BOAT TEST: CRUISE CRAFT RESORT 5.5 AND 6

By: RICK HUCKSTEPP


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Classic contemporary styling and modern innovations merge seamlessly in this pair of sweet-handling dayboats from the Cruise Craft stable. Rick Huckstepp has the story.

BOAT TEST: CRUISE CRAFT RESORT 5.5 AND 6
The Cruise Craft Resort 5.5 and Cruise Craft Resort 6 thoroughly impressed our tester.

First published in TrailerBoat #173, Oct 2003


While big can be beautiful, good things come in small packages. Cruise Craft's summer-loving Resort 5.5 and 6 bowriders are perfect examples, and while at first glance there appears to be little difference between the two boats on their trailers (apart from the powerplants, obviously), it was another story when both were tested side by side. And that's where it counts.

These boats have been described as the Mercedes Benzes of the water, and it was hard to argue with that assessment after spending a spring morning driving them. Featuring conservative, flowing lines, above-average hull construction and a high-quality finish, the Cruise Craft Resorts have a solid, dependable and predictable feel to them.

My first experience in the 5.5m version was at the launch of Yamaha's 150hp four-stroke on the Gold Coast. With four big lads aboard, the Yamaha wound the needle right off the Resort's speedo, galloping out to more than 80kmh at 6200rpm. However, this craft was still undergoing sea trials, and by the time I got my hands on the finished version, Cruise Craft's technicians had swapped the 17in prop for a 19in wheel and tweaked the height adjustment of the outboard on the transom to refine its performance. This alteration dragged the revs down slightly but improved the boat's handling all round.

Running up the Brisbane River with the outboard leg trimmed right out, we felt a slight amount of "porpoising" at speeds greater than 70kmh. Despite this, the Resort loped along to more than 80kmh with the 150hp four-stroke spinning 5900rpm. With some weight shifted forward to the bowpit, the noddy ride at high speeds all but disappeared. At 5.5m, this boat is small enough to be sensitive to weight distribution.

With the leg pulled in, full-lock high-speed turns were cavitation-free and the boat responded immediately to the helm, but suffered from excessive torque from the mechanical steering system. It really needs a hydraulic kit. Trimmed out for cruising, the heaviness at the helm dissolved and the boat cruised quietly upstream.

There are a few little tricks to picking a clean, efficient hull shape, and one is examining the wash behind the transom at planning speeds. The Resort 5.5 shed smooth, green water from its running surfaces and very little spray was kicked up around the engine. It's an indication of a well-designed hull. Holeshot was impressive and I got the feeling that this rig would have no trouble at all pulling a pair of skiers from the water.


SPACE USED WISELY

This model features a neat bowrider cockpit that is smartly upholstered in marine-grade vinyl, with plenty of dry storage found below the seat hatches. The boat is supplied with a front tonneau cover fitted with press studs. The forward area was a comfortable place to kick back with a drink and watch the world glide past.

There are a lot of boats out there with anchor wells that are just too small to bother using; fortunately this isn't the case on the Resort 5.5. The compartment has a hatch to keep water out and is large enough to hold two decent-sized picks and plenty of rope.

The acrylic windscreen has an opening centre section for access into the bowpit or cockpit. Like the seats up front, the swivelling helm and passenger seats are very comfortable, and feature forward and rear adjustment. You seem to sit quite low in this boat, and it adds to a feeling of comfort and security when underway.

The dash included neat analogue instrumentation, and the passenger side has a lockable compartment for car keys and wallets. Grab handles and drinkholders are found in convenient places, and the fibreglass inner cockpit liner is smooth and pleasingly finished.

An oblong floor hatch lifts out completely to provide access to a large sub-floor compartment for skis, wakeboards, ropes and wet clothes. Unlike the more niggardly storage compartments found on other craft, the Resort's is generous and can swallow plenty of gear.

A nice, deep lounge spans the rear of the cockpit. It is held in place with two pins along the front of the seat box which, when removed, can be slid forward for access to the bilge and fuel filter. The seat box - which can be lifted out altogether if serious fishing is on the agenda - is moulded fibreglass and makes another handy stowage area for wetsuits and other gear.


A BIG SMALL BOAT

The outboard is mounted directly on the transom itself instead of on a pod. Step out through a small door in the transom bulkhead and you'll find yourself on a wide boarding platform, which has a recessed three-stage telescopic ladder and a grab handle to make climbing aboard easier.

With a payload potential of six people, this boat is well and truly capable of satisfying the social skiing family that enjoys a bit of fishing or a summer afternoon picnic on the water. Spread everyone around the seating provided and there's little chance of treading on your companions' feet.

The 150hp Yamaha four-stroke seemed well matched to this hull, delivering crisp acceleration, good top-end speed and exceptional fuel economy. The spec sheet quotes the hull as capable of carrying a two-stroke to 175hp, which would only be necessary if you were some sort of speed freak or were planning to carry heavy loads regularly.

One of the advantages of the smaller package is that it doesn't need a thirsty 4WD to tow it around. The average six-cylinder family sedan will be at home in front of this rig.

All up, the Resort 5.5 packs a lot into its modest dimensions and upholds Cruise Craft's reputation for building quality family boats.


BIG SISTER

It's on the water that you feel the size difference between the 5.5 and 6m models. Although the 6m version is merely 17mm wider across the beam and 425mm longer, there's a 440kg increase in weight. The Resort 6 sits rock-solid in the water, assisted by the low centre of gravity of the inboard motor.

The bowrider cockpit is identical to the Resort 5.5 until you walk through the companionway into the cockpit. The 6 features a full box modular system making up the two dash sections, and the screen is armourglass, not Perspex. The sides of the companionway have hatched compartments for additional stowage.

The helm features mechanical cable steering back to MerCruiser's hydraulic system working the leg. Instrumentation is integrated with Mercury Marine's multi-function SmartCraft system. A compass and Clarion CD player fitted neatly into the uncluttered dashboard.

This boat featured pretty much the same interior layout as its smaller sister, but the rear lounge wraps around more, and also incorporates two additional stereo speakers.

The central section of the lounge backrest pulls forward to grant access to the front of the 5lt MerCruiser. The padded top of the engine bay forms a wide, comfortable sunbed that lifts up on gas struts so you can get to the whole engine. A massive wet stowage area is found on one side of the engine, separated by an insulated bulkhead.

There's a ski tow ring located centrally on the transom, but the preferred tow point for watersports is on the optional aluminium wakeboarding tower. Optional board racks and stereo speakers may be installed on this frame.

The full-width contoured boarding platform is moulded as one; another handy feature is an external trim switch so you can tilt the leg while the boat's on the trailer without having to climb aboard.

Yet another noticeable difference between the two models becomes apparent when the ignition key is turned. The throaty V8 burble contrasts with the whisper-quiet Yamaha. Holeshot is a non-issue with the Resort 6 - it leaps on the plane effortlessly. Normal conversation is possible when cruising at 60kmh. Push the throttle all the way forward and enjoy the walloping torque the big inboard has up its sleeve.

The Resort rapidly accelerated to 85.7kmh with the engine pulling 5000rpm. Throw it into a full-lock turn and hang on - this boat goes where you point it without a murmur. This boat has exceptionally good manners and I couldn't fault it. A weekend spent cruising aboard this beauty would be fantastic.

Despite the seemingly negligible difference between the two boats on paper, the Resort 6 feels like a much larger boat. You'll need a mid-sized 4WD or a large V8 sedan to tow it comfortably. The Resort 6 is a truly desirable machine with loads of cool, plenty of power and heaps of cockpit room. What more could you ask of a summer dayboat?


Specifications: Cruise Craft Resort 5.5

Price as tested:  $51,363
Options fitted:  Bimini canopy, ski pole
Priced from:  $50,163

GENERAL
Material:  Fibreglass
Length (overall):  5.67m
Beam:  2.37m
Deadrise:  20°
Rec/max hp:  175
Weight (BMT):  About 1560kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel:  160lt
People:  Six adults

ENGINE
Make and model:  Yamaha F150A
Type:  Four-stroke EFI
Rated hp:  150
Displacement:  2670cc
Weight:  216kg
Gearbox ratio:  2.0 (28/14)
Propeller:  19in stainless steel

Specifications: Cruise Craft Resort 6

Price as tested:  $63,924
Options fitted:  Clarion CD upgrade, wakeboard tower, bimini canopy and sock
Priced from:  $60,274

GENERAL
Material:  Fibreglass
Length (overall):  6.095m
Beam:  2.45m
Deadrise:  20°
Rec/max hp:  260
Weight (BMT):  About 2000kg

CAPACITIES
Fuel:  160lt
People:  Six adults

ENGINE
Make and model:  MerCruiser MCR 5.0lt
Type:  Fuel-injected V8 petrol
Rated hp:  260
Displacement:  5lt
Weight:  429kg with leg
Leg type:  Alpha I
Gearbox ratio:  1:1.62
Propeller:  19in four-blade alloy

BOTH BOATS SUPPLIED BY: Wynnum Marine, Wynnum, Brisbane, tel (07) 3396 9777, email info@wynnummarine.com.au or visit www.wynnummarine.com.au


First published in TrailerBoat #173, Oct 2003

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