BOAT TEST: AQUALINE 620

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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Kevin Smith returns impressed after sampling another Kiwi-made offshore contender in the form of the Aqualine 620.

BOAT TEST: AQUALINE 620
The New Zealanders specialise in pontoon-style boats. The Kiwi Aqualine 620 plate-boat is no exception.

I had a fairly good idea of what to expect from this New Zealand-built Aqualine 620 when I was asked to test one on Moreton Bay. I tested the 680 model back in 2010 (TrailerBoat magazine #263) which impressed me in a number of areas, and while these aluminium pontoon boats have a unique design and look, their rugged, purposeful lines have certainly grown on me in recent years.

The subject of this review sported a thoroughly modern countenance, and with its spacious layout and heavy-duty construction, I was eager to put it through its paces.

Designed and constructed first and foremost for nasty Kiwi waters, these boats are made to withstand harsh conditions. While conditions on our side of the pond may not be so typically unforgiving, we Aussies still generally have to endure long runs to reach the good fishing grounds. A boat like this therefore makes complete sense - especially when the weather turns foul.

WORK STATION

At the rear of the 620's simple layout is a functional transom setup with a large boarding platform and full grabrail, a livewell (with viewing window) built into the rear step, a raised and sealed battery compartment, a sealed compartment for fuel lines / filters and a removable rear lounger with stowage space below. The latter is a great feature, as you can keep it in for family boating days and then remove it for fishing days. Then there's the deckwash, baitboard, rodholders and more - the well-appointed stern has much to offer both hardcore fishos and their families.

The gunwales have wide coamings that run at a constant height up to the cab, with large, recessed sidepockets incorporated below for gear stowage (and rod racks on one side). One drawback to the pontoon format is that they preclude toe-locks. I found leaning up against the gunwales without them a tad tricky, and although it wasn't a major problem on the day, it could be a little more uncomfortable in rough offshore conditions. That being said, the 620 does offer exceptional stability, and it wouldn't be too difficult to either add some thick, bolstered padding to the coaming to brace against, or a small, low rail to hook your feet into.

Two aspects I really liked were the cab's open and uncluttered design, and the protection afforded by the hardtop, large screen and side windows. Vision is excellent, while the seating comprises a skipper's post and front and rear passenger seats. There's stowage below the passengers' seats, and an oversized plumbed killtank in between them. There are also grabrails everywhere you need them - a big plus in a boat built to handle some serious abuse.

The helm offers a neat and compact driving setup with plenty of space to mount gauges on top of the dash, and the nice flat panel is set at the correct angle for flush-mounting large electronics.

The cab is then a spacious area with a slight drop-down section in the centre. There are sidepockets with stowage, side windows, a top hatch lid for access to bow, and it's nicely lined throughout.

ROUGH AND TUMBLE

The 620 truly shines when it comes to rough-water handling, and although it only sports a 20° deadrise, the ride was exceptionally smooth and soft. I felt comfortable driving this boat not long after I'd come aboard and while it ate up the chop it still maintained excellent stability. When cranking into hard turns it did bank slightly inwards, but this didn't feel uncomfortable or abnormal.

Sporting a 150hp Yamaha four-stroke there was no shortage of power, and out of the hole the 620 got up and onto the plane without hesitation. Tight, sharp turns were quick at lower speeds, but it did display a bit of cavitation when knocking the hammer down hard mid-turn. This was only due to the motor being set up for maximum performance - if it was truly of concern it's simply a matter of dropping the engine down slightly.

I found the optimum comfortable cruise speed in all directions to the chop was around 20.8kts (38.5kmh) at 3500rpm, for a fuel consumption rate of 19lt/h - although you can easily wind it up to high speeds quite comfortably. At wide open throttle with the 150hp Yammie the 620 got close to 40kts (74kmh), and in my opinion that's pretty good going.

Overall the 620's performance and ride was impressive and it certainly instilled confidence from the get-go. Aqualine says this on-water performance is down to its unique hull design, which features a variable deadrise that creates a long bow. This, it says, delivers fine entry characteristics and a soft, dry ride.

On top of that the twin planing strakes that run the full length of the hull are said to give superior lift, in turn leading to better planing and improved fuel consumption. These strakes also give the boat better grip on the water, better stability through the turns, and better overall performance in a following sea.

THE WRAP

I mentioned I was impressed by that first Aqualine I sampled, and I have to say I was equally impressed by this 620. Whether you're into hardcore offshore fishing, estuary fishing, bay fishing or just general family boating, the Aqualine 620 can do it all.

I reckon over time we'll see more and more of these boats on the water. The 620 is a good size for all-round boating - it's not too big to tow yet it has a spacious layout. Add in the superb ride and the heavy-duty construction, and it's a great and truly versatile package for serious boaters.

On the plane...
*Quality, heavy-duty build
* Smooth ride in rough conditions
*Excellent stability
*Spacious layout

Dragging the chain...
*That quality build comes at a price
*Toe-locks or padded coaming would be good at the rear gunwales
*Personally I'd want the livewell positioned a little higher


Specifications: Aqualine 620

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $84,990 (with 150hp four-stroke)

GENERAL
Type: Offshore fishing / cuddy cabin
Material: Plate-alloy
Length: 6.45m
Beam: 2.40m
Weight (dry hull): Approx. 900kg
Weight (BMT towing
weight): Approx. 1825kg
Deadrise: 20°

CAPACITIES
People: 6
Rec. HP: 130
Max. HP: 175
Fuel: 205lt

ENGINE
Make/model: Yamaha F150AETX
Type: 16-valve, DOHC, direct-action, in-line, four-cylinder four-stroke
Weight: 226kg
Displacement: 2670cc
Gear ratio: 2:00:1
Propeller: 19in pitch stainless

MANUFACTURED BY
Kiwi Engineering & Marine
18 Victoria Avenue
Invercargill City, Southland, 9810
New Zealand
Tel: +64 3214 1388
Web: www.kiwi-kraft.co.nz

SUPPLIED BY
Brisbane Yamaha
174 Eastern Service Rd
Burpengary, Qld, 4505
Tel: (07) 3888 1727
Web: www.brisbaneyamaha.com.au

Source: TrailerBoat #285, August 2012.

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