Boat Review Date: January 2015
Author: Mike Brown
Some people’s ideal big boat is an ex cray boat. There might be some minimal accommodation, but far more importantly there will be lots of open deck adaptable to whatever the owner wants to do. The Brooker 510 XTD puts the spirit of a cray boat into something trailer borne.
Layout is classic runabout with the windscreen mounted further forward than a lot of others on the market. With the two main seats forward to match, the ride for their occupants could be a bit harsh on a choppy day. The cure for this of course is to slow down. The advantage is a longer cockpit with a side benefit of a simpler dash: the opening windscreen needs no recess ahead of it to allow access to the anchor well.
Enhancing the Brooker’s simplicity is the absence of a built in fuel tank. A five metre boat with portable tanks might seem an anachronism, but they have their advantages and are especially popular with northern fishermen. With the current generation of outboards only an exceptional day out would need more than 50 litres, but a reasonably frequent turnover reduces the chances of water condensation. And portable tanks are easy to clean out anyway. The two 25 litre tanks share with the battery the locker within the transom lounge.
The useable deck area is vast and is made even more useable by the height of the bulwarks. Nobody ever complained that their boat’s sides were too high, but only the very hard to please would call these low. I verified with a tape measure: 800mm from chine to gunwale. Here is a boat giving exceptional security to the standing angler. The high sides came about following a request from the WA agent for a special version of the standard 510. The customer response was good enough for the new version to become dominant around Australia.
The 510’s stability complements the revised structure; little point in encouraging standing anglers if they cause a nasty list. The Brooker has a firm presence on the water and is a reassuring platform.
It is now generally accepted – certainly on the west coast – that no boat is too small to not benefit from decent sun protection. The 510 gets a standard canopy that is a cut above average in area and rigidity. It puts the best seats in complete shade and has enough left over for all others on board to move into.
For a boat that is most probably destined for a fishing role, the 510 has remarkably few specialised accessories; four rod holders and a modest standard sounder just about sum them up. My own view is that a big esky trumps a catch tank any day. You could fit a monster in the middle of the deck and equip it with tie downs. It gives you more seating and zero double handling of catch; also an excellent place to store lunch. All the other things you might consider necessary you can buy and fit yourself. A modest basic price is the result.
Dedicated storage space is limited to under the foredeck and in the side pockets, although who really cares in a working boat? Serious space, say for scuba cylinders, could easily be arranged within the bulwarks without cramping deck room. Divers have the use of boarding platforms on each side of the motor, with boarding rails that continue forward to become grab rails for passengers in the rear seats.
With a 70hp two-stroke motor the Brooker 510 costs AUD $29,000. This is a two-stroke with all the mid-tech fruit – no starting struggles at the ramp. You also get the sounder, canopy and items like navigation lights. The review boat had top line everything including a 75hp Honda four-stroke and a corresponding price of AUD $38,000. You pay your money and take your choice.
Price from AUD $29,000
Price as reviewed AUD $38,000
Motor fitted 75hp Honda