BOAT TEST: CRUISE CRAFT EXPLORER 595

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


Cruise Craft Explorer 595-08.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-08.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-01.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-01.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-02.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-02.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-03.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-03.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-04.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-04.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-05.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-05.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-06.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-06.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-07.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-07.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-10.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-10.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-11.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-11.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-12.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-12.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-13.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-13.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-14.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-14.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-15.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-15.jpg
Cruise Craft Explorer 595-16.jpg Cruise Craft Explorer 595-16.jpg

Angelo San Giorgio was on hand for Cruise Craft’s latest premier, taking the company's new leading lady, the Explorer 595, for a joyride.

BOAT TEST: CRUISE CRAFT EXPLORER 595
The Cruise Craft Explorer 595. Heaps of fishing work room and s top ride.

I hate sequels. No matter how good the intentions of their creators, they just never seem to live up to expectations and often leave me frustrated and unfulfilled. So I must confess, when I first heard tell of this new Cruise Craft, I was at once excited and concerned. While the promise of a new model with more fishing room titillated me, alarm bells rang as to the sanity of fiddling with an instant blockbuster so soon after its debut.



BEHIND THE SCENES

Cruise Craft has been riding the crest of a wave recently, with new models being released out of its factory in Hemmant, Queensland, with fair regularity.

First, there was the Explorer 530 that featured in Australia's Greatest Boats (AGB) 2011. Then they backed up with the multi-talented Outsider 595 walkaround (tested in TrailerBoat issue #277), and more recently the Explorer 685 enclosed hardtop, which actually went on to claim AGB Fibreglass honours for 2012.

In true Cruise Craft fashion, each boat builds on sound foundations, but incorporates lessons learned from every new model released.

I must admit I know these boats very well because in my previous life I actually sold many of the first Outsider 595s after the model's release last year.

An evolution of the New Generation Cruise Craft hulls first employed on the Explorer 530, the Outsider 595 features a moderate "Carolina" flare and raised hip line, creating a fuller yet drier hull that also looks the business.

However, rather than the Explorer 595 coming across as more of the same, it manages to forge its own identity. This is not really surprising, though, because for a long time now Cruise Craft has produced two variants of several of its hulls: one a "conventional" cuddy (Explorer) and the other a walkaround design (Outsider). This is really quite clever since the underwater architecture that dictates ride and stability stays the same while the top deck and internals are rejigged to appeal to two different boating audiences.

Explorer models sport shorter cabins while Outsiders are blessed with longer ones, resulting in a slightly different weight distribution and driving position. But both remain eminently useable.



BIG SCREEN IDOL

The new Explorer 595 definitely has both feet firmly planted in the "less is more" camp. Skilful plastic surgery has seen the removal of the Outsider's deep walkaround recess, with a revised cabin grafted in its place. Forward access around the perimeter of the foredeck is still viable due to the inclusion of a toe "lip" that's surprisingly practical.

Sleeker and more purposeful without the token tinted Perspex side windows, this is one of those rare instances where the sequel might actually be an improvement on the original.

Options on the demo Explorer 595 were deliberately kept to a minimum, yet that did nothing to detract from the quality of the experience - this is still an exercise in fisherman-friendly design. It's also refreshing to be presented with an all-white boat after being served a near-constant diet of slab-side and two-tone hulls. The tasteful black and red pin-striping reflects the detail and elegance Cruise Craft prides itself on.

The revised cabin and foredeck see the cabin bulkheads oriented 200mm further forward, which results in a slightly longer cockpit while retaining that same functional tiered helm, which easily accommodates a full sweep of gauges, plus the option of squeezing in two 10in screens or a single 12in model. A flush-mounted Plastimo compass resides on its own pad dead centre.

The demonstrator was also fitted with a single Lowrance HDS 8 sounder / GPS combo that is ideally suited to the inshore and bay duties this particular boat seems set-up for, while Yamaha multi-function gauges handle engine monitoring duties.

Bolting in a couple of extra rod holders and a set of outriggers would widen your horizons and have you trolling the 'shelf for pelagics or drifting for reef ooglies.

Unlike many of its competitors, I could still view the Explorer 595's head unit while seated or standing, and the steering wheel and throttle fell naturally to hand. The smart helm seats deserve special mention, perched on their stainless steel arches with a thoughtful grab-bar bolted to its backrest.



STROKE IT

When I first clapped eyes on the Explorer 595, I was immediately drawn to its rear end. Yes, I am an arse-man, but it was the Yamaha HPDI two-stroke outboard, looking all funky in a retro sort of way, that caught my gaze.

That first look was a month or so ago at the Sydney Boat Show, but later on the water at Cleveland boat ramp south of Brisbane, she was all mine. I've driven this hull before in its walkaround guise, with 150 Hondas and Yamahas on the back, but this proved to be something else, something primal.

Yamaha's version of an Optimax or E-TEC, the HPDI 175, was the maximum horsepower specified for this hull, and boy did it pack a wallop. On the plane, in a hair less than three seconds, it just revved its ring off with a blood-curdling howl. Actually, that turned out to be Cruise Craft's sales manager Peter Benston, who was our chaperone for the day. The Yamaha was a bit more refined.

As we pushed out toward Peel Island, 30kts (55.5kmh) of wind-assisted waves pummelled our on the broadside as we soldiered on. Queensland... beautiful one day, perfectly horrendous the next.

While not ideal conditions for photography, or our regular repertoire of boat-testing shenanigans, it did provide an ideal opportunity for the boat to either impress, or obliterate my spine trying. I'm pleased to report that despite my enthusiastic efforts, I won't be troubling my chiropractor.

We made the run to North Stradbroke island in a quest for some calmer conditions. Holding a "comfortable" 20kt (37kmh) cruise, we had to constantly throttle back as we threatened to overtake our larger camera boat, which had a 225hp four-stroke bolted to its rear end. It felt as if we weren't really pushing our rig, but rather restraining it from running at its own pace.

My initial concerns that the ride quality might be compromised due to the revised driving position proved unfounded. Cab-forward designs and runabouts are notorious for their harsher ride since they're oriented closer to the hull stem, but this boat exhibited none of that. I even sat down and drove which, for me, is a rarity in the slop.

It was actually fun and I even felt a tad guilty when I spied a poor soul in a low-slung bass boat trying to crawl his way back home through walls of green water.

When we finally made it to the lee of North Stradbroke Island, we let the eager Explorer 595 off its chain and encouraged it to stretch its considerable legs. Still far from mill pond conditions, we saw 44.3kts (82kmh) at WOT from an engine that was still running in.

Acceleration was brisk with minimal bow lift, even with a bit of positive trim still dialled in. Turns were surefooted and relatively flat, causing my passenger to hold on for dear life. You'd never really have to drive the boat this hard, but in the relative calm of Amity Point just inside the South Passage, it was so well mannered I was keen to test its limits.



THE WRAP

I really liked this new Cruise Craft. Sure, as tested it was a bit light on the trimmings, but that's entirely the point. For comfortably less than $80,000 you've got a capable and versatile rig that will continue to impress long after you drive out of the showroom, and you can add options such as the rear bench when it suits.

I'm also convinced that for most people's needs, smaller outboards in the 135-150hp range could well be the perfect option, and that's not to mention the dollars you'll save. Speeds in the low to mid 70kph range are still nothing to be sneezed at.

However, if you're after the boating equivalent of a handful of Viagra, this HPDI really gets you up and going. Just get in quick: news has just come in that they'll disappear from the market in the middle of next year.



PERFORMANCE

Too rough and inconsistent for our usual tests, but cruises brilliantly at 20kts (38kph) and tops out at 44.3kts (82kph). Performance with a 150hp four-stroke would account for performance in the order of 68-74kph, based on personal experience with Hondas and Yamahas on an Outsider 595.





On the plane...

  • Great open fishing cockpit
  • Clears that don't leak...mostly
  • Typical Cruise Craft quality
  • A driver's helm...flexible ergonomics
  • Soft, dry ride. Fun too!



Dragging the chain...

  • Peter Benston's a big girl
  • Couldn't squeeze it in my suitcase
  • Engine's not available after mid next year





SPECS: CRUISE CRAFT EXPLORER 595

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $77,653 (discounted package, indicative price only)

Options fitted: Yamaha HPDI 175 direct injection two-stroke; Cruise Craft custom tandem trailer; stainless steel rocket launcher with bimini; front and side clears; hydraulic steering; fibreglass bait board; GME VHF radio; extra stainless steel rod holders; plumbed live bait tank; saltwater deck wash; Lowrance HDS-8 sounder GPS; boat and trailer reg and safety pack



GENERAL

Type: Multi-purpose fishing and family cuddy cabin

Material: GRP

Length: 5.95m (6.35m LOA)

Beam: 2.44m

Weight: 2250 BMT (approx.)

Deadrise: 20°



CAPACITIES

People: 6

Rec. HP: 150

Max. HP: 175

Fuel: 190L

Water: Optional



ENGINE

Make/model: Yamaha Z175GETOX

Type: 175HP HPDI direct injection two-stroke

Weight: 218kg

Displacement: 2596cc

Gear ratio: 1.86:1

Propeller: 17in stainless steel three-blade



MANUFACTURED & SUPPLED BY

Cruise Craft Boats

1309 Lytton Road

Hemmant, Qld, 4174

Tel: (07) 3390 4877

Web: www.cruisecraft.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #288, November 2012

Find Cruise Craft boats for sale.

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.