Boat Review Date: April 2019
Author: Mike Brown
I had never driven a boat with a tiller steered 115hp outboard, and probably never will again. It was definitely interesting. I was in a 5.5 metre Coraline, a boat that can be ordered in any layout. The owner chose the mega dinghy look, which pretty well demands tiller steering – though most would probably opt for something around 70 or 80 horsepower, or even less.
The owner had strong views on his dream fishing boat and it was fitted out accordingly. A key feature was easy one-man beach launching and retrieval. Coraline built him a heavy duty aluminium trailer, with an extra-long extending tow bar, with a self-centring plate at one end and an auto catch and release at the other. It also has what all trailers deserve and few have: a plank for dry passage down to the boat’s stem on ramp-using occasions.
A non typical dinghy feature is a self-draining deck with big freeing ports. A large-area seat has been built around the well’s edge making a good driving position. Sitting to starboard of the motor the left hand drops naturally to the tiller and the right hand to a grab rail on the coaming. However vigorous the manoeuvre the driver remains locked into position.
The 550 is a sizeable boat and not built with an eye on light weight: plating throughout is 4mm. It has a presence on the water that gives good natural trim even when both occupants are sitting aft. The hull form is the Series II used throughout Coraline’s current range. This combines a moderate to sharp deadrise with broad reverse chines to give what used to be the holy grail of trailable aluminium boats: desirable behavior when both moving and stopped. Stability is abundant for two or three restless anglers, and once moving ride is a lot better than acceptable. I estimated top speed in the high thirties of knots.
The seat, deck and the raised bow platform are all sheathed with marine grade carpet, the platform mounting a swivel seat which is the only conventional seat on board. The usual electronics are all neatly fitted: VHF and a Garmin 95sv combo, near the driver’s right hand. There are few of the now common fishing add ons: no pot winch, no bait board etc. This owner is a purist: elbow room is his priority. Cut the bait up on top of the esky; put the catch in the esky. He has not even opted for batteries of rod holders: four do the trick for him. The purist theme extends to the paintwork: there is none.
If there are to be non fishing occasions, there is a surprising amount of room to stow non fishing stuff: the usual side pockets, under that large transom seat and within the platform. But all the indications are that fishing will take care of all of this Coraline’s future.
Price from AUD $38,000
Price as reviewed AUD $47,000
Length overall 5.8m
Hull length 5.5m
Fuel capacity 170L
Motor fitted 115hp Yamaha