NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
One of the features of this year’s Melbourne Boat Show was the number of new toys on display. And chief among those was the debut of Manny Grima’s new Ocean Master range of GRP boats. They attracted much attention, and we at TrailerBoat couldn’t get our hands on one quickly enough.
In retrospect, we were a bit too quick. Our test day on Corio Bay in Geelong was mirror smooth, which negated any chance we had of testing the Ocean Masters’ ability to handle a sea. We had heard good reports, but the only happy bloke on the day was photographer Stu’ Grant who just loves calm water to do his pix.
This report is on the boat in the middle of the Ocean Master range, the 5.9 Explorer, and we’ll bring you stories on the others in coming issues. Because the test boats were rushed into service for the boat show, Geelong Boating Centre, the sole Victorian agents, didn’t have the time they would have liked to put into preparing them for test, so we had a few glitches here and there. As you’ll appreciate, there is a difference between preparing a boat for show and one to go.
Never mind, we came away impressed.
In a general sense, the boats are well designed, run well and storage is excellent, among the best in their class. There are lots of good ideas and the moulded dash layout is among the best I’ve seen.
The Explorer is 5.9m LOA, including the very long and strong bowsprit, so in the old days this would be called an 18-footer.
The cockpit space is substantial and the compromise for this is a smaller cuddy than some of its competitors. And yet there is a very cunning design feature here which maximises available space. There is no V-bunk as such in this boat, just two black-carpeted trays either side of the central walkway. The port side is a few inches longer than the starboard, due to a clever use of space by having a solid bulkhead on the starboard side with the remainder open. While that means there is no under-bunk storage, there’s still plenty of space throughout the boat.
Headroom in the small cuddy is OK, the flowcoat good and the hatch a good size, although I’d be fitting an anchor winch. My days of crawling up and under are well and truly finished. The wiring behind the bulkhead is unprotected but that can be easily fixed.
The bowsprit is quite a work of art, capable of carrying any sort of anchor. The chain feeds through a hole in the anchorwell hatch and there’s room underneath for a barrel winch. The bowrail is a solid, split unit.
The four-piece screen, common to a number of the boats, has an integrated grabrail which is first class. However, the top of the screen can be at an annoying eye level in certain conditions. Such is the price you pay for aesthetics.
The moulded dash is a gem, with instruments and radio front and centre with the compass offset towards the centre-left, but that’s OK. This unit was fitted with a Humminbird 917C GPS fishing system directly in front and it supplies all the information you need.
There are two stainless steel cupholders moulded into the dash for the skipper and passenger, plus a stainless steel grabrail over the cuddy entrance. A lockable glovebox is in front of the passenger. There’s a footrest for the passenger on the top of the cuddy storage bin bulkhead, but none for the skipper, however, that’s easily fixed. Other boats tested had a bolt-on stainless steel unit, but even this would require a strip or two of non-slip tape.
The test boat was fitted with a bimini attached to a fairly basic six-pot rocket launcher.
A huge underfloor bin is located between the seats and has a very solid lid. Many of them don’t.
As mentioned earlier, the cockpit is large enough to fish four comfortably, with huge, covered sidepockets the length of the boat, the top two compartments for gear, and the bottom one for rods. Two stainless steel grab handles are moulded into the sidepocket coverings for passengers in two rear quarter seats, which fold down neatly to provide not only more fishing room, but padding to lean on when fighting a tough fish. Non-skid panels on the gunnels are good, as are four stainless rodholders with rubber inserts.
The cuddy walkway, storage bins and cockpit floor are covered with a silver-flecked black marine carpet. On a hot day you wouldn’t want to be in bare feet. There are other carpet options available though.
The transom treatment is really good with a livebait tank on the port quarter, plumbed with the water intake at the bottom of the tank, not the top, so your bottom-swimming fish shouldn’t die. On the starboard quarter is a storage bin. A flap in front of the motor folds forward for motor lift when travelling, but is hardly needed. Fuel filler is in the engine well, another plus. The test boat was not fitted with boarding platforms but they are available.
From a performance point of view we were hampered somewhat by the skipper’s chair breaking loose from its moorings (so to speak) early on in the piece and chucking one test pilot into the back of the boat. In Melbourne Boat Show haste, the pole-mounted bucket seat had not been secured properly, tacked in only with four 25mm x 12 gauge screws rather than six 45mm x 14 gauge units. I can guarantee you that this sort of stuff fails to impress boat testers, but the explanation is accepted. Let me add though that the ideal is to through-bolt their chairs to a metal plate.
However, the boat performed very well prior to this incident — the 150hp Yammie four-stroke is ideally suited to the craft. It cruised at 52kmh at 4000rpm and WOT was a very good 83kmh at 6100rpm. Most people would be happy with that, even though the maximum horsepower recommended is a whopping 230. I’m just disappointed we didn’t have a bit of rough stuff to barrel through.
Perhaps it’s appropriate to add here that I thought the Ocean Masters were well built. There appears to be plenty of glass in them and even the decks were solid glass and very sturdy.
I think that fitted with a few aftermarket items (and they’re fairly limitless), the Ocean Master will attract its share of buyers.
WHAT WE LIKED
Grabrail on windscreen
Fuel filler in engine well
NOT SO MUCH
No foam bunks in cuddy
No skipper’s footrest
No shelves in cuddy
Specifications: Ocean Master 590 Explorer
Price as tested: $66,495
Options fitted: Cockpit carpet, stainless steel latches, VHF radio and aerial, Humminbird 917C, stainless steel rocket launcher and bimini, white tandem alloy trailer wheels and LED trailer lights, 150hp Yamaha four-stroke upgrade, high-performance propeller, concealed controls, switch panel, auto bilge pump, Hella LED cockpit lights
Priced from: $46,091
Length overall: 5.9m
Rec. max. HP: 230
Weight: Approx 900kg (hull); (on trailer): approx 1650kg (on trailer)
Make/model: Yamaha F150
Type: Four-stroke outboard
Rated HP: 150
Propeller: Yamaha SS 13 x 19in
Geelong Boating Centre,
88 Barwon Heads Rd,
BELMONT, Vic, 3216
Phone: (03) 5241 6966
Originally published in TrailerBoat #235