Centred on Basics

Coraline 500 Series

MIKE BROWN
The Sunday Times, June 20, 2009

Coraline 500 Series Centre Console

It's not often nowadays that the built-in fuel tank of a 5m boat is an optional extra.

But this is the part of the spirit of the Coraline 500 Centre Console, a boat with all the essentials but with a list of extras or deletions that adjust the price pretty much to what anyone wishes or can afford to pay.

The review boat was pampered with the tank, a T-top, console cover and nav lights that added $3020 to the price. Had we really wanted to splash out, we could have had the hull painted for another $2350 and added a kill tank for $1320.

The price is adding up now, and Coraline's point looks sound: why pay for more than you want or need?

The basic boat with a 50hp two-stroke costing $26,629 is still a well-equipped boat and will do a good inshore job.

I am specifying inshore mainly because of that 50hp motor, and also because of the portable fuel tanks with limited capacity. If I were ranging more widely I would prefer to have something like the 70hp Yamaha two-stroke the review boat had on the back.

Two up, the likely number for most of the boats life, performance is sprightly and there is enough power for the power trim to be effective with only small movements.

I would definitely like the 80L of the built-in tank to cope with the consumption of a bigger carburetted two-stroke and the throttle openings the 500's good ride encouraged.

Part of the ride quality comes from the nature of a centre console: the driving position is well aft, behind where impact with the ocean usually happen. Not that we had many of those on our gentle-to-moderate day.

This sort of day is the kind boats in this size range mostly get used on, ending on a run home with the sea breeze. We did a high-speed downwind run to simulate this and it was quite exhilarating.

Two-strokes are seldom quiet at speed and ours was no exception, but the hull did not make the usual aluminium contribution to total decibels. Partly because the rigidity of a small hull built entirely in 4mm plate, perhaps, but mostly because of the foam filling beneath the deck.

Protection is fair for the driver and so-so to poor for everyone else - as with most centre consoles. The driver gets full use of a decent windscreen and the T-top's shade.

Although Spartan is the adjective that leaps to mind for this boat, Coraline clearly believes that there are some essentials that have to be included: carpet for one.

There may be better (and more expensive) deck coverings, but aluminium decks need something to insulate the feet.

THe carpet extends to the raised platform forward that has storage below it and has been given a removable swivel seat. Seating is fairly generous for a small centre console.

Bow rails often have only a decorative function, but these are typically heavyweight Coraline examples.

Other metalwork around the bow shows no penny pinching either: anchor handling gets a bowsprit and roller and a roomy cable well.

At the other end, quarter-seat passengers have side grab rails, and the transom has a boarding platform and ladder.

The trailer was a surprising component of a price-conscious package: it had brakes - mechanical discs. Hats off to Coraline for a triumph of safety over cost.

Quite apart from the 500's economic attractions, the boat has a lot of appeal. No-frills, easy-maintenance fishing boats have a charm of their own.

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