BOAT TEST: NORTHBANK 650 CUDDY

By: Mark Bracks


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South Australia's growing boatbuilding reputation is sure to be enhanced by the latest weapon from Northbank Marine, writes Mark Bracks.

BOAT TEST: NORTHBANK 650 CUDDY
Northbank 650 Cuddy

With the masses of imported boats available these days, it's easy to forget just what a world-leading industry we have here in Australia. Boats built here are designed for Aussie conditions, and on the eastern seaboard we don't seem to give much thought to the boatbuilders in other states.

After testing yet another craft from this fine land, I was clubbed in the head once again - why would anyone look anywhere else for recreational boat?

So, who is Northbank Marine and what does it offer?

 

 

NORTHBANK WALTZ



As you may have gathered from the pictures, first impressions of the Northbank are impressive. The 650 Cuddy is a very well designed and immaculately finished vessel, which also has a slightly smaller 6m sibling born of the same design template.

The hull is of fibreglass composite construction with an excellent finish and attention to detail. As it is designed and
built it Adelaide, it's made for the rough stuff. This is reflected in the hull, which tops the scales at 1300kg.

That hull may seem a tad heavy to some, but if your pastime is serious offshore fishing, it's a bonus - the extra weight really flattens out the ride. Also, combined with a top speed of over 80kmh, it ensures that it takes minimal time to get where you're going, without feeling like a crash-test dummy.

Manoeuvrability and ride across a rolling swell?are excellent. Instead of bouncing over the top of waves, the Northbank 650 Cuddy drives through them, flattening out the swell to make the ride that little bit more comfortable. This is thanks, in part, to the 21° deadrise, and it will no doubt score extra brownie points when the family is aboard.

 

 

TOWER OF POWER



Hanging off the back was a 250hp supercharged six-cylinder Mercury (the 650's maximum rating). The first thing that strikes you when the Northbank is on its recommended Dunbier trailer is how bloody big the engine is. How much bigger will outboards become?

But the new Merc is a bottler, and when the throttle is applied it launches out of the water in an instant - no doubt assisted by the state-of-the-art electronic throttle control. Combined with the fuel injection, this makes for surprising responsiveness - and with a 250lt fuel tank, it gives you the opportunity to explore plenty of water.

If you're into skiing it would be an idea to warn your crew about the power, as the engine could pull the entire cast of Sea World Nara Resort out of a deep-water start! However, for such a big beast, the four-stroke is amazingly quiet, both at idle and at speed.

In fact, the only apparent noise from aft was the hydraulic power-steering unit. This has already been addressed for future craft, so I wouldn't be surprised if owners will be looking behind them to check whether the donk's still attached to the transom. Yeah, yeah, motoring across the water would be one hint that it's still working - but seriously, it's that quiet!

 

 

MORE THAN SKIN DEEP



The 650 is not just a pretty face. There are plenty of well-thought-out and practical features that come as either standard fitment or optional add-ons.

The hull has an above-average, large working deck for a few of the lads to head out into the briny, as well as a spacious
bimini, plenty of headroom and a bunch of rocket launchers as standard.

There's plenty of storage too, with a large catch tank under the deck as well as a livebait tank in the transom and plenty of area underneath the leather swivel seats.

Behind the pilot's seat there is also a handy tacklebox compartment with containers supplied. Beside the two cockpit seats is a fold-down rear seat as well as a decent-sized boarding platform ladder. A walkthrough transom is optional.

Other options include carpet, an anchor winch, a fibreglass hardtop, extra rodholders, a baitboard and even a sink and stove.

Seating in the cuddy is very spacious and comfortable, with under-seat storage plus two shelves on either side, as well as a step to gain access to the bow.

Capacity in the 650 is for eight bodies, and all options carry through to the smaller 600 cuddy, which can accommodate seven adults. The 650 is a safe boat too, with high gunwales and plenty of freeboard.

The fully hydraulic steering is precise, very responsive and virtually one-finger operational. Other nice touches are the stainless-steel multi-adjustable steering wheel and an adjustable fore-and-aft pilot's seat, plus a footrail and ample vision from the cockpit.

It might be just me, but my only criticism - and this applies to many craft - is that when sitting down, the windscreen frame is in direct line of vision. You're either peering over the top or ducking down to make sure you can see everything, and this can be a real problem when you're in the tight stuff.

There must be some big blokes in Adelaide - the forward hatch is absolutely huge, and it offers easy access to the anchor well.

 

 

JACK BE NIMBLE



You'd reckon a 1300kg hull would be cumbersome, but its manoeuvrability is astounding. Combined with the rocking performance of the 250hp supercharged engine, this hull will win many friends in a short time.

At 3500rpm the boat is ticking over at 40kmh; but when giving it the berries and redlining at 6600rpm, the motors will push this baby to well over 80kmh.

The particular model I took for a steer didn't have your traditional cockpit instruments, but rather the new state-of-the-art electronics. These things store more information than the Encyclopedia Britannica, and feature displays and diagnostics that
would put a jumbo to shame.

The craft, as tested by Trailer Boat, has a pricetag over $82,000. Some would say that's rather a lot for a fishing boat, but
28,000 readies are taken up by the super-powerful engine alone. Seriously, for practicality and a bit of luxury in a top-of-
the-line fishing craft, you'd be hard pressed to go past the Northbank.

Quite simply, the Northbank 650 Cuddy is built for the serious fisho who desires a top-of-the-range craft with style, performance, individuality and quality. If that's what you're looking for in a hull with a three-year warranty against structural defects, you'd be a mug not to take a closer look.

 



HIGHS


Manoeuvrability and offshore form
Standard features and storage
Well-designed and very usable cuddy
Brilliant performance with Verado engine

 

 

LOWS


Some may consider hull a bit heavy
Windscreen frame needs repositioning
Price may scare off some punters

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

 

Price as tested: $82,990 with 250hp Verado, trailer
Options fitted: Engine upgrade,
rocket launcher, bimini, transom door, stainless steel bowrail, swim platform, ladder, seatboxes and hatches including tackle trays, cushions, rear 3/4 lounge, padded coamings, carpeted floor, cabin and cockpit lights, Navman 6600 sounder/GPS plus fuel flow, 27 Meg radio, compass, heavy-duty trailer and more
Priced from: $63,990 w/ 200hp EFI Mercury with some options

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Fibreglass composite
Length (overall): 6.50m
Beam: 2.41m
Deadrise: 22°
Weight: 1300kg (hull only)

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 250lt
Passengers: Eight
Rec/max hp: 200/250

 

 

ENGINE


Make and model: Mercury Verado
Type: Inline six-cylinder supercharged four-stroke
Rated hp: 250 @ 5800rpm
Displacement: 2.6lt
Weight: 295kg
Gearbox ratio: 1.85:1
Propeller: Revolution 19in
stainless steel

 

SUPPLIED BY


Hirecraft Marine, Victory Parade, Toronto, NSW, tel (02) 4959 1444 or visit www.hirecraftmarine.com.au
For your nearest dealer, call Jaan Lindsaar, tel (08) 8242 6644, or email northbank@esc.net.au

 

Find Northbank boats for sale.

 


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