BOAT REVIEW Broadbill 8m Walk-around

July 2016 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim Photos by Will Calver
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Broadbill 8m Walk-around
DESIGNER Warren Hay/McLay Boats
BUILDER McLay Boats
CONSTRUCTION Aluminium
PRICE AS TESTED $329,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 8.250M
BEAM 2.735M
DRAFT 0.4M
ENGINE 2 x 250hp Mercury Verado outboards
FUEL CAPACITY 550L
Weight on Trailer 3450 kg
Max Horsepower 500hp
Passenger Capacity 8 people
DEADRISE 20 degrees degrees
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fitted with Mercury JPO
  • Zipwake automatic trim tabs
  • 500hp
  • Sophisticated electronics
  • Two anchors
  • Walkaround layout
  • Self-draining cockpit
OBSERVATIONS
  • Suitable for overnighting, but no galley
  • Packed with equipment, but it costs
  • Fishing first
  • 'Skyhook' function maintains station
  • Brilliant to fish from

It’s amazing what can be achieved when passion meets know-how – and it’s superbly demonstrated in the new Broadbill 8m Walk-around.


 

Whangarei’s Warren Hay tapped into many years of sport fishing, boating and marine retailing experience, also drawing on McLay Boats’ aluminium boatbuilding expertise to produce exactly the boat he wanted: the Broadbill 8m.

Early in June Boating NZ took the boat past Whangarei Heads and out across open water to the Hen and Chickens Islands where we spent a few hours attempting to interest the resident snapper population in our soft baits.

BALEX AUTO BOAT LOADER

Even though the fishing was disappointing, especially since the Hen and Chicks often produce big snapper from the ‘wash’, it became abundantly clear the Broadbill was great for this style of fishing. By spreading ourselves around the foredeck, the side decks and the spacious cockpit we fished four anglers without getting in each other’s way.

In my experience bigger craft have certain disadvantages when fishing close to structure: they draw more water, cast a larger shadow, are more affected by wind and current.

The Broadbill’s subject to some of these limitations, but its uncluttered walk-around decks facilitate long casts and its joystick-controlled twin-outboard set-up allows pinpoint maneuvering. It even ‘anchors’ the boat in position against the wind and/or tide using the GPS Skyhook function.

The Broadbill’s a big boat. On its Toko galvanised steel trailer, slowed by a driver-adjustable Brake Commander electric-over-hydraulic break-away brake system, it weighs-in at a tad under 3500kg, the towing limit for Warren’s Ford Ranger utility. At nearly 3.0m beam it requires overwidth flags/panels and there are some minor restrictions around the time of day and where it can be towed.

The electric trailer winch is probably welcome on a boat of this size, especially as Warren sometimes launches from unformed ramps or off the beach. While driving a boat onto the trailer is not allowed at many boat ramps, the trailer’s winching post is fitted with one of McLay’s clever quick-release latch system, making driving on and off a breeze.

JOYSTICK PILOTING

Warren backed the Broadbill off the trailer and then performed some Mercury magic to bring the boat alongside the finger so we could load up. Watching a pair of 250hp Mercury Verados moving about independently of one another takes some getting used to but the end result is spectacular.

This boat is the first in Australasia to be fitted with Mercury’s flagship JPO (Joystick Piloting for Outboards) control system and it’s undeniably impressive. Fitting JPO added a fair lump of cost and complexity to the project, but Warren was determined to have the latest technology, not least because he could see many fishing applications for JPO: “I wanted this boat to push the boundaries. She’s full of leading-edge gear: steering and propulsion, electronics, trim control, communications and more.”

Apart from the ability to move the boat backwards, forwards and sideways, which gives unrivalled control when docking, JPO can be used to hold the vessel on station as determined by its built-in GPS. This function is especially useful, says Warren, when positioning the boat over fish sign or a reef, or as we demonstrated by holding the vessel just off the rocks so anglers could cast lures into the wash.

JPO will come into its own game-fishing as well, allowing the skipper to stand in the cockpit and control the boat using the joystick.

FAST FISHER

With 500hp on the transom the Broadbill’s turn of speed came as no surprise. On flat water we managed a burst of 46 knots. The hull has wide chines and a pronounced planing plank aft. At speed it runs on the plank and the props, but still feels stable, while sharp, high speed turns present no drama.

The four-bladed, counter-rotating stainless steel propellers really hang on in the turns and also provide excellent hole shots. For a big, heavy boat, the Broadbill really gets up and goes. The Verados are exceptionally quiet too.

A set of Zipwake interceptor-type trim tabs took care of lateral trim adjustment. After a bit of fiddling with manual trim adjustment I quickly reverted to automatic mode and left the Zipwakes to do their own thing. I didn’t touch them again all day, and while you’d occasionally catch them at work adjusting the boat’s trim to compensate for changing wind and sea conditions, for the most part the boat travelled nicely on an even keel and you hardly noticed they were there.

The Broadbill’s wheelhouse provides plenty of shelter. The helmsman and front seat passenger sit on deeply-padded swivelling soft-rider pedestal seats supplied by Hi-Tech Plastics. Both seats have fold-up bolsters, folding armrests and fold-down footrests.

Warren has plans to chase big game fish at the Three Kings Islands north of New Zealand. His idea is to overnight at North Cape and run out to the fishing grounds the next day. That’s reasonably ambitious for a trailer boat, but the Broadbill is set up for it.

There’s comfortable sleeping accommodation for two in the forward cabin and a plumbed toilet tucked away behind the helm console. There’s a freshwater cockpit shower and ample cold storage in the huge 160-litre Icey-Tek icebox. Warren intends to use a portable BBQ or canister stove on stay-away trips.

The boat carries two anchors, each with its own chain locker and fairlead. There’s a beefy Sarca anchor with 100m of 14mm warp and 15m of 8mm chain for general anchor duties on the starboard side and, to port, a grapnel fishing anchor with 100m of warp and 16m of 6mm chain for anchoring over foul ground. A Maxwell rope and rope-chain windlass matched with an Auto Anchor helm control takes care of both anchors.

FISHING FIRST

There are so many fishing features on this boat, it’s hard to know where to start. The transom incorporates step-throughs either side with drop-in gates to keep water out when backing up. The boarding/dive ladder is on the starboard side so the skipper has an unobscured view of divers entering and exiting the water. Incidentally, the boat backs up really well: there’s plenty of buoyancy aft and the planing plank provides lift in reverse as well.

Warren specified two live bait tanks, one in each corner, so he can fill one with jack mackerel and the other with kahawai, say. Jack macks housed with kahawai usually come off second best, so they’re best kept apart. The live bait tanks complement the row of tuna tubes built into the transom wall.

Pumps and valves, along with the Verados’ hydraulic steering pumps, are neatly tucked away under the transom, accessed through a So-Pac hatch at floor level, while the battery bank is inside a locker well-protected from the elements.

Warren hasn’t skimped on electrical power, fitting two dedicated engine start batteries and two 130Ah house batteries for general electrical duties. A BEP digital VSR monitors the state of charging and isolation switches and circuit breakers are tucked into the step-through behind a hatch cover.

The cockpit is self-draining through scuppers and there’s also a bilge pump on a 24-hour float switch. The bait station is excellent. Warren’s gone for open shelves housing a collection of clear plastic, waterproof tackle boxes, a much better system than drawers which collect water. The bait board features several knife slots, as well as extra rod holders.

With game fishing on the menu, Reelax game poles drop into special ‘rigger sockets on the rocket launcher, racks along the gunwales hold tag poles, gaffs and other long items, and there are four downrigger mounting plates complete with 12v power outlets. The power sockets are also used for electric reels. A couple of massive underfloor kill-tanks or wet/dry storage lockers in the cockpit can be used for the catch, wet dive gear or any other bulky items. The underfloor fuel tank holds 550 litres.

The two-tier rocket launcher can store up to 13 rods, 10 through-coaming rod holders perform trolling duties and there are six rod holders in the bows, four on the bait board and a pair of pitch-bait rod holders on the transom. That’s 35 rod holders to fill!

BELLS AND WHISTLES

Warren uses the bird function on his Raymarine Quantum radar to locate work-ups, and the side-scan function of the Raymarine Chirp sonar to seek out bait schools.

Two 12-inch Raymarine E127 HybridTouch MFDs can be configured to show engine data and diagnostics, radar, GPS-chartplotter and fishfinder displays. As well as side vision sonar, adjustable for angle and spread, there’s also Downvision and dual-frequency conventional sonar modes.

In addition to the MFDs, there’s a new 7-inch VesselView display showing fuel flow and range, along with large Blue Seas switch panels. Lusty and Blundell fused the panels to Warren’s specifications.

Mercury’s digital throttle and shift controls take care of the Verados, except when JPO is selected and the chunky joystick comes into play.

Overhead, two VHF radios allow Warren to monitor two channels at once – useful when trying to determine where the marlin are biting. A Fusion stereo head unit feeds speakers distributed around the boat.

BROAD APPEAL

We didn’t exactly enjoy a bumper day’s fishing but our time certainly highlighted what a brilliant sport fishing boat this is. The walk-around layout works very well. The casting platform on the bows is easily big enough to fish two and the extra height is handy for distance casting. The cockpit is brilliantly set up not only for game fishing, but lure or bait fishing of any kind, and diving too.

The Broadbill provides good protection inside the wheelhouse, which could be fully enclosed with the addition of a camper-style canvas cover for overnighting. Anglers in the bow can take advantage of a comfortable seat.

The Broadbill 8m might have been built specifically for Warren Hay, but it will certainly have far wider appeal: it won a Boat of the Show award in its category at the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in May and Warren’s already fielded expressions of interest for similar vessels.

 

 

Share