Boat Review Date: April 2010
Author: Mike Brown
WA-built plate aluminium boats seem to be unstoppable, or more accurately the people who build and sell them are. At a time of a less than vibrant marine industry, a new brand has appeared: Reef Hunter. The review boat is a V-berth cuddy, the Reef Hunter 5700.
This is at the briefer end of the cuddy interpretation scale. The V-berths would accommodate curled up sleepers or children, but are essentially sheltered seats. Headroom too is less than typical, although the open rear end removes any sense of cramping. The 5700 is more of a runabout offering extra protection than an overnighter; it is a fishing boat. A nice touch with the clear fore hatch is a frame welded into the cabin top instead of using the screws often seen in this spot.
The Reef Hunter is a tough boat: the sides, despite being in higher tensile plate, are pressed into strakes. This is common practice for stiffening the boats commonly called pressed, but they are made of softer metal; pressing the Reef Hunter’s 4mm sides takes a monumental machine. Bow rails match the heavy-duty structure – large section things, happy to take your weight when swinging aboard.
Beam at 2.5m is probably 15cm greater than average for a 5.7m boat, so internal room is correspondingly up. It is uncramped space with nothing more than the two seat boxes consuming deck area, while under the carpeted deck lives a catch tank. As usual the transom houses the battery, but in a shelf – virtually an extension of the side pockets – rather than a locker. This simplicity makes sense, and there is room for a second battery: one of the best blows you can strike for self-reliance.
A neat Bimini shades the driving area. It is carried on a Targa that has just one Highfield clip on each leg that needs to be released before lowering it. Goodbye to spanners also means goodbye to a source of paint chipping. The Targa has a grab rail across its arch, just where you need one, and mounts a bank of six rocket launchers. These add to the four sockets in the coamings and two on the bait table.
The review boat was powered by a Honda 90, fairly well down the list of power choices for a boat of this size. The dealers had gone for a slightly under-pitched propeller to compensate and it worked well, giving very lively acceleration and making the boat less sensitive to load. Wide-open throttle was governed to 6300rpm and gave 33 knots; a stainless steel propeller would have given a little more. Throttled back to 5000 we achieved 26 knots, meaning the near universal low 20s cruising speed would be no effort at all. In other words an economic boat and motor partnership. A quiet one too: the combination of motor and hull noise was subdued enough for easy conversation.
There are no doors at all on the Reef Runner, the seats sitting on boxes that have a simple cave entrance. They have a nice relationship with the footrests and the height is good too. At idle I thought they were on the high side, but with a few knots on the bow came up enough to put the horizon halfway up the windscreen. There was no need to dip the eyes from it to check the engine gauges: these are mounted in bulges raised above the dash top. The dash top also has drink holders, a glove box, an oddment tray shared with the navigator, and a grab rail. There is almost nowhere on this boat where something to grab is not within easy reach.
There is plenty of other useful equipment aboard. The stern ladder is a heavyweight item mounted on a roomy platform, a power deck wash lives in a side pocket, and the removable bait table is a beauty. Not a piece of equipment, but extremely welcome just the same, is a good standard of stability. With the available three people sitting on the coaming the dipping of the chine was comfortingly modest.
The Reef Hunter 5700 is a competent addition to WA’s already wide choice of fishing boats. Refreshingly simple yet very well thought out.
Price as reviewed AUD $59,500
Fuel capacity 150L
Motor fitted 90hp Honda