| Marlin Broadbill has upgraded the 'baby' of its fleet into a smarter looking and drier riding cat. James Hill reports on this impressive new offshore sports cat. |
It is always pleasing to come back to a boat you've previously tested and find the builder really has tried improve those 'problem areas.'
Such is the case with the Sydney built Marlin Broadbill 5 metre which we recently revisit in its new guise as the Marlin Broadbill Offshore Sports 620.
This boat has not only been improved in terms of its finish and interior design, but also the wetness factor has been considerably reduced.
In a recent test in moderately rough water off Botany Bay we found the spray was coming out a lot further back on the topsides. This is due to the introduction of a new set of spray deflection rails above the bulbs.
Going to extra long outboards has also helped in this regard by allowing more bow-up trim. We also think the extra long legs have improved the speed performance and really improved handling all round.
We were testing the boat in an ocean swell of about 1.5 metres, pretty typical of the sort of conditions you'd get a run out to Browns Mountain, a popular offshore Sydney fishing spot.
This test again confirmed this cat with the funny 'bulb-bows' really is the softest riding of the multis when it comes to direct head-on wave riding. The bulbs really do help to cushion the hard hits and allow you to run at a higher speed offshore than you would ever get away in most other boats.
However design work is a frustrating business at it still seems the Marlin still has a way to go in totally solving the wetness problem. Our test photos reveal the hulls are still throwing up some big walls of spray, even if further back. These could still led to a bit of spray blow-back into the cockpit, especially in strong winds. We couldn't really tell this during this particular run as the wind was not very strong at all.
The Marlin Broadbill also still digs in hard in turns and falls behind some of the other cats this size in terms of 'tumability.' However, you can make the boat turn easier if you play the throttles right and avoid that outside hull digging in too hard.
Certainly the Marlin Broadbill 620 meets most of the criteria of the 'cat-lover' with excellent rough water ability, terrific at-rest stability and the security of twin motors.
The Marlin Broadbill 620 overall shapes up well as an offshore fishing platform especially with the optional hardtop which is the best I've yet come across.
The hardtop makes a true wheelhouse which is neither stuffy or claustrophobic because it has an open back and sliding side windows. There's also a lockup cuddy which doesn't have a bunk but still gives you quite good stowage space for valuable gear you might want to lock up behind a closed doors.
Other improvements in this model include a much improved standard of finish with fairer topsides and more attractive paint job. This is certainly a big improvement over the previous model, and shows the company really has lifted its game a lot in that time.
Interior layout is essentially the same, but small detail changes have made it just that more user-friendly. It's hard to say exactly why, but my feeling is the hardtop is the major reason. The hardtop really does tidy the boat up nicely and goes well with the plate alloy construction.
Sure it looks like a mini patrol boat, but all those grab rails on the Marlin's cabin and its sensible side walkways with non-skid panels are a darn good idea when operating in open water.
The roomy self-draining cockpit and walkway between the motors are features which will certainly appeal to the hands-on boater who go out in all sorts of weather. The cockpit self-drains via a double-baffled scupper system in the outboard wells and offers a quite deep internal freeboard of 73cm. The wide, flat side decks are also just the right size for comfortable sitting and have sensibly recessed grab rails.
This boat comes ready to fish except for the electronics, you get four heavy-duty rod holders - all positioned back aft as well as a fully plumped bait tank (port side) and raised cutting board (starboard side).
The aft bulkhead also features a set of tackle draws as well as the walkway which allows you to fish out past the back of the outboards. The walkway also has an opening door which will be handy for pulling in really big fish! There's also a checkerplate alloy cockpit floor which has a snap-in carpet which can be removed for cleaning, or replacing.
The wheelhouse naturally provides a very dry area for mounting electrics, including radios up high on the underside of the roof. The dash space is quite generous for mounting sounders, GPS, radar units etc and is sensibly finished in a dark waterproof carpet to reduce reflective glare.
The helm station also provides an angled instrument dash with sports wheel and switch panel for all possible electrics. There's also two grab handles and Reelax pedestal seats mounted atop pedestal boxes. You also get bulkhead footrests for the driver and passenger, helm compass and overhead light.
Up for'ard the Marlin Broadbill features a bow rail and bowsprit to carry the anchor on deck. There's a combined forehatch and anchor locker as well as non-skid panels to ensure a secure footing when handling the anchor. Not that you want to be in the habit of working for'ard when you are at sea, but least with this boat you can do so in reasonable safety.
Performance; We again tested the boat with a pair of three-cylinder Yamaha 70s, but this time with the extra long legs which gave us much greater freedom in terms of trim operation. The boat certainly achieved better performance figures - top of 33 knots, and a mid speed range of 21 knots (4000 rpm) and a low of 12 knots (3000 rpm).
Overall I felt these motors were very well matched to this size of boat, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of going for a touch more power if you were regularly carrying a heavier payload. The boat is in fact rated to carry motors up to twin 90hp.
It was interesting to note how a bit of extra bow-up trim enabled the hull to break out and achieve a better top end speed. As with most cats the Marlin actually goes better with a bit of wind and chop under the hull. In really calm waters we couldn't get over 31 knots, but out on the bay with a bit of wind and a small chop the boat was able to achieve its best speed.
It's worth noting here that Marlin is built very much to commercial grade standards and has things you won't find in many other boats this size such as hydraulic steering, and marine grade electrical wiring routed through conduit tubes bilge pump. You also get heavy duty checkerplate flooring, toughen glass windows and fully vented aluminium fuel tanks with fuel filters in the lines. There is also separate raised battery compartments, master switch to isolate the two batteries and interior/nav lights. All this is part of the standard boat along with a good quality two-pack paint job and quite solid construction.
Many of the Marlin Broadbills are built for commercial use and no doubt this is why their private models are also pretty solidly built.
Marlin Broadbill has made a big effort to improve the quality of finish on their boats since we last looked at the marque. This can only be good news for the boat buyer because it lifts the level of competition in this end of the market and makes other manufacturers try harder.
It's also pleasing to see Marlin Broadbill has at long last conformed to the industry standard of calling a boat by its true, overall length. Hence this boat is now called a 6.2m, rather than a 5m model as it was previously called.
This new length rating will no doubt improve the boat's image in the marketplace because people will now realise it really is a much bigger boat than they previously thought.
Value for money is actually quite good for a six metre cat being only $46,000 including a custom built alloy trailer (with Alko suspension) which shaves several hundred kilos off the weight of a normal steel frame trailer.
Even if you were to go to town on top line electronics you could therefore still keep the price of this boat within a budget of fifty thousand bucks. That's no bad value!
The lighter trailer brings the on-road trail weight down to about 1600 kg which puts it in the ball park of most of the medium to larger sized 4WDs and even some of the larger cars.
The company also offers the 620 in a soft top version cuddy as well as a centre console version. Other trailerable models go up to 8.2m, but you can have even bigger Marlin Broadbills going to 12 or more metres. Most of the factory output is actually geared to the larger sized boats of 7m plus, so they don't built that many of these smaller models.