50 Hours in a Crusher!

SINCE taking delivery of the new Fishing World Bar Crusher 620C earlier this year, I’ve put plenty of road and sea miles on it. It’s been towed it north to Coffs Harbour chasing snapper and then south to Merimbula in an abortive mission targeting southern bluefin tuna. In between I’ve put in a stack of hours in and around my local waters on the NSW South Coast, fishing it in conditions ranging from flat calm to pretty bloody horrible.

With 54.35 hours now on the E-TEC 175, I feel I can offer up a fairly comprehensive initial assessment of the boat’s performance characteristics.

Like all Bar Crushers, the 620C boasts an aggressive deep vee hull. This hull design is what provides the boat with the capacity for a smooth, safe ride in rough seas.  However, a deep vee hull comes with a couple of notable downsides: that is, they are often excessively tender at rest and when underway.

Bar Crusher has overcome the stability issues inherent to this sort of hull with its innovative water ballast chamber, which floods when the boat is stationary.  And the tendency for deep vee hulls to “fall over” when travelling has been addressed on the 620C with the use of trim tabs. My previous Crusher, a 5.5m model, didn’t have tabs and used to lean into the wind when underway. This is not an issue in the 620C as I can easily control the hull’s lateral movement via the trim tab controls on the dash. As a matter of interest, I’ve found the best general performance is with the starboard tab set at five, the port tab at zero and the engine trimmed out to 27 per cent (a bit over halfway).

With the trim tabs and engine set up properly, I’ve found the Crusher offers a stable, smooth and comfortable ride in most sea conditions. Yesterday I fished the Banks off Greenwell Point with my brother-in-law Gary. Conditions were perfect until we got about five miles out and it became obvious an unexpectedly strong current was causing the sea to stand up big time over the surrounding reef. The kingfish were holding just north and east of the main hump and the seas around this area were a confused mess of pressure waves and boiling current. I won’t say it was comfortable – it most definitely wasn’t – but it was definitely fishable and I had no issues driving the Crusher into the maelstrom so we could drop our live slimies down into the mass of kingies showing on the sounder.

After an hour or two of livebaiting and jigging – we both caught solid kings and lost even solider ones – I was pretty happy with the performance of the hull in the sloppy and unpredictable conditions. I’d earlier fished the Crusher with Fisho’s Mick Fletoridis and Sami Omari in solid 2m seas out of Coffs Harbour. These conditions were a little more predictable – just southerly swell with wind chop on top – and I was impressed then with the Crusher’s overall stability while drifting over shoals and bommies casting plastics for reds. This latest excursion out to the Banks in conditions that were far nastier made me feel even more confident in the boat’s sea-keeping ability. Various other expeditions trolling offshore for tuna, jigging, bait fishing, spinning, drifting and just generally mucking about in conditions ranging from pleasant to fair lead me to say without any hesitation that this is an ideal all-round offshore fishing boat.

However, no boat is perfect. Driving in sloppy conditions sees spray come in over the Bar Crusher’s low windscreen. You can pull the folding roof down and stop cold seawater whacking you in the face, but I just don’t like driving while hunched down and peering out. It has to be said that I’m fairly tall at 183cm and a shorter driver would probably have no issue seeing through the screen with the roof down. Also, in rough conditions, as we experienced when making long runs in big swells out of Coffs, water drips through the side clears as they are bunched up with the roof down. The fully enclosed cabin in my previous project boat, a Stabicraft 659SC, spoilt me – a waterproof cabin is just so damn good!

I understand Bar Crusher now offer a fully enclosed 620HT, as it has already done with the 640HT. I might put the hard word on them to cut my folding roof off and replace it with the HT cabin. Until then I’m going to design up a set of clears to go between the roof and the windscreen – it won’t be perfect but it’ll be better than copping a face full of spray! Having said this, there are a lot of fishos who love to be able to see over the windscreen rather than through glass or clears. A fully enclosed cabin with full height glass or clears is great for keeping you dry in really windy conditions, but on a nice day it’s hard to beat the more open set up.

The loaner E-TEC 175 fitted to the 620C is the max rated horsepower for the hull. This hi-tech DI two stroke is part of a 2.5 litre 60 degree V6 “small block” family that also includes the 150 and 200. I’m a fan of DI two-strokes like the E-TEC (and other brands such as Mercury’s Optimax and Yamaha’s HPDI) as they offer excellent power-to-weight ratios and instant power. You slam the throttle down and these donks just take off! Four-stroke technology is starting to catch up with the DI two-strokes as far as lightness and instantaneous grunt is concerned, but there’s still a way to go.

The Bar Crusher’s E-TEC is fitted with an 18-inch Viper stainless steel three blade prop and delivers excellent overall performance. I’m particularly happy with its performance and fuel economy when trolling deep divers and jetheads for tuna at 8-9 knots and at cruise speeds of about 24 knots (a speed the boat seems to like travelling at in all but the worst sea conditions). Like all modern outboard engines, the E-TEC starts first turn of the key and there is minimal visible smoke or exhaust fumes. The engine features twin iCommand gauges which provide a wealth of diagnostic and performance data; I’ve also got the engine linked up via NMEA 2000 cables to my Simrad NSE sounder/GPS.

I previously owned a 3.2 litre E-TEC 200 H.O. This engine was part of Evinrude’s “big block” family. Both engines share the same DI two-stroke technology; however, the H.O. had a larger capacity V6 90 degree engine and was factory tuned for maximum power (it was rated at about 218hp). Noisewise, the bigger V6 engine possessed a lower growl than the 175 and also seemed quieter at idle and low revs. Both engines share the out-of-the-hole power I really like. The 175 gets the relatively light Bar Crusher up on the plane and boogieing along with minimal effort – you apply power, the boat is suddenly doing 20 knots.  Pretty cool!

Weight wise, the E-TEC 175 comes in at about 200 kilos, well under the Crusher’s 280kg transom weight limit.

Performance Data
The following RPM, speed and fuel figures are based on GPS recorded speeds with engine data available via NMEA 2000 run through the Simrad’s INFO screen. The boat was loaded with two on board, fishing gear and 150l of fuel. The speed/fuel test runs were conducted with the trim tabs fully raised and the engine trimmed correctly.

500 rpm – idle – 1lph
1000rpm – 4.4knots – 1.70lph
2000rpm – 7.1 knots – 10.3lph
3000rpm – 21 knots – 17lph
4000 – 27 knots – 28lph
5000 – 34.6 knots – 56.8lph
WOT – 36 knots – 65lph  
I recorded a fast cruise 25.5 knots at 4260rpm using 44lph with the trim tabs set for maximum performance (starboard tab set at five and port tab at zero).

Not enough attention is paid to boat trailers yet they are an essential component of the entire package. You can have the best hull in the world matched with the latest high performance outboard but if your trailer is crap then you’ll be definitely be one unhappy camper.

Bar Crusher recommends custom Easy Tow trailers for its boats and there’s no way I’d buy one of these boats without a matching Easy Tow. They are designed to best suit a Bar Crusher’s hull. You might find some Bar Crusher dealers offering cheaper trailers but believe me that it’s worth forking out the extra cash for an Easy Tow.

The whole point of having a good trailer is that you don’t notice it. This is definitely the case with the Easy Tow. The rig is no fuss at all – it just does all it’s supposed to do and all you have to do is look after it. Crap trailers remind you all the time that they are crap. Bits break, things corrode, the hull never fits on properly … I’ve owned a few crap trailers in my time. Anyone else who has will know what I’m talking about!

With the Bar Crusher Easy Tow, the hull is cradled into the customised series of skids and rollers so it tows nice and low, the LED lights require no maintenance, the galvanising is excellent, the framework is sealed (thus meaning washing it down is easy), the components are all quality (mainly Alko) and it’s designed for easy drive on/drive off launches. A good trailer like this makes the whole boating experience so much easier and more enjoyable.

Wrap up
After more than 50 hours of on-water use, I’ve now good a good feel for the Bar Crusher. It takes a while to become familiar with a new boat, especially if, like me, you spent a long time in your previous boat.   

The Crusher is markedly different from the Stabi, but in many ways it’s very similar. Both boats come from factories that specialise in making fishing boats that stand out from the pack. Both have unique plate alloy design characteristics, both feature high quality materials and construction and both are aimed at serious offshore anglers.

While the Stabi was a great boat, it has to be said that the Crusher offers the same sort of outstanding performance but looks a hell of a lot sexier!

Stay tuned for upcoming issues for more on Fishing World’s Bar Crusher 620C. There’s plenty more to write about this unique and stylish Aussie built offshore sportfisher.

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