Boat Review Date: September 2017
Author: Mike Brown
If the Quintrex 550 Frontier side console were yours, you would never miss it in a car park; not with that colour scheme. The colour is supplied by vinyl wrap, not paint. If that sounds fragile and perhaps short lived, think again. It is the finish of choice for Queensland ferries, being harder to damage than paint and more easily fixed anyway.
The 550 uses Quintrex’s new Apex hull form. This has a punt-like footprint, but with sophisticated sharpness near and below the water at the bow. The most immediately obvious advantage this gives is interior room; once moving, a couple of others show up. This is a naturally stable boat and it keeps that stability in sharp turns: very little lean, which is how nervous passengers like it. They would also like the dryness – that bow let no spray on board.
Side and centre console boats are generally light on for dry stowage (although how much do you need in a day fishing boat?), but the provision of casting platforms has added a lot of volume. The 550’s is particularly roomy – that Apex hull again. Everything is tidy at this end, and the larger than average anchor well has a lid. At the other end the tidy theme continues: the twin boarding platforms, the starboard one equipped with a telescopic ladder, have been fitted with wear pads.
The side console layout, barely heard of a few years ago, is now probably more popular than the centre console in smaller boats. The main reason, of course, is it delivers more useable room. Also contributing to fishing room in particular is the absence of permanent seating. Instead there are four sockets in the deck and three pedestal seats to insert in them. Naturally one of the sockets is at the console, which is a particularly snazzy affair, and equipped with a substantial grab rail. The dash has two digital gauges capable of delivering vast amounts of information. They leave enough room for a sizeable combo screen.
The 550’s canopy is not a thing of beauty, but there is something more important than aesthetics: shade. The amount of shade this one provides is far greater than that of the typical T-top on a centre console; the readily folded canopy thoroughly protects the occupants of the seats in three of the sockets.
In profile the 550 looks tall for a Quintrex. The dual reasons are a deck high enough to be self-draining, and a coaming high enough above it to let a standing angler feel reasonably secure – a feeling enhanced by the four grab rails on the side decks. The 550 looks after the fisherman pretty well all round. Besides all the clear space he gets an underdeck wet tank aft, a casting platform forward, a plumbed live bait tank, rod holders and a pair of transducer brackets. Some boat owners are so single minded about what happens when the engine is switched off on the fishing patch that they want no seats at all to get in the way. It is the work of seconds to leave them at home. Or more likely, to leave two of them. The skipper can cite the extra safety of having the driver securely positioned at the wheel.
These seats, incidentally, are very comfortable, and are even equipped with mesh pockets on their backs
The 90hp Yamaha four stroke was a spot on match for the hull; it should still provide sufficient propulsion with the permitted six people on board. With two up it gave sparkling performance. Steering is mechanical and, although harder work than a hydraulic system, it had been well fitted for minimum friction.
As is getting close to standard, the 550 sits on an aluminium trailer. In the early days there were learned discussions on the likelihood of welded aluminium cracking, discussions that soon stopped. Now, lightness and the absence of rusting possibilities – and the extra cost – are all that gets thought about. Not only does this trailer have rear tie down points, but the boat has attachment lugs on the transom; a nice touch.
Chivers Marine has the 550 on its stand at the boat show.
Price as reviewed AUD $55,782
Fuel capacity 98L
Motor fitted 90hp Yamaha four-stroke