Image 9.75m FishMaster Review

By: Norman Holtzhausen


Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review
Image 9.75m FishMaster Review Image 9.75m FishMaster Review

When the wife is an important part of the buying process, you know it had better be right. See how the Image 9.75m Fishmaster stood up to the ultimate test and more in our review.

Our first view of the stunning black hull and white topsides was in front of the family’s beautiful bach on the Pauanui Waterways. The gleaming paintwork of the 9.75m FishMaster looked perfect against the new wharf, blending perfectly with the palms and neatly trimmed lawns. Despite a 25kt wind out in the bay, the water was mirror calm inside the marina and we climbed on board with coffee cup in hand.

The first impression stepping onto the stern platform is that this is a massive boat for something that fits on a trailer. The rear platform alone is big enough to hold half a dozen people and sits comfortably well above the water surface. In fact, you step down off the platform into the boat’s self-draining cockpit.

A huge filleting station forms a natural barrier between the platform and the rest of the hull and this contains a full-size sink. The baitboard hinges up to reveal storage for a gas-fired barbecue and the electrics and air intake for the diesel engine.

YANMAR HEART

Stepping through a drop-in door on either side of the transom gets into the cockpit itself, dominated by a squab-covered engine cover. This can be sat on, stood on or lifted up on gas-assisted struts to reveal the six-cylinder turbocharged Yanmar diesel engine. This reliable workhorse delivers 315hp through a Yanmar stern leg with counter-rotating propellers. Unlike many diesel installations, on this boat there is ample room on all sides of the engine bay to access the engine and maintenance will therefore be easy.

The gunwales on either side of the cockpit have rounded edges and covered in non-slip pads. Two carpeted parcel shelves run either side and the standard of workmanship on these, including the impeccable paint job, is a joy to behold. It is a pity that not all boats are built this well or finished off to this level.

COCKPIT HEAD

A shower cubicle with hot water and electric macerator toilet snugs under the portside of the extended hardtop, just before stepping into the massive stretched wheelhouse cabin. More than half the boat length is enclosed, creating a cosy interior that is suited to lengthy trips away even in unpleasant weather. This is helped by a gas-fired interior heater, in addition to the gas califont providing hot water.

The interior follows a similar design to the smaller Image 8.4m we tested earlier this year, albeit with more space for everything. A huge triple-berth forward is complemented by two suspended bunks to provide a true family-friendly space with five berths.

Fish Master 9.75_4

The dining area on the port side features two double couch seats and an adjustable table in between. The forward seat-back is hinged, enabling it to face either forward or swing back towards the table. Tucked behind the skipper’s seat is a four-burner stove, including oven, enabling the preparation of full meals, and a stainless steel sink with running hot and cold water. A small fridge under the skipper’s seat keeps the food fresh.

The dash layout is fairly full and dominated by a 12in Garmin GPSMAP 7012 touchscreen colour display. A further Garmin digital display provides a full readout for the Yanmar diesel, facilitating the monitoring of all engine, fuel and navigation parameters. With a shared NMEA 2000 backbone all that data can also be overlaid onto the primary display. Despite the digital interface, the standard analogue displays for the Yanmar are also installed, ensuring every aspect of the engine’s behaviour can been seen at a glance.

Further buttons control the stern leg tilt, Lectrotab trim tabs, anchor winch, electric spotlight on the cabin roof and the twin windscreen wipers with freshwater rinse. A bowthruster has also been fitted, since the home base of this boat is a constrained marina area where precise docking control is essential. A manual fuel gauge and switch panel complete the dash layout. The VHF radio and stereo are mounted up above the large windscreen. A Garmin radar unit is fitted on the roof and this overlays radar data onto the main display, while a full autopilot completes the electronic fitout.

A boat this size is big and stable enough to make use of the entire outer area, and hence the flat cabin roof is accessible by steps up the outside of the hardtop. This will be a popular sunbathing spot. The high bowrail has a split centre section with a swing-down piece that doubles as a boarding ladder, enabling the boat to safely transfer passengers to and from rocky outcrops.

ALDERMAN TEST

Having finished our initial inspection, it was time to head out. The destination for the day was the Alderman Islands where it was hoped a few crayfish would be keen to come home with us. We had a 15kt following wind on the way out, which gave us a fast and smooth trip. The rumble of the big diesel could be completely shut out by closing the cabin door, and in just over half-an-hour we were at the beautiful islands.

The flat-out speed of the boat was perhaps a little disappointing compared to an outboard-powered vessel, the big Yanmar only achieving a mid-20kt speed. A case could certainly be made for going to a slightly more powerful motor. On the other hand this is a 32-foot vessel, more of a launch than a trailerboat. And you cannot argue with the fuel consumption of under 2lt/nm at cruising speed, making this an economical boat to operate and giving a range of more than 250nm out of the 500lt fuel tank. Also the torque of the motor is amazing, and despite the boat’s weight of around three tonnes it had plenty of get-up-and-go when the hammer was pushed down.

Once in the lee of the islands we had a play and took the necessary photos. Despite its size the boat is impressively responsive, turning hard but comfortably. The conditions were choppy in the extreme and we were glad to have the windscreen wipers, but in better conditions these would not be required. The big hull easily coped with the swell around the islands and we had to work hard to get any sort of lift in order to get pictures of the undersides.

Once we had the photos we got down to the business of the day and put on our scuba gear. The engine cover seat proved exactly the right height for donning the BCD and scuba tank, and we could simply stand up and walk off the stern platform. The Aldermans are a favorite destination for divers, and with visibility close to 20m and a profusion of sea life it is easy to see why. A seal came over to investigate what we were doing in his territory and we managed to find a handful of good-sized ‘bugs’ to take home.

Fish Master 9.75_3

Getting back on board was easy thanks to the ultra-wide boarding ladder that also forms part of the safety rail, and we were able to strip off our gear and rinse everything in freshwater without moving off the stern platform. A hot shower was a pleasure and soon we were warm, dry and sipping a coffee inside the cabin heading home into a headwind, now touching 25kts.

The trim tabs proved completely unnecessary for either the trip out or trip home, but no doubt there will be occasions when they are welcome. We managed a comfortable 18kts heading back, despite the big swell which had picked up. The big hull simply forced its way through the crest of the swells, dropping back into the hole with little fuss. We did need to put the coffee cups away and hold on, but the action was not uncomfortable. At one point we tried a slower speed but found that was less comfortable as the boat rolled into each swell rather than cut through it. And although a higher speed was also possible, the occasional larger swell made this unwise. In the end the smaller photo boat found its smoothest way home was to follow in our wake.

Back at Pauanui Waterways we carefully made our way to the private jetty. The bowthruster was not necessary this time as these waters are quiet in mid-winter, but given the length of this boat and the value of some of the gin palaces on other berths we could see why the owners chose to have this fitted.

We noticed the owner’s custom alloy trailer connected to an electric winch mechanism on a ramp next to his house. The owner loads the boat onto the trailer and winches it clear of the water alongside his garage when they are away from the bach. This gives him the best of both worlds: a boat on his own marina berth when they are in residence; and the boat able to be hauled out and freshwater-rinsed when not in use.

The verdict

Finishing the day over a cold beverage and some snacks the new owners said they are extremely happy with the boat. It is built, like all Image vessels, to full survey standards and could easily be put to commercial use.

This is a highly-spec’d boat with a consequently higher than standard price, but as the owners point out there is now absolutely nothing else they would want to add to it. And we would have to agree.

HIGHS

  • Impressive ride through the rough
  • Superb build quality
  • Attention to detail
  • A small cruise ship
  • Has everything that opens and shuts

LOWS

  • Could do with a few more horses under the bonnet

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