Boat Review Date: October 2015
Author: Mike Brown
There is nothing flash about the Coraline 550 centre console. It goes further and makes a virtue out of the lack. What it does have is immense practicality, and everything else it has works well.
Tinnies are often seen naked, but 5.5 metres of self-draining boat – practically bomb-proof in 4mm plate throughout – is not what you would normally consider a mere tinny. Yet it is paintless. The reasons are excellent: scratches will not hurt it and will be practically invisible. Perhaps even better is the financial bonus; you can have paint, but not having it saves you $4,890.
The price of the review 550 is AUD $52,811. That pays for a boat powered by a 115hp Yamaha four-stroke fitted with a hydraulic steering upgrade. Both are well worth having, but this would still be a well-powered boat with 80 or 90 horsepower. Choosing a 90 two-stroke would save over seven and a half thousand dollars over the 115.
The 550 has seats for six – more than enough for the typical fishing party it would carry. One of them is unlikely to be used on passage: a removable swivel seat on the forward casting platform, it is the one to fight for once stopped. The others are a locker-mounted double at the windscreen and a folding/removable three-seater at the transom.
The console offers more than acceptable protection to the two sitting at it. The windscreen is a single piece of unframed acrylic; not good for standing passengers to hang onto, although making up for this is a good total length of perimeter grab rail. The console has plenty of area left over from engine gauges and controls to mount the largest of sounder-plotters. It also has well considered storage. Rather than the usual cavern it features a shallow oddments cave above a genuine locker.
Storage generally is much more abundant than that usually offered by centre consoles in this size range. Besides the console and seat lockers, the casting platform forms a high volume compartment, the transom space is opened up by a pair of doors, and partial length side pockets offer stowage for oddments.
Although centre console is the definitive fishing boat style Coraline has not adorned it with a lot of goodies. It does have a catch tank, the item near impossible to offer as an add on, and extras are on the menu. These range from rod sockets to a rod locker.
The best liked feature of centre consoles is probably their total access to the boat’s perimeter. On smaller examples of the breed this is sometimes compromised by iffy stability; some of the joy disappears from all that access if every move is made with tongue between teeth. The 550 is actually a little larger than the overall average of trailer boats, and even then it punches above its weight. With three of us on board, one of them in the swivel - a likely fishing party – where the other two stood did not need long consideration of centres of gravity. Even with four or five it would probably take little toing and froing to get a happy bunch of fishermen.
Most of the credit for this level of stability – achieved while carrying the passenger weight at the height of a self-draining deck – goes to the hull form. This has become standard to Coralines in the last few years: wide reversed chines stay immersed when the boat is at rest. They combine with a very respectable deadrise to attain the right balance of buoyancy and draught.
This same balance is responsible for the quality of ride: comfortably above average. With several people aboard you can use the centre console’s openness to achieve perfect trim by positioning them as mobile ballast.
Some boats have telescoping boarding ladders folding tidily into lidded compartments. They are seldom easy to climb. The Coraline 550’s ladder is a one-piece job with broad treads that stows in full sight. When in position it is raked and rigid; it works. This is typical of the boat: unpretentious and effective.
Price as reviewed AUD $52,811
Price from AUD $45,081
Length overall 6.0m
Hull length 5.5m
Fuel capacity 170L
Motor fitted 114hp Yamaha four-stroke