If you think the 495 Fisherman is just a little small and the 595 too big, then check out the mid-sized 545 Sports. At 5.52m overall, 2.18m external beam and 1.56m internal beam, it’s just that much bigger than the 495 and being the Sports version, does have the bonus of being a genuine cuddy with upholstered bunks with a drop down floor.
There is good sitting headroom and the berths are long enough for smaller adults or kids to lay on, but it’s certainly not designed for overnighting. There is limited storage under the berths, plus like the 495 has a couple of pontoon lockers to keep stuff dry. In the 595 Fisherman model the chequer plate sole extends all the way to the bow, much the same as the 495 Fisherman, with no berths.
From the aft of the forward seats, the cockpit and transom layout is identical to the 495 and is available with all the same options. The standard seats are a king/queen passenger seat and Softrider pedestal driver seat, but again you have options to change that to whatever suits. There is extra storage in the grp moulded king/queen seat base as well as in an underfloor locker. This can be converted to a fully plumbed kill/live bait tank and the 545 Sports also comes standard with a 150 litre underfloor fuel tank.
The dash area is also a lot bigger than on the 495 Fisherman, so you have more space for electronics, etc. In our test boat we had a Raymarine 5” GPS/Sounder, (there’s room for up to a 12” screen), twin Mercury Smartcraft gauges, a Uniden VHF radio, 6 way switch panel and the controls to operate the Sav fastfall drum winch.
Like on the larger models, Aqualine have done a neat job of hiding the large and obtrusive drum winch away below the deckline. With the drum winch fitted with a braided nylon rope, we had 120m of line available, which is way more than would be possible with a conventional auto rope/ chain anchor system. If you don’t have an auto system, then it’s an easy reach via the split windscreen and deck hatch to the open anchor locker.
Our 545 also came with a few extra options such as a rocket launcher with six rod holders and bimini. If you have a height issue where you park the boat, then a quick release system allows you to drop the canopy and your overall height on the trailer is down to around 2m. A bigger boat means bigger horsepower engines are available and in the case of the 545 Sports the options are 80hp-115hp. With a Mercury 115 EFI, I managed to run the 545 Sports to 35 knots (40 mph).
Acceleration was excellent with a very quick holeshot, with a 19” three blade Laser prop biting hard. We had no trim tabs, but as the boat isn’t a hardtop it didn’t really need them and I found it ran very level at speed and was responsive to engine trim. Best cruise was around 4500 rpm @ 23 knots, which according to the Smartcraft fuel gauge was using 24 lph. At 5000 rpm the Smartcraft indicated 28 lph, at 5500 rpm, 34 lph and flat out Flat out this increased to 45 lph and at 6000 rpm, the maximum flow was 45 lph.
One common thing about Kiwi-Kraft and equally Aqualine is the reputation the boats have for their soft ride, with the trademark Hush Tec hull. These are traditional pontoon boats with round tubes and soft chines that use trapped air between the sponson and the hull to contribute to the smooth ride. Buoyancy and stability are also very important and the Aqualine hulls certainly deliver where it matters. Each pontoon section is sealed providing massive buoyancy and in effect makes the boats virtually unsinkable.
The boats are also built to an extremely high standard and in some areas probably overbuilt, but that’s something the factory will not compromise on. They have that solid, sturdy feel about them and there’s no rattling or shimmering when underway.