McLay 586 Fisherman

McLay Boats has developed a range of rugged, no nonsense trailer boats from its South Otago base. The McLay 586 Fisherman is one of two new boats released at the recent New Zealand Boat Show.

McLay 586 Fisherman
McLay 586 Fisherman

McLay Boats Ltd has continued to develop its product in the fiercely competitive 5-6-metre cuddy cabin market along with hardtop versions to eight metres. It released the new 586 model at the Auckland Boat Show over Queens Birthday weekend. South Island boaties got to look over the new boat at the Christchurch Boat Show held a month or so later where it featured on the stand of Christchurch McLay dealer, Butler Marine Ltd.

Construction and design
While sharing design similarities with the earlier 585 model, which immediately identify the boat as a McLay, the new 586 is dimensionally unique to any others in the range. The hull length is 5.85 metres, but the overall length of the boat is 6.1 metres. A generous beam of 2.280 metres contributes to the spacious feel of the expansive cockpit and allows three people to stand comfortably behind the windscreen area. The freeboard dimension of almost three quarters of a metre puts the coaming height at a comfortable mid-thigh, even on my longer than average legs.

The boat is solidly constructed in marine grade aluminium alloy. The hull bottom out to and including the chines is 5mm, while the topsides are 3mm. The floor is 4mm treadplate and is fully welded to provide underfloor buoyancy. Two planing strakes per side work with the very heavily turned down chines to provide lift for the variable deadrise hull form. While the 18-degree deadrise is measured at the transom, it is considerably steeper forward enhancing ride and performance in heavier sea conditions and this is an improvement over older models. The chine design also assists in improving stability while underway and at rest.

An underfloor alloy fuel tank of 120 litres capacity is standard.

The cuddy cabin features two sitting berths with storage under while twin shelves run along each side of the cuddy for those other items that are best kept off the floor. There is sufficient seating room for four adults to be cosy, while small windows each side provide natural light. The bulkheads have been cut away to allow easy access to the cuddy and, depending upon specification required, the cuddy can be fully lined in front runner. A large alloy hatch gives access to the fairlead for anchoring duties and to the self-draining rope/chain locker with its own hatch immediately aft of this.

A curved Perspex windscreen sits atop the cuddy with a wide flat area behind it for bracket mounting of electronics if desired. The dashboard is sufficiently wide to facilitate flush mounted electronics in addition to engine function instrumentation. Sturdy alloy grab rails are well located. The front passenger and helm seat both have raised treadplate footrests welded to the bases of the cabin bulkheads. Each coaming has the internal side cut away to provide storage for rods, gaffs etc. The transom can be specified as a walk through or solid as in the case of the reviewed boat. Separate lockers for the batteries, oil tank, wash down pump, etc located in the transom keep such items off the floor and are accessed via twin plastic hatches. There is plenty of storage for fish bins under the transom.

The portofino style stern incorporates a solid platform of sufficient size to please divers and/or waterskiers to port along with sturdy alloy grab rails and a fold down boarding ladder.

The outboard engine is bracket mounted and an auxiliary engine mount is provided to starboard.

Performance and handling
Sea conditions on Lyttelton Harbour on the day we evaluated the McLay 586 were moderate, with a 300-400mm chop on top of a gentle, rolling one-metre swell. The air temperature was decidedly cool with heavy cloud cover that had plagued the region for the past week.

The review boat had been fitted with a new Suzuki DF140 outboard engine that had only been tank run for an hour or so prior to launching. Any idea we may have had for extended full-throttle operation to gauge the boats ultimate top speed capability were soon dispelled by Butler Marine Ltd, who were due to hand the rig over to its new owner a couple of hours after we were finished with it.

The Suzuki DF140 is the company's new weapon in this intensely competitive segment of the outboard motor market. The engine is an in-line four cylinder of just over 2.0 litres in displacement. The cylinder head incorporates dual overhead camshafts operating on four valves per cylinder. The engine breathes via long track intake runners made of a corrosion resistant material, which provides high velocity air speed, and a race bred 4-2-1 exhaust manifold design. Fuel is delivered to the cylinders by a sequential multi-point electronic fuel injection system, which constantly monitors engine conditions to ensure precise fuel metering. This combines with a solid-state electronic ignition system to ensure efficient combustion, which, in turn, contributes toward better performance and economy.

One of the features of the engine design is the offset driveshaft. Rather than the drive being taken directly from the engine crankshaft, as is the case in many other engine designs, the Suzuki DF140 utilises another cog driven directly off the crankshaft to turn the propeller shaft, and the camshafts are also driven from this second cog. This allows the powerhead to be set close to 100mm closer to the transom for better weight distribution, which can be of great benefit in certain hull designs.

Suzuki claims the best power/weight ratio for a four-stroke engine in the class with a fully rigged motor weighing 186kg, while maximum engine power of 103kW/140hp is produced at 6000rpm. An overall drive ratio of 2.38:1 allows the engine to turn a larger diameter or pitched propeller than may otherwise be appropriate.

Certainly, the engine proved to be an impressive performer, with plenty of grunt off the mark and a satisfying surge forward when the throttle was opened from 4000rpm. It was also extremely smooth and quiet in its operation, making for relaxing and comfortable boating when attached to the McLay 586.

We found the McLay 586 to be very responsive to trim - when the engine was trimmed in the pronounced turned down chines worked to retain water pressure beneath the hull aft resulting in the hull holding plane at commendably low speeds. Yet, as the engine was trimmed out and the throttle opened, the hull broke free and sat up high. Although we were unable to measure the top speed during our time on the water, John Butler has measured 79kph on his GPS in an identically spec'd boat.

The review boat was not fitted with hydraulic steering, but we found the helm to be moderately weighted and reasonably direct with minimal torque steer. The hull responded nicely to inputs from the helm being very precise and direct - due again, I suppose, to these very heavily turned down chines that stop the back of the boat moving around too much. I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet the hull was when running into and before the swells especially since the review boat had not a piece of insulating material to be seen anywhere.

Although the sea conditions could hardly be described as in any way more than moderate, the windscreen remained free of windblown spray and the ride comfortable as we made progress up and down the length of the harbour at a relaxed 4000rpm and 50kph showing on the instruments. Butler advised that on an 89-mile jaunt out and back to the "hole" off the Canterbury coast an identical boat returned a fuel consumption of 11.6 litres per hour, making it very affordable to run.

For those who are focused on sea fishing and see boats only as a means to access fishing grounds within reasonable distance off the coast, the McLay 586 has much to recommend. It is basic and strong. It is easy to maintain and keep clean. If however, you are looking for a boat for all round family fun, the boat can be simply and affordably upspec'd to reflect this type of use.

When fitted with the Suzuki DF140, we found a package that provides more than adequate performance, impressive economy and is very smooth and quiet in operation.

The boats are supplied on galvanised steel, single axle "Toko" trailers and the review boat trailer was fitted with hydraulic over-ride disc brakes. We found the rig to be easy to tow and the boat could be simply driven on and off the trailer to launch and retrieve it.

The base price of the boat itself is $17,860 inc GST, and by the time a trailer and Suzuki DF140 engine is added, the whole rig could be supplied for around $43,000 inc GST, depending upon the option boxes ticked on the order form.

Words and pictures: Paul Smith

Length: 5.850m (LOA: 6.1m)
Beam: 2.280m
Freeboard: 0.74m
Deadrise: variable,18 degrees @ transom
Weight: 665kg (approx)
Rec HP: 90-150hp
Fuel Capacity: 120 litres
Pricing: $43,000 inc GST as reviewed
Boat supplied by: Butler Marine Ltd, Tel (03) 389 0077.

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