Scorpion released the first of its APB (Aluminium Pontoon Boat) models at the 2005 New Zealand Boat Show and since then has steadily released new models onto the market. Freddy Foote went to Tauranga to check out the new Scorpion 600 APB HT and what it has to offer.
The Scorpion APB range has models starting from 4.5m through to 6.0m, with around five models available through that size range. The 6m model was released a short time ago as a cabin boat, and it is now that we see the hardtop version offered.
“This is the biggest model in our APB hardtop range, which we built because we saw there was definitely a market for this type of hardtop boat,” said Jamie Black of Sportcraft Boats.
The overall layout is tidy and practical and the boat is reasonably well finished. Forward, there is a large deck hatch that provides access to the anchor locker when performing anchoring duties. There is plenty of room to mount a free fall auto anchor winch or capstan to suit an owner’s requirements.
The cabin was fully lined with carpet, giving it a warm feel, and two adults could sit in there if need be. It’s probably a bit small for over-nighting, but a great place to keep all your gear nonetheless. Storage is available underneath the squabs and in side shelves.
The fairlead is certainly pretty special, and Jamie has no qualms in saying that it’s not the most attractive feature on the boat. However, they have given it a redesign for future models, making it more aesthetically pleasing. Like most boats of this size, launching and retrieving is pretty much a one-person affair and the boat comes on a single-axle multi-roller trailer. The singleaxle trailer worked well for a boat of this size, and once back at the yard we could easily manoeuvre the boat around with just two people.
The helm area was finished well, with the carpeting from the cabin carrying on through, and really giving the whole area a nice look. The dash had plenty of room for gauges and additional electronics if need be, and above the dash there was even more room that would allow you to fix mount various instruments on brackets. The benefit of this is that if your boat isn’t stored entirely securely you are able to remove the units when not in use. A lockable dash hatch is on the passenger side and allows you to safely store keys, mobile phones and the like out of the way.
A light is fitted to the roof of the helm and a cockpit light is mounted along the edge of the hardtop section – ideal for night time fishing. The seating arrangement was made up of twin fix-mounted pedestal seats with storage space underneath. This is only one of many seating options available; you could opt for a king/queen set-up if you desire. A couple of dive bottle holders were mounted along the port side of the cockpit; again this is something you can customise to your own liking.
As well as being a great dive boat the cockpit area was ideally set up for fishing. There is plenty of room for at least four to fish comfortably. Four rod holders were positioned in the top decks, two on each side, and additional rod storage is available by using the extra long side pockets, although they seemed a touch shallow due to the low profile of the cockpit sides.
The very first thing I noticed about the 600APB when I saw it at the Sportcraft Tauranga dealership was how low the cockpit sides were and then secondly the low profile of the transom section going from the cockpit to the boarding platform. Seemed a little low for my liking, but once out on the water it turned out to be quite a great feature and one that was well liked by our two divers. They could sit on the top of the coamings while they put their gear on.
While this low profile isn’t going to be to everyone’s liking, Sportcraft has made changes to the design and offers the model with higher sides, giving a gradual slope from the side of the hardtop section behind the helm down towards the transom. However, those who like the lower profile can still request that at the time of build. “It’s better with the lower sides for diving, but with the higher sides probably better suited for family boating and fishing,” commented Jamie.
As far as buoyancy goes, the 600APB is right up there. Like the other APB models that Scorpion produces, the 600SPB features three buoyancy chambers – the two pontoons which run along the sides of the boat, and one internal buoyancy chamber which runs up the middle of the boat. To sink the boat completely, all three chambers would have to be punctured.
Jamie commented to me that the weekend before, he had taken the boat from Whitianga out to the Mercury Islands with a couple of ‘large’ mates and 3 sets of dive gear and 7 bottles, was more than happy as to how the boat performed, particularly in rougher conditions.
For our test day, the trip out to Motiti Island was fairly uneventful, with nothing more than a gentle rolling swell and the odd bigger wave to break up the journey. The journey on the way home was with a following sea and about 20 knots of wind, and surprisingly, the 600APB gave quite a soft ride, with the odd bit of heavy spray taken on the windscreen. Wipers weren’t fitted, but Sportcraft had coated the windscreen with a type of water dispersion treatment that works really well.
It appeared to run with it’s nose down, but it was just the way that the water peeled off and was deflected away with the alumnium pontoons. About three quarter trim gave enough bow lift for the boat to ride nicely.
Our test boat was powered by a Mercury 115hp OptiMax direct injection 2-stroke outboard. The 115 OptiMax was an ideal engine for the 600APB and provided more than enough power and excellent fuel economy – I wouldn’t want to power it with anything less, or anything more. The 115 OptiMax pushed the boat along to a top speed of 38.0mph.
In the conditions on the way home it sat quite comfortably at around 5000rpm and doing 35mph, which was about as fast as we needed to go and was adequate for the conditions without making the passengers too uncomfortable. For our test we took two boats out to Motiti Island off the Tauranga coast – our test boat as well as our camera boat, a Bluefin 620HT also powered by an OptiMax 115. In the 600APB we carried three adults and two sets of dive gear and enough fuel in tote tanks for the morning’s boating.
We rafted up once we arrived at the island which was only a short 25 minute journey from Tauranga harbour and the boys geared up in the hope of getting us some sea food for not only us, but also for the guys back at the workshop who had worked so tirelessly to get the boat ready for our test.
Unfortunately, it was not to be! The fact that our divers Rhys and Wayne surfaced about 30 minutes later with nothing but empty catch bags indicated that the area was just a big nursery for small fish and crays, but certainly a spot to revisit once everything had had a chance to do some growing!
So we headed home a little dejected, but hey, the weather was awesome and we weren’t in the office, so who could complain! Fuel economy on the OptiMax was pretty good – the 600APB runs tote tanks as the standard configuration, and the journey out to Motiti and back saw us use barely ¾ of a tote tank. An aft mounted built-in fuel tank is also offered as an option.
Overall it’s the kind of 6m hardtop that you can pretty much take most places, as we demonstrated on a nice day with our short trip out to Motiti Island. Whilst it isn’t the most attractive boat in the world, its value for money and how it serves its purpose are great.
- Scorpion: 600APB HT
- Price as Tested: $49,750
- Packages From: $45,750
- Designer: Scorpion
- Material: Aluminium
- Type: Hardtop
- LOA: 6.0m
- Beam: 2.15m
- Deadrise: 17 degree
- Trailerable Wght: 1160kg
- Height on Trailer: 2.7m
- Engine Capacity: 115hp
- Power Options: outboard only
- Fuel Capacity: Tote tank/110L
Performance – MERCURY 115 OPTIMAX
|1000 rpm||3.5 mph|
|1500 rpm||5.0 mph|
|2000 rpm||6.5 mph|
|2500 rpm||9.0 mph|
|3000 rpm||14.5 mph|
|3500 rpm||22.5 mph|
|4000 rpm||26.0 mph|
|4500 rpm||29.5 mph|
|5000 rpm||35.0 mph|
|5500 rpm||38.0 mph|
Speeds recorded on a Lowrance GPS and rounded off to the nearest 1/2 mph.