Review: Northbank 750 Hard Top

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford


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We heard great things about the new 750 Hard Top from Northbank Boats. So we went to Adelaide to see if these fishing boats deserve a wider audience.

Before heading to South Australia for a look at the 750 Hard Top fishing boat from Northbank Boats, I had a look at a map of Adelaide to get a feel for the place. When I saw the vast waterways and magic locations like Kangaroo Island along the wide sweep of Gulf St Vincent it occurred to me that they are truly blessed. Well, that’s on a good day. The shallow waters and strong winds can soon make conditions unpleasant or worse, especially close to the eastern shore in winter.

 


CMLOGO

This boat was rated one of the best of the year. It has been nominated to participate at Australia’s Greatest Boats 2016.


 

Rob Cuming from Christies Beach Marine, and owner of Northbank Boats, confirmed that Northbank builds fishing boats to conquer the short, sharp chop that often prevails across the gulf. South Australia isn’t alone in this respect and a boat that can handle these conditions will have widespread appeal around the country.

 


Find Northbank boats for sale.


 

NORTHBANK BOATS

Northbank Boats 750HT

Northbank Boats (or Northbank Fibreglass Boats to use the full name) is a family-run business established in 1996. It moved to its current 4000m² facility at Lonsdale in 2006 and while popular in its own state, Northbank has had limited representation elsewhere.

The Northbank 750 Hard top is the flagship of a range of seven models down to 5m and our review boat was a new version, running a 260hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel with Duoprop sterndrive.

It’s a big lump of boat on the trailer but still manages to come within Australia’s 2.5m maximum trailerable width. Substantial bracing of the custom Dunbier trailer is required to support the boat’s 3.4t when full of fuel, so it requires a powerful tow vehicle.

Black sides underscore the straight sheerline and high sidedecks and the raked cabin dominates the white superstructure and does nothing to detract from a purposeful and well-proportioned look.

 

LAYOUT

Northbank 750HT transom

The sharp entry and wide flare of the bow runs back to a flat transom with 21 degrees of deadrise, while wide chines and three rows of lifting strakes promise an efficient hull and good stability.

With all the talk of rough conditions, not a breath of wind greeted us at the ramp and as we headed out past the breakwall and settled back for a look around the boat, the gulf was a glassy, blue mirror.

Impressions that the Northbank 750HT is a big trailerboat were confirmed once on board. Metre-high sides around a monster deck give a feeling of being well-protected and having plenty of room to play, even with the enginebox for the Volvo in the aft section.

The hardtop is enclosed on the front and sides and opens to the cockpit for an unrestricted work area. This style of boat is garnering favour in wider circles than just the southern states, because such a layout makes just as much sense under a baking Queensland sun as in the chilly winter of Tasmania. And the benefits of a dry ride home when conditions turn nasty can’t be overstated.

Northbank Boats 750HT cockpit

Tinted windows give a great all-round view and sliding sections at the sides, as well as a hatch in the roof, open for a flow of fresh air.

Gas-dampened, black vinyl and stainless steel Cruiser helm seats for the skipper and navigator add to the boat’s serious seagoing vibe. For the rest of the crew (capacity is seven) there are grabhandles and a non-skid deck but apart from a padded rest on the enginebox, further seating has been sacrificed for a clutter-free deck, as is fitting for a hard-core fishing vessel.

 

FISHABILITY

Northbank 750 fishing boat

Flat sidedecks are wide enough to sit on and they incorporate recessed grabrails, a couple of rodholders each side and a full-length storage shelf, strong enough to use as a step to reach rods in the six-slot rocket launcher attached to the back of the hardtop.

The transom area on the Northbank 750 Hard Top is pure fishing – livebait tanks in each corner and in the centre, a superb bait table with three rodholders and a covered section for knives and tools. With the enginebox butting up to the transom it will require one knee resting on the box to work at the table.

Large cleats that have been embossed with the Northbank logo are strategically located down the sides and like all the locally made custom stainless steel work throughout the boat, are very high-quality.

Unlike most versions of the Northbank 750 our review boat has a 400lt fuel tank in place of the normal 350lt one, meaning that there is no room for the standard killtank between the helm seats. There is room for on-deck fishboxes and it is possible to have underfloor holds fitted alongside the fuel tank if desired.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Northbank Boats 750 turning

Fitting a Volvo Penta diesel is an interesting development for the boat as they have thus far been generally powered by outboards up to 400hp, so it was going to be enlightening to see how the 260hp-rated oil-burner would perform. To be fair, diesel horsepower seems to be rated on draft horses rather than ponies and their torquey nature can often overcome top-end performance in real world comparisons.

Time for a drive and it’s novel to pass the e-key over the starter to get ignition. Sitting high on the helm seat is a comfortable and commanding experience and the Volvo Penta slotted silently into gear on its digital control.

Instruments and electronics are laid out to the right of the companionway, on a dash that is angled in the upper section for better viewing and falls away to vertical for less-used controls. Across the top are the usual engine readouts including tachometer, engine trim and oil pressure, while below these a Garmin 8012 screen displays input from the GPS, sounder and Garmin 48nm HD Radar. All engine diagnostics are displayed on the Volvo’s Electronic Vessel Control screens or if desired, on the Garmin as well.

Further down is a panel of membrane switches for lights and pumps, Lectrotab trim tabs and Stress Free Midi winch.

Northbank 750 boat

The Northbank 750 was surprisingly brisk out of the hole as the props hooked up and had us planing at 12kts and 1900rpm before settling into a slow cruise of 22kts around 2500rpm where fuel use was 19lt/h – pretty good for such a big boat. This fuel economy would give a range of 416nm with 10 per cent in reserve.

And that’s the core of the Volvo-Northbank package, combining fuel-efficient diesel power with a capable hull for covering long distances in comfort and safety.

Acceleration from mid-range to wide open was smooth and while it’s not entirely free of turbo whistle and induction sound, it’s still possible to hold a normal conversation.

We reached speeds in the mid-30kts at full revs, which would fall short of the performance with outboards, but is reasonable progress over the ocean on all but a few glassy days a year.

Handling for the Northbank 750 Hard Top is precise and predictable and it manoeuvres safely into sharp or sweeping arcs assisted by the powerful grip of the duoprops. There was no swell to test the boat’s rough-water capability but over the wake of some bigger boats it gave the impression of being soft and capable.

 

THE VERDICT

Northbank 750 helm

Equipped with a list of options designed to entice the fishermen the price as tested totals $189,000. Options include the radar, Garmin electronics, electric winch and a set of 14ft Top Shot outriggers and the upgraded Volvo Penta engine. Without all the fruit and with a 300hp Suzuki outboard motor it would be $140,000 on a trailer.

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #458, October / November 2014. Why not subscribe today?

 

HIGHS

• Comfortable and accommodating

• Well constructed and finished

• Superb handling, big-boat feel

• Enclosed hardtop for weather protection

• Reliable and economical diesel

 

LOWS

• Maybe swap bait table and one of the tanks  

 

NORTHBANK 750 HARD TOP SEA TRIALS

Single 260hp Volvo Penta D4 turbo-diesel engine, with Duoprop leg.

RPM

SPEED (KTS)

FUELBURN (LT/H)

1000

6

3.3

1500

8

6.8

1900 (on the plane)

12

11

2000

15

14

2500

22

19

3000

28

29

3500

33

40

3600(WOT)

35

48

* Sea-trial data supplied by author.

 

NORTHBANK 750 HARD TOP SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE

Northbank 750 Hard Top price: $189,000 (as tested)

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Volvo Penta diesel sterndrive, electronics package, trim tabs, outriggers, swimdeck, radar, winch and more

 

PRICED FROM

$140,000 w/ 300hp Suzuki

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Monohull fishing boat

LENGTH 7.67m

BEAM 2.45m

WEIGHT 1650kg (hull)    

DEADRISE 21˚

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 7            

REC. HP 220-400hp

REC. MAX HP 400hp

FUEL 400lt

 

ENGINE               

MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta C4

TYPE Four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine

RATED HP 260   

DISPLACEMENT 3700cc

WEIGHT 558kg

GEAR RATIO 1.85:1         

PROPELLER Duoprop

 

MANUFACTURED BY

NORTHBANK FIBREGLASS BOATS

Lonsdale, South Australia

 

SUPPLIED BY

Christies Beach Marine

19 Sherriffs Road, Lonsdale, SA, 5160

PHONE (08) 8387 6411



EMAIL sales@christiesbeachmarine.com.au

WEB christiesbeachmarine.com.au

 


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