In the realms of summer-savvy boats, the centre console takes some beating. Not that this is a revelation, mind you. The advantages are numerous, not least being the increased deck space where you can do battle without the impediment of a cabin or forward station.
While America is the birthplace of centre console boats, Europe is fast catching up. On the Med, they use their centre consoles as utility craft. Think fishing, diving, towsports, entertaining, al fresco lunches . . . then lots of sunbaking to finish off the day.
Enter American multinational Brunswick Corporation. Its owns a bunch of boat brands including Boston Whaler which is famous for its exceptional centre consoles. It is also the parent of Belgium-based Quicksilver craft. These European-made largely trailerable boats range from 5-7.5 metres in cabin cruiser, cuddy cabin, runabout and centre console configurations. The subject of this review, the Activ 605 Open, is a perfect example of the Euro take on the centre console. Its finish is also superior to that which I have encountered from some high-volume European production yards. But for the young families apparently jumping aboard, the attraction centres on functionality foremost.
The first thing that strikes you about the 605 Activ is its sheer volume. Like all good centre consoles, the hull is at once sharp for sluicing the waves and stable at rest. The fine bow quickly broadens into wide shoulders with pronounced downturned chines and strakes. Spray, the bugbear of centre consoles, is kept at bay on the 605 Active. The self-draining hull's volume and buoyancy are welcome, given the stated seven-person capacity and the high internal freeboard hasn't gone unnoticed by families with young kids, either. The 605 imparts a feeling of confidence as you stroll the non-skid decks traced by rails where you intuitively reach for them. The fully moulded one-piece fibreglass liner hasn't any hard edges to bump at sea, although there aren't moulded toe kicks on the hull sides to assist with leaning outboard when fighting a fish.
Thankfully, there's a dedicated anchor locker and bow roller to assist with setting and stowing the pick. The large storage locker up front will be handy for carting lifejackets. It also doubles as a casting platform when in fishing mode. Clip in the supplied cushion and you create an aft-facing seat fronting the double seat ahead of the centre console. Add the supplied moulded table and you create a lunch setting in the bow. With the addition of the infill panel and cushion, you have a large sun pad.
With oodles of room for fishing and dive gear, inflatable tubes and other watersports kit, you can choose the day-boating role to suit.
Under way, when not sitting in the helm chairs or standing either side of the centre console, there's a full-width aft lounge. Away from the impact area, it's the smoothest place to travel. There's more storage beneath its moulded base and a swing-out squab for walk-through access to the transom. There is also a fold-down swim ladder.
With the maximum rated 150hp four-stroke Mercury outboard, the 605 Activ is no slouch. Spinning a 15 x 15in prop, the boat cruises at 28 knots at 4350rpm for 28.9l/hr and a near-100 nautical mile range. Top speed, according to the supplied data, is 37.9 knots at 5600rpm. On the best part of a day on Sydney Harbour, The Activ was at once smooth, dry and predictable, which augurs well for those young families looking for a utilitarian dayboat. It's also an easy boat to access to and from a beach. Since the outboard leg can be tilted completely clear of the water, it could be a handy in-water storage proposition and potential commuter craft.
The multipurpose Quicksilver 605 Activ was priced from $48,520 with an 115hp Optimax outboard, electronics and a marine radio. The demonstrator was selling for $56,713 with the maximum recommended 150hp Mercury outboard and factory-fitted options. A trailer is an extra in both packages. More at quicksilver-boats.com.au.