BOAT TEST ATOMIX 600 HARDTOP FISHERMAN

By: Norman Holtzhausen


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As Norman Holtzhausen discovered, the Atomix 600 Hardtop Fisherman strikes a sweet balance between size, performance and price.

BOAT TEST ATOMIX 600 HARDTOP FISHERMAN
Atomix 600 Hardtop Fisherman

Atomix Boats has come a long way since its founding in 2004. The company's business model took the best of Kiwi design and manufacturing expertise and combined that with the lower manufacturing costs in China to develop a range that satisfies the needs of the discerning Australasian market.

The latest range from Atomix represents some significant differences from those earlier models, and shows how the Chinese production facility has matured.

A major difference has been the move from handlaid GRP to vacuum-bagged solid GRP, providing a higher quality of hull that is also more rigid. The new 6m range, still a Bakewell-White design, has been extremely popular and is now available in three different configurations.

But it was the 600 Hardtop Fisherman I particularly wanted to test.

AT THE RAMP

The review boat had a striking black hull, with a gleaming white deck and topsides. The new Atomix artwork is clearly visible yet discrete against the black, and the black Mercury 150 OptiMax outboard completes the visual appeal of the package.

The boat is rated from 90 to 150hp, so this OptiMax is right at the top of the range. Mercury has extended the life of its two-stroke range with the direct-injection OptiMax engines. Emissions have been brought down to enable the motor to achieve a CARB two-star rating, with performance and fuel economy that is comparable to many four-strokes. The OptiMax has gained a justifiable reputation for reliability and performance.

The boat is supplied on a custom-built tandem-braked trailer, with all the running components from well-known manufacturer Al-Ko. The boat rides relatively high on the trailer, but thanks to eight sets of quad wobble rollers, it launches and retrieves easily.

STEM TO STERN

Before heading out I had a good look around the boat. Shining stainless accessories (all 316-grade stainless steel) abound, several of which are quite unique. Starting at the bow there is an unusually high bowrail, which is split across the bow. Richard Cains, general manager of Atomix Boats, says the rail was designed for the Australian market, but it's now standard fitment for NZ's domestic market too.

The design allows you to step directly on or off the bow from a wharf or similar structure. The skipper can nose the boat into a restricted space, the passenger can step off or aboard and then the skipper can reverse out again.

The textured surface of the anchorwell cover gives a good footing while the height of the rail provides an easy handhold. Without access around the hardtop, a large hatch in the slightly rounded bow allows one to step down into the cabin. The selfdraining anchorwell is set up to allow an electric capstan or winch to be fitted.

With a boat this size there is never enough gunwale space to fit the many rodholders a fisherman will need, so Atomix has designed flush-mounted stainless units to fit in the angled coaming of the cabin surround. This holds a rod almost upright in a surface that is itself not far off vertical.

The last unique pieces of stainless are the combined grabhandle cleats, fitted to either side of the transom. Cains says they could not find quite the right shaped unit from standard hardware and hence Atomix has designed and manufactured its own.

BLUEWATER FISHER

Putting together a serious gamefishing hardtop boat with a total length of only 6m will always involve compromise, and yet Bakewell-White has managed to make these unobtrusive. For example, it has a full-sized hardtop canopy, complete with a stainless five-rod rocket launcher. Yet a closer look reveals the back edge of the roof is gently curved inwards, to ensure the hardtop does not impinge on "fighting room" in the cockpit.

Getting onboard it was obvious that the quality of finish is reasonably good, arguably equal to that of some Aussie- or Kiwi-made boats. These vessels are finished off with an inner mould that forms a double-skinned hull for most of the boat's length. Although not designed as an overnighter, an optional infill is available to create a serviceable double berth.

There is no under-seat storage as the underfloor area is sealed to provide reserve buoyancy. The cabin drains into the bilge and can be washed or even hosed down completely. A courtesy screen is available to close off the cabin, and although there is no provision for a fitted toilet, there is a space where a cassette-style unit could be placed.

HELM SETUP

The helm and passenger position is fitted with two upholstered seats on moulded pedestals with sealed underseat storage. A large curved windscreen gives a great view forward while sliding side-windows either side allow fresh air if required. Narrow stainless pillars give this hardtop an almost unhindered 360° field of vision - something lacking in many hardtops.

The helm layout is good, with hydraulic steering taking the effort out of turning the weight of the Mercury. A somewhat unusual scalloped dash provides plenty of room for electronics. The Mercury SmartCraft LCD displays show a range of engine and boat information to supplement the analogue speed and RPM displays. A conventional fuel gauge and a Humminbird 788ci combo GPS chartplotter / fishfinder completed the displays.

The business end of any fishing boat is the cockpit, and again the Atomix does this pretty well. The entire area is finished in an anti-slip tread and is selfdraining through corner scuppers. In a boat this size there is no space to waste so everything needs to fit together compactly and efficiently, something Atomix has tried to achieve.

Upholstered side seats cleverly swing out from either gunwale on stainless brackets when required, but easily drop down out of the way when the serious work starts. Two wetlockers set into the floor on either side of the cockpit can hold the catch or wet gear, although unfortunately when the side seats are down they impinge on the hatch cover opening.

Two further upholstered seats in each side of the transom hide livebait (or dead) tanks. The outboard well in the centre intrudes into the cockpit somewhat but houses the battery and master switches behind a sealed hatch.

The stern has boarding platforms either side of the motor, with a stainless boarding ladder recessed into the port side. The boarding area is relatively high, although the previously mentioned grabrails are large and easy to hold. A step-through in the port side ensures easy access into the boat.

HAMMERS DOWN

The Mercury OptiMax is a good match for the boat, getting it up on the plane very quickly indeed. Current two-strokes will never be as quiet as comparable four-strokes, and with the open cabin the motor noise was quite obvious, even at idle.

Once clear of the inner harbour we opened up the throttle and the boat took off like a scalded cat. 30kts (55.6kmh) was no problem with plenty in reserve. Despite the boat being relatively high in the water it was stable at speed due to the planing strakes under the hull. Moving around underway produced little discernible lean.

The boat proved easy to manoeuvre at slower speeds. The stability underway was replicated at rest, with two adults leaning far out one side only causing a slight tilt. The boat backs well, and thanks to the high boarding platform water doesn't come through the step-through in the transom.

Acceleration from rest was extremely good, and one gets the feeling that this boat would perform well even with slightly less horsepower. It tracks well through turns, again aided by the planing strakes. Photos show that at speed the hull is running almost entirely on the lowest strake, resulting in reduced wetted area and minimal drag.

Thanks to the good roof height inside the hardtop, in excess of 6ft (183cm), we had no problems when standing and bouncing through the rougher water.

The seated helm position is also comfortable for a 6ft (183cm) individual, although since the seats are not adjustable a taller skipper may find differently.

THE WRAP

I found this to be a good quality boat, punching well above its weight in terms of features (and space) for your dollar. Atomix reports this model is selling extremely well so it clearly is finding a willing segment in the market. Atomix now has a Wellington branch as well as its Auckland base, while Atomix Boast Australia is located at 360 South Road, Richmond in Adelaide (SA) - you can reach it by calling (08) 8443 3487.

NB: This boat review was conducted in New Zealand conditions.

On the plane...
Split bowrail
Dry ride
Handles well
Six usable seats are great in a boat of this size

Dragging the chain...
Fold-away seats jam the underfloor locker cover
Outboard intrudes into the cockpit area

SPECIFICATIONS

ATOMIX 600 HARDTOP FISHERMAN
HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: NZ$52,990
Options fitted: VHF radio, stereo, Humminbird fishfinder / charplotter, GPS, drinkholders, rodholders, bait station, cabin courtesy screen, backdrop cover, travel cover, storage cover

GENERAL
Type: Monohull fishing boat
Material: GRP
LOA: 6.0m
Beam: 2.3m
Towing weight (approx.): 1435kg

CAPACITIES
People: N/A
Rec. HP: 90-150hp
Max. HP: 150hp
Fuel: 145lt

ENGINE
Make/model: Mercury OptiMax 150
Type: Liquid-cooled, DFI, two-stroke V6
Weight: 195kg
Displacement: 2507cc

MANUFACTURED BY
Atomix Boats
229 Archers Road
Glenfield, Auckland
New Zealand
Tel: +64 (09) 442 1933
Web: www.atomixboats.co.nz

DISTRIBUTED BY
Atomix Boats Australia
360 South Rd
Richmond, SA, 5033
Tel: (08) 8443 3487
Web: www.atomixboats.com

Story and photos: Norman Holtzhausen
Source: TrailerBoat #283

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