Boat Review Date: November 2012
Author: Mike Brown
With a hull length a whisker less than six metres the Signature 602F is not a big boat in outright terms, but measured by its presence on the water it definitely punches above its weight. Making way or at rest there was nothing flighty in its behavior; we had about a tonne of boat plus three people, but the impression was of something far heavier and steadier.
Or it was until we opened the throttle and it demonstrated what the hull could do with the 140hp Suzuki. There is no doubt that the hull is efficient at high speed, but just as impressive was its ability to plane at very low speeds. This is a handy trick if you have long stretches of speed restricted waters to traverse.
One of the usual sensations of high speed, hull noise, was very subdued. Fibreglass is a low resonance material to begin with, and the Signature’s foam filling built on that. The quietness combined with a very soft ride to suggest that fatigue levels will be held low even at the end of a long day. And of course low is where you want them to be: boating is supposed to be fun, not work.
The cuddy is big enough for the bunks to be used for sleeping, yet it still leaves plenty of cockpit for the boat’s prime role of fishing. This works because the cabin has been pushed right forward. It is still possible to negotiate the side decks to reach the remaining foredeck, but far easier to open the huge fore hatch and stand in the opening. An item likely to be in more demand than the bunks is the chemical toilet, stowed in a tailor made compartment.
The cockpit is clearly the result of long evolution by experienced fishermen. Everything feels right, and nothing gets in the way of movement. The carpet is an option and, sensibly, the one fitted in the review boat is held by press studs rather than glue; just roll it up before fishing if you don’t feel like washing it later.
There is an under deck locker, but the catch is more likely to be stored in the monster sized icebox. This lives below the driver’s seat, which, unlike the pedestal mounted passenger seat, is carried on a metal frame straddling the icebox.
Boats seldom have enough provision for storing oddments, but the Signature has done its best. Instead of a glove box, in the dash ahead of the passenger is a shallow top-loading locker. Shallow is good, of course, as otherwise stuff gets buried and forgotten. There are double rows of side pockets, the lowers fitted with rod racks and also with a step for reaching the side deck. Generally fibreglass boats’ pockets are too fragile for standing on, but of course people will do just that – sometimes with dire results.
The coamings are reassuringly high for fishing and padded too. This includes across the transom, above where the lounge folds and tucks in flush. The side grab rails too are flush, removing potential snags. Toe recesses neatly match the padding allowing secure and safe standing.
The detail of this boat delights, a couple of items particularly hitting my eye. Under the coaming aft are three colour coded master switches for the batteries, one each for house, starting and emergency ganging – far simpler than the single multi position alternative.
The other item is also electrically related. To service the wiring and electronics at the dash some boats first require you to remove as many as ten screws from a panel and then work within the confines of the cabin. With the Signature you just unlatch two clips and hinge back the whole of the dash. Brilliant.
Price as reviewed $81,700
Length overall 6.25m
Hull length 5.95m
Fuel capacity 200L
Motor fitted 140hp Suzuki four-stroke
Towing weight 1,960kg