McLay 745 HT

By: Norman Holtzhausen, Photography by: Norman Holtzhausen

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Many fishermen and divers use Whakatane as a base for excursions to White Island, or the nearby Volkner Rocks. Both are almost 50km offshore, and getting there requires a serious boat, like the McLay 745 Hardtop...

McLay 745 HT
McLay 745 HT
  • Huge fishing /boarding platforms
  • Plenty of rod holders in the cockpit
  • Stable at top speed, which is easily reached
  • Warm and quiet interior
  • Good flow between cabin and cockpit

This McLay 745 Cruiser Hardtop was spec’d up for Mike Stables at Oceansports Marine in Whakatane, who wanted a dual-purpose boat, suitable for serious fishing and diving.

Despite the model designation, the hull measures 7.55m, with an overall length of 7.8m.

The stern is dominated by the Yamaha F300 V6 four-stroke. These newly-developed 4.2-litre engines feature a unique sleeveless design, with plasma fusion coated cylinder walls that are claimed to be 60 percent harder than steel. This enables Yamaha to build a large-displacement engine that is considerably lighter than its predecessor, while delivering more power and torque.

After nosing past Whakatane bar it was time to turn on the taps, and the big Yamaha was only too willing. Thanks to the new shift-dampening technology in the hub there is no "clunk" when putting the motor in gear, and the electronic "drive by wire" control systems are smooth and responsive.

Despite the boat’s all-up weight of over 1700kg, including motor and fuel, we were up on the plane in seconds. The boat accelerated quickly, and continued accelerating, until the top speed in excess of 41 knots. The big-displacement engine seemed to have power to spare throughout the entire rev range.

The boat felt stable at top speed, and easily reached that speed. McLay has incorporated a roughly triangular-shaped horizontal planning surface under the rear section of the hull. Thus the "vee" of the hull becomes flat for a section ending about 300mm wide at the stern. This flat section enhances hull speed under the right conditions, and also improves fuel economy when planing.


Stepping down into the forward cabin there are twin upholstered bunks that have an infill to turn them into a double bunk. A third berth is provided by a hammock on the starboard side, and the entire cabin and wheelhouse area is carpet-lined. There is provision for a toilet in the front. Headroom in the cabin is better than most, thanks to the square-profile cabin top.

Back in the wheelhouse are very comfortable adjustable strut-mounted padded seats. Both struts are mounted onto a small raised compartment that contains a storage drawer. Foot rests are provided.

The carpeted dash area is dominated by the Garmin GPSMap 5012 touch-screen display. The electronic Yamaha gauges to the right of the Garmin provide complete information about the motor, including fuel consumption. To the left of the display are switches for the Maxwell hands-free capstan, Lenco trim tabs and the twin windscreen wipers. A nice touch is the addition of a freshwater window washer system.

Steering is hydraulic, and, combined with the electronic throttle controls, makes the boat extremely easy to drive. An EPIRB is located outside the wheelhouse. The electronics package is wrapped up with a Garmin 100i VHF radio and a Fusion MS-AV600G CD/DVD player located in the ceiling of the hardtop. There is also a remotely controlled spotlight on the roof, and underwater LED fishing lights at the transom.

The entire interior is carpet-lined, making it warm and quiet. The fold-out table is a useful and versatile feature.

Separation of the cabin from the cockpit is reduced by the full-width sliding windows in the bulkhead behind each seat. Anyone sitting in the cabin can swivel their seat around and maintain contact with the cockpit. A lockable bi-fold door makes the hardtop secure.

The business end

The cockpit is well set up for its duel role as a fishing or diving platform and has plenty of space. A large wet locker under the floor will hold your catch, and the tube-mat provides a non-slip surface. Vinyl-upholstered seats lift up to reveal additional storage areas.

Under the transom step on each side is a dive cylinder rack. Further racks can easily be fitted. The transom step on the port side has a plumbed live-bait tank with a viewing window fitted. Drop-in hatches cover the step-through for rough weather and when backing up.

In the centre of the transom is a large compartment for the batteries, covered by a wide hatch cover. The bait board, with six rod holders, fits securely into the transom. Two extremely long game poles have been installed either side of the wheelhouse, and the rocket-launcher along the top has a further six rod holders. This boat has had the optional extended roof canopy fitted to provide further shade, although this slightly restricts access to the rocket launcher.

The real "fighting" area of this boat is the two stern platforms on either side of the motor. They have high safety rails, making them a safe place to fish even in rough conditions. The rear section swings down to form a boarding ladder.

Performance on the day

The boat is soft-landing and quiet. The planing surface under the stern does not come into play in rough water, while the chines feature well-finished water deflectors. This is an exceptionally dry boat.

The chines bit nicely to give a tight turning circle. Despite the lack of planing strakes there was no tendency for the boat to skip sideways in a turn, and the amount of heel is such that one need not hold on, no matter how tight or fast the turn.

We tried backing up, and were able to maintain five knots with no water coming through the transom doors. There was little tendency for the platforms to dig into waves, and it would be safe to remain standing on these even when backing up fast.

Putting the boat back onto the Voyager trailer was a simple job, and can be achieved single-handedly thanks to the guide poles and the walk-board running down the centre of the trailer. The trailer features Sens-A-Brake electrically activated brakes on both wheels and is rated up to 3500kg.


This is a very impressive package, solidly built and capable of taking on most conditions. The efficiency and speed of the hull is remarkable, and the combination with the big Yamaha makes this a great package.

See McLay boats for sale.


LOA 7.80m
Beam 2.48m
Freeboard 0.91m
Hull weight 1450kg approx
Transom deadrise Variable 18V
HP required 175-300

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