In recent years we have seen a surge of models with portofino sterns and today you are hard pressed to find a production boat without one. For better or worse, depending on your point of view, the portofino stern is very much in vogue and although initially the domain of fibreglass boats, it is now an accepted form with the aluminium fraternity. The simple definition of a portofino stern is when the gunwale line sweeps down pass the flat transom onto the integral boarding platform. The outboard is then either bolted onto the rear of the boarding platform or on a separate bracket. This tends to accentuate the overall length of the boat and is often simply an addition to an already existing flush transom model.
Although they have built hundreds of boats over the past 10 years it is only now that Marco Boats have officially released a model that comes standard with a portofino stern rather than just having one listed as an option. The Marco 530 is based on the popular Marco 500, with the only real change being the 350mm transom extension and obvious stern alterations. Hull design, underwater lines and internal layout are the same as the 500, but with the new stern there is an obvious increase in usable space, especially for storage.
I had the opportunity to try out the first of the Marco 530’s, a boat that initially was built to a customer’s special requirement. Being confined to a wheelchair, Robin Midgley wanted a boat that was easy to get into and having already owned a Marco 440, was keen to own something bigger from the same manufacturer.
Apart from the flat transom and no external access, the Marco 500 was ideal for his needs, so Marco developed the portofino style with a walk-through transom and drop-in door. So was born the new Marco 530.
The difference between this particular Marco and the production model is that the bottom is 5mm plate and not the regular 4mm. The weight increase is modest, but it does give the boat a very ‘stiff’ feel and certainly takes away any slapping, so often a trait of smaller alloy boats. The ride and handling of the hull in a light to moderate sea is great and when pushed to the max it doesn’t do anything unexpected. However, I felt the 15 degree hull needed an excessive amount of out-trim, to get the bow up so the water was peeling off aft of the helm position. This didn’t seem to effect the soft ride and in fact when reviewing the pictures after the test, the hull seemed to maintain a fine level attitude. The Mercury 75 was set up on the third hole and with an 18” 3 blade Vengeance ran 38mph @ 5300 rpm.
From past experience I have always found that each of the larger Marco’s perform well in the moderate water and offers a comfortable ride for a boat of its size. The owner has experienced trips back from a day out fishing when the wind was blowing 25 knots from the SE and was still able to settle the boat on 30mph and get a nice ride home.
The Marco 530, like the 500 is a CPC boat and has been given a maximum power rating of 115hp. The Mercury 75 on the test boat had a sweet spot around 4500 rpm @ 35 mph and idled as low as 800 rpm @ 3 mph. Acceleration right through the rpm range was good and I am certain it would have plenty of low down power for skiing and wakeboarding. A 90hp is good for around 41mph and a 115hp would push the speedo well into the high 40s.
Room To Move
The layout is basic with a large cuddy cabin and cockpit that is specifically aimed at fishers and divers. The standard seating arrangement is a V berth forward made up of twin squabs, and twin swivelling bucket seats on pedestals in the cockpit. The test boat interior layout featured a special one-off full width double berth, although without the infill there is plenty of sitting headroom, as well as storage under the berths and in wide side trays. Being a painted boat, the cabin interior is also given special attention with full fabric lining throughout.
I found without any support at the aft end of the squabs, everything rolled into the cockpit – including my camera bag – so the optional upstands with footrests would be a wise addition.
Anchoring is done via the overhead alloy hatch in the cabin top, with another hatch forward over the anchor locker. The test boat was also fitted with an anchor capstan and conveniently placed kneepad on the forepeak bulkhead.
Paying special attention to his need for comfortable and secure seating, Robin, installed swivelling Softrider pedestal seats. There is the optional back to backs for an extra $200, but for many Marco owners they take up too much cockpit space.
The helm position allows you to stand or sit to drive, with all instruments at eye level and the controls intelligently placed for easy use. A handy rail across the cabin top gives you and your passengers extra security when pushing hard through the rougher water.
You have the choice of a couple of tote tanks under the aft deck area or a 60 litre stainless steel fuel tank. The test boat was fitted with the built-in tank and the remainder of the central under-floor space was taken up with a deep storage locker which is a great place for the dive gear, wetsuits or as a kill tank. For the serious fisho there is also space in the aft platform for a live-bait tank.
On the port side of the cockpit a wide side shelf handles a myriad of gear, with a rod rack to starboard. There is also another locker under the aft deck for the battery, spare lines and other items that you may want to get at in a hurry.
The Marco 530 features a walk-through transom with slide-in alloy door, and although not a common feature on Marco boats, is being requested more and more often, especially on the bigger models. This was a necessity for Robin who literally drags himself from wheelchair, to portofino stern, along the cockpit floor and up onto the helm seat.
Overall, the Marco 530 does everything the 500 does but with the added extra of the portofino stern. If you plan to haul aboard large marlin then the stern arrangement certainly will not suit, but if you are diving, fishing or towing water toys you will enjoy the benefits of the extra space.
From June last year Marco increased the coaming height of the hulls by 100mm, as well as making them a little fuller in the bow. It’s not until you set one alongside a model over 12 months old that you can see the obvious differences. Today Marco produces around 200 boats a year, from the 4.6m runabout to the 600 hardtop. Interestingly it is the 550 hardtop that is currently the most popular, accounting for over 50% of the 35 boats on order. Such is the change in the market, that while ten years ago 100% of all Marco boats sold were runabouts, today they account for less than 5%.
Marco’s new 530 will likely be their only ‘new’ release for 1999, but knowing the custom work that is carried out by designer Graeme Ransom, anything is possible.
- Model: 530
- Price (Boat Only): $13,930
- Price (As Tested): $28,117
- Designer: Graham Ransom
- Material: 5mm / 3mm marine grade aluminium alloy
- Type: cuddy cabin
- LOA: 5.30 m
- Beam: 2.05m
- Deadrise: 15 degrees
- Trailerable Weight: 800Kgs (approx)
- Engine Capacity: 60 – 115hp
- Power Options: outboard only
- Fuel capacity: 60 litres
800 rpm @ 3 mph (2.6 knots)
1000 rpm @ 4.5 mph (3.9 knots)
1500 rpm @ 6.0 mph (5.2 knots)
2000 rpm @ 7.5 mph (6.5 knots)
2500 rpm @ 10.5 mph (9.1 knots)
3000 rpm @ 13.0 mph (11.2 knots)
3500 rpm @ 20.0 mph (17.3 knots)
4000 rpm @ 25.0 mph (21.7 knots)
4500 rpm @ 30.0 mph (26.0 knots)
5000 rpm @ 35.5 mph (30.8 knots)
5300 rpm @ 38.5 mph (33.4 knots)
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
CPC specifications, pedestal seats,
vinyl covered floor.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Painted hull, lined cabin interior, Softrider seats, winch.
- Make: Mercury
- HP: 75
- Model: ELPT
- Cylinder Type: 3 cylinder
- Displacement: 1386 cc
- Max RPM: 5250
- Propeller: 18” Vengeance
- Retail price: $8987
- Make: Gibbons
- Braked: No
- Suspension: springs
- Rollers: multi-roller
- Std Features: 5:1 winch, sub lights, jockey wheel.
- Retail price: $2,600