Boat Review Date: May 2012
Author: Mike Brown
It was an experience I can’t recall having before – being in a boat with a motor bigger than the recommended maximum. There was an innocent reason: the dealer had reconditioned the motor and was taking the opportunity to test it, but it was an illustration of why boats now have the Australian Builder’s Plate.
Our boat, the Bluefin 5.80 Bowrider Sports is light for its size, and the recommended 150hp maximum is distinctly generous. We had 25hp more than that and we could easily have restrained our throttle hands, but we were human. The impression at full throttle was that we were planing on just a couple of centimetres each side of the keel, and sanity prevented us putting on any quantity of wheel at that speed. Seconds later we reduced to smarter speeds.
The 580 is actually such an easily driven boat that 90hp would give good results, and making that a two-stroke would hold the price a touch below $50,000, which is pretty good for a 19-footer.
We had the sort of miserable wet test day that showed clears and bow cockpit covers have their reasons, and only considerations of photography persuaded us to remove the cover. That still left us with the (closed) opening windscreen and door, which did a fine job of keeping us dry.
This is a boat that does everything competently without being ostentatious about it. The bow cockpit, for instance, could seat four adults, and that is better than typical; usefully big in fact. That leaves a pair of pedestals at the dash and a two to three seater aft for other people to choose from. We did not have the bodies to actually test it, but I judged that the boat had enough buoyancy forward to handle the weight of four people.
The aft lounge is cleverly done. It is an upholstered box hinged at its forward edge. In the normal position it matches with an upholstered transom edge to act as back rest; hinge it forwards and there is room behind it for an angler whose thighs get the use of the back rest.
Storage is not limited to that seat box; the volume under the bow seats adds up to a mass of extra space. Reaching the lockers is a sort of two-stage operation; lifting the cushions reveals carpeted lids, and on fishing days you could leave the cushions at home. A nice touch is the segment of cushion at the seat’s apex lifting separately to avoid footprints on the cushion from people exiting over the bow.
Bow riders are the multi-purpose trailer boats and the 580 takes that seriously. There is a threaded socket in the deck ahead of the rear seat to accept the leg of the optional picnic table. Unlike many boats with that facility this one still has useable room left over after installing the table.
Like a growing number of aluminium boats the Bluefin uses plastic material for part of the fit-out, notably the side pockets and consoles. I did not give them the destruction test, but the pockets felt distinctly less potent than aluminium.
The deck is non self-draining, which gives it the advantage of allowing a coaming height of 690mm; not vast, but comfortingly well up a standing leg. It is a carpeted plywood deck, with the helm section at a lower level. This gives a standing driver plenty of head clearance below the Bimini. If you do stand a good part of your body is well above the windscreen, and that suits me well; I like a breeze at sea. Sit, though, and you are lowered until your vision is pretty well through mid windscreen. Very good.
The details are taken care of. Rails in convenient places, folding drink holders, non feed-back steering, transducer bracket and so on. The Blue Fin is an honest boat at an attractive price.
Price from $49,950
Hull length 5.80m
Length overall 5.95m
Fuel capacity 145L
Maximum power 150hp
Motor fitted 175 Honda four stroke