Review: Cruise Craft 685HT

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford

This Cruise Craft 685HT (hardtop) is like no other Cruise Craft boat you’ve ever seen. What do you expect with $60,000 of extras?


  • The Cruise Craft 685HT build quality and engineering are top class. It's an amazing, one-of-a-kind fibreglass fishing boat with all the fruit.


  • The roomy open helm offers all-round vision and good weather protection.


  • This Cruise Craft has great sea-keeping qualities, a soft ride, and spirited performance.


  • Be sure to keep an eye on the weight though when it's filled with fuel and equipment.


Cruise Craft 685 Hardtop boat

Have you ever wondered what you’d add to your boat if you owned a marine supply company? Spiro Demopoulos doesn’t have to wonder – as the owner of Blue Bottle Fishing he has access to thousands of products and can justify his obsession by telling everyone he’s product-testing all the goodies adorning his remarkable hardtop Cruise Craft 685HT.

From the Boat Catch in the bow to the 300hp Suzuki outboard motor in the engine well, Spiro’s ride is ultra-special, but you’d probably expect that with a drive-away price exceeding $180,000 thanks to the addition of $60,000 of extras.


Hardtop Cruise Craft 685

Hardtop on Cruise Craft 685

As well as high-quality resin, every Cruise Craft boat out of the Brisbane factory has a hull steeped in the passion for boating of three generations of the Nichols family who have kept at the cutting edge of technology over nearly 60 years of production. Despite their origins in timber construction, these days production is heading to a full composite build with a desire to keep things fresh.

Modern styling – especially with the beautifully integrated hardtop – belies the origins of the 685 Explorer, which can trace its hull design back to the lines of the 685 Outsider from around the turn of the millennium. Like all Cruise Craft, the underpinnings are centred on a proven hull/beam ratio that produces the optimum balance of stability and ride. Not too much V to upset stability at rest but enough for good ride character and speed.

A 20° deadrise at the transom meets a bevel-edged planing plank and reversed chines designed for lift and stability. Planing strakes and reverse chines running almost horizontally with the keel line deflect water down rather than away to the side. This has the double effect of giving a soft ride and a dry boat even in cross winds.

Cruise Craft 685HTwith 300hp Suzuki outboard

Check out the handling and ride with a 300hp Suzuki outboard motor.


Layout and design

Helm layout on Cruise Craft 685HT

Unlike most designs where the beam is centred around amidships and then tapers in towards the ends, the Cruise Craft concept takes the full width all the way from the helm to the transom, giving ultimate deck space. The beam is also extended almost vertically down to the waterline from the gunwale rubber for greater wetted area and even better stability at rest.

External appearance is similar across most of the range with a cranked sheerline or "Hatteras Hip" that lifts the bow section higher to give extended headroom in the cabin, and enhanced flare in the hull to better deflect spray.

The first impression when stepping on board is the surprising amount of room for the nominated size and, on top of the boat’s use of beam all the way aft, there’s a good reason; the 685 uses traditional measurement rather than the European system, so its 7.2m length might properly be called a 720.

Cockpit on Cruise Craft 685HT

The sides are reassuringly high and the cockpit layout is as neat as they come, with a soft covering underneath that is comfortable and reassuringly grippy. This SeaDek material’s grey finish also cuts down on the glare from the standard white fibreglass floor.

There are small features around the cockpit that mean a lot when fishing. Switches at the transom control the bait pump and bilges, meaning you don’t have to go to the helm to activate them. A set of tackle drawers to starboard keep often-used items handy and a freshwater hose washes hands and keeps things clean. I also noticed plenty of tackle storage along the sides and a 10-slot rocket launcher overhead.

Drinks storage on Cruise Craft 685

A moulded single-piece fibreglass floor liner is the secret to the immaculate finish inside the boat. Extending from the anchor well to the transom, it includes all hatches and underfloor storage areas as separate moulding that are fixed in the production process.

The floor is cambered from the centre, a 12mm fall to the sides helping any water that finds its way on board to drain along the sides through passageways to the bilge where an automatic pump sends it over the side.


Helm and electronics

Simrad marine electronics setup on Cruise Craft 685HT

Spiro’s boat is the fully enclosed version of the hardtop with fixed glass windows around the cabin for a secure feeling and full weather protection. A version with removable clears is offered for warmer climates but really, the side windows and roof hatches were enough on the warm summer day in Sydney.

More than 2m of head height and all-round vision create an unrestricted, airy space under a hardtop that’s open at the back for unrestricted access to the cockpit. Monogrammed helm seats sit on stainless steel supports over removable iceboxes, leaving room between to navigate forward to the cabin with locking door, flushing toilet and berths.

The sizable dash is sprinkled with gauges, switches and screens serving a wealth of electronic wizardry. Forward thinking by CruseCraft in the original dash layout allowed Spiro to fit a big Simrad NSS16 marine electronics multifunction display ahead of the skipper while still leaving room for plenty more.



The main screen interfaces with a Simrad RC42-4G radar, autopilot, 3D Structure Scan, Airmar B175HW and B175L transducers through a BSM Sonar module and a B150M unit connected to the Lowrance HDS12 Gen 3 to give a wide section of frequencies.

But wait, there’s more. A bracket-mounted HDS12 Lowrance screen offers additional sonar and navigation options, while a standalone HS60 GPS should settle any arguments about location. A pair of Simrad IS35 gauges says all you need to know about the engine and a Fusion 750 stereo keeps the crew entertained – there’s Korr blue or white mood lighting under the gunwales for disco nights.

Up front you’ll find a Stress Free winch and Sarca anchor; down the back a set of Lenco trim tabs keep things on an even keel, while in the middle a pair of wiper washers clear any spray that spoils the view, and underneath a set of Lifeform waterproof lights will help find squid or create a party atmosphere at the dock.

With all this fish-finding paraphernalia, you hope to catch something worthwhile so there are a couple of 5.5m Reelax Reef Rigger game poles, two deep insulated kill tanks, and one of Cruise Craft’s exceptional deluxe bait boards.


The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Cruise Craft 685 Hardtop boat on the water

Lots of folk will baulk at $180,000 for a trailer boat and, while it’s fair to say that Spiro uses his as a mobile demo platform for his business, he insists this is how he would set up his boat anyway. His high standards of equipment level and meticulous presentation have been met by the quality of finish standard from the factory.

With a BMT weight around 2850kg on an alloy trailer, you need to take care when loading fuel and equipment not to exceed the 3500kg towing limit of most larger vehicles. That aside, the 685HT is a remarkably capable and user-friendly vessel that has fishing at its core while retaining comfort and room to entertain the family.



Cruise Craft 685HT

Cruise Craft 685HT price: $120,000

Priced from



Engine upgrade, electronics, bait board, outriggers, boat catch, bait board, more







TYPE Monohull hardtop


BEAM 2.5m

WEIGHT 2850kg BMT approx









MAKE/MODEL Suzuki DF300AP outboard motor

TYPE V6 fuel-injected four-stroke outboard motor



WEIGHT 278kg





Cruise Craft Boats

1308 Lytton Rd, Hemmant, Qld 4174

Phone (07) 3390 4877




See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #479, June 2016. Why not subscribe today?


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