BOAT REVIEW Offshore 650 HT Xceed

October 2020 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim, photography and video by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Offshore 650 HT
DESIGNER Alan Walker/Offshore Boats
BUILDER Offshore Boats
CONSTRUCTION 8mm hull and transom plates, 5mm decks, 4mm sides and cabin
LOA 6.5M
ENGINE Mercury Pro XS 200hp four-stroke V8
Weight on Trailer 1900 kg
Max Horsepower 200hp
Passenger Capacity 4 people
DEADRISE 18 degrees

I reviewed the Offshore 650 Pro Dive for the May 2020 edition of Boating NZ, coming away impressed by the quality of construction and the superb ride. Her new hardtop sister doesn’t disappoint either.

At the time, a hardtop version of the boat was nearing completion, but with Covid getting in the way the new model wasn’t ready until July. A second lockdown in Auckland further interfered with our plans and when we finally spent a day on board in early September, Xceed had already been in her owner’s hands for a couple of months.
Darryl Beynon and his new boat have history. While Xceed was being built he was working in the same Whangarei facility fabricating CAM aluminium trailers. These high-quality custom trailers are standard with Offshore Boats but can also be found under the boats of other manufacturers.


Already familiar with the 650 Pro Dive, which had also been built on site, Darryl became obsessed with the new HT model, eventually deciding he had to own one. After selling “all his toys” he did a deal with Offshore Boats’ Jonathan Barlow and became the owner of the first Offshore 650 HT to leave the workshop.
Darryl and fishing-mad, lure-maker son Coen form a two-man sport fishing team, getting out whenever they can. Their new boat has opened up fresh horizons for the pair, who are taking full advantage of its capabilities. Recent forays, said Darryl, have included runs to the Mokohinau Islands – “Around 50 minutes from the harbour at 30 knots burning 30 litres an hour” – and trips to the Hen and Chickens Islands, Sail Rock and various points north and south.

For Darryl, one of the appeals of this boat is her ability to maintain a high average speed in a variety of conditions, making long-distance runs less daunting and much more comfortable. As detailed in our May review, the hull is designed to deliver a comfortable ride with safe, predictable handing.
The addition of a hardtop hasn’t much changed the way the 650 hull behaves, but the HT benefits from Lenco trim tabs. Hardtops raise a boat’s centre of mass, which affects lateral stability, and hardtop boats are always more bothered by cross winds than comparable soft tops, so the tabs help trim the boat laterally.
The advantages of the hardtop include much better protection from the elements and more creature comforts, along with the ability to sleep overnight in the cabin’s 1.95m-long berths. There’s a toilet under the infill squab.

We joined Darryl and Coen aboard Xceed for some fishing and diving fun out of Marsden Cove in Whangarei Harbour, accompanied by Jonathan Barlow and his son Thomas in the support and camera boat, a 650 Pro Dive. The weather was fine with a cool southwest breeze, predicted to drop away as the day wore on.
First stop was Urquharts Bay where the divers spent a surprisingly short time securing boat limits of juicy scallops. It was early in the season, but the scallops were in pretty good nick and I was looking forward to sharing a rare treat with my family.

Xceed is set up with less of a diving focus than the Pro Dive version (the name says it all), but still serves scuba divers well. There’s ample storage for dive bottles in the side pockets and an underfloor wet locker – the underside of the hatch is cut away to securely locate two bottles.
The swim step and drop-down dive ladder work well enough and there’s ample space in the cockpit for divers to gear up and sort the catch. A pull-out acrylic door allows easy step-through boarding access.
Xceed has 30 litres of freshwater on board, but it was the saltwater wash-down we used to sluice the decks after the scallops were sorted. Water on deck drains to a sump where it’s dispatched overboard by the bilge pump. Separate pumps service each of the wash-downs (fresh and salt), and also the integrated tuna tubes either side of the transom.

With our share of scallops safely stowed in Xceed’s livebait tank under the transom walkthrough, we headed out through the churning waters at the entrance to Whangarei Harbour. It’s like being in a washing machine. As usual, there were plenty of pressure waves to contend with and it always surprises me how far the disturbed water extends into Bream Bay, exacerbated on this occasion by the south-west breeze and leftover slop from the hard blow of the night before.
We punched our way through the harbour entrance and eventually emerged into calmer waters out in the bay. The 650 HT dealt with the steep pressure waves pretty well and ran nice and dry. There’s single windscreen wiper on the driver’s side of the curved, one-piece tempered glass windscreen, which provides excellent vision over the bow.

Underway, the 650 HT feels like a bigger boat, especially in choppy conditions. Some of that can be put down to 8mm hull plates and an 8mm transom supporting the 200hp V8 Mercury Pro XS; the decks and sides are 5mm and 4mm thick respectively. This is a heavily-built boat for its size, so it feels reassuringly solid – the hull should last a lifetime.
Once in calmer water, we could cross the swell at a decent clip on our way south towards an area where there had been plenty of work-up activity in recent days. With no birds immediately visible, Coen suggested a few drifts across some of the foul ground that makes up Three Mile Reef.

The fishfinder screen on the 16-inch Simrad NSS evo III MFD quickly showed good fish sign in 25-30m of water, which was confirmed by the first snapper of the day, taken on a soft bait. The Beynons were carrying plenty of ice onboard, stored in a large insulated catch bag that fitted handily under one of the berths in the cabin.
A pair of Icey Tek chilly bins normally slide under the cantilevered seats, each secured to a dedicated welded ring on the seat support with a bungee cord. The chilly bins also serve as rear-facing seats, but they’d been left at home to make more space in the cockpit.
Successive drifts produced well-conditioned snapper at regular intervals, but with a fishing tackle store’s worth of top-end rods and reels in the 11-position rocket launcher requiring some attention, the sight of dolphins and diving birds was too hard for Darryl and Coen to resist.

Pointing Xceed’s bow towards Waipu Cove, we headed towards the wheeling gannets just visible on the horizon, which quickly resolved into multiple patches of working birds and milling dolphins extending as far as we could see. The area looked very fishy, even if the sounder wasn’t exactly lighting up, but a couple of drifts among the diving gannets using jigs and topwater lures hoping to tempt a kingfish didn’t work for us.
A whale surfacing nearby caused some excitement and it clearly wasn’t alone, as an occasional spout could be seen in the distance. But for all the activity around us, kingfish fishing was unproductive and I decided to change back to a soft bait, a decision that quickly bore fruit in the form of another fat Northland snapper.

The 650 HT’s cockpit works really well from a fishing perspective, the gunnels offering good support and plenty of freeboard for offshore safety. The bait station is practical and I especially like the double width folding bait board with its timber surface and adjacent sink. The tackle drawer under the bait board is useful, as is the pair of drawers built into the gunwales on both sides.

Welded aluminium rod holders, four per gunwale, are properly angled for trolling, while rod holders across the back of the bait station provide tackle storage and somewhere to place rods when rigging up. Three drink holders/sinker holders per side are set into the coamings, which – like the cockpit sole, side decks and foredeck – are covered in black U Dek. U Dek not only looks smart, it is also warm to the touch in winter and cool in summer. It offers good grip when wet, is easy on bare feet and helps absorb hull noise.

Xceed is a quiet runner with none of the booming you sometimes get with aluminium boats. Of course, 8mm plate is fairly rigid and it’s also well-supported laterally and longitudinally, but designer Alan Walker has got the hull shape right, which is reflected by the boat’s stability at rest and comfortable, quiet progress through the water.
It’s a roomy boat as well, offering a good balance between cockpit and undercover spaces. The Pro Dive has the edge when it comes to working room on deck, but the hardtop probably has more universal appeal and certainly offers more protection from the elements.

With gannets still diving around us (but the Simrad screen perversely empty of fishy marks) we decided to head back to where we had started fishing earlier. This turned out to be a good move, resulting in a steady stream of decent-sized snapper coming aboard both Offshore 650s – by now Jonathan and Thomas in the Pro Dive had joined in the fun. We kept hoping for a really big fish, since the area had been producing a few 8-10kg snapper on soft baits in recent days, but our best fish was ‘only’ around 5kg – pretty decent nonetheless.
We kept enough snapper to feed each of our families, as well as a few fish for the crew left behind at Offshore Boats. Jonathan was planning to throw a few fillets and some fresh scallops on the BBQ for the team when he got back to work that afternoon.

With the drive to Auckland ahead of us, we left Darryl and Coen to their fishing mid-afternoon, transferring to the Pro Dive for the run back to Marsden Cove. We’d enjoyed a great day aboard an impressive trailer boat with an owner who clearly loves his Offshore 650 HT. Thanks Darryl.

All the comments I made in my review of the Pro Dive 650 are equally true for the 650 HT: superb ride, exciting performance (especially with the V8), robust construction, excellent finish and great utility, but the hardtop model adds another dimension of comfort and versatility.
Weighing in at around 1,900kg on its high-quality CAM aluminium trailer, the Offshore 650 HT an interesting addition to New Zealand’s growing list of bluewater-capable aluminium trailer boats.


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