Boat Review Date: February 2010
Author: Mike Brown
AMF must be the only boats whose options list does not include a choice of colour. In fact they are not even painted: their naked aluminium is finished with a coat of high-tech lacquer. It looks like a gloss grey paint, and is a good compromise between nothing at all and vulnerable and expensive two-pack.
Because no bog is applied before the lacquer, all the welds are in plain view; I checked them out on the review AMF 660 Hardtop Cabin. Possibly the builder chose lacquer partly because he is proud of the welds’ quality and wanted to show them off. They are almost certainly the best I have seen.
Quality and strength of structure is a major feature of the 660. The bottom is in 6mm aluminium, the transom in 5 and the sides in 4. The sides get a twist put in them during building that needs hydraulic jacks to achieve. The result is a lot of extra form strength. More strength is suppled by a pair of fore and aft underdeck girders. These boats are intended for hard use, and my knuckles still whiten when I recall a demonstration of hard use by the builder in a smaller sister of the 660.
The intended use also explains why grab rails are all over the boat: across the dash, under and on top of the hardtop and at the rear of the cabin sides. The under edge of the side decks also provides a good grip, the edge having been cleanly finished – unlike the raw finish of some local boats.
The builder must be expecting heavyweights to be aboard – 75mm aluminium pillars support the side pockets in case they decide to step up on the side deck. The decks are narrow alongside what is effectively the wheelhouse, but are easy to traverse given all the handholds. Whilst there I noticed another piece of attention to detail: any rain or spray landing on the hardtop is contained within coamings, then led down the inside of mullions to drain overside.
The lined fore cabin has bunks just long enough for sleeping, and space for a chemical toilet. The clear fore hatch is well positioned for use when handling lines or anchor although our boat was equipped with a power windlass.
Just two seats are supplied and they are good ones, in a nice relationship with a pair of the better footrests I have used. Standing at the wheel also feels natural, which is understandable in a boat that is often supplied in New Zealand with no seats at all. That is partly a reflection of the generally short amount of travel needed to reach fishing spots there, but Australians get seats and also a usefully large 220L fuel tank. Another welcome feature for Australians is the sliding side glass, ventilation that can be augmented by opening the fore hatch.
The deck is in chequer plate, but barefoot enthusiasts can specify a reeded covering that is a superior alternative to carpet. We had two medium and one heavyweight people on it, and the boat displayed good stability as we moved around. Very good considering the steepish deadrise of 18.5deg, although a low-set deck helped, as did wide side decks that limited the distance we could get our weight from the centre line.
Fishermen get a bait tray mounted aft, and rod stowage in rocket launchers and coaming sockets. A burley bucket and icebox-rear seat are options, but most buyers stay with eskies.
We had a heavy weather boat and light weather to use it in. This did allow us full throttle on our 225hp Suzuki, and scope for playing hard. We reached 42 knots, although I suspect that experimenting with propellers would give us a few more. More important than actual speed, of course, would be the added efficiency. Most owners would still cruise in the low 20s, but enjoying a better ride than most others – and a quieter one. The 660 has an exceptionally quiet hull, due surely to its great rigidity.
You usually drive boats in straight lines, and the 660 is practically hands-off for this, but for those who enjoy the occasional play the Kiwis have built a joy. This boat is fun to drive. It is also easy on the eye and will probably last forever. That’s not a bad set of qualities.
Price from AUD $98,000
Length overall 6.60m
Hull weight 1160kg
Fuel capacity 220L
Towing weight 2100kg
Power range 150 to 250hp
Motor fitted 225 Suzuki four-stroke