Boat Review Date: Nov 2011
Author: Mike Brown
The Signature hull, and the shape is consistent throughout the range, ensures that the bit that is deepest in the water gets the most deadrise: 33-deg. The bit that barely touches the water is a still very useful 21-deg, and the two are joined by a bottom with a concave section.
This delivers a ride that other monohulls are judged by and excellent steadiness at rest. The surprising thing it does is plane at exceptionally low speeds. Get on the plane and fuel consumption drops dramatically and the boat takes up a stance with the bow lower. We could not quite plane at the Hillarys Boat Harbour’s speed limit, but the tiny throttle opening we used indicated the hull’s low drag.
Our Signature was the 632F, the latest development of the enduring 6.3m 630. The F stands for fishing, although most Signatures are used for fishing anyway. In this case the obvious fishing feature was a stripped down look: the deck was carpeted, seats and bunks upholstered, but that was about it. Cabin, cockpit and hardtop had no soft linings.
The cabin was no afterthought. The bunks are definitely long enough for adults, there is a dedicated space for a chemical toilet and bi-fold doors to give it privacy, and the fore hatch has plenty of size for easy access to anchoring. But, using the common trick of pushing the cabin well up into the bow, it leaves room for that vital fishing feature – a large cockpit.
This is protected up front by an open hardtop, the kind leaving a good air gap above the windscreen. It protects the usual couple of seats, the passenger’s being the esky model. We actually had an icebox below it, demonstrating the size it can accommodate: the box would house a large sheep, let alone a day’s catch.
The rest of the cockpit works hard at being empty. The rear lounge folds up utterly flush, and nothing else protrudes to impede the movement of fishermen. The coamings are wide, giving room below them for rod racks and extra-capacious pockets – bins, really. Grab rails and cleats are recessed to minimize obstacles, and the coamings are high for the security of children or standing anglers. Steps are moulded in to mitigate that height, and lead to side decks wide enough for easy passage forward.
The review was a typical summer’s morning, with a vigorous easterly putting up short, sharp little seas – the kind of stuff that gets aluminium boats rattling. It was no contest at all for the Signature, and we were able to use every one of our 175 Suzuki horsepower. We found the odd wake to attack, but it was all pretty futile: this boat was designed to level out far bigger seas.
The driving position is excellent. The throttle and wheel fall to hand; the engine gauges are high on the dash just below the horizon; the feet are at the right height on a rest that is the lid to an ideal shoe locker. Standing puts the eyes well over the windscreen, and an overhead grab rail is in exactly the right spot.
The radio is in an overhead console, leaving acreage of dash clear for fishing electronics. The passenger side of the dash has a dished top for odds and ends, and alongside is a bin for more junk than anyone should take afloat.
Signatures are expensive, which explains why more people do not own them, but the price is not inflated for prestige: these boats are built to endure hard work. The hulls are foam filled, built using double bias matting, and you get a ten year structural warranty on them; the special gel coat stays shiny after years of sun; the vinyl upholstery has around six times the wear resistance of the usual stuff. You just have to decide if you can handle $80,000 and upwards for a 21-footer.
The pre-eminent offshore fishing boat, offering space, sea keeping and stability. Makes a handy weekend cruiser too.
Price from $79,990
Hull length 6.3m
Fuel capacity 175L
Fresh water 45L
Towing weight 2100kg, approx
Motor fitted 175hp Suzuki four-stroke