BOAT TEST: CRUISECRAFT OUTSIDER 595
John "The Bear" Willis takes CruiseCraft's Outsider 595 for a spin, and rediscovers all the reasons why this proud, family-owned Aussie company has stood the test of time.
I've had a love affair with CruiseCraft boats for as long as I can remember - and at my age, that's a long time. So when I recently had the opportunity to review a factory-fresh model and take it out for an ocean bar crossing - and then take a factory tour and meet the firm's owners, the Nichols family, and their employees - I grabbed it with both hands.
CruiseCraft holds a special place in my boating history. Much of my early snapper and squid education took place in a 166 Raider; I caught my first IGFA gold medal marlin in a 570 Explorer; and a 585 Galaxy highlighted to me the versatility of bowriders.
The CruiseCraft Outsider 595 is just one more chapter in the company's proud Australian story, and it's a sight to behold. Its highly-polished moulds sparkle, emphasising the attractive dropping sheerline of the smooth-flowing hull. The moulded bowsprit, a beautifully sculptured cabin and curvy drop transom combine to make a statement in modern boat design, and in my opinion the "Sand"-coloured hull is simply gorgeous, adding to a great overall look.
The Nichols family has been producing CruiseCraft boats over three generations since 1946. Like all quality products, CruiseCraft boats aren't cheap, but history has shown these vessels keep on keeping on. In fact, there are plenty of single-owner CruiseCrafts that date back well over 50 years, such as a timber example on display at Queensland-based CruiseCraft dealer, Wynnum Marine.
Not only did I get the chance to drive the Outsider 595 on a beautifully calm Moreton Bay morning, I also sampled this shallow waterway's infamous spine-splintering chop in the afternoon. The next day we took the 595 out to the long, winding and arduous South Passage Bar between Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island, getting in some bar crossings with local expert, Bill Corten. Bill holds comprehensive training courses in these tricky waters.
Now I reckon I can tell a good boat from a bad one in a couple of minutes, but it takes considerably longer to get the feel for an entire package over a number of varying applications. Trust me - the Outsider 595 is a good one and it won't take long behind the wheel for you to realise it. This boat is built for a long love affair, not just a quick fling.
The Outsider 595 is a truly versatile family package. The unit comes in at a little over 2000kg overall, taking it to the upper capacity of the average family tow vehicle and into the realm of breakaway braking systems. It has a strong and dependable seagoing hull that can be appreciated by both fishos and divers alike, while it has the seating and all the accessories for family and friends to enjoy a social day out on the water.
Our demo unit was fitted with an Evinrude 150hp E-TEC with ample grunt to keep the watersports nuts smiling, plus kids both small and large. It gave us a thrilling top-end speed of 36kts (66.6kmh) at 5400rpm, at which point it was chewing through 58.5lt/h. Perhaps more importantly, the E-TEC provided immediate response when we were confronted with peaking swells on the bar.
The Outsider's sub-floor framework provides a sturdy matrix of support, with all the timber components fully encapsulated in fibreglass-woven rovings. CruiseCraft is still a big believer in the benefits of a properly constructed timber frame - namely their lightweight nature and strength - and the longevity of the brand's products is indisputable proof of their worth. An intricate one-piece internal liner enhances the underfloor support. It actually extends right up the sidewalls to the gunwale, giving a beautiful finish to the cockpit, and it provides dual laminate strength and added buoyancy. Foam has been incorporated into all CruiseCraft models for maximum safety and strength, as well as its sound-absorption qualities. In fact, all CruiseCraft boats are now manufactured to international CE-standard criteria, so you know you're getting a proven product.
The Outsider's layout is simply superb. The transom has a good combination of standard features, including a rugged telescopic boarding ladder that folds out from the rear platform. A small transom doorway makes boarding simple, while the starboard quarter has a large, plumbed livebait tank that could double as an Esky-type cooler for more social occasions. Queenslanders are adamant their livies last longer if kept in dark surroundings, and so the Outsider's tank interior is black. However, southern fishos usually use livebait tanks fitted with inspection windows, not just so you can keep an eye on the fish, but also because it's thought the additional light helps to keep the livies' colours bright, making them more attractive to predators. Who's right? Only the fish know…
CruiseCraft provides an optional removable fibreglass baitboard, while the deckwash and ski hooks are standard equipment. The big cockpit creates a terrific workstation with functional storage and seating. The convertible rear lounge is in my view one of the best designs on the market, with luxurious upholstered seats and coamings. There's easy access to the bilge, where batteries and oil bottles are mounted on elevated trays for safety and convenience. CruiseCraft has also fitted a pair of spring-loaded "punch out" SST Flaps. If you're caught out in really concerning conditions, simply release the flaps for a quick-draining deck.
The cockpit has full-length sidepockets and the solid fibreglass panels are strong enough to stand on. There are toeholds all round to brace you securely when fighting that big-un, as well as recessed grabrails, a deep freeboard, pop-up cleats and stainless-steel rodholders. Each sidepocket has rod, boat hook and gaff storage. There's a flooding killtank under the cockpit floor to keep your catch fresh, and quality clip-in carpet throughout.
CruiseCraft's experience also shines through at the helm. The company has employed a new seat on the 595 - it has a rounded wraparound backrest on a moulded, thickly-padded base, and it's really comfortable. The seats are mounted via slide and swivel adjusters to strong stainless frames that house twin removable fibreglass iceboxes. The seats easily rotate to face aft. The combination is sensible, strong and practical.
The designers at CruiseCraft have perfected a modular dashboard panel that is fitted to a number of the firm's models. Its mounting system incorporates aluminium backing laminated into the deck shell, allowing through-bolts for strength, function and longevity. These attractive dash mouldings have footrests and plenty of space for large electronics like the Lowrance HDS-10 as fitted to our demo boat. The engine controls and key start are flush-mounted in a perfect position for comfortable use whether seated or standing. A compass and E-TEC I-Command gauges sit on top of the dashboard enclosed by a strong, curved safety-glass windscreen with a full-length grabrail. However, vision is slightly impaired by the windscreen frame and grabrail - I guess you simply can't have everything, even though the CruiseCraft designers have tried very hard.
The helm electronics are completed with a GME VHF radio, six-gang waterproof switch panel and Lowrance Sonic Hub sound system. A strong and stainless spoked steering wheel with hydraulic steering adds the finishing touch.
Moulded helm sidepanels house the flush-mounted stereo speakers as well as recesses for the EPIRB and fire extinguisher. Unlike many competitors, these items are part of the long list of standard equipment in CruiseCraft boats, so be careful when comparing prices to include all of the extras provided with this boat. There are also drinkholders, sidepockets and an open glovebox, plus grabhandles everywhere you might need them.
The optional sliding acrylic cabin door is one of the best I've seen. It's strong, secure and lockable - it works well, it doesn't rattle and it looks great. Its large entry leads us into a very comfortable vee-berth cabin. There's no doubt the full fibreglass lining adds strength, beauty and practicality to the cabin, which also has upholstered cabin rails and plenty of storage. The liner is easily cleaned and gives a great visual contrast to the "sand, copper and beach"-coloured bunk cushions. There is also a moulded step and an enclosed recess for the Porta Potti. As an option, the cabin roof is professionally lined and has a large hatch for easy entry to the bow and anchoring system.
Out on the bow the cabin hatch has a small moulded recess. I could imagine my girls sunbaking there, whilst I'm doing something more worthwhile - like fishing. There's plenty of room on the bow with the convenient extra deck space of the full cabin walkaround. This combines well with an enclosed anchor hatch, a strong fibreglass bowsprit with locking bollard and a 25mm stainless-steel split bowrail.
Overhead, the factory-fitted bimini shows some terrific attention to detail, especially in regard to some ingenious waterproofing flaps and fittings. The folding stainless-steel T-top is a work of art, combining a solid framework with a rocket launcher and work light mounts.
Put it all together and I believe the CruiseCraft Outsider 595 is one of the most appealing, best designed and well-constructed packages in its class. In my mind, it has very few competitors. Its performance on the water matches its overall integrity. The wide beam and deep-vee hull delivers a great combination of riding comfort and stability at rest. Sure, perhaps some other hulls will ride slightly softer through the chop, but the strength of the construction and foam insulation soften any impact.
Once we got her into the swell on the South Passage Bar the hull displayed its true ocean-going performance, where it frolicked on both the face and the back of the waves. I was reminded of my youth whilst surfing down the face of a few peaking swells, and I can certainly report this boat displayed absolutely no tendency to broach. The Evinrude 150 E-TEC held us on the backs of waves effortlessly and provided instant punch on demand.
So what have we got here? Great performance, exceptional looks, a functional layout, a strong and safe construction, quality fittings and accessories and a long list of standard features, all backed up by a long-standing Australian family brand with exceptional resale value. There is virtually no spray, no sound, no banging and no crashing. Make mine a CruiseCraft!
On the plane...
Great aesthetics, finish and trim
Premium build quality
Fully moulded liner
Big deck area
Dragging the chain...
Forward vision is slightly impaired due to windscreen frame and grabrail
6.6kts (12.2kmh) @ 2500rpm - 16lt/h (low planing speed)
11.6kts (21.4kmh) @ 3000rpm - 20lt/h (not a particularly comfortable speed)
18.3kts (33.8kmh) @ 3350rpm - 21.7lt/h (now it's happening!)
19.5kts (36.1kmh) @ 3500rpm - 23lt/h
25kts (46.3kmh) @ 4000rpm - 33lt/h (up and running)
29.3kts (54.2kmh) @ 4500rpm - 38.6lt/h (E-TEC powerband feels good)
32kts (59.2kmh) @ 5000rpm - 53lt/h (performing beautifully but big increase in fuel consumption)
36kts (66.6kmh) @ 5400rpm - 58.5lt/h (WOT)
SPECIFICATIONS - CRUISECRAFT OUTSIDER 595
Price as tested: $91,060
Options fitted: Lowrance HDS-10, GME VHF radio, Lowrance Sonic Hub with 2 x speakers, saltwater deckwash and freshwater shower combo, sliding lockable door, targa spotlights, cabin light, cabin lining, padded side coamings, centre bunk cushion, baitboard
Type: Deep-vee monohull
Length (LOA): 6.35m
Weight (BMT): 2250kg
Min. HP: 135
Max. HP: 175
Water (optional): 50lt
Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC E 150
Type: Loop-charged, DFI, two-stroke V6
Gear ratio: 1.85:1
Propeller: Cyclone four-blade 14.5in x 15P
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
1308 Lytton Road
Hemmant, Qld, 4174
Tel: (07) 3390 4877
First published in TrailerBoat # 277