It had to happen, but I am surprised it took Fyran so long. With the rapid growth and proliferation of alloy pontoon boats (See Mar-Apr 2012 PPB), it would seem only natural that one of the country’s biggest names in aluminium boats would have had a pontoon boat listed amongst its standard models long before now. Well the waiting is over and with the release in early March of the 599P, Fyran announced it has plans to be a serious player in this somewhat unique Kiwi market.
The General Manager of Fyran Boats, Martin Wylie, said that the company had been talking about a pontoon boat for over a year and after close consultation with designer Alan Walker of Coast Design felt they had achieved the right design with the 599P.
“There seems to be a lot of boaties out there that are total believers in pontoon boats and would never own a conventional design so it was obviously a market that we had to be part of and the 599P is our introduction”, says Martin.
There will initially be three to four models available; the 599 open cuddy, 599HT with traditional Fyran GRP hardtop and a smaller 559 version for the 70hp-90hp outboard range, plus a possible centre console version of the 559.
“We looked at what was around and wanted to achieve the same safety and stability that pontoon boats are known for, but we were also very concerned about having a hull with a fine entry to make it suitable for driving into head seas and adverse conditions”, adds Martin.
While the layout is very basic and very much like you’d find in most small alloy pontoon boats of this size, Fyran was very keen to make oblong tubes rather than round tubes to make the cockpit size as big as possible. The other benefit was to make sure there was an adequate toe-kick for stand-up fishing, something difficult to achieve with fully round tubes.
The 559P is unquestionably designed as a fishing/diving boat and the layout certainly reflects that. The coaming heights are just right and the tops are flat and completely clear for divers exiting into the water. Standard are four plastic rod holders, two in each coaming, with the addition of a whole heap more if you go with the optional rocket launcher and bait station.
“Because the design is so different from anything else we have done we were not really able to simply modify one of our existing hulls and also we were concerned about the engineering side, which was a whole new process to what we were used to”, says Martin.
He points out that while the build time is longer and far more complex than their conventional monohulls, they proved not to be as difficult as first thought. “I am really pleased with what the guys have achieved and the finish attained in our first boat”.
Construction is 4mm alloy plate on the hull, with 3mm and 4mm topsides, based over conventional fore and aft stringers, a welded treadplate sole and enough built in natural buoyancy under the sole and in the side tubes, to exceed the CPC flotation rating. “Fill the boat to the gunnels and it will not sink”, says Martin.
The 599P like all Fyran boats has a full-length protective keel bar made from an extrusion. The stringers and ribs go full height to the cockpit sole and once the treadplate floor is welded this creates greater strength and stiffness to the boat.
Interestingly all the welds are left natural with no weld grinding off any rough edges…because they don’t require it!
When you market a small boat like the 559P as a fishing boat then you need to make sure that when you have a few guys all on one side, the hull’s not going to suffer from excessive heel. It is the stability at rest that is the main trait of all pontoon boats and the Fyran 559P is no exception. We had four reasonably sized Kiwi blokes all standing against the starboard side coaming and the heel factor was minimal. Three divers dropping over together with full sets of SCUBA gear would feel perfectly safe.
One of the requests from the start to the designer was to make the anchoring access as easy as possible, whilst still retaining enough height for the cuddy and screen. This has been nicely answered with an opening screen and huge fold over alloy foredeck hatch, which gives you access right through to the anchor locker.
There is no need for side decks with this design, so that space has been gained by more beam in both the cuddy and cockpit. Maximum cockpit beam is 1.75m. You could install a small capstan and easily handle the tailing while standing in the open recess.
Our test boat had the standard design in the cuddy which is practical with no frills. Alloy tube up-stands are placed either side to stop gear sliding back into the cockpit. Being reasonably short the cuddy doesn’t allow for any more than a couple of ‘kids’ squabs, which could be fitted as an option. Another idea would be a couple of open fish bins to keep your gear more secure.
Seating is twin swivelling polyethylene bucket seats with clip on covers, but you can also go for the more upmarket king/queen back-to-backs. However what this does is cut into your fishing platform and quite honestly in a boat like this they are not really needed. I would go for a large portable fish/ice chest with a soft squab that would not only give you extra seating but also somewhere for the catch of the day.
If you run the optional 125-litre underfloor fuel tank, the wet storage is limited to a central forward cavity under the treadplate sole. The remaining 2/3rds of the cockpit centreline is taken up by the fuel tank. Fyran felt that with a 115hp engine there is a need for a built-in tank, however with the 90hp you would probably get away with a couple of tote tanks. These can be slid away under the aft deck transom area. The void left by the fuel tanks then reverts back to extra storage space and then there is plenty!
There is also storage provided in side shelves under the coamings and either side of the forward seating. Across the transom are twin lockers housing the battery and engine switches, plus extra space for fishing tackle, ropes, fenders etc.
Access to the transom is made easy with a lift-out panel and good size walk through, which leads onto a fold up alloy swim ladder.
Central aft is the combination bait board and ski pole, with a solid wooden cutting board and four rod holders, plus a deep recess for your knifes, iki spike and loose tackle.
The alloy dash is big enough to take a flush mounted 8” sounder, and it leaves space for all the necessary instruments and switches you need on a small boat. There is space on top for a bracket-mounted unit if you prefer. Opposite the passenger has a built-in alloy grabrail and there is the option of a lockable glove box.
The optional rocket launcher doubles as the mount for the soft bimini cover with side and front clears. There’s plenty of standing room under and the six rod holders above are easily accessible for most people. I liked the thick, solid extrusion that gives you a natural handhold if you are standing behind the forward seats. The whole structure folds down should you have a height issue when parking the boat on the trailer.
The pontoons extend right back to the rear of the outboard pod so the running surface is right out to the maximum. We found in the 115hp powered boat that no matter what you did to the outboard trim, it made little if any significant difference to the attitude of the hull. While from in the boat it felt very flat, when you looked from the outside with the boat running past at speed it looked just about right. Again this is inherent in many pontoon boats where the running surfaces are right through to the transom. While the ride on a reasonably calm Auckland Harbour felt fine, I am not so sure if a bit more bow lift might be better in a steep following sea.
Our first run in the 599P was with the Honda 115 and the second with a Honda 90. The big difference in the two engines, apart from horsepower, was weight. The 2.35-litre four-stroke DOHC four-cylinder BF115 weighed in at 217kg and the 1.50-litre four-stroke DOHC four-cylinder VTEC BF90 at 163kg. The BF115 shares the same engine as the BF135 and BF150, whereas the BF90, apart from having VTEC, shares the same engine as the BF75. There is also a price difference of around $NZ3000 between the BF115 and BF90.
So did the drop of 54kg really make much difference to the performance and fuel economy?
Firstly, top speed of the BF115 was 42mph @ 5500rpm, where the BF90 topped out at 35mph. The acceleration was better with the BF115, due to the extra torque of the bigger engine, but up until around 2500 rpm the smaller engine provided the greater speed. As expected the fuel economy of the BF90 was an improvement over the bigger BF115, but this didn’t show until over 2500 rpm. Until then there was little difference.
At 4000 rpm the BF90 was using 15.9 lph and running at around 22 mph, whereas the BF115 was only marginally up at 17.4 lph and the speed was up by 4mph to 26 mph. At 5000 rpm the differences were much the same, with the BF90 burning 27 lph @ 31.1 mph and the BF115, 32.1 lph @ 34.5 mph.
However when the throttle was down to 5500 rpm the speed difference between the two stretched to 7 mph and the fuel usage to 8.4 lph, which was to be expected from the bigger engine. At WOT, the BF115 seemed to loose a little and was happier at 5500 rpm, with the BF90 still having some legs and stopping the gps at 36.9 mph, just 5mph short of the BF115s best efforts.
Personally I think the BF90 is more than enough for the Fyran 599P and offers enough power to get you home in a hurry if you need to, tow a skier or the kids on tubes or wakeboards and cruise very economically to your nearest fishing spot.
A Winning Combo
The 599P is certainly a boat that is destined to find favour in the competitive fishing market and while there are now over 150 pontoon boats on the market of which over a dozen are around the same size as the Fyran 599P, the fact that it has the pedigree of Fyran, should be enough to secure its popularity. Add to that the exceptional design by Alan Walker and the excellent construction by the Fyran team and you have all the makings of a winning combination. Plus if the 6m 599 is too big but you like the layout and style of the boat, then consider the smaller 5.6m, 559P which weighs in a little less at 950kg towing weight and retails for around $NZ26,000 for the base boat.
Fyran 599 Pontoon
- Model: 599 Pontoon
- Priced From: $NZ57,750 (90hp Honda)
- Price as Tested: $NZ62,436 (90hp Honda)
- Type: Pontoon
- Construction: 4m/3m
- LOA: 6.00m
- Beam: 2.25m
- Deadrise: 16 deg
- Trailerable Weight: 1350kg
- Engine Capacity: 115-140hp
- Power Options: Outboard Only
- Fuel Capacity: 125 litres
Notable Standard Features on Test Boat
CPC rated, twin swivelling bucket seats, drop-down alloy ladder, opening screen.
Notable Options on Test Boat
Canopy and rocker launcher, bait board and ski pole, Advansea GPS sounder, 125-litre underfloor fuel tank, painted graphics.
Honda BF115 Honda BF90
RPM MPH L/h RPM MPH L/h
IDLE 2.0 1.2 IDLE 2.3 0.9
1000 3.0 2.1 1000 4.1 1.5
1500 5.0 3.9 1500 6.1 3.0
2000 6.0 5.4 2000 7.5 5.1
2500 8.5 8.1 2500 8.3 8.1
3000 14.0 11.1 3000 11.5 10.5
3500 20.5 13.5 3500 18.9 12.3
4000 26.0 17.4 4000 21.9 15.9
4500 30.0 22.8 4500 26.6 18.0
5000 34.5 32.1 5000 31.1 27.0
5500 42.0 39.9 5500 35.0 31.5
WOT 41.8 40.2 WOT 37.4 36.9
Make: Honda 115 Honda 90
Type: 4 Stroke 4 Stroke
Power: 115hp 90hp
Model: BF115D BF90
Cyl Config.: In-line 4 In-line 4
Displacement: 2354cc 1496cc
Rated rpm: 5250 rpm 5800 rpm
Propeller 115: 14.25” x 17” Solas
Propeller 90: 13.25” x 17” Solas
Retail Price: $21615 $18093
- Make: Hosking
- Braked: No
- Suspension: Springs
- Rollers: Yes
- Std Equipment: LED lights and jockey wheel
- Retail Price: $5793