Archer Plate Boats 679 Cabin
Coming out of the darkness of the world economic tunnel, Telwater has emerged from the gloominess with exciting changes for its 2010 range including this edition’s review vessel, the Archer Plate Boats 679 Cabin, as BARRY WISEMAN reports.
SO new was this rig the guys at Yunderup Marine near Mandurah were still fitting the hydraulic fuel system to the steering mechanism for the Honda 150hp four-stroke outboard on the transom when I arrived for the review.
Only a couple of days earlier the east-west transporter had unloaded the Archer Plate Boats 679 Cabin, fresh from the parent Telwater factory on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Dealer principals Kevin and Sharon Phillips had got to take their first close look at this new vessel a week or so earlier. Now, with the motor fitted and the boat fueled up, Kevin and I headed to the Port Bouvard Marina to see what it could do.
With an overall length of 7.44 metres, the rig towed beautifully on the aluminium tandem-axle trailer and launching was a breeze. As the keel glided off the rollers and the boat settled alongside the jetty the fine entry on this vessel was very noticeable. The box-shaped keel was also very prominent. Telwater has been very busy changing the hull designs on its range and this bow was something we had not seen before.
Just how fine an entry it offered was later demonstrated from a standing start out in the middle of the Harvey Estuary. Kevin hit the throttle while I worked the stopwatch. From zero to 6000 revs and a speed of 30 knots in just SEVEN seconds. Not happy with the one-off performance, we did it again … and again. The fine entry and the 150hp Honda on the transom gave a very impressive performance. More on that later.
The Stacer 679 is well suited to blue ocean conditions not only because of that fine entry but also the cabin with its full-sized bunks. As this boat was being unloaded in the West two firm sales had already gone to a couple of Tasmanian fishermen who had quickly recognised its ability to handle the rough stuff. The foredeck is all cabin roof with a good-sized hatch accessible from inside to get to your anchor well. While this would be the preferred way to the bow, there is still room to walk around the outside if you had to.
Any water coming over the front would quickly run off or around the curved perspex two-piece windscreen. Knowing just how our local conditions can throw up the spray and green water, Kevin had clears fitted to this model as soon as it came off the truck. They were the only additional equipment on the rig, the rest coming as standard although the VHF marine radio was still to be fitted.
The cabin roof is very high when you sit inside and there are large shelves port and starboard, plus storage under the bunks. An infill cushion converts the single bunks into a double bed.
The bulkhead from the cabin to the cockpit has been left open and the kids could play in safety and a canvas cover could always be fitted for privacy.
Recognising the popularity of plate aluminium boats, Telwater produced the 679 using 5mm bottom plates and 4mm on the topside. The transom has been beefed up with 5mm plate and the vessel is rated to accommodate 250hp, but as demonstrated on this preview day the 150hp did the job well … and it was economic.
At nearly 7.5m in length and a beam of 2.4m the weight of the hull is 990kg, plus the weight of what ever engine you go for. It’s a solid boat.
HANDLES WITH EASE
On the trailer the rig comes in close to 2200kg but on the water it handles with ease. Making tight figure-eight turns at 24 knots was not problem at all. The hydraulic steering makes it easy and the pick-up from the Honda had us tracking along without a care. All that were missing were the fishing rods and a few crab nets.
While it was a perfect day on the water and we were going to go through the Cut to the ocean outside to find any sort of chop, the vessel sliced through the water with hardly a sound of that familiar ‘banging’ you get from ali boats.
Basic foam floatation is added under the sealed deck which would help baffle the sound of water impacting on the hull, but on the estuary the running noises were at a minimum.
We decided to do our high-speed runs in the conditions. I got Kevin to run through the rev range, calling out the details at 1000 rpm increments. They were 2000rpm at eight knots, 3000rpm at 12 knots, 4000 rpm at 20 knots, 4600rpm at 24 knots (cruising), 5000rpm at 27 knots and 6000 revs at 32 knots.
The below-deck fuel tank held 250 litres and we were running about half full. The Honda 150hp handled the job well and although the boat can take another 100hp on top of that I’m not sure you would want to spend the extra dollars and incur extra running expenses.
Yunderup Marine elected to fit analogue engine gauges to the dash, giving a clear read out of engine revs and speed, plus trim-tilt and fuel tank capacity.
On the wide dash shelf a Humminbird 1197c GPS fishing system had been fitted, which included the side-screen sonar for those chasing bream hiding among the fallen trees on the banks of the Mandurah estuary system. We selected our speed readings in knots on the Humminbird and if you really wanted your performance gauges with a digital readout the Humminbird could be hooked up to the engine management system no trouble at all.
The combo sonar and chartplotter display on the 28cm screen during our sunny conditions produced an excellent picture and the unit was capable of holding 3000 waypoints and 50 routes. All the information data was in bold figures and the letters at the base of the screen made it easy to read without the need for spectacles.
AT THE HELM
Taking the helm I found sliding into the skipper’s seat offered a relaxing and comfortable ride. The aluminium piping footrests were exactly right for me. For anyone taller it would just be a matter of adjusting the seat back on the sliding mechanism underneath. Kevin and I were of a similar height and it was just right. I could sit back in the comfortable armchair, my feet firmly resting on the bar and ready to take any sudden impact.
I felt at home straight away and the vision was clear all round. Kevin had settled back in the passenger seat and we had clear water ahead.
The Honda BF150hp is a very quiet motor and the selection from neutral into forward gear was done without any resistance whatsoever. The four-stroke features Honda’s VTEC technology giving the engine smooth acceleration and power on demand. The engine technology is based on the same motor that powers the Honda Accord motor vehicle.
With the engine trimmed in we were planing in no time at all and the ride was very quiet. Trimming out, the boat picked up speed without any increase in throttle power and the hydraulic steering made handling a breeze.
The Humminbird combo unit was set to the left of centre at the helm, leaving a clear view over the bow. A small compass was flush mounted next to the engine gauges and there was room under the steering wheel for mounting the VHF marine radio.
I was the first member of the public to ride in this brand new vessel and other boat tests were planned for later in the week. This big ali plate model and a centre console version are already turning heads and attracting much attention as bluewater boats for fishermen, but Telwater has also made significant changes to its overall range of smaller pressed aluminium boats popular on in-shore waterways. The bow has been changed and is now a finer entry and the company has aimed to make the interiors bigger.
It’s great to see a company displaying its confidence in the future of the marine industry as it looks ahead for a better year this coming spring and summer. As this edition of Western Angler went to print Telwater dealers around the country and the boating media were being introduced to the new range and the vessels were on order to take their place at boat shows in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Mandurah and Darwin.
Yunderup Marine has been a Telwater dealer for nearly two years and has already made its mark. The company was voted West Australian Dealer of the Year from the 2008/9 financial year and the award is proudly displayed on the counter in its well-stocked showrooms.
Looking at the Archer Plate Boats 679 Cabin while it is still on the trailer there are several welcome features for anglers.
The berley tube is fixed through the checker plate transom as a fixture, while the baitboard is two-tiered with a shelf for lures, sinkers and tools, plus it holds four rod holders. There’s a fold-down door in the transom which doubles as a step into the cockpit. The surface of the door has non-slip rubber attached for safety.
The safety railing at the bow and along the port and starboard sides is polished rather than painted so you’re not going to remove any paintwork while sliding craypots over the side or hoisting ropes over the side.
The gunwales are very wide with a rounded inside edge and very comfortable to sit on while dangling a line. The targa holds five rod holders and a canopy in place, and can be collapsed back into the cockpit for storage at home or when towing long distance to reduce wind drag.
The sealed deck is constructed from checker plate and the review boat was left without carpet. This is a plus for washing down with the deck-wash pump which comes as standard equipment, but it means you would have to make sure you are wearing good non-slip shoes or sandals to beat the heat on what would turn into a hot plate on scorching summer days. Rubber matting would be the answer, or removable carpet that can be hung over the side and hit with the hose to get rid of stains.
There’s a below-deck kill tank and while it’s not huge it will hold a good feed. Twin batteries are mounted on a rear shelf under the baitboard, keeping them off the deck and easy to get to. The battery switch is located nearby.
A big feature of this boat is the amount of working space available on the rear deck. There’s plenty of room to stack four rock lobster pots for a couple of cray fishers come November. Dive racks could be fitted to the side pockets to accommodate cylinders for scuba enthusiasts and there’s room to move about when taking the family out for a swim and picnic.
The side pockets are very deep and run the full length of the cockpit. There’s a partition, but the pocket continues past the skipper and passenger seats and into the cabin where they widen with the curve to the bow. They are very practical.
As I mentioned earlier, access to the anchor well at the bow is via the hatch in the roof of the cabin, which is great. In a decision which will please us here in WA, where we can use a sand anchor and a rock anchor on the same expedition, Telwater has fixed in place two anchor tubes on each side of the bow. While the rock anchor is not recognised as an approved and safe anchor, most of us working the reefs have them on board, but storage is a problem. Most operate the two so you need a big anchor well to accommodate two ropes. Alternatively you swap anchors, using the same chain and rope. This well is large and could take a two-rope operation.
My only complaint about this area up front is that anchor cleat is too small in my opinion. It’s a 15cm cleat without enough room to take a few turns of rope and locking hitch. This size boat is capable of heading well offshore into some very sloppy conditions or over reef if you are working scuba divers. As we know the anchoring point takes a lot of hard knocks, jolts and jerks in our waves and swell off the west coast and needs to be strong and secured to the frame of the boat where possible. I would be talking to Kevin at Yunderup Marine about beefing up the existing one.
IN THE BLUE
Having done our high-speed runs inside on the estuary we headed through the Dawesville Cut and onto the Indian Ocean on a south-westerly course.
With a north-easterly wind behind us the vessel sliced through the one-metre swell with ease and no hint of spray across the screen.
The vessel delivered an extremely soft ride sitting on 24 knots and just over 4000 revs. As we turned north and into the wind we experienced a slight bang under the bow as we were side-on into the slop. We headed back at 24 knots getting a bit of air under the nose, but there was certainly no complaint about the ride. The sharp entry definitely works and assisted in giving us a soft and comfortable ride.
- There are many excellent features about this boat. It’s practical, gives plenty of work space out the back and offers a soft ride on the water.
- Fold-down targa and canopy for easier storage under the carport or to reduce wind drag during long distance towing on the custom-built aluminium trailer.
- Self-draining sealed deck.
- Rigged for fishing with practical baitboard, livebait well and berley bucket built into the transom.
- I would go for a more robust bollard on the foredeck for anchoring up in WA’s rough conditions.
- The checker plate deck is solid and adds strength so you need to don protective footwear that won’t slip or add rubber matting so fishing offal can be quickly hosed away.
FACT AND FIGURES
Model: Archer Plate Boats 679 Cabin
Type: Plate aluminium
O’all length: 7.44m
Power: Honda 150hp four-stroke (250hp max)
Fuel: 250 litres
Bottom plate: 5mm
Top plate: 4mm
No. of people: 7
Pricing: $78,000 (includes offshore safety equipment and Humminbird 1197c combo electronics)
The test boat was provided by Kevin and Sharon Phillips of Yunderup Marine, which is located at 864 Pinjarra Road, North Yunderup. Tel: 9537 7900. Email: email@example.com or visit www.yunderupmarine.com