RIDE CAPTAIN RIDE
When American rock band, Blues Image released their most successful song “Ride Captain Ride” in the last half of 1970, they could well have been describing the Offshore 650. Lyrics that talk about amazing your friends and being upon a mystery ship on your way to a world that others might have missed portrays the boat perfectly.
Now 40 plus years later, Offshore may be a relatively new player in the aluminium boat market, but the brand comes with an impressive legacy that goes back many years. Built by Offshore Boats NZ, the Offshore 650 was developed by established Whangarei marine identity, Jonathan Barlow, who says he was frustrated that he couldn’t find the right alloy boat that gave him what he considered the perfect ride.
“I was selling another brand at the time, and I was not happy promoting it to my customers as I didn’t believe they rode as well as I felt they should. So along with established naval architect, Alan Walker, myself and Perin Clark we set about designing and building our brand”, says Jonathan.
The first model, released in early 2019, to come from that collaboration was the Offshore 650, which is available in both Hardtop and Pro Dive versions. While I had seen the Offshore 650 prior at a regional boat show, I didn’t take a lot of time to look over it. My mistake. I should have been onto the Offshore brand a lot earlier, but then along came lockdown and Covid-19 and the chance to get to review the brand stretched out even further.
But finally, on a cold winters day in mid-July the opportunity came and I was able to review both models out of the picturesque Tutukaka Harbour. First impressions were that there was something more on offer than your typical production alloy trailer boat of a similar size. Like the lyrics in the song, I could sense that these were indeed mystery ships with concepts that others have missed.
HADN'T THOUGHT OF THAT
While both models share the same 6.5m hull design, the layouts are obviously different. The 650 Pro Dive is as the name suggests, predominantly set up for serious diving and fishing. It’s not a family boat and doesn’t try to be. The solid alloy screen, big cuddy, open cockpit plan, soft top fold down bimini and minimal seating are all purpose-designed for the tasks the boat will be used for.
You have a choice of seating styles, with our test boat featuring a couple of unique custom designed counter levered bolster seats. They are surprisingly comfortable and can also lift out and turned to face aft. They even leave the entire cockpit sole free of any impediments and more space for all your dive gear.
Two different seating options, swivelling buckets or cantilevered bolsters.
The 650 Hardtop is fitted a pair of with fully adjustable Hi Tech Elite helm seats and like the bolsters in the Pro Dive, are mounted on counter levered bases. If you want to add more seating, there is provision for a couple of 110-litre split-lid chilly bins with cushions under either forward seat. You can also clip on a 1.8m hammock from the transom through to the forward seats to give you an extra berth. The Hardtop provides 2m headroom, plus has sliding side windows with a 6mm positive curved safety glass single piece forward screen from Glassshape.
U-Dek finishes off the cockpit sole nicely, with a 200-litre fuel tank and wet storage locker down the centre with the spaces either side used for buoyancy. There is also provision for a 40-litre fresh water tank.
Being an alloy boat, you do have some options as to how you would like the transom configured. Both our Offshore 650 Hardtop and 650 Pro Dive had a port side opening to the full boarding platform, with a live bait tank built into the step. Battery storage is under the transom, and you have the option of a basic drop-in bait board, or you can go for a multipurpose custom hinged bait board from Offshore. This features six-rod holders, a drawer for a small gas cooker, sink unit and fold-out bait station/table.
Dashboards in both boats are customisable, to accommodate all your necessary electronics and switches. The Hardtop was fitted with a flush mounted Simrad NSS16 EVO3, MFD, and the Pro Dive a bracket mounted Simrad 12″ MFD. Lenco tabs, Fusion sound system and Maxwell winches are used on both boats.
When it comes to the hardtop model, it’s certainly more of a multipurpose boat, with all the attributes for fishing, (bottom fishing or trolling lures) and the comforts and appointments you would want for family boating.
To maximise the space, ride and stability of the boat, the hull has been taken out to 2.7m beam. It’s that stability at rest that is obvious the minute you step aboard, and the extra width certainly helps in the ride.
While Jonathan says he can’t impress enough about how important the ride was when designing the hull, he also wanted something extra. Something that no one else had in a similar-sized alloy boat.
Take, for example, the optional sliding side drawers under the extra wide side coamings for your fishing tackle, knives, soft baits etc. However, it doesn’t stop there, with four more drawers under the side trays in the cabin of the Hardtop, neatly marked; First Aid, Flares, Essentials and Tools.
The Hardtop offers a full cabin for overnighting, while the Pro Dive cuddy is designed to stow your dry gear.
“We looked at the void under the coamings and thought why not utilise the space, so the drawer idea developed. It works extremely well, and it’s something we will offer in all our models”, says Jonathan.
Then there are the small things like a gas strut to hold up the live bait tank lid, rather than a hinge and clip. The side trays are wide enough to stow dive bottles, and there is even the addition of U-Dek padding behind to stop the bottles rattling or moving. It’s things like that that illustrate the extra attention to detail throughout the boats.
It is more likely that you will only use the cuddy cabin of the Pro Dive as a place to stow gear, so Offshore have added high floor railings to stop gear come back into the cockpit. There are a pair of pipe storage trays above and a large Cule hatch for forward access to the flat deck area.
The 650 Hard Top provides a more useable space to overnight, with 1.9m long berths, space for an optional head, plus side trays with the drawers as mentioned before. Adding that extra touch of class, the interior linings are vinyl covered panels rather than stick-on fabric—a nice touch. There is also dedicated rod storage under the side squabs, and you also have the option of a fixed rear bulkhead and lockable door.
Very cool feature is the under coaming draws in the cockpit and cabin.
If the weather cuts up rough and you need to hang onto something, then there are plenty of places provided on the Offshore 650 with 32mm gauge pipe used throughout the boat. Again, heavier than a lot of the competitors, but they give you a secure feeling when you need to get a grip!
HEAVY IS A BONUS
Something unique to the Offshore 650 is the 8mm plate hull being standard and not an option. I usually see boats like this with 4-6mm sheet, so 8mm is right up there. 4mm is used on the sides, so the majority of the hull weight is down low, which attributes to the boats great ride. The hull is a conventional moderate vee, with an 18 deg transom, fine entry and turndown chines aft. All this makes the boat stable, with a soft and quiet ride.
The 650 feels stiff, quiet and bump-free, all of which Jonathan wanted to achieve. I ran the boat in calm to moderate water off Tutukaka and was impressed with the agility and handling of the boat. Had we had time, I would have been happy to run the 22nm all the way out to the Poor Knights Islands. Maybe next time when I hope to get back and review the currently under construction 750 Hard Top, the next addition to the Offshore stable.
Power choices are any single outboard from 150hp to 200hp, with the Pro Dive running a Yamaha 150 and the Hardtop a Mercury Pro XS 200 V8.
The 650 Pro Dive topped out at 39 knots, using 60 lph, with a range of over 80nm. Drop that back to a more conservative 4000 rpm @ 24 knots and the fuel useage is only 23 lph and the range increases to around 140nm.
The 650 Hardtop ran to 42 knots @ 6000 rpm, using 73 lph, with a range of around 75 nm. Again being a little lighter on the throttle will see 4000 rpm @ 30 knots , will result in 27 lph and a range increase to 200nm.
BRING ON THE 750
The Offshore boats both sit on custom made aluminium CAM trailers complete with Trailmaxx electric winches and the very efficient Boatcatch. I liked the fact that when we drove back into the Tututuka Marina boat ramp after our time on the water, it was a smooth end to the day, with the boat sliding up the trailer and firmly latching onto the Boatcatch. Didn’t need to get my feet wet.
Although I never got the chance to give the 650 a thrash in the rough water, Jonathon told me he had had the 650 out in 2-3m seas off Tutukaka, and the boat did everything he wanted, with a soft, stable and dry ride. Considering they have only been building the boats for less than two years to achieve that in their first builds is an achievement. I can’t wait until the 750 hits the water and I get a chance to experience it.
- Boat Design Name: Offshore 650
- Type: Hardtop & Cuddy
- Year Launched: 2019
- Builder: Offshore Boats NZ
- Price as Tested: $190,000 (650 Hardtop) $135,000 (650 Pro Dive)
- Priced From: $120,000 (650 Hardtop) $100,000 (650 Pro Dive)
- LOA: 6.50m
- Beam: 2.50m
- Deadrise: 18 deg
- Construction: 8mm/4mm alloy
- Weight: (boat only) 1400kg (650 Hardtop) 1250 kg (650 Pro Dive)
- Trailerable Weight: 1900 kg (650 Hardtop) 1800 kg (650 Pro Dive)
- Power Type: Outboard Only
- Max Horsepower: 200hp
- Test Power: Yamaha 150 (650 Pro Dive) Mercury 200 Pro XS (650 Hardtop)
- Propellers: SS 3 blds 16” – Mercury 200 Pro XSSS 3 blds 17” – Yamaha 150
- Max Speed: 39-42 knots
- Fuel Capacity: 150 & 200 litres
- Hatch: Cule
- Decking: U-Dek
- Stereo: Fusion
- Tabs: Lenco
- Trailer: CAM, dual axle, aluminium
|Offshore 650 Hardtop Offshore / Mercury 200 V8|
|Offshore 650 Pro Dive Offshore|