Author : Barry Thompson
The Ramco 601 Fisherman series introduces a whole new range of models from the new owners of Ramco Boats. Barry Thompson went to Lyttelton to test the first 601 HT and came away extremely impressed.
Ramco is a name that has been part of New Zealand boating since 1985, albeit with a succession of owners. Each has put their personal stamp on the range and over the years the brand has evolved from a very basic unpainted fishing boat to models that were unashamedly pitched hard up against their fibreglass competitors. Sometimes the changes worked, sometimes they didn’t, but one thing that has stayed almost from the start is some of the model names
One such name is the Ramco Fisherman. First introduced into the range in the late ’90s it has continued virtually unbroken ever since. While the recent new owners of Ramco Boats, Icon Brands International Ltd of Rangiora has taken a scythe to the previous designs, (only the models above 6m have been retained), Icon has had the foresight to not tamper with the brand’s most established model names.
Icon Brands, which also builds the KwikKraft range of semi custom alloy boats, was looking for a production boat range that would slot nicely into the medium priced alloy market. This was also necessary in order to establish a dealer network, something that was difficult with the higher priced KwikKraft range.
Within 12 months the company has established a select dealer base, which it believes will grow as the economy improves. Whilst fewer than 20 boats were built through 2010, this was more because the builders wanted to get all their build processes in place, rather than lack of orders. Going into the end of 2010, Icon Brands reported good orders for Ramco, especially from the lucrative Auckland and Waikato markets.
The company is also engaged in an export drive and plans are to have a number of boats on display at the Sydney Boat Show in August 2011.
“When we took over Ramco we had a good look at the models in the range and some we have kept and others we have put aside for now, but we decided to keep the names of the models, as they have been around for so long and are so well known it didn’t make sense to change them”, says Gary Tomes, managing director of Icon Brands.
“The boats were built strong and the lines in general were fine but we really wanted to improve the handling and performance of the boats and to be able to build a nicer boat, with moderate horsepower so we could keep the price down”, said Gary.
When Icon Brands took over ownership of Ramco in December, Robson Design were commissioned to undertake a complete upgrade of the existing premium brand 625, 680 and 725 models, which included increasing fishing cockpit room, new hardtops, upgraded dashes, new upholstery and graphics. Robson Design was also commissioned to design a new range of 4-5 metre models as runabout, cuddy, centre-console and hardtop models in the larger sizes. The brief from Icon Brands was that these new models were to have all the features of the previous models they were replacing, the Interceptor, Outside, Getaway and Fisherman models that were at one stage the largest selling range of alloy boats in NZ. From 6.8m and above the hulls are still very similar to those produced by the previous owners, albeit lengthened in some cases and the bow entry changed to make them better riding.
Ramco’s range now consists of the 4.6m Prelude, 4.8m Tearaway, 5.0m Getaway, 5.5m Dominator, 5.8m Interceptor, the 601 Fisherman, 625 Fishmaster and 680 & 725. All models from the 601 and larger are available in cuddy or hardtop versions.
So for 2011 there are five new models, including the first off the line, the Fisherman 601, available in open styling with optional bimini or the all-new hardtop. Basic design criteria for the 601 Fisherman is, as the name suggests, for the fisherman. A day boat for four people to go fishing and diving or for a family who want a boat that’s safe and protected from the elements for day cruising. The hardtop on the 601 has been extended further than on other models to offer that extra protection for family boating, but not so much as to compromise the workable area of the cockpit for fishermen.
The 601 Fisherman has a small cuddy cabin with wide side trays and a large forward deck hatch. Anchoring on our test boat was assisted by a Quick winch that is operated from within the cabin. A fully automatic system operated from the helm is an option. Should the anchor tackle bind up there is a small hatch access in the forward bulkhead through to the enclosed anchor locker.
You have the choice of a fully lined cabin with V berth 1.8m squabs and upholstered bolster backrests or you can leave it open and raw if you just want some place for storage.
The 3mm alloy plate hardtop, with 6mm toughened glass front and side windows, offers excellent protection from the weather and with 1.8m from the cockpit sole to the cabin head it is plenty high enough for most people. Having glass screens means you can add a windscreen wiper to the driver’s and passenger panels for better visibility, although a cheaper option is coating it with Rainex. You’d be surprised how well Rainex works!
Being a boat designed primarily for fishermen, the designers made sure there was plenty of space on or around the dash and helm area for big screens. In the case of the 601 you can fit up to a 10″ screen, although our test boat had two bracket mounted Lowrance units and the facia had only a couple of gauges and a VHF.
Storage in the cockpit is catered for with two upper shelves for’ard and a full-length shelf either side. There is also a central wet locker in the centre of the cockpit sole, which can vary in size, depending on what size fuel tank you decide on. Standard is a separate 90-litre underfloor fuel tank, but a 150-litre tank can be chosen if you need more range.
Across the transom there are three hatches, giving access to the twin batteries, oil tank and extra stowage. The cockpit sole is all chequer-plate, but you do have the option of a clip-on carpet.
Standard seating on the 601 Fisherman is twin swivelling bucket seats mounted on fixed pedestals, with the option of back-to-backs or a combination of the two. One of the neat features on the 601 is the removable sliding bench seat which can be positioned anywhere along the full length of the cockpit. When not in use it simply clips onto the side of the cockpit shelving out of the way. It’s simple and very effective.
Fishermen have not been forgotten when it comes to comfort, with wide side decks finished with either teak or kwila timber or a stick-on non-skid, generous toe kicks under the coamings and plenty of rod holdings. The cockpit sole height is also above the waterline so the cockpit is self-draining. All the extra space under the sole is filled with buoyancy so technically the boat is unsinkable and more than meets with the current CPC flotation requirements. We didn’t test it though!
Being an alloy boat it’s no problem to have a few add-ons such as the pot hauler on the test boat.
For divers, the 601 Fisherman offers a drop-down telescopic ladder, handholds and platforms either side of the outboard. While the test boat had a full transom, you could have a drop-in insert and cut-out on the port side.
Lyttelton Harbour has a reputation for being unpredictable. On our test day it was reasonably calm and placid although there were some good swells towards the heads and a stretch of choppy water later in the afternoon when the cold southerly wind came up.
When we backed the new 601 down the ramp Gary informed me that this was its inaugural launching and it had only been run-up in the factory. Naturally he was as interested as I was to see how it performed. We were both hugely impressed with the boat’s handling and performance. Wow, what a hot little boat! Robson Design has really got the bottom shape and the balance of the boat right.
With just 115hp from the 4-cyl. Yamaha, the 601HT was very responsive and with three aboard and half a tank of fuel it jumped on the plane easily and had rapid acceleration to maximum rpm. Although rated to 130hp, it certainly doesn’t need that and would even be a nice package with only 90hp.
I was impressed with the softness of ride in the swells and choppy water and also the way you could perform sharp turns without any excessive heel and prop slip. The hull stays upright and hangs on real tight without sliding out. The 5-blade 17″ Yamaha prop offered plenty of bite. Top speed on the brand new engine was 42.5mph @ 6000 rpm and I found a real nice cruise over the swells at around 4500 rpm @ 30.5 mph. Once the engine has got a few hours on it I’m sure there’s a few more mph in it yet.
With the company’s background in manufacturing and racing KwikKraft jet boats, there is no doubting the quality and strength of the construction of the new Ramco range. Icon Brands claims that it over-builds its boats and that there is probably more aluminium in them than any comparative boat from the competition. Strong claim, but regardless, they are built tough and exceed the minimum requirements for CPC.
Gary adds that part of the reason for the way they build their boats is to make certain the hulls maintain their shape over the long term. “We build our boats to last forever – it’s that simple,” says Gary
The 601 is certainly a fisherman’s boat that you can quite happily take offshore for serious fishing, but it also offers enough comfort and protection for the family. It doesn’t need a lot of horsepower to push it, so the economy is excellent and it is light enough to be towed behind a 6-cylinder family vehicle.
The 601HT offers an exceptional ride, stability at rest, plenty of beam, a good cockpit area for fishing and a cabin area well optimised for dry storage and masses of gear. What more do you need! Overall, a winner in every respect and a great introduction to the new Ramco family of boats.
- Make: Ramco
- Model: 601 Fisherman HT
- Designer: Robson Marine
- Price as tested: NZ $ 64,500
- Packages from: NZ $ 53,500
- Material: Aluminium 5mm/3mm
- Type: Hardtop
- LOA: 6.10m
- Beam: 2.85m
- Deadrise: 18 degrees
- Trailerable weight: 1160kg
- Height on trailer: 2850mm
- Engine capacity: 90hp – 130hp
- Power options: Outboard Only
- Fuel capacity: 90 litres
Performance – Yamaha 115
|1000 rpm||3.0 mph|
|1500 rpm||4.5 mph|
|2000 rpm||7.0 mph|
|3000 rpm||12.0 mph|
|3500 rpm||19.5 mph|
|4000 rpm||25.5 mph|
|4500 rpm||30.5 mph|
|5000 rpm||25.5 mph|
|5500 rpm||40.0 mph|
|6000 rpm||42.5 mph|