BOAT TEST: NOBLE 5.0 CENTRE CONSOLE

By: Warren Steptoe


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Warren Steptoe takes the Noble 5.0 Centre Console for a spin around his hometown haunts of Moreton Bay, and rekindles his love of tough centre-console fishing boats.

BOAT TEST: NOBLE 5.0 CENTRE CONSOLE
NOBLE 5.0 CENTRE CONSOLE

TEST REVIEW: NOBLE 5.0 CENTRE CONSOLE

I've long been something of a Noble fan and I've tested and fished from many different models over the years.

The common thread with these boats was that they were built by Aussie fishermen for Aussie fishermen. It started with Dave McKenzie, who built superb plate-fishing boats under the Sportfish brand in a shed at Clontarf. He introduced a radical hull design which is still used in these boats, and was subsequently developed by Brisbane's Noble shipyard.

I'll concede that my experience with grass roots Aussie products going to overseas manufacturers has not been good, often due to the inexorable degradation of many details that made them great in the first place. So yes, I was concerned about the brand's move to China.

This concern was exacerbated by the fact that centre-consoles in the 4.5-5m range are particularly close to my heart. In so many ways they're the perfect fishing boat, especially for Brisbane's Moreton Bay. I've chased surface feeding tuna and mackerel here from boats just like the Noble for 30 years, so running the company's latest 5.0 Centre Console out of Scarborough Boat Harbour for a boat test was déjà vu big time. Was this going to be a letdown or an affirmation that all is well with some of my favourite things? A few hours on the water would tell...

 

 

 

ON THE WATER

 

 

As luck would have it (or not), Moreton Bay turned on the perfect day for fishing. Perhaps it was the time of year, but it definitely seemed like the right thing to do to have a couple of big spin sticks aboard when a light breeze failed to build any kind of surface chop. Days like this are rare on northern Moreton Bay.

As such, the best we could do to gauge this boat's ride was to use the mish mash of wakes caused during our photo shoot. This is where we found out what made Noble's deep-vee hulls so much better than many other plate-aluminium tinnies. Thanks to a deadrise that's much steeper than competing designs, these boats offer a superior ride and handling that leaves little to be desired.

Basically, this steep deadrise - "deeper vee" if you prefer - eliminates the bangs and bumps which characterise many plate-aluminium boats riding across chop. Its unique double chine also ensures that stability at rest doesn't suffer, as it sometimes does in steep deadrise hulls with narrow chines.

My only proviso is one that's common to all steep deadrise hulls; the need for trim tabs so they can genuinely realise a hull's potential for a smoother ride across rough water. It's important to balance weight distribution in any boat, but this is especially true when there's two people aboard a centre-console.

A centre-console's central helm inevitably places a passenger's weight to one side of the console, where it forces the hull into a side-down attitude. This swings the deadrise angle off centre, effectively flattening it on one side and steepening it on the other. This can cause the hull to bang down hard on the flat side rather than slicing into the water the way a steep deadrise is designed to.

The extra wide chines on Noble hulls do a great job of keeping them nice and level at rest. However, they can sometimes exacerbate the issue when travelling at awkward angles to surface chop. Trim tabs therefore allow you to compensate uneven weight distribution and adjust a hull's attitude at the touch of a button, avoiding the whole scenario and really bringing out the best in this industry-leading hull design.

This characteristic of the Noble hull wasn't revealed during the pleasant weather experienced for this particular test. Even so, I'd still suggest budgeting for trim tabs if you're contemplating buying this boat and want to enjoy its roughwater performance to the fullest.

 

 

 

DESIGN AND LAYOUT

 

 

The Noble 5.0 Centre Console features a raised casting deck in the bow with the console set against its aft end. The console is quite big and affords plenty of dry stowage inside while leaving plenty of room on either side to pass by.

Our test boat's low-cost packaging meant it had analogue instrumentation and no fishfinder or GPS, although there's plenty of dash space plus the perfect place atop the console to mount an electronics cabinet of substantial size.

Behind the console is a massive aluminium storage box-cum-seat with a high-set, swing-over backrest. It looked high to my eye and I thought it spoiled the boat's otherwise attractive lines - but it was quite comfortable to sit against.

The aft bulkhead incorporates a portside livebait tank (which overflows overboard), with the usual central workbench perched above the motor. Four rodholders on the workbench and flush deck holders in the sidedecks comprise rod stowage. I'd certainly look at increasing this if it were my boat. Aeration for the livebait tank is supplied by a pump which also serves as a deckwash.

Noble calls the cockpit deck self-draining, but I'd call it a wetdeck as it isn't carried high enough to prevent water entering the scuppers when even my minimal (sub-60kg) weight ventured into an aft corner.

Here's the compromise in a 5m boat; if you set the deck high enough to be above the water line at rest, it also raises the centre of gravity high enough to make the boat wobbly underfoot when you're fishing - which you don't want.

To my mind the arrangement here is quite acceptable given the fact that this is a fully-welded deck. The bungs can also be screwed into place to prevent water entry if you wish. With the bungs removed the deck drains when the boat is travelling at planing speed.

One thing I didn't like, however, were the plastic hatches in the raised forward deck. While these do keep water out of stowage under the casting deck, I felt they weren't very substantial, and they also flexed underfoot. Similar hatches are used to seal compartments for the battery and other areas in the aft bulkhead but I can live with them there as they're not in an area where they're likely to be walked on.

Stowage beneath the forward deck is lined as standard to prevent gear from getting down into the bilge. Other standard items include a boarding ladder on the stern, a 120lt underfloor fuel tank and hydraulic steering.

 

 

 

THE REAL DEAL

 

 

Our test boat was supplied by Cunning-ham's Marine in Brisbane, and included a 90hp Suzuki outboard, which is an alternative to the 90hp Mercury carburettor two-stroke that comes standard in the package.

Performance was not disappointing, with ample oomph right across the rev range and a top speed just under 33kts (61kmh). Idling in gear the Noble 5.0 moved along at 2kts (3.5kmh), making trolling livebaits a viable proposition. It planed cleanly under 7kts (12.9kmh) and this can only be a good thing on those really rough days when you have to tough out the trip home.

 

 

 

THE WRAP

 

 

A new, curved sheer makes the 5m Noble hull a great looking boat to my eye, and particularly so for a centre-console. Its ample freeboard won't go astray when fishing offshore and on big open bays. Indeed, you'd be hard pressed to find a better proposition for chasing tuna and mackerel around places like Moreton Bay and Hervey Bay, and I reckon this would make one exceedingly handy and dead-serious fishing boat any place north or south of that.

As previously mentioned, I've tested and fished from many Noble boats and their predecessors over the years and I'm happy to report this one continues my enthusiasm for the brand. I'd take it fishing around my backyard waters of Moreton Bay any time…

 

 

 

WHAT THE?

 

 

Readers may have noticed that the photos of the boat featured here seem to be missing several details. I later learned this was because it was an early model without a proper grab bar on the console; minimal leg support in the cockpit from too narrow sidedecks; and a console-top with an obvious water trap.

Fortunately, Noble has addressed these issues with more recent versions of the 5.0 Centre Console. I can confirm this thanks to Bruce Cunningham, from Cunninghams Marine, who was kind enough to show me a brand new shipment of 5.0 Centre Console models awaiting fitout.

On inspecting the new boats I found that every one of my concerns had in fact become, well, no longer a concern. The consoles had a stout grabrail framing a low screen (see above), flush console tops that don't hold water, and wider sidedecks with stowage pockets tucked away underneath to provide excellent leg support around the cockpit periphery.

To top it off, the finish on these new boats is excellent. Our test boat's finish was okay, but Blind Freddy could see that the overall standard of finish on these new boats took a quantum leap forward. The paintwork was some of the best I've ever seen on an aluminium boat, and the metalwork was notably neater and better finished around the edges and joins than that of the test boat.

 

 

 

 


WEATHER CONDITIONS

 

 

Wind: 5-10kts

 

Sea: Light chop

 

 

 

 


On the plane...

 

 

Soft ride compared to many plate-tinnies its size

 

Sealed, drainable deck with standard deckwash

 

Safety of high aft bulkhead in following seas

 

Versatile fishing layout

 

 

 

Dragging the chain...

 

 

Bow-casting deck hatches could be more robust

 

Could use more rod stowage

 

Trim tabs should be standard

 

 

 


PERFORMANCE

 

 

1.9kts (3.5kmh) @ 600rpm (slow troll)

 

7.0kts (12.9kmh) @ 2600rpm (min planing speed)

 

8.9kts (16.4kmh) @3000rpm

 

16.3kts (30.1kmh) @ 3500rpm

 

19.2kts (35.5kmh) @ 4000rpm

 

24.1kts (44.6kmh) @ 4500rpm

 

27.7kts (51.3kmh) @ 5000rpm

 

32.8kts (60.7kmh) @ 5800rpm (WOT)

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications: Noble 5.0 Centre Console

 

 

 

HOW MUCH?

 

 

Price as tested: $40,690

 

Options fitted: Suzuki 90hp outboard

 

Priced from: $35,990

 

 

 

GENERAL

 

 

Type: Monohull centre-console

 

Material: Plate-aluminium, 3mm sides / 4mm bottoms

 

Length (overall): 5.3m

 

Beam: 2.1m

 

Weight (hull): Approx. 810kg

 

 

 

CAPACITIES

 

 

People: 4

 

Max. HP: 130

 

Fuel: 120lt

 

 

 

ENGINE

 

 

Make/Model: Suzuki DF90A

 

Type: Four-cylinder, in-line, four-stroke

 

Weight: 160kg

 

Displacement: 1502cc

 

Gear Ratio: 2.59:1

 

Propeller: 19in aluminium

 

 

 

 


MANUFACTURED BY

 

 

Noble Boats International

 

PO BOX 3279

 

Putney, NSW, 2112

 

Tel: (07) 3303 8441

 

Web: www.nobleboatsinternational.com

 

 

 


SUPPLIED BY

 

 

Cunningham's Marine

 

51-59 Snook St

 

Clontarf, Qld, 4019

 

Tel: (07) 3284 2342

 

Web: www.cunninghamsmarine.com.au

 


First published in TrailerBoat # 274

 

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