Text by Barry Thompson
The Marco 650 Centre Cab is the first walk around aluminium trailer boat I have tested and it is also one of the very few available in New Zealand. Considering the popularity of the same design in GRP, it’s hard to understand why they are not more popular.
The Marco 650 Walkaround started life as a Marco 650 hard top hull and following a request from an overseas client, was transformed into a centre cabin configuration with a walk around design.
“While the well-established hull was left untouched, the centre cab went through a few alterations in the early years as we altered the first few boats to perfect the layout, especially in the bow area and the bulwarks”, says Dayne Horne, MD of Marco Boats.
However, not much has changed in the design in the past six years and of the last 15 or so boats built, the alterations have been minimal. Interestingly of the 20 plus boats made, the boat I tested at Whitianga was the first one sold to a local client for recreational fishing. Almost all the rest have been sold to a dealer in New Caledonia.
The boat I reviewed was an open hardtop with windscreen and clears, although the same boat is also available as a fully enclosed hardtop or if you prefer more open spaces, with a fold down soft bimini. Marco uses hefty alloy extrusion for the hardtop mount, which is designed to be stood on. It also acts as the mount for the rocket launcher, aerials, grab rails and GPS antenna.
While Marco Boats are right into custom boat building, they start with an extensive range of standard models and let you express your desires within the hull parameters.
I have tested a number of Marco’s over the years and one thing that always impressed me is their ability to give the customer what they want. Dayne says he likes to sit down and discuss each boat with a client, be it a 4.4m Dory, or their biggest 9.5m hardtop. “This way we know that the boat we are building for them is what they want”.
He adds that it’s surprising how a small change can make all the difference and while it might not be what everyone wants, if the client is happy, then he is happy.
“While we do offer an extensive range of stock models, we are always open to new ideas and designs, such as our recently added large hard tops, which are the result of a close collaboration with a particular client, who wanted something we didn’t already have in our range”, says Dayne.
Aluminium walk arounds are not a typical design amongst Kiwi alloy boat builders, although they are starting to gain some popularity. Just as centre consoles and hardtops grew, I can see the alloy walk around becoming a lot more popular in the future.
The fibreglass boat builders have been doing them for years and some US brands, they are their most popular models. The beauty of a walk around is you get the versatility of a centre console, but with the protection and cabin space of a hardtop. For fishing they are a perfect design, allowing fishermen to access all points of the boat and allows you to spread your lines so not everyone is hanging around the transom.
The only downside (if you can even call it that) is you have to pinch some space from the centre cab area for the bulwarks. For ease of moving from the cockpit to the bow, you need a minimum of 180mm to 200mm on the deck. Anything less makes it difficult to walk easily. The 650 Walkaround is a very generous 340mm on average on the floor and 240mm from the inside of the coaming to the side of the mid-cab, with a depth average of around 400mm, so it’s an incredibly easy and safe boat to walk around. Even the smaller 600 WA is around 300mm on the floor so you don’t have to do the fancy side shuffle when walking fore or aft.
The width of the sole in this particular boat was dictated by the hull shape and to what was most practical, while still keeping enough width between the forward helm and passenger seat. While in the 650 WA and 750 WA you can walk easily between the seats, in the 600 WA you need to move past sideways as the cabin size is more limiting.
Marco Boats offer three walkaround models in their line up, with the 650 WA dropping in between the 600 WA and 750 WA. All three are very much the same in design and layout, it’s just the overall dimensions that alter. The 600 WA has a beam of 2.28m and deadrise of 16 deg, while the 650 WA and the 750 WA share a common 2.48m beam and 17 deg deadrise hulls.
Being a custom boat, the seating options are plenty. They vary from a couple of cantilevered bracket mounted single seats forward to back to backs, hi/low pedestal bucket seats and even a sliding bench seat aft. Back to backs would, however, restrict access to the bulwarks. End of the day it’s your choice. Our test boat had twin single bucket seats on Softrider mounts. This owner is big into his fishing and chose to leave as much cockpit space free from clutter (that includes the seats) as possible.
Storage is provided in side trays and an underfloor locker, plus under the aft deck and walk around. There is also plenty of dry storage in the open mid cabin.
While the boat comes with an 180-litre underfloor tank, there is room for a couple of extra 25-litre tote tanks, so you can extend you range considerably. You have the option of a raised cockpit sole (100mm) with scuppers or a lower sole and sump with a bilge pump. Our boat had a combination of both with the raised sole but with the sump/bilge option. This also means the side coamings drop from 800mm to 740mm, but that’s still plenty high enough for stand-up fishing.
Being a serious fishing machine, the owner got Marco to add a couple of built-in tuna tubes, a live bait tank and removable bait station. Again the transom area is totally customisable.
The cabin area was very spartan with no squabs. This is an area that Dayne says changes from owner to owner and there are a lot of variables available. The standard dashboard is a flat panel and it is large enough to mount all the necessary gauges and controls for either single or twin engines. The 650 WA is available as an outboard, sterndrive or jet powered package with engines from 150-225 hp.
Our test boat came with a Yamaha 175hp 4S and returned a top speed in the calm water of 38 knots @ 5700 rpm. A real sweet spot is 4000 rpm @ 27 knots, with a fuel consumption of 30 lph and a range of around 130nm. At trolling speeds, the range is around 200 nm @ 4 knots and 100 nm @ 7 knots.
Although it certainly wasn’t a rough water day at Whitianga, I could image the high sheer line would offer reasonably good protection from the spray. The owner told me that he has had the boat in some reasonably big waters off Whitianga and is more than pleased with the way the hull handles. He reports that the hull is very good in a following sea, obviously assisted by the low chine lines and big shoulders. It’s a hull that I found tracts nicely without too much work at the helm.
Another noticeable aspect of the 650 WA is the stability at rest and while underway, especially at trolling speeds. The stiff and very solid alloy hull is 17 deg at the transom, with a maximum beam of just under 2.5m and a chine to chine beam of 2m. It has a variable deadrise welded chine which is fine in the bow and carries most of its width in the shoulder and then tapers off at the stern. The hull is constructed with 5mm bottom and 4mm sides, with six, 5mm stringers and cross bulkheads under a 4mm chequer plate sole.
The Marco 650 Walkaround is a good compromise between a hardtop and a centre console. You still get the fishing space of a centre console but the protection and comfort of a cabin boat. There would probably be a bigger market for the walk around style of boat if people saw more of them on the water. With the interest Marco has now in the 650 WA and the large 750 WA, that could change. It’s a boat for the serious fisherman, but with a family cruising compromise.
- Model & Model: Marco 650 Walkaround
- Priced from: $NZ69900
- Type: Monohull
- Alloy: 5mm/4mm
- LOA: 7.10m
- LOH: 6.50m
- Beam: 2.48m
- Deadrise: 17 degrees
- Height on trailer: 2900mm
- Trailerable weight: 1700 kg est
- Test Power: Yamaha 175 4-stroke outboard
- Propeller: Yamaha Series II 15”
- Power options: Outboard / Sterndrive
- HP Range: 150-225 hp
- Fuel capacity: 180 litres
- Trailer: DMW Custom
- Optional Items: Fusion Ent System, ICOM ICM304 VHF, Electrotabs, Furuno Navnet TZ2 Touch MFD.
Performance & Fuel