Image 9m Fish Master


Given builders customise their product to suit the requirements of each owner, there’s always something different emerging from the Invercargill-based Image Boats factory and the 9m Fish Master is another example. Paul Smith reports.

Image 9m Fish Master
Image 9m Fish Master
The 9m Fish Master is based on the same hull lines as the Fish Finder series in the Image range, just scaled up a little with an increase in overall beam from 2.5m to 2.7m to meet the space and accommodation requirements of her new owner.

While the boat was supplied on a road legal trailer and can be safely towed behind the owner’s Range Rover, For Fun is kept in the Waikawa Bay marina just a couple of minutes drive from home, so she’s ready for action at a moment’s notice.

Construction & Design

All craft in the Image Boats range are constructed from marine grade alloy. In this case, the hull bottom is formed in 6mm plate while the topsides and cabintop are fabricated in 3mm and 4mm. The cockpit sole is in 4mm treadplate alloy. The windscreen panels are in 6mm toughened safety glass while the sliding side windows are in 4mm.

For Fun carries 500 litres of fuel in an alloy tank mounted longitudinally amidships, with a further 200 litres of water carried in a tank just aft of this. All cabin surfaces are fully-lined or carpeted and the upholstery is tastefully finished in a light blue suede-like fabric.

The vessel’s design follows parameters already well proven with the hull having a fine entry of 37 degrees tapering back to 18 degrees of deadrise measured at the transom. The chines are quite wide and well turned down to provide lift under way, deflect the spray away from the topsides and assist stability at rest. The hull bottom is devoid of planing strakes to minimise water noise.

A point of difference in the lines of For Fun, is the raised sheerline which enhances the muscular look of the hull as well as providing greater internal volume.

Layout

The internal layout of the forecabin and wheelhouse has been optimised to suit the owner’s preference for family cruising and fishing in the Marlborough Sounds. The fully lined and carpeted forecabin has two forward berths with storage under them, converting to a double using the infill squab.

Above this are two pipe berths that make useful storage spaces if not used as sleeping accommodation, or they can be removed completely. Each side of the forecabin has two deep, full length parcel trays while a Sopac hatch in the forward bulkhead allows internal access to the anchor locker. A Weaver hatch provides natural light and ventilation.

The extended wheelhouse (3m) endows the boat with plenty of living space. The two piece windscreen has wipers and fresh water washers while the large, flat dashboard has plenty of space for the centrally located, bracket mounted Lowrance LC-X110c chartplotter/sounder/finder unit.

A Uniden VHF is mounted in a roof binnacle and to port, the absence of a bulkhead gives easy access to the forecabin and enhances the feeling of spaciousness. A stainless steel grab rail on the dash board is supplemented by dual rails running the length of the wheelhouse ceiling. Lighting is courtesy of two downlights and four fluorescents.

The helm station is well-equipped and located on the starboard side bulkhead. It houses a compass and analogue Suzuki instruments including a speedometer, tachometer, fuel and trim. A digital readout provides fuel flow information including the quantity used and that remaining in the tank in addition to battery voltage.

Two banks of six gang switches are mounted on one side of the Seastar hydraulic helm, while switches controlling operation of the windlass, trim tabs, 1.6kW gas heater complement the CD player and tuner on the other. An alloy footrest is securely located on the bottom of the bulkhead and is ideally placed in relation to the helm seat, itself adjustable, with the refrigerator beneath.

Behind the helm station and to starboard, the galley spans the remaining length of the wheelhouse. The stainless steel sink top houses a sink with hot and cold water supplied and a two burner gas hob. Beneath this is the gas oven housed in well fitted joinery encompassing a total of eight drawers and cupboards.

The sliding side windows provide plenty of light and ventilation while a solar powered fan allows minimal condensation even when berthed. A large storage locker is located centrally beneath the carpeted sole. To port, a full length settee has five cupboards under in matching joinery to the galley opposite.

The forward end of the settee encompasses a folding seat that can be lowered to provide standing room while underway, while when raised, extends the useful length of the settee as another berth. A removable table can be stowed out of the way for more space when underway.

Access to the cockpit is via a central alloy door. The cockpit layout has been designed to provide sufficient space for fishing as well as being the outdoor living area of the boat. The high coamings are wide enough to sit on comfortably if required, have non-slip pads and two stainless steel rod holders on each side in addition to a solid alloy bollard on each corner aft. A deep parcel tray runs the length of the cockpit either side beneath the coamings, and cupholders are conveniently located around the cockpit perimeter.

An upholstered seat is mounted hard against the wheelhouse bulkhead to starboard and the gas bottles are stored beneath it. To port, the head/shower is accessed via the cockpit through a quite narrow alloy door. The cockpit sole is treadplate alloy fitted with tube mats.

The transom houses a removable door on the starboard side providing access to the boarding platform spanning the entire stern. On the starboard side, a folding alloy boarding ladder flanks the Suzuki 250hpP main outboard engine, while the 15hp Suzuki auxiliary engine is mounted to port.

The port side of the transom coaming houses an alloy washbasin, while SoPac hatches give access to lockers mounted above the cockpit sole housing the batteries and general storage spaces. For Fun also has a large plastic locker that can be moved about the cockpit, the top of which is upholstered to provide a bench seat. It houses the baitboard, tackle boxes and a nice stainless steel BBQ that fits in sockets on the starboard side coaming.

The foredeck of the craft is protected by a sturdy alloy bow rail. The front section of the railing folds down to form a beach boarding ladder. The solid alloy bowsprit incorporates a fairlead for the Sarca anchor operated by the Lewmar freefall winch.

Another SoPac hatch gives deck access to the anchor rope/chain locker. The whole foredeck has plenty of non-slip pads for walkaround safety with full length grab rails on the wheelhouse roof.

Performance & Handling

Our time on For Fun was limited to the mirror-calm waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. The vessel had full fuel and water tanks and, although only the owner and I were aboard, she seemed to be moderately loaded.

The transition to plane was seamless with the big 250hp Suzuki outboard providing plenty of low down torque. The vessel’s planing attitude with the engine at half trim and no tab seemed nicely bow up, giving a relaxed cruise of around 22 knots with 4500 rpm indicated on the tachometer.

We pushed the boat through a series of hard turns and found the handling to be as predictable and stable as you would expect in such calm conditions. In the past, I have had the exciting experience of being aboard a 9.3m Image Fish Master helmed by a competent and experienced skipper in the rough conditions of Foveaux Strait. I can vouch that the Image handled these conditions well, even when pushed much harder than necessary as a demonstration of what sea conditions these boats are capable of handling.

For Fun is the owner’s second trailer boat and given he owned his first for nearly 30 years, it is a reasonable expectation that she will give long and distinguished service going forward.

At $186,000 (inc. GST) as reviewed, she is well fitted and is competitively priced with other vessels of similar size and specification. Prospective purchasers in this segment of the market would do well to evaluate the Image Fish Master as part of their "due diligence" process.

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