Author : Barry Thompson
Four years ago Scorpion Boats sold its first boat, through Sportscraft Boatsand very quickly established a strong following for the new brand. Today, with upwards of 400 boats built, Scorpion offers about 20 models from the 470 runabout through to the 820 hardtop. Production runs around 70 boats a year. The client base now extends from Northland to Marlborough and the company isn’t about to stop there. The Scorpion Crusader 605 Hardtop was released in 2000 and has since been one of Sportcraft Boats’ most popular models and one that competes favourably with similar styled alloy boats.
The hardtop market has grown massively in recent years and while it was once the reserve of the 7m plus trailerboats, today we are seeing them on boats as small as 5.5m. The benefits are huge for the fishermen and divers who don’t just go boating when the sun’s out and there’s no wind. “We sell our hardtops to blokes who don’t mind getting a little blood and guts in the cockpit, but still want a few comforts when they have to punch into a sea all the way home or get caught out in really shit weather”, said Paddy Powell, General Manager for Sportscraft Boats in Tauranga, who kindly set up and loaned us the Scorpion Crusader 605HT for the test. “Yea, we have done a few with carpet, painted hulls and all the extras, but the majority of our customers are guys who like to go fishing, when and where they want to. “We start with a fairly basic boat but then there are plenty of options available and we don’t mind if a customer has a special requirement in the way the boat’s appointed or even to changes in the layout and configuration of the boat”, he said.
Sportcraft Boats offers the boat with twin pedestal seats, side trays in the cockpit and cabin, underfloor tank, deck hatch, rocket launcher on the hardtop and all the deck hardware. From there on you can customise the boat to some extent. A built-in live bait tank, walk-through transom, self draining scuppers, a variety of seating options, altered storage arrangements in the cabin and redesigned cabin bulkheads are just some of the things that are possible. The only thing that the company will not change is where it affects the structural integrity of the boat. “We have sold boats to clients and told them to come back after using the boat for a while and discuss what changes they would like to make to the way the boat is appointed”, said Powell. The quality of finish on the 605HT I tested was excellent with clean smooth welds around the 5mm hull plate sections and 4mm plate used everywhere else. Under floor there are six main beams running from transom to bow, with cross bracing and a fully welded chequerplate floor.
The 605 is the smallest of the plate boats built by the company, with the range now extending right through to the big Scorpion 820. Scorpion Boats are built by a variety of skilled alloy fabricators, with the 605HT and a number of other models constructed by Sheetmetal Industries Ltd of Rotorua. The Scorpion 605HT retails for $27950 and is also available in full cabin ($25375) and walk around ($28950) versions.
For the test I was able to use two near identical 605 HTs, one with a Mariner 115 2-stroke carburetted engine, the other with a Yamaha 100 4-stroke. While the Mariner rig was brand new and had done less than 30 mins in the water, the Yamaha boat was well seasoned with plenty of hours on the clock. The initial impression after running both boats was the obvious smoothness and quietness of the 4 stroke Yamaha over the 2 stroke Mariner, although due to extra horsepower and displacement (1.848 litres for the Mariner vs 1.596 litres for the Yamaha), the Mariner comfortably won the speed and acceleration stakes. I managed to squeeze 41 mph out of the Mariner 115 powered 605HT and still a very respectable 38 mph @ 6000 rpm from the Yamaha boat. As the Mariner boat had been especially set up for the test, it was this boat that I spent most of the time aboard.
Tauranga Harbour gave us perfect testing conditions with a stiff 25-knot SW wind whipping whitecaps off a very busy sea within the harbour. Anyone who has boated in Tauranga Harbour can relate to the confused sea off the wharves when the wind and tide are fighting each other. The backwash is like being in a washing machine. It was here that I managed to drop the bow into a deep trough and submerge the trio of glass screens. Oh for a windscreen wiper, an optional extra that really should be standard on a hardtop boat if you are serious about wanting to see in any weather! However out through the harbour entrance and into the open sea beyond the Mount the sea state was reasonably calm with a low gentle swell. In the ‘washing machine’ the 605HT had a tendency to lay over into the wind, something that was accentuated because of the hardtop. Tabs would be a great addition. When I pushed the 605HT into the short whitecapping head sea behind Matakana Island at 4000 rpm @ 31 mph it felt okay, although any faster would have been uncomfortable.
As it has only a 15º deadrise at the transom it rides accordingly and is certainly better with a full fuel tank and plenty of gear aboard to add some extra weight. The pay-off however is excellent stability at rest, a good performance with moderate horsepower and therefore excellent fuel economy. In the following sea I increased to 5000 rpm @ 37 mph and trimmed the Mariner to around 3/4 on the gauge. This time the extra speed wasn’t a problem and the 605 HT felt fine, landed softly and was very predictable. It was a very chilly day for the test and the benefit of the hardtop was much appreciated. There is excellent headroom under the hardtop and I found I did most of the driving standing. The standard boat comes with twin pedestals, which need footrests if you intend to do your driving seated. I have already mentioned the windscreen wiper option, but you can also have sliding side windows for extra ventilation and even the entire helm can be moved forward 450mm to give you maximum cockpit space.
This does cut deeply into the cabin, but then sometimes all you want is a dry place to toss the gear. The covered dash extends forward to the windscreen, providing plenty of space for bracket mounted electronics and other loose gear such as charts, mobile phones and car keys. The carpet also keeps things from sliding around and keeps it rattle free and a full width upstand doubles as a handrail. Anything up there is easy to read and doesn’t impede into the huge space. The dash is also designed to handle large flush mounted electronics or you can utilise the area with the normal instruments, switches and even a VHF. There is the option on the passenger side of fitting a lockable glove box or open locker into the bulkhead. The space can also be utilised for a small cooker or custom made chilly-bin to keep the drinks cold. While the standard boat has matching bulkheads dividing the cabin from the cockpit, the port side one can be cut right back to provide a more open plan feel to the boat.
The hardtop is all built in 4mm alloy and has 6mm glass around the front and Perspex either side. There is an option of sliding glass side windows, which provide extra ventilation and airflow. Especially designed drainage gets any excess water on the hardtop away quickly so there’s none of that annoying dripping into the cockpit! Extra outside protection is also available with an extension canopy over the cockpit. Add side and rear curtains and you have a great weekender package. While the standard layout has twin pedestal seats, the options are plenty with the twin king/queen the most popular. This also provides extra storage space in the base and gives seating for six in the cockpit. There is no underfloor storage in the 605 HT with the central section under the cockpit sole taken up with the fuel tank and the spaces either side dedicated for buoyancy. Full-length side trays allow you to get some gear off the floor and there is also the option of side rod holders. Single or twin batteries are kept on an upstand under the aft deck/seating area and there is also enough height to take a couple of tote tanks or to stow the tackle box out of the way. Although the test boat wasn’t equipped with either you can have the aft section modified to take a live bait tank/wet locker and a walkthrough transom.
The cockpit isn’t self-draining, but the sole is high enough when underway to make a couple of ‘duckbill’ drains quite effective. The bilge-pump in the sump will get rid of most the water however. If you like the 605 HT but want a little more space then you should look at the 655 HT, which is identical from the hardtop forward, with the extra length (500mm) all in the cockpit. The cabin provides excellent sitting headroom and a couple of berths that even I would find comfortable if overnighting. All aluminium plate is covered in fabric and there is a soft cover velcroed over the back of the instrument panel. The test boat had side trays with no fronts so anything left on top would soon end up on the squabs. Thickly padded backrest are an option. Storage is provided under the three squabs with top access, but some owners have opted to customise them and leave the front panels off so they can get gear out without interrupting anyone sleeping above. You also have the choice of having nothing inside but open space, which makes for a cavernous storage area for day trips. Anchoring can be carried out via the forward deck hatch and there is plenty of space for an auto winch beside the deep open anchor locker. So who’s buying the 605HT? According to Powell, the buyers are the real hard-out keen fishos who are sick of getting wet and cold and want a boat with space, stability and comfort. It’s a boat that is not designed to have all the frills, yet you can add them if you really want to. Despite its tough appearance it’s lacking nothing when it comes to safety and construction. As one of the ‘smaller’ hardtops, the Scorpion Crusader 605 HT is certainly worth a second look.
- Model: Scorpion Crusader 605HT
- Price Boat Only: $27950
- Price As Tested: $43995
- Price Base Rig: $42750
- Designer: Black Design
- Material: 5mm / 4mm alloy
- Type: Hardtop
- LOA: 6.05m
- LOH: 5.80m
- Beam: 2.40m
- Deadrise: 15º
- Trailerable weight: 1500 kg (est.)
- Engine capacity: 90hp – 140hp
- Power Options: Outboard only
- Fuel Capacity:150 litres