Lots of boat and price is right

By Mike Rose

Latest offering from Fish City combines fish-ability with safety for the family.
Latest offering from Fish City combines fish-ability with safety for the family.

It seems we are coming out of the recession caused by the global financial crisis, and it is great to see that several boat manufacturers are still focusing on offering good value-for-money craft.

Boat dealer and now boat manufacturer Fish City is by no means the only one doing this, but it is one of the most successful.

Its latest offering is the FC580, an innovative 5.9m LOA aluminium boat that sells for $39,995, with a 90hp outboard and a trailer.

In contrast to earlier Fish City models, the FC580 is a bit more of an all-purpose trailer boat rather than a fishing-focused one.

The side decks are high, giving good protection for younger members of the family, there are extra seats aft and a range of seating options, including the possibility of a king/queen passenger seat.

The FC580 is also a very safe vessel with Fish City's two built-in stability systems, a sealed floor and good underfloor buoyancy.

The company - like several others - incorporates a passive flooding keel system. This is simply a section of the keel that is hollow with an aft-facing opening. When the boat comes off the plane, water floods into the open section of the keel, settling the vessel deeper into the water and providing good stability.

When the boat sets off again, the water drains out the back.

The FC point of difference is that it also fits a controllable ballast system. Operated with a simple release valve near the helm, the system enables the skipper to add a controlled amount of forward ballast, then dump it when it is no longer needed.

The combination of the two systems (and a gull-wing hull shape) makes the FC580 one of the most stable aluminium boats of its size at rest; one can easily stand two adults on one side of the boat and hardly notice it.

Although slightly under 6m, the FC580 has a real "big boat" feel, adding to its innate sense of safety.

This is thanks largely to the wide side decks, which extend outside the hull, the extended gunwales and a raised sheer line. These two also provide good, easy access around the sides to the foredeck.

This is particularly important because the FC580 also has a forward casting platform at the bow. Able to be accessed from either side deck or through a large hatch in the cuddy, it is large enough to stand on safely - providing the sea is reasonably calm - and, thanks to those ballast systems, is very stable.

It is the sort of feature that would have been a bit of a waste before the advent of soft baits and the myriad new types of jigs, but is now likely to prove popular.

As Fish City managing director Ross Christensen points out, the platform adds another dimension to the boat, allowing anglers to cast their baits, soft baits or jigs virtually anywhere they want.

It also, depending on the type of fishing being done, creates another fishing space and therefore room for another angler.

I am a firm believer that it is not possible for more than two people, three at the absolute most, to fish successfully from the cockpit of a boat of this size; the FC580's platform creates space for one more.

The FC580's helm is well-protected and positioned for good all-round visibility. The curved windscreen co-ordinates well with the bimini canopy and, if conditions are inclement, adding clears will help keep those on board warm and dry.

Small storage shelves on either side of the helm are excellent for keys, cellphones and the like, and a convenient handrail runs right across the dash area.

As the FC580 is primarily a fishing boat, the cabin is just a cuddy - somewhere dry and out of the way to stow stuff.

There are no bunks, but floor rails stop gear from sliding back into the cockpit - a feature often overlooked by aluminium-boat manufacturers.

Standard seating is two pedestal seats, although, as mentioned, a king/queen style arrangement is an option. There are also fold-down seats in the aft quarters of the cockpit.

The standard FC live-bait tank is under the cockpit well, and there is room for four tote tanks (two per side) flanking it.

The transom has a built-in shelf for storing miscellaneous items such as tackle boxes and the battery sits below this, housed up off the floor in its own compartment.

Construction is standard aluminium - 5mm for the hull bottom and 4mm for the topsides and cabin. This makes it fairly easy to power and Fish City sells its standard model with a 90hp two-stroke Mercury outboard. This will, with a light load, give a top speed of about 35 knots, which is probably all one needs.

Those who are planning to take more people or heavier loads - a party of divers, for example - might want to consider upgrading to a 115hp motor.

The great thing about the 90hp, however, for those who do not need the extra power, is that it helps keep the weight and the cost down.

With it, the trailerable weight of the FC580 is 1020kg, meaning it is not only easy to tow with an ordinary vehicle but is also possible to launch from the beach.

Since the first release a couple of years ago, one of the FC range's key selling points has been the price of the packages.

The FC580 is no exception. With its 90hp Mercury, a single-axle trailer, the bimini canopy and an unpainted hull it costs $39,995.

As pictured, with a painted hull and a Humminbird sounder/chartplotter, the FC580 costs $42,995.

For a near-6m boat with twin stability systems, a forward casting platform and an integral live-bait well, that's not bad - not bad at all.

- NZ Herald

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