that for the skipper had a tackle stowage system installed.
While the cuddy was fitted with Mercury's 200hp Verado four-stroke outboard, its remote gear shift and throttle control was fixed to the flat inner liner near the starboard edge of the wheel. It could be easily knocked while spinning the wheel and a rebate in the liner might well get these two items separated for a bit more comfort and practicality.
The windscreen on the cuddy featured a grabrail across its top and partway down the sides. The end of the rail terminated near the right shoulder and proved to be literally a thorn in the side (albeit a blunt one) travelling over the chop at speed when cornering (a little more tube to extend this item would alleviate the problem).
The windscreen on the hardtop featured a wiper blade for the skipper and this needs to be modified to get it to travel in a different arc as the end of the wiper hung out in mid-air past the corner of the wraparound.
While the cuddy featured a canvas bimini with alloy-tube frame, the hardtop was fitted with a sturdy stainless steel rail system coming from the coaming at the aft of the cab all the way up and across the top and down the other side. A rodholder rack was part of this setup.
Both boats featured similar sidepocket stowage and a long, hinged hatch in the deck opened to reveal a killtank or an area for wet stowage. Aft of that, an insert in the deck could easily be unscrewed to gain access to the fuel tank for maintenance. Forward of this long hatch, another swung forward revealing a rebated and drainable sump. This is a good area to stow mooring lines and the like but also allows one to step down early when entering the cabin alleviating a lot of crouching. Inside the cabin is two small berths with stowage below and one may access the Stress Free Anchor Winch via the cabin roof hatch.
The cuddy featured a half-height transom access door through the bulkhead. This was away from the side of the boat and more toward the centre. People boarding or disembarking step out onto a small platform where there is a rail for the left hand. One has to move diagonally from the platform across the engine well to traverse this access door and, other than grappling with the engine cowl, there was nowhere for the right hand to grab. A rail of sorts here would make this area more user-friendly.

 

 

ENGINCE ACCESS


The hardtop featured an engine box that protruded into the cockpit area although the Cummins 2lt diesel was recessed well back under the rear coaming of the transom bulkhead.
The top of the bulkhead is fitted with a very well thought out baitboard and this, and the bulkhead is lifted up and hinged aft. This allows the engine box to be slid forward to gain access to the motor. With the box slid out of the way, one has easy access to the pulley belts, strainers, dipstick and L-cocks installed in the hull. There is an L-cock here for a freshwater hose installation for flushing the engine.
The aft ends of the sides of the engine box do not seal off this compartment and air is circulated under the transom bulkhead to assist in cooling. It also allows engine noise to emanate back into the cockpit which is a little disconcerting. Diesels are diesels and none of them are quiet compared with petrol four-stroke engines. They can be silenced, though, with some astute use of sound deadening materials available on the market.
Some redesigning would have to be undertaken to reduce noise in this fit up, such as extending the sides and top of the box all the way to the transom, but it could be done.
A crank battery was installed on a platform under the bulkhead each side of the engine box, above which a livebait well was installed in the top, also each side.

 

 

PERFORMANCE


Out on the waters of the Gulf, the Verado provided plenty of punch with holeshot to burn. It did have an odd vibration throughout its low rev range which is odd for these engines. Manoeuvrability was excellent and the electronic shift and power steering attached to the Verado made life easy at the helm. At full throttle of 6000rpm the Verado was pushing the 600 along at 67kmh with a fuel consumption of 77lt/h.
The diesel version was typically slower out of the hole but proved to be as manoeuvrable on the plane but without the high top-end speed. It registered 58kmh at 5000rpm with a fuel consumption of 42lt/h. Cut that back to a cruise speed of 19kmh and 3000rpm and you won't be diving into the wallet too often with a fuel consumption of a meagre 14lt/h.
It did offer a softer ride in the chop than the outboard version due to the extra weight of the hardtop. There was also a reduction in water noise on the hull in the hardtop due to the foam filled void between the hull and inner liner.
The Northbanks are a nicely finished sturdy boat with a deep cockpit that will appeal to the family and ardent fisho alike.

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED


Hardtop
Big roomy wheelhouse
Plenty of underfloor wet areas,
Awesome fuel economy
Engine easy to get at for maintenance

Cuddy
Excellent power steering coupled to the Verado

 

 

NOT SO MUCH


Hardtop
Engine noise a little annoying but can be fixed with a little R&D

Cuddy
Windscreen handrail needs to be extended and an extra grabrail for the right hand when accessing cockpit over the stern

 

 

 


Specifications: Northbank 600

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $97,800 hardtop; $77,950 cuddy
Options fitted:
Hardtop: bowrail, baitboard, deck wash, electronics, and trailer.
Cuddy: trailer, winch, walkthrough transom, platform and ladder, bowrail, rocket launcher, electronics, spotlight, and lounge

Priced from:          `        $74,950 hardtop w/ Mercruiser EFI petrol engine; $62,700 cuddy w/ 150 Optimax outboard

 

 

GENERAL


Material:                          Fibreglass
Length overall:                 6.3m
Beam:                             2.42m
Weight:                           1125kg (hull only)
Deadrise:                         21º

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel:                               160lt
People (day):                  7
Rec. max. HP:                200

 

 

ENGINE


Hardtop
Make/model:             Cummins Mercury QSD2
Displacement:                           2lt
Gearbox ratio:                           2:1
Weight:                           300kg
Propeller:                        18-inch

Cuddy
Make/model:             Mercury Verado 200hp (large or small block) outboard
Displacement:                1.7lt
Gearbox ratio:                 2.08:1
Weight:                           239kg
Propeller:                        19-inch stainless Mirage

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Christies Beach Marine,
19 Sherriffs Road,
Lonsdale, SA, 5160
Phone: (08) 8387 6411
Fax: (08) 8387 6511
Website: www.northbank.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #228

Find Northbank boats for sale.

 


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