TEST: EDENCRAFT 6M OFFSHORE
The name of the model said Edencraft 6m Offshore, so that’s where we took it — 60km offshore, travelling no less than 300km in a day.
Legends can easily be made or broken when you get out into Victoria’s Southern Ocean, as you travel huge distances in search of southern bluefin tuna. So I’m delighted to say that the only reputation that got broken was mine when I didn’t find any fish. As far as the boat is concerned, the Edencraft legend lives on.
It’s no secret that Edencraft’s three products — the 565, the 6m Offshore and the Formula 233 — are built on proven hulls that were designed many years ago. They are built to commercial standards with each hull constructed to rigorous Marine Board Survey requirements. However, the new owner of Edencraft has introduced changes that have made these great boats even better.
The 6m Offshore is a serious package. It is a hardcore fishing and diving boat designed to carry large payloads through heavy seas. Its deep-vee design, carrying capacity, and tremendous 1250kg hull demands big outboard motors for performance.
The boat we tested was fitted with a Suzuki 250hp four-stroke, the motor recommended by Edencraft for single engine rigs. At first glance, many consider the boat overpowered, yet I can tell you it’s not! I certainly would not fit the heavy package with anything less than a 200hp, but the 250 is just right. Many opt for the added security of a twin-rig configuration, an option that will change the handling characteristics yet again. As I said, this is one serious package rated to take up to two 140hp engines.
The major change to the original Edencraft 6m Offshore design lies in the way the keel line has been extended through to the back of the pod. The original Edencraft had a step under the pod, however, the new configuration gives more floatation for bigger and heavier engines. Increasing the keel line actually makes for a larger planing surface and a bigger and more stable feel all round.
Earlier models had a tendency to sink their engines a little when backing off the speed, and the engines sat very low when drifting with added weight to the stern. The new pod eliminates these quirks, and accommodates the trend to heavier four-strokes and twin configurations. A layer of carbon fibre has also been added to all new boats, providing additional strength throughout the hull.
I don’t think there are too many bad boats on the market in the year 2010. They are generally good, very good, or downright excellent. As a fishing boat, the Edencraft is downright excellent!
While the 6m Offshore is a reasonably basic boat in its configuration, it is a cut above commercial finishes and actually presents very well. Edencraft prides itself on its attention to detail, especially the finish. As the boats are hand-crafted and individually made, each owner has the opportunity to select the finest components to custom-fit their “perfect boat.”
On the morning of our test the dawn emerged over Portland Harbour in a spectacular display of reds, blues, oranges and ochres. The Great Ocean Road lay to the north-west, and the heavily industrialised port and aluminium works to the south-west.
After a quick photo shoot we rounded the majestic Lawrence Rocks to find some swell on the seaward side of the headland. This opened us up to a 55km run to the continental shelf in search of tuna. A good mate had recently captured a fish weighing over 100kg so we were all pretty hopeful.
The run to the shelf told the story of the hull. We travelled the whole way at around 60kmh and 4800rpm. The hull handled beautifully in a long sprint that can cripple those in lesser boats. The ride was extremely soft and dry off the nose, and there were no bad habits at speed. This boat just loved sticking its nose up with a surprising amount of trim for a predictable, comfortable and dry ride.
Admittedly, there was a reasonably low swell and little wind, but those who know the Southern Ocean can attest to the fact that even in these conditions it is never flat calm.
We travelled with two Formula 233s, and frankly we weren’t left too far behind by the powerful big brothers. The Suzuki 250hp pushed us along beautifully, but it was surprisingly not as fast out of the hole as I was expecting. It was quiet as a mouse at low revs, but once it got into the higher revs it gave a deep, yet comfortable roar of confident power.
Mainland Australia quickly became a distant memory as our intrepid band dropped over the edge of the shelf and into the abyss. My crew was made up of experienced operators and they quickly had seven lures working behind the boat, including a central “shotgun” and two other skirted lures off the long Relax outriggers.
This is where the importance of good electronics becomes apparent, not only for finding bait-schools where the larger predators abound, but also for working a grid pattern once you have found them (and let’s not forget getting there and back again). For this task the boys had a Furuno FCV1100L colour-sounder and a Raymarine E90W combination. The E90W features touchscreen control, and you just don’t realise how good this function is until you have to reset a command in a fast boat that’s being pitched in a sloppy sea.
INTERIOR AND LAYOUT
The interior of the Edencraft is actually quite stylish for a commercial-strength boat, and the dash has some very practical mouldings that set it apart from its direct competitors.
The helm layout is practical and strong, with very good visibility of all instruments and gauges, as well as a large flat area for the sounder and GPS/plotter. The dash also features a big waterproof glovebox and a strong stainless steel grab-bar. It was a little different to find binnacle engine-controls on a single engine rig, but I quickly got used to it.
As with all good offshore boats, it had a high and very strong windscreen with safety glass inserts and a spray deflector on top. An attractive cabin hatch was mid-mounted on the forward bulkhead, which is lockable via a removable top section and cantilevered bottom doors. This is a great idea because the top door can be completely removed during operation to stop it getting in the way and rattling and banging. It can then be replaced when you’re done or when you wish to securely lock the boat.
The cabin itself is fairly basic and the boys opted for some bunk cushions. In reality, although it is entirely comfortable for a night’s sleep, the cabin in this style of boat is actually used for storing all the paraphernalia that we take to sea. Lure rolls, harnesses, added safety equipment, water, fishboxes — the cabin provided dry security for all of it.
The only criticism I have of the cabin is that it doesn’t allow for an access-hatch to the foredeck. The boys fitted a Stress Free electric anchorwinch to the bow, so you’d rarely have to venture out there. However, I’ve had to manually release seized winches in the past and I would hate to scramble around the sides of the Edencraft on a calm day, let alone when the chips are down.
A strong 32mm stainless steel bowrail surrounds the foredeck and the anchoring setup is completed with a very nice stainless bow-fitting that retains a suitable plough-anchor. I must compliment the quality of the stainless welding throughout the boat, including the rocket launcher and canopy frame, both of which are manufactured specifically for Edencraft by McQuarrie Stainless. Similarly, the bimini canopies, front and sideclears are all beautifully made by Melbourne-based Quality Craft.
The deck-room is simply enormous for a 6m boat and is finished with speckled flowcoat. Rubberised mats help reduce the slipperiness of the coating when wet or covered with fish blood. There’s also a huge underfloor killtank, and sidepockets with footholds for storage. The entire work area is simple to clean with a high-pressure hose.
The test boat was also fitted with an optional dive door in the side for easy access. This particular door lifted out on locating tracks, which I felt was a little inconvenient compared to the hinged options offered by competitors. Edencraft will, however, modify its construction to suit individual customer preferences.
Transom and workstation design is simple but very efficient and strong. The batteries and switchgear are in enclosed boxes above the deck-height with an inbuilt livebait tank mounted in between. This balanced layout adds to the stability of the boat, and that in turn means safety at sea.
For anglers, there’s a very strong removable baitboard that doesn’t rattle in its mounts, and the full width transom-well is short enough to fish over without snagging your legs. Small items such as fibreglass mouldings on the topsides of the transom, instead of a rolled flowcoat finish, gave the Edencraft a finesse that sets it above other commercially-based packages.
The fitout was completed with strong cleats for tying off the boat, or maybe a large fish or shark on the flying gaff. Add in combing-racks with rubber boots that don’t cut into your shins while in a sea, a really comfortable pair of Reelax seats on stainless steel, shock-absorbing pedestals, and a strong and attractive spoked steering wheel, and you have a real fishing machine.
We were fortunate to enjoy perfect weather for our trip to “the Shelf” but unfortunately the fish weren’t cooperating. Would you believe that the camera boat crew had a five-way hook-up on some beautiful albacore, with the camera operator taking the rod to land one of the fish.
Nevertheless, that’s all in a day’s fishing and if that happened every day it would be called “catching” instead of fishing. All I can say is, I thoroughly enjoyed my day out in the Edencraft 6m Offshore with some very keen fishos.
The Edencraft once again lives up to the reputation it gained from a long history of commercial and recreational pursuits. Riding comfort at sea is exceptional and while the mouldings and finish are simple, they are attractive, effective and easily cleaned. Our test boat was tricked up for a pair of extremely dedicated fishos who take great pride in their boat, and approach their fishing with a meticulous eye for detail — which is why they bought an Edencraft 6m Offshore in the first place.
With an endless list of options, Edencraft will tailor a package to suit any customer’s requirements but will retain the quality product it is renowned for.
When it was finally time to turn for that very long trip home, my weary old bones were pleased to be treated to the superb seakeeping and comfort of one of Australia’s marine heroes, the Edencraft.
ON THE PLANE
Strong seaworthy hull
Big fuel capacity
SANK LIKE A BRICK
Lift-out dive door
No bow access
Specifications: Edencraft 6m Offshore
Price as tested: $93,000 (including trailer)
Options fitted: Stainless work,
canopies, outriggers, electronics
Priced from: $80,000
Type: Deep-vee monohull
Material: GRP/composite carbon fibre
Length (overall): 6.4m
Hull weight: 1250kg (estimated dry)
Towing weight: 2700kg (estimated)
Fuel: Approx. 240lt
Rec. HP: 250
Max. HP: 250 (four-stroke) or 2 x 140
Make/model: DF250 Suzuki 250hp four-stroke EFI
Type: DOHC, 24-valve, multi-point, sequential-electronic, fuel-injected, V6
Rated HP: 250
Gearbox ratio: 2.29:1
Propeller: Suzuki 3 x 16 x 20R
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
53 Riversdale Rd
Newtown, Geelong, Victoria, 3220
Phone: (03) 5221 0444
Originally published in TrailerBoat 257