Paul and Leon Savage have some excellent sportfishing boats in their line-up and I assumed the 6.35 Commander would continue in this vein. I was right.
Streaks ahead - Looking for a no fuss boat you can take anywhere?
Looking for a no fuss boat you can take anywhere?
In my field a love of boats and all things boating is a given, but like most, there's a specific type of boat that I prefer to own. For me it's a trailable sportfisher, it's the style I get the most use from.
In 1978 I was posted to Townsville with the army. Shortly after my arrival there I became enthralled with reef fishing and outlayed a considerable sum for a well-worn 35ft Bertram flybridge (she'd see better days even then) I spent more time fixing it than actually taking it out.
She was called Barra Too. Why ? Because at the same time I also owned a 3.6m Stessl barra boat called Barra One and guess which one got used the most. You guessed it, the smaller boat. It was far cheaper (fuel wise) and much easier weather wise (it's out of the wind up a creek chasing big barra) than going to the hassle of getting the big boat off her swing mooring in Ross Creek, fuelling her up with the help of my fishing mate's wallets and putting to sea for a weekend at the reef. Don't get me wrong, I loved Barra Too and spent many days out on her chasing everything from mackerel to marlin, but when it came down to sea days, Barra One won hands down.
Things haven't changed really. I live in Sydney now, and require a boat that I can tow to the various locations along the coast where I go sportfishing, Port Stephens, Batemans Bay, Bermagui, and the odd trip north to Queensland or west to South Australia. So it was with great interest that I heard about the launch of Streaker's new 6.35 Commander.
Taking the Commander
I've been a fan of Victorian boat builders Streaker Boats for many years. Paul and Leon Savage have some excellent sportfishing boats in their line-up and I assumed the 6.35 Commander would continue in this vein. I was right.
But you soon note the subtleties in the hull that give the 6.35 Commander true bluewater capabilities. Aggressive chines (although they aren't as pronounced as some), multiple strakes, a sharp bow-entry and deadrise, high freeboard and a flare in the bow that, if hers was a much larger hull, would be classed as a classic 'Catalina' an extremely dry riding hull in boatie terms.
This boat also has many not so obvious features that propel her well into the realms of a top sportfisho such as swim platforms on each side of the outboard that are quite slim and don't extend past the motor. They are more than wide enough to aid a swimmer climbing back onboard, but not that wide that they hinder fishing.
Then there's the obligatory removable bait-prep station and port and starboard snapper rod racks; windscreen grab rail; extra large plumbed bait tank; in-floor kill tank; under-gunwale rod racks; rocket launch rod rack and bimini; cockpit flood lights and LED cockpit lighting; tackle trays mounted in seat bases; outriggers; 228lt underfloor fuel tank; deck wash; electric anchor winch; berley bucket, twin batteries and the list goes on.
Overnight stays on the fishing grounds are also possible thanks to the inclusion of a single-burner alcohol stove under the navigator's seat and a freshwater tap and sink unit in the port gunwale.
Streaker has really thought the design of this boat through, but remember this test boat was a prototype and there were a couple of things that needed to be looked at. For one, the driver's seat wasn't on a slide, so I had to stand (which I do normally, anyway) while driving to see all the engine instruments clearly. Streaker assured me that all production boats would have a slide on the driver and navigator's seats. Plus, the step-up for the cabin walk-around is too low and gets you entangled in the bimini when you try to use it. This has also been addressed.
The dash layout is good, but it doesn't have enough room directly in front of the driver to mount the GPS/sounder unit. On the test boat it was offset on the portside. The boat was fitted with a small compass, but it was also offset and couldn't be used as a sighting compass to steer a course off. Thank heavens for GPS.
Down in the cabin there's room for two burly fishos to stretch out for the night on the infill cushions, there's ample under-bunk and shelf storage and there's a flat section at the apex of the vee-berths to stand on when tackling the anchor through the wide cabin hatch. This, like the cabin walk-around decks, would be rarely used, because the boat has a quality Maxwell electric anchor winch and she runs the excellent Sarca anchor and bow roller system. An electric toilet and privacy curtain are what many these days would say are essential options.
Let's go fishing
A single 225hp four-stroke Yamaha mounted on the transom gives this boat more than enough get up and go and when I put the hammer down this boat got up and went.
She planed within seconds and topped out at 79kmh with full fuel tanks and three adults onboard, which is an indication of just how good this hull is. Cruising at 4500rpm the boat sat on 59kmh and burned only 45lt per hour. This increased to 52lt per hour at 65kmh. The Streaker boys have also spent the time to get the engine/prop set-up just right. The big Yamaha is fitted with a 14 1/8in x 18in Solas HR Titan four-blade prop that gets her planing at 21kmh pulling 2700rpm. There wasn't much chop around, or rather, there wasn't any chop during this test, so jumping my own wake was the only way of determining the boat's rough water handling. It wasn't conclusive, but the boat didn't bang.
Running noise was almost non-existent and she sliced through wakes like a hot knife through butter. The hull also turned on a dime without cavitation or tail-slip, even with the engine well trimmed out, although I did find the steering quite heavy, especially when turning to starboard. Maybe a bigger hydraulic steering unit is required ?
At rest the boat was very stable, even as people moved around, there's another plus in the fishing box, while underway trim tabs make short work of any list cause by uneven loading or wind across the bow.
Her high gunwales give anglers a true sense of security in the cockpit, but their height up behind the driver's seat can make all anglers move down around the transom, so their rod butt isn't pushing against the gunwale when they're playing a fish. The cockpit side pockets allow anglers to get their tows underneath to brace themselves when fishing.
Streaker prides itself on supplying a complete turnkey package, and as with all Streaker Boats it's certainly the case. The 6.35 Commander is a top bluewater boat and once the few minor corrections I've suggested are completed, I reckon she'd be an excellent bluewater battler.
Words Ian Macrae