By: Rick Huckstepp

The attention to detail of the Ocean Master 651 is unsurpassed in the aluminium trailerboat market, writes Rick Huckstepp

We recently called in on Darwin, home to Territory Marine, a retail outlet that manufactures the Ocean Master.
These boats and their prowess on unkind waters were no secret to this writer, who has spent some time aboard this brand of boat in the name of fishing over the past few years.
Three days were spent with Duane Trouchet, who runs a 651 model along shallow water on the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park, right up to its wide and windswept mouth and choppy, fast currents.
The charter operator likes to get away from the crowds without cutting too deeply into clients’ fishing time. He does this with a 250hp Evinrude V-Tec bolted on the back of his boat.
With its room to move and stability second to none in long hauls over rough water, he reckons he’s on the money when it comes to his choice of boats.
I have also has spent some time aboard the small 511 model, fishing the Daly River.
So, what has changed since then with the Ocean Master? Well, ride wise, not too much. The adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ holds true here.
Taking the 651 into Darwin Harbour, developing monsoons had the westerly pushing at 25kt, with a forecast of 1.5m chop.
Heading across the harbour, we stuck our bow into West Arm looking for a barra, while over our shoulders a sold rainsquall swept the harbour, heading east.
The stability of these boats, with anglers working one side, was noticeable. The boat exhibited very little list and remained rock solid. It was seemingly glued to the surface.
With the bottom of the tide an hour and a half away, we shot back into the harbour and anchored off Mona Loa wreck looking to hook a reef fish.
At anchor in the predicted chop, the 651 was all that I had expected and proved easy to fish from, even with the constant rolling chop coming from the Timor Sea.
The fish didn’t play the game here, either, so with barra rods back in hand we went back into West Arm.
Our first troll up one of Trouchet’s favourite side creeks produced a small bream. This was followed by an undersized barra that was thrown back and a 9kg barra that rounded out a good day on the water.
One of the Ocean Master’s many attributes is the softness of its ride. Those from the vee-hull brigade look upon this style of boat with disdain, believing they would bang about in a 90mph gale, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The fore foot of the keel line sports a 27-degree entry that offers good surface-piercing qualities. High on the shoulders of the bow, an aggressive reverse chine provides lift when punching chop, and deflects water rising up the outer skin.
The surrounding cylinder deflects what spray is left, acting as a shield for those within. Because the start of the cylinder is parallel to the surface before it upturns to form the actual side of the hull, spray does not get a chance to rise.
The landing is effectively two-staged should the hull bury deeply in chop. This is where the softness of the ride comes from.
This was put to the test coming back across the harbour. We had wind on the port forequarter of at least 20kt, and with the 651 running at 45km/h for the 4km journey, only once did a small amount of spray find its way onto our faces as we skipped across the steep chop.
If this boat is stopped dead in the water, the cylindrical configuration settles to the surface and offers one of the most stable fishing platforms on the market.
When thrown about, this boat proved to be just as stable. It shows a flat attitude when cornering and is very direct at the helm. With seating across the transom bulkhead for three, we enjoyed the softest ride possible and, with the chop closer to the ramp about half a metre, wound the 250 E-Tec out to 5500 revs, at which time the GPS had us a smidge over 80km/h.
Its performance in various situations is not the only thing that sets the Ocean Master apart from many. Its attention to the most minute detail, design practicality and quality of workmanship is unsurpassed in the aluminium trailerboat market.
The 651 operates a Stressless electric winch tucked away under a neat hatch on the bow. The foredeck has a large casting deck, and when the central hatch is lifted, supported on twin gas struts, an 85lt Eva Cool icebox is exposed, fixed into position.
It has a drain hose attached, which feeds to the face of the bulkhead it sits behind, interrupted by a stop cock giving one the choice of drainage or not.
The hatch sits snug in a gutter that has its down pipe feeding internally and through the same bulkhead.
Two smaller corner hatches lead into dry stowage areas for safety gear. In fact, all hatches are meticulously manufactured. Gutters, drains, and the drain holes in bulkheads are masked with a small stainless steel manifold; a smart finishing touch.
Surrounding this casting deck, the gunwales rise about 100mm, giving a good foot barrier. Short bowrails feature here, too.
A wider-than-normal step up to the casting deck also featured a gas-strutted hatch, which, when lifted exposed a shallow compartment for stowing lure boxes and other short items.
The bottom of this, and other hatch floors, was sprayed with a thick soundproofing material that silenced a lot of the rattling of objects on the alloy. The floor of this compartment was actually another gas-strutted hatch, which, when lifted, exposed a cavernous stowage area down into the deep bow.
The decks were fully carpeted and offered good fishing coverage right around the gunwales. Side pockets lined the length of the inner coamings and were at a higher-than-normal location, ideally located for lures, knives, pliers and other accessories.
The console was situated aft of centre and was a manufacturing gem in itself. A full front hatch opened to expose a meticulously designed under dash assembly. A shallow tray had a border running across it ensuring objects could never get too far away no matter what side you accessed the console from.
The layout of the console instrumentation was also neat and performed admirably as a practical helm.
The transom bulkhead utilised available space and it had a full width gas-strutted reinforced hatch that, when lifted, exposed the battery setup and fresh and saltwater pumps for deck washers.
The boat featured a live bait tank on the outer side of the bulkhead and, in the opposite corner, a rubbish compartment.
And just when your head is reeling from all of this innovation and attention to detail, the baitboard, which looks like it came from the bridge of the Battle Star Gallactica, has to be appreciated as well.
It has a stainless steel pull pin release to unclip the board from the stem for easy cleaning. The stem has a small door in its face and inside is stored filleting and bait knives and rigging needles.
This stem sits aft of the seats across the bulkhead so can remain in place while three people sit abreast when long-ranging. Otherwise, the stem is easily removed.
The finish everywhere on this boat is stunning. Clips and cramps are not ‘off the shelf’, instead purpose machined and anodized in various colours.
Even the freshwater filler cap is anodized and is the style used on racing cars, featuring fancy quick release catches.
The Ocean Master 651 caters for the most fastidious of buyers who also demand practicality. The current ownership of these boats says it all. Water police, search and rescue units, Paspaley Pearls, and for those familiar with the territory, fishing real estate doyen Channel Point on the Daly River Mouth coastline; out of the 30-odd premises there, 18 of them have these style rigs in the shed!

Meticulous finish
Attention to detail
Practicality of components



Specifications: Ocean Master 651

Price as tested:    $92,000
Options fitted:    Combo sounder, fresh and saltwater pumps, bilge pump, freshwater tanks, kill tank, rubbish stowage, live bait tank, casting platform and esky stowage, customised console, anchor winch and fitting, stainless steel rails, stainless steel boarding ladder, auxiliary motor bracket, internal grab rails, headlights, under-gunwale lighting, spring-loaded seat poles, transom bulkhead battery and electronics box, bait board.
Priced from:    $64,000

Material:    Aluminium plate
Length (overall)   6.53m
Beam:     2.43m
Weight:    1970kg full fuel and water

Fuel:     300lt
Water:     66lt
People:     6
Rec/max HP    250

Make/model:    Evinrude E250 DPXSO
Type:     Fuel injected two-stroke
Rated HP:    250
Displacement:    3279cc   
Weight:    234kg
Gearbox Ratio    1.85:1
Propeller:    20in

Territory Marine Pty Ltd,
PO Box 435,
Berrimah, NT, 0828
Lot 1902 Pruen Road Berrimah NT 0828
Phone: (08) 8984 4116
Fax: (08) 8947 3222

Originally published in Trailerboat #203


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