Boat Review Date: February 2009
Author: Mike Brown
The side console layout is normally chosen for a hull that’s a bit squeezy for a centre console and, perhaps because standing to drive in a smaller boat is less of a good idea, it is normally set up just to suit sitting runabout style.
The Coraline 520 is not from that mainstream. At 5.2m by 2.2m beam it has useful size, and Coraline gave it the side console layout simply because it is what a buyer had asked for. Standard Coraline side consoles are 4.6m and 5.0m, and the buyer wanted extra deck area for a boat that would spend a lot of its time pulling crab pots. The boat turned out to be so effective that Coraline now offer it as a standard boat.
The basic motor for the 520 is only 60hp and ours had 115: nearly double what reportedly does a fine job of propulsion. As you would expect we had a ball of fire to play with, and even in the mild conditions it needed careful attention to trim. Even when passing over wakes, though, the ride stayed comfortable. This was mainly thanks to the driving position being well aft. Noise through the bottom was muted by the unusually thick 5mm plating.
The driver gets a swivel seat on a storage box. The other swivel is on a pedestal that has a choice of two sockets: one alongside the driver, the other forward on the raised platform. There are permanent seats for two more at the transom on the upholstered top of a locker. Travelling into a head sea four-up, you might want to put the portable seat forward for best weight distribution.
Searching for floats, or peering through Polaroids for bits of reef to avoid, standing is the go, and the Coraline caters for it: this is one of the rarer consoles that allow a driver to be comfortable sitting or standing. The gap between seat and wheel is wide enough, and the rails around the windscreen are tough and high enough for secure holding.
This style of boat was made for fishing, and there is a full range of fishing-specific features either standard or optional. Our boat was equipped with a transom bait tank and bait board, and tackle drawers behind a door on the console. The owner could have ordered a catch tank and even a rod locker.
General storage is good thanks to the raised platform. The compartment under it holds bulk items, with boutique storage available under the driver’s seat, on the console shelf, and in the side pockets. The transom locker mainly concerns itself with housing battery and oil.
A 5.2m boat with a self-draining deck is not going to have a great distance between deck and coaming, and standing at the 520’s rail puts a body’s centre of gravity well above where the legs meet the boat. The moral is to keep seated unless there is a good reason to stand, or unless the boat is in sheltered waters.
For someone who is moving around, the boat is reassuringly stable when drifting. The beam seems a nice balance with weight and hull form, and widish side decks keep standing passenger weight inboard. Those side decks also make comfortable sitting spots for anglers who dipped out on those swivel seats.
The provision of shade is one of the weaker points of centre and side consoles, and often the driver is the only one to get any benefit. But to give everybody a decent share would need an awning area like a hang glider. Perhaps doing it like the 520 and providing none at all is a reasonable solution; instead supply your passengers with sunscreen and encourage big hats.
Because a side console provides so much deck space within a given length, in this case carpeted deck, this style of boat makes a good picnic cruiser. Give the family a treat occasionally, sweep out the fish scales, fill up with cushions, esky and barbecue, and take them for a wander up the river or across the inlet. Having given them all hats, of course.
The review boat with its options, particularly the big motor, costs $44,900. Delete the options, choose the negative option of paintlessness, and specify a 70hp two-stroke, and the price drops to $34,790. That looks pretty attractive for a boat that would be equally at home on the estuary or ocean.
Price from $34,790
Price as reviewed $44,900
Length overall 5.60m
Hull length 5.20m
Fuel capacity 100L
Power range 60 to 115hp
Motor fitted 115 Yamaha 4-stroke