Buyers Guide to 6m GRP Cabin

by admin

Open Air

A Buyers Guide to 6m GRP Cabin Boats

If you are in the market for a 6-meter grp cabin boat, then look no further. Well, to be honest when you say 6-meter, (19’7″) it’s almost a generic term for a boat around that size and so we have identified boats that we consider would or should be on your shopping list. Some are a little smaller, some larger, but all are open cabin or cuddy cabin trailer boats that fit into the ‘6 meterish’ category.

Forty years ago, in the days before alloy boats, when grp ruled, if you were looking for a large trailer boat that would certainly include something around 6-6.5m. The choices were limited and while you could find something bigger such as a Cresta Craft V22/V26, Clipper 24, Glasskraft Statesman 22, Marksply 22 or Fi Glass Baron, anything around 6m was already considered a large trailer boat. Some even came in a flybridge configuration and apart from the Clipper 24, sedan style hardtops were not available.

When it came to boats around 6m, popular choices were the Fi Glass Viscount, Bonito 20, Cresta Craft V19, Morgan 6.3, Smuggler 6.3 and Haines Hunter V198. One thing they all had in common is they were open cockpit cabin boats. Hardtops didn’t exist at this time.

As the years rolled on and aluminium boats made their mark, the development of the hardtop started and today any alloy boat over 6m and fibreglass boats over 6.5m is likely to have a hardtop. Certainly, it’s rare to find a boat bigger than 7m that isn’t covered over.

The fibreglass boat manufacturers, however, were not to be left behind and before long we started to see grp boats with hardtops. Some of the earliest examples looked a little like Dr Who’s police call box, as manufacturers simple added a hardtop to the existing windscreen line and it didn’t always look that great.

But as time went on they have morphed into practical and aesthetically pleasing designs and most today have been planned from the start with the hardtop styling in mind. While early models were just alterations on top of the wrap around windscreen, these days the hardtop, screen and deckline are all married into one stylish design that looks right from any angle. Like their alloy counterparts, most grp trailer boats over 6.5m are sold as hardtop models.

However, it is not what everyone wants and there are still plenty of choices if you are in the market for an open cockpit cabin boat. Locally you have a choice which includes a couple of local brands now made in China, one from the US and the rest kiwi designed and produced. Missing from the list is Rayglass, which last year dropped the Legend 2150, their only open boat from their range. All Legends are now hardtops.

What we started out looking at were boats that had a true hull length of 6m, which doesn’t include all the overhangs such as bowsprit and portofino stern. Well if we stuck to that we would have ended up with only a couple of boats. So we rejigged it to include boats that we consider if you are in the market for a ‘6m’ open cabin boat, then these would be the boats to consider.

Overall lengths vary from 6.91m down to 5.91m, which while a significant difference, it’s surprising just how much length there is in some bowsprits and Portofino sterns. When it comes to actual hull length or LOH, we tried to get boats with an actual hull length around 6m, but then again there was a couple of outsiders either way. All the boats on the list are marketed into that broadly described “6m market” but it’s not until you compare one with another that you realise the difference.


There are two recognised measurements; LOA and LOH. LOA or length over the hull is measured from the tip of the bow in a straight line to the stern of the boat, including any rear deck extensions (platforms) and forward bowsprits.

LOH or length over the hull is a measurement from the base of the transom (around where the bung is) to the bow of the hull at a point where it meets the deck and does not include the bowsprit.

To further confuse you when looking at a boat to buy, the decal on the side of the boat that says 640, 620 or 660, may mean the actual hull length or it may refer to the length overall. It pays to check so you know what you are buying.  Some boats have extended Portofino sterns that wrap around the outboard, so the platforms form a very useable space, especially if you are into water sports and diving. This obviously adds a lot to the overall length, so it’s not wasted space by any means. There are some that have reasonably flush transoms but may not differ much when it comes to internal space.

Getting the Space Right

One of the big things to consider when looking at each different model is the ratio of the cabin to cockpit space. On average most boats around this size and style will have a ratio of about 40% cabin to 60% cockpit, but that’s not always the case.

As Kiwis love their fishing, there is a real emphasis on big cockpits where there is space for fishing 3-4 anglers. The cabins are generally for tossing gear in to keep dry or for the more adventurous, to stay overnight. If you are planning to use your boat for overnighting, then check out the length of the berths, You need about 1.8-2m and while most boats will offer an infill to make a full-width double, so there’s more sleeping space, most 6m cabin boats don’t make ideal weekenders.

The cockpit layout also needs to be a consideration and take note of the seating arrangement. Some people like minimal seating such as twin forward pedestals and a couple of moulded seats aft, to maximise the cockpit working space. Twin back to back seats are great, especially for a family but do tend to take up valuable fishing space. Most manufacturers offer different seating options so you can get what you want.

Storage is another thing to consider so when you do look at a boat, check out just where you can put everything. Are the side trays long enough for your rods, is there underfloor storage or is it all blocked off for buoyancy and is there a small space you can toss my keys and cell phone?

Cover Up

Just because you don’t have a hard fibreglass lid above you doesn’t mean you need to cook in the sun or get drenched when it rains. All boats are available, either standard or as an option with soft top biminis. Mounted on foldable stainless steel frames,  canopies come with removable clears on three sides. When the clears are new and clean and the zips tight, they are easy to see through and the bimini shouldn’t leak. However in our experience over time, the clears get harder to fit, difficult to see through and eventually leak. The secret is to look after the clears and your bimini. Washing in hot soapy water after use and stowing away in the winter months to prevent mildew always helps extend their life.

Dollar Value

Boats all vary in price, so it pays to check just what you are getting when you sign the contract to purchase. Obviously, if it’s a package deal, you’ll have the base boat, trailer and engine. However, right away the price can differ significantly with the engine size and if it’s a two-stroke or four-stroke and whether the trailer is single or tandem axle, braked or unbraked.

Then there is what comes with the boat in its ‘standard’ format. Buying a boat should be like buying a car, where just about everything is included and it’s only the luxury extras that are available to add. With a boat in the 6m category, the minimum you should have is steering, seating, an underfloor fuel tank, navigation lights, battery isolation switch and anchoring gear. When it comes to electronics, such as a fishfinder or MFD and an anchor winch or capstan, then they fit into the extra’s list. While the safety equipment such as flares, EPIRB, VHF and lifejackets are all extra, a lot of boat dealers will add some of these to the package to sweeten the sales pot.

In our next issue, we are going to look at the top end of the GRP trailer boat sector, which will include both open and hardtop models. This will consist of both local and imported trailer boats and also take a look at true weekenders.

BAYLINER VR5 6.20m5.50m2.55m2.55mCE2.30m132 litres2000 kg250hpOutboard/Sterndrive
BUCCANEER 605 EXESS XL6.46m6.05m2.29m22.5 degYes2.25m165 litres1670 kg200hpOutboard
CSB HUNTSMAN SERIES 60006.20m6.00m2.30m21 degYes2.20m100 litres1580 kg200hpOutboard
FI GLASS WARRIOR6.40m5.95m2.30m22 degYes2.40m140 litres1500 kg200hpOutboard/Sterndrive
HAINES HUNTER SF6006.60m6.00m2.24m21 degYes2.20m165 litres1500 kg175hpOutboard
REFLEX CHIANTI 5856.20m5.85m2.28m20 degNo2.20m95 litres1500 kg150hpOutboard
SEAFORCE 6005.95m5.75m2.30m24 degYes2.25m120 litres1300 kg150hpOutboard
SEA NYMPH BLAZER 6406.40m6.20m2.40m22 degCE2.35m180 litres1850 kg225hpOutboard
SEA NYMPH OASIS 6356.35m6.10m2.40m22 degCE2.30m160 Litres1750 kg225hpOutboard
SMUGGLER SPORT 6206.20m5.95m2.44m21 degYes2.30m200 litres1450 kg175hpOutboard
TRISTRAM 691 MILLENIUM M26.91m6.10m2.48m22 degYes2.30m275 litres1950 kg250hpOutboard`
  • Number of people/max weight
  • Height on trailer to top of screen
  • Standard towing weight will vary with trailer type and motor selection

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