Boat Review Date: January 2014
Author: Mike Brown
Coraline modestly call their 500 Wahoo a dinghy. In the sense that it has no windscreen or steering wheel they are agreeing with tradition, but this is a dinghy par excellence. Five metres hull length, built of three and four mil plate, with self draining deck and a lot more; it is almost exactly the average size of trailer boat currently being sold.
In price, though, it is a lot less than average. With a two-stroke motor it can be yours for a touch over AUD $24,000; even with the 60hp four-stroke of the review boat it is comfortably under AUD $30,000.
That 60hp Yamaha has tiller steering (hence the lack of steering wheel) but no lack of electrical and mechanical bells and whistles. The long tiller carries the controls for ignition, electric starting, power trim and tilt, throttle and gears, all of them placed logically. 60hp might seem a lot for tiller control but in action it all works beautifully, with the bonus of leaving the boat’s interior clear.
The interior’s motif is simplicity. Platforms at each end, the rear one notched for the motor well, and a flat deck between them; every surface carpet sheathed. Motor accessories are tucked under the rear platform, while the forward is lidded to make a roomy dry storage compartment. Also within the platform is a socket to take a casting chair. Storage for small items is provided by long side pockets.
The list of what the Wahoo does not have is long – even the 80 litre fuel tank is optional. But there are plenty of buyers who prefer the Spartan approach. If they use only modest amounts of fuel each trip portable tanks have many advantages. An esky instead of a catch tank saves a lot of mess and uses less ice. The lack of paint on the hull (you can have it if you ask) saves thousands of dollars and removes fears of scratching.
Items that Coraline deemed mandatory are a boarding platform, an anchor cable well and a bowsprit. This is a style of boat that will be anchored often, and the builders recognize that the best set up stows the anchor externally and provides stowage for a lot of rope and chain.
In use the boat showed up well. The platforms doubling as seats are adequate rather than notably comfortable, but fine for short passages. Grab rails are well placed at both ends. This is an exceptionally stable boat for its size, and moving around was a secure operation. At all speeds the Wahoo threw spray horizontally, exactly the kind of behavior you want with an open boat.
Traditional tiller steered boats – small ones – can be alarming when driven with only one person on board. This is because the concentration of motor and driver weight aft makes the bow disproportionately light. Boating one-up is generally poor practice, but at least the Wahoo’s size makes it dynamically safe. At all angles to the wind and at all speeds driver control was complete and accurate, not to mention great fun.
The hull delivering this response and dryness is typical of Coraline’s current practice: significant deadrise countered by equally significant reversed chines. The chines are carried right forward in a virtual knuckle, making spray throwers and providing reserve buoyancy for downwind work.
The Wahoo would satisfy the needs of many who possibly have currently more boat than they need. If fishing is the predominant activity, why consume space with a cabin? If journeys are fairly short, why not plump for a tiller?
Price from AUD $24,403
Price as reviewed AUD $29,466
Length overall 5.5m
Hull length 5.0m
Fuel capacity 80L
Motor fitted 60hp Yamaha four-stroke