CRESTLINER KODIAK 16 REVIEW

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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Crestliners are known as great little lake boats, but can they handle the big bad ocean? We sent John Ford out in an entry-level Kodiak 16 to find out.

CRESTLINER KODIAK 16 REVIEW
The Crestliner Kodiak 16 is an American-made tinnie, with all the finish and touches you'd expect from the 'States.

Regular TrailerBoat readers would have seen a lot about American Crestliners since their introduction to our shores in 2011, and for good reason - they are innovative, well-finished boats. Given the Kodiak 16 is at the smaller end of the company's range, I was curious as to why the local importer was keen to send me offshore in unpleasant seas in one of the babies of the fleet.

When I asked Todd Kay of Berowra Waters Wholesale just what he was thinking, he told me dealer and customer feedback suggests people have been wondering if these boats, developed for lake conditions around their home base in Minnesota in the US, are really up to situations we find on Australian waters.

And what better way to put the boat to the test than to head out of NSW's Pittwater and into the wide-open ocean in a 20kt (37kmh) breeze and a nasty chop? If we survive those conditions, Todd believes he will be able to quell any lingering doubts.



OPEN WATER

Once we were away, we duly rounded the headland and played intrepid seafarers in the lively waters. Todd had plenty of fun getting the little boat clear of the water while going over some of the swells. We also managed to take a break for some fishing, although our dismal record of not actually catching anything on a Crestliner test remains intact.

Just to keep things in perspective, plenty of people put to sea in little boats. One of the first boats I owned was a locally-made 14ft pressed metal runabout and we regularly ventured offshore chasing snapper along the NSW south coast - although at times we wished we hadn't - so let's not overplay the intrepid nature of our voyage.

But in highlighting the Crestliner's ability to match the expectations Australians have for their beloved tinnies, the Kodiak convinced me that it is definitely capable in some rough stuff.

What is it about this little boat, whose name conjures images of a tranquil lake, that makes it such a seaworthy vessel? The answer may lie in our expectation that a lake should be relatively calm, but in the case of America's inland lakes the conditions can actually be horrendous. These lakes can be so big that they are practically inland seas and the waves can be as wild and intimidating as Australians experience offshore.



FIT AND FINISH

This smallest Crestliner continues the tradition of quality finish and innovative design we have come to expect from the brand. The Kodiak may be a pared-back version of the bigger boats, but it still manages to pack in novel storage and fishing features that help make life on-board more enjoyable.

The Kodiak also uses the construction methods of a fully-welded hull, incorporating a tongue-and-grove join in the alloy panels and a double-welded transom for strength and durability. The weld quality is faultless, and the paint finish is so good that it might actually be too good for some people looking for a knockabout tinnie destined to be dragged across rocks and oysters - the hull would be up to it, but it would be such a shame to see the top-notch paintwork disfigured.

Despite the sharp bow entry, there is still room to fit a large platform at the front of the boat and, at 260mm above the main deck, it offers good casting height. Vinyl flooring is carried throughout the boat and its soft finish provides good grip and will be easy to hose out at the end of the day. Carpet is an optional extra.

The bow step on the test boat is set to be replaced with a roller and anchor locker for future imported boats.

A compartment for an electric motor battery and two large storage bins, as well as a plumbed 45L livewell, are located under the deck. Hatches are aluminium, backed with sound-deadening material and fitted with sturdy piano hinges.

The main deck is home to a starboard console and removable folding seats for driver and passenger. The roto-moulded plastic console extends 1m above the deck, with a smoke-coloured screen to shield the driver. Although the seats look basic, they are quite comfortable and the driver is well positioned for the controls and steering wheel. In order to maximise fishing room the console has been kept compact, but that comes at the cost of room for larger navigation equipment.

The simple dash panel features a 12V outlet, a speedo and a tachometer, but no trim gauge or hour meter. Switches operate the navigation lights, and bilge and livewell pumps. There is space to the right of the console for a small fishfinder and there are a couple of compartments for small items like keys and a phone. There is a storage space under the console, but I would liked to have seen a net to keep things in place.

A locker in the floor between the seats is capable of holding rods up to 7ft, but the Kodiak is missing the side storage usually found in other Crestliners. It instead has boxes built around the sides and across the transom that double as seats, but also contain the foam floatation that give the boat a level buoyancy rating.

A seat forward of the transom floatation covers the bilge and the 25L plastic fuel tank. Side decks are painted and electrical leads are covered to keep things neat and away from stray fish hooks.



OUT OF THE HOLE

A 60hp Mercury BigFoot four-stroke motor is mounted on the transom, giving the Kodiak a top-end speed of nearly 30kts (55kmh). For better holeshots, these motors have a stronger gear case and lower gearing than standard (1.83:1 compared to 2.33:1), and might also be expected to be less damage-prone if run aground or into stumps.

Getting out of the hole was no problem for the test boat, which got onto the plane at around 8kts (15kmh) at 2800rpm. The motor will rev out to 6200rpm, but the boat is happiest around 4500rpm at 20kts (37kmh).

Considering the 6° deadrise, the Kodiak is surprisingly soft over waves and wake. The hull has a deep entry at the bow that gradually gives way to the flatter running surfaces at the rear. Deep chines at the edges of the hull give the boat stability and send spray well clear.

Steering is precise and light through the non-feedback system and the boat proved predictable through turns. It likes a fair bit of trim in a straight line, but needs to be trimmed well in turns to keep it from cavitating.

I was surprised how well the Kodiak handled the swell and chop once past the entrance to Pittwater. It seemed to defy the logical expectation that a boat with a 6° deadrise would be harsh coming off a wave - it actually outperforms a lot of bigger 'glass boats in this regard. It is very soft and forgiving.

Even at rest in the offshore swell the boat was so stable we had no trouble standing on the casting decks, so fishing in a more benign environment would be a piece of cake.



THE WRAP

The Kodiak is an entry-level Crestliner that offers an impeccable finish and quality build with a silent four-stroke motor that will push it to respectable speeds. It will deliver you to your favourite fishing destination in style and, as we have discovered, will cope with a bit of rough water on the way home.



ON THE PLANE...

· High-quality finish on welds and paint

· Stable fishing platform

· Good over chop



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

· An open boat does not offer much weather protection



PERFORMANCE

5.8kts (10kmh) @ 2000rpm

8kts (15kmh) @ 2600rpm - on the plane

10kts (18kmh) @ 3000rpm

13kts (24kmh) @ 3500rpm

18kts (33kmh) @ 4000rpm

21kts (39kmh) @ 4500rpm

24.5kts (45kmh) @ 5000rpm

26kts (48kmh) @ 5500rpm

28kts (52kmh) @ 6000rpm

29.2kts (54kmh) @ 6200rpm - wide open throttle





CRESTLINER KODIAK 16

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $26,990

Options fitted: Nil

Priced from: $26,990



GENERAL

Type: Monohull open
side-console

Material: Aluminium

Length: 5m

Beam: 1.92m

Weight: 319kg

Deadrise: 6°



CAPACITIES

People: 5

Rec. HP: 40-50

Max. HP: 60

Fuel: 25L

Water: No



ENGINE

Make/model: Mercury
60hp BigFoot

Type: Inline four-cylinder
four-stroke

Weight: 118kg

Displacement: 995cc

Gear ratio: 1.83:1

Propeller: 13in



MANUFACTURED BY

Brunswick Corporation







SUPPLIED BY

Berowra Waters Wholesale

Through Avante Marine

210 Silverwater Road, Silverwater, NSW 2128

Tel: (02) 9737 0727

Web: www.avantemarine.com.au



Originally published in TrailerBoat #290, January 2013

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