It’s a well-established fact that Western Australia is the national hub of the plate-aluminium boat industry, and it’s home to many builders specialising in custom work.
Sadly, the economic downturn saw some of the smaller, one-man operations go under. Many of them were guys who sharpened their teeth working in the large international aluminium ferry trade at Henderson, south of Fremantle. Having been forced to close their doors, many of them headed to the mines. But not so with Coraline Boats. Far from it, this company has been around for years, building up a solid reputation for quality and style.
Current owner Graham Gow has been at the helm for the past six years and in that time he’s built up a team of qualified and very experienced shipwrights. Graham is also dealer principal of the Boat City dealership in the northern Perth suburb of Balcatta, so he’s dealing face to face with the boating public and potential buyers. He knows that to stay in business he needs to keep one step ahead of the competition, which is why he and his team are always focussing on the next update in their quest to produce cutting-edge plate-alloy boats.
Our review boat was the Coraline 670 Walkaround HT (hardtop) Platinum Series fitted with a Yamaha 200hp four-stroke motor. Retailing for just under $110,000, it’s well equipped for bluewater fishing. That price does not, however, include navigational instrumentation. There’s a wide range of electronics available these days so rather than fit something that doesn’t suit the buyer, Gow prefers to leave the dash free apart from the engine gauges and switch panel. The wide shelf behind the toughened glass windscreen has plenty of room to mount large GPS / sounder electronics and a compass.
The finish on the Coraline is first rate, even down to the blue marine carpet lining and the dash shelf with its over-locking stitched edging. The same carpet, again with edging, is used to line the hardtop cabin roof as well as the selfdraining deck, the latter complete with large killtank. The test boat has a blue and white colour scheme with the hull sides finished in blue two-pack paint with white trim and superstructure. Top quality matching stainless-steel-framed swivel seats for the skipper and co-pilot are mounted on aluminium seat boxes and the blue theme continues on the twin bunk cushions in the cabin, which has a step-down entry for greater head room. The floor between the bunks is raised to accommodate a portable chemical toilet and the cabin came with full bulkheads with a soft roll-up cabin door for privacy.
The hardtop is a substantial build, with boxed sides and uprights — not just the pipework you see on some vessels which, with a bit of sea and road use, often start to weaken. The 670 Walkaround centre-cab incorporates port and starboard seat boxes with hatch storage underneath. The seats and top of the boxes fold forward to reveal storage shelves or a place to locate a portable gas stove out of the wind. The cab also incorporates the frame for the windscreen and side windows. A centre mullion makes for a two-piece screen with the front clear toughened glass panels glued into place. The framework adds strength to the whole structure and does away with the need for a separate screen frame, which normally requires screwing into place with stainless steel screws.
This of course can spell trouble in aluminium boats — stainless steel, aluminium and saltwater do not mix, even if an anti-corrosive compound is used to coat the screws before affixing. Graham Gow likes to stay away from stainless fittings where possible so he uses aluminium-shafted rivets to keep metals alike. Even some of the aluminium rivets you buy come with mild steel shafts that also corrode, so the extra time it takes to source the all-aluminium product pays off.
It makes sense here to do away with unnecessary windscreen frames if the glass can be fixed directly to the hardtop structure. The only “foreign” framing is used on the side sliding windows fitted to the Platinum Series craft. Again, toughened glass (this time tinted) is used here rather than Perspex, which only lasts a few years before it suffers UV and heat damage. The sliding windows also allow for good ventilation during the hot summer months.
The GME 27MHz marine radio and stereo sound system are fitted to the large boxed section in the roofline above the skipper. Wiring access is via a standard round nylon hatch cover and there’s ample room to install a VHF radio. You’ll also find a standard black nylon glovebox located on the portside cab bulkhead.
Sitting at the helm (for me, anyway) was a matter of using the well-placed built-in footrest (with non-skid paint) to hoist myself up about 150mm to take my place in the bucket seat. While this raised position gave me great vision, my problem was that I’m a somewhat broad bloke so I had to turn side-on to walk between the skipper and co-pilot seats. Remember, this craft is a walkaround configuration, greatly suited for fishing and diving because of the extra deck space up front. The cab is spacious and provides good protection, so once I got used to turning side-on it was okay. A much slimmer person wouldn’t have a problem. The engine remote control was mounted at the right height on the starboard cab wall and the footrest was just right for me too, but these are adjustable.
There’s good vision over the bow section and its deep, selfdraining anchorwell. The review boat didn’t have a winch, but one could easily be fitted with plenty of storage in the well for the rope and chain. The bowsprit comes with guides to help feed the rope over the front roller. Immediately behind the well and at the front of the centre-cab is a generous bench seat, adding a bit of comfort for those fishing over the bow.
The foredeck is raised 300mm with 280mm-wide walkaround decks and solid grabrails on both sides of the hardtop roof. The forward bow railing is contoured to match the shoulders of the vessel and it adds safety, especially for youngsters.
Heading astern, the sidepockets run the full length of the cockpit and the gunwale rails continue down the port and starboard swallowtails, providing solid grabrails for swimmers using the marlin boards and heavy-duty portside ladder. A removable bench seat stretches across the transom, which on this vessel had been left clear for the future owner to select their preference of baitboard or barbeque.
A saltwater deckwash valve is fitted at the rear in the portside pocket. It’s the manual pick-up type, comprising an aluminium pipe under the hull that scoops up the water when underway — simple, but effective. An ordinary garden hose fitting screws onto the valve and Gow assured me it works well in cleaning up the fishing spills. I’m told it’s a simple matter if owners want an electric pump fitted.
ON THE WATER
The boat’s impressive performance, both running and at rest, is down to the sharp entry leading to a 20° deadrise, plus very aggressive reverse chines that act like sponsons — collectively all this makes for a stable platform. The chines are evident at the bow and become wider and more acute as they extend the full length of the vessel. Four pronounced strakes extend almost the whole length, too, ending 300mm from the transom. The chines help give the boat lift and deflect spray, while the strakes assist in tracking.
The 200hp Yamaha has plenty of grunt and the 670 was soon on the plane in the smooth conditions close into shore. As we headed out, the light south-easterly breeze created an annoying short, sharp chop, but with a little acceleration the Coraline was up and sitting on top of the lumps thanks to the sharp entry and reverse chines, with the strakes helping to break up the water as the vessel lifted.
It’s a solid feel at the wheel with turning made easy due to the hydraulic steering aft. Increasing speed and completing a few hard turns, the spray was thrown well astern with not a hint of spray on the windscreen. Visibility was good and the sliding windows controlled the ventilation as we sped up.
We were well on the plane and at 3000rpm sitting on around 15kts (27.8kmh). Due to the lack of technical satellite navigation in the form of a GPS, we had no accurate indication of the speed at which we were travelling. We had a tachometer and fuel usage, however, with the latter set in imperial gallons. The builder estimated our speed in knots relying on his experience and knowledge of these craft, giving us the following figures: 3500rpm for 20kts (37kmh) at 5g/h (18.9lt/h); 4000rpm for 28kts (51.9kmh) at 7.4g/h (28lt/h); 6000rpm for 38kts (70.4kmh) at 19g/h (72lt/h).
Taking over the helm, I concentrated on the handling of the 670 rather than studying the gauges. Certainly the 200hp Yamaha had the power to make this vessel get up and go. The steering was light and the tracking was straight, even with my hands off the stainless steel wheel. Banking left and right and making figure-of-eight turns was effortless and dry. Making a hard turn I got a hint of cavitation until I trimmed the motor down a fraction. Changing my position from seated to standing and with the bolster cushion in place against my lower back, I had heaps of clearance in front of me to handle the wheel and I felt totally in command.
I was well at ease with the Coraline 670 Walkaround and compared with my own similar-sized plate-boat (also a hardtop) it’s evident the improvements made during the past decade have been for the better. Sure, you can’t really eliminate the noise of the water smacking the aluminium, but this vessel is quieter than mine due to its finer entry and increased deadrise. A plate-boat is never going to be as quiet as an equivalent GRP vessel, but it’s great to see manufacturers like Coraline locked into a continual program of innovation and improvement.
The 2.5m beam translates to plenty of room for fishos and divers, and with the rear lounge sliding quickly into place the vessel converts into a sound family package, with room up the front for the ankle-biters to take a nap.
Coraline boats come with a five-year structural warranty on the hull and the review boat is mounted on a multi-roller tandem trailer. Pricing for the 670 Walkaround HT starts from $101,580. Our Platinum Series version costs $5000 more, plus whatever you can afford for your navigation electronics.
On the plane...
Plenty of space
Plenty of grabrails
Shade awning at rear of hardtop
Dragging the chain...
Could do with heavier duty bollard on bow
A couple more rodholders would be handy
CORALINE 670 WALKAROUND HT PLATINUM SERIES
Price as tested: $106,580
Options fitted: Yamaha 200hp upgrade (regular Platinum Series comes with 150hp motor)
Priced from: $101,589 (150hp two-stroke)
Type: Deep-vee walkaround
Rec. HP: 150
Max. HP: 250
Make/model: Yamaha 200hp
Type: 24-valve, DOHC, 60°, four-stroke V6
Gear ratio: 2.00:1
Propeller: 17in three-blade aluminium
Coraline Boats, Tel: (08) 9345 4311, Web: www.coralineboats.com.au
Boat City, 430 Wanneroo Road, Balcatta, WA, 6021, Tel: (08) 9345 4311, Web: www.boatcity.com.au
Story and photos: Barry Wiseman
Source: TrailerBoat #283
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