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FC 700HT - Trailerboat Trials

FC 700HT - Trailerboat Trials


In 2011 Ross Christensen founded FC Boats in Hamilton. Ross had been in the boat retail and maintenance side of the boating industry for 26 years, and with an engineering background and a love of fishing, diving, and boat racing, he was uniquely qualified to design and build quality, but modestly-priced, boats that incorporated the features Kiwi fishers and divers wanted. Ross’ son Max subsequently joined the company.

Retail branches for FC boats are Fish City Hamilton and Albany, with the latter store owned and operated by Mike Graham. Right from the word go, Ross’ designs were a success, practical, well-performing boats at very reasonable prices.

The range was rapidly expanded from the original 430 and 500 models, and now includes a wide family of runabouts, centre consoles, cuddy cabins and hard-tops. Currently, the largest model is the FC 700 Hard Top. Hearing that a new FC 700 HT had been dispatched to Fish City Albany, I met up with the store’s owner Mike Graham and Dallas Traill from the workshop to take the rig for a run. Chris Duffin came along to drive the camera boat, and we launched at the Gulf Harbour ramp.

The white stuff Recommended power for this hull is 200-250hp, and the difference had been split on the test boat with one of Mercury’s latest 225XL V6 four-stroke outboards. Relatively light, economical (see the performance table on page 107) and quiet, this engine was fitted with an Enertia Eco 16.5” pitch prop. Maximum ‘book’ revs for this engine are 5200-6000, but the maximum we achieved on the day was 5150rpm.

This is perfectly adequate for most situations and leaves room for a couple of inches finer pitch on the prop if more acceleration is required. Mercury have radically changed their cowling shape and offer the engine in white, as well as the traditional black. We were all impressed with how quietly and smoothly the engine ran, and how little wake and spray the hull produced, courtesy of its wide gunwales.

The Mercury throttle/ shift and Seastar hydraulic steering were a pleasure to use. Lectrotab trim tabs had been fitted, but we didn’t need to use them. After the photo shoot and a bit of a run around the Tiri’ Channel, we headed wider, in the direction of Little Barrier Island. The wind picked up to about 15 knots against the tide and the chop rose to around 1.5m and more. It started to get unpleasant but the FC 700 Hard Top has an answer to this situation.

First image: Electronics are a pair of Simrad multi-function displays with Active Imaging Transducer and Mercury Vessel link Engine Data Display; A FC ballast tank is built into the bows with a valve at the helm bulkhead to hold the water in.
As well as a self-flooding keel to aid stability at rest, a FC ballast tank is built into the bows with a valve at the helm bulkhead to hold the water in. This really settled the ride down in the sloppy conditions and we continued out comfortably until the fish sign showing on the sounder could no longer be ignored. We stopped for a drift, bouncing a few lures around until we put a feed of pannie snapper in the bin. Despite the slop we fished in, the water ballast steadied the hull nicely and we found the boat to be stable. There was also plenty of space for the three of us to work in with no tangles. The tread plate decking allows good footing, while the gunwale faces are wide and flat-faced, nice to lean on, have a non-slip black finish and toe room beneath. Coming back to the ramp, we encountered a steep 1.5m sea in the Tiri’ Passage and the hull cruised comfortably through it.
The FC 700HT can fairly be labelled a soft, dry rider. Stem to stern The hull features classic rising shear lines in the bow along with underdeck FC buoyancy chambers and FC foam-filled gunwales, giving positive buoyancy. Twin transom step-throughs with drop-doors are fitted, leading to tread plate boarding platforms. A particularly nice job had been made of the design and construction of the pipe-rail surrounds which both feature fold-down boarding ladder sections. A plough-type anchor is permanently mounted on the bow sprit, with the heavy lifting done by a Maxwell capstan which is controlled from the helm and passes the warp through the foredeck into the anchor locker in the bows. If necessary, this can be accessed through a hatchway in the forward bulkhead. The foredeck is finished with a non-skid material and surrounded by substantial, nicely-executed bow rails. There is no hatchway in the cabin roof, but access to the bow around the cabin sides is easy, with grabrails on the hardtop. The fore-cabin is lined down to the tread plate deck, which is sealed and drains to two sumps under the transom wall, each fitted with an auto 1100gph bilge pump.

Trailer fittings include a dual-ratio manual winch.

The hardtop offers plenty of shelter for the crew, and king and queen seating units feature swivelling upholstered bucket seats mounted on the front and a rear-facing bench seat. There is stowage space inside the seat units, and a NovaKool 38L Fridge/Freezer under part of the helm seat. Side pockets provide more protected space, and this continues along the cockpit sides which have wide trays that can handle full–sized fenders or dive tanks (one also houses the washdown hose). Cockpit flood-lighting is fitted. More stowage is provided by an under-deck hold and the lockers in the transom wall. The central transom locker houses the twin-battery array and isolation switching, while lockers to each side contain the wash-down pump and add to the storage options.

The forward berth will sleep three adults with the berth infills fitted. Stowage is under-berth and in side-shelves. A toilet is fitted under the forward squab and there is a privacy curtain to close off the forecabin. The curved ‘screen panels and side sliders are toughened glass and form a large dash lined with dark marine carpet, which helps cut internal reflection on the ‘screen. This provides plenty of stowage for odds and ends, as well as mounting a grabrail for the passengers. Electronics and controls include Lectrotab trim tabs, a Simrad VHF radio (mounted overhead), along with the Fusion Apollo RA770 touch-screen sound system and Signature series speakers. Also included are a pair of Simrad NSS9 Evo 3 multi-function displays with an Active Imaging Transducer and Mercury Vessel link Engine Data Display. Other electronic fittings include a wireless phone charger, two USB and a 12-volt charging port.

Fishing fit-up This boat is certainly blue-water capable and, to this end, is fitted with Ocean Blue outriggers and bases, as well as two tuna-tubes on the outside of the transom wall. There is also an internal livebait tank fitted centrally in front and under the transom wall. It is bung-floodable and also has an under-hull pickup. Although the under-deck hold or the live-bait tank can be used for catchstowage, we used a standard 60-litre aftermarket ice-box. There are three through-gunwale rod-holders along each side, a further four across the rear edge of a transom-mounted bait station, plus another eight positioned on the hard-top rocketlauncher, for a total of 18. The bait-station also has some internal stowage, a cutting board and a knife-gutter. Underwater lights help attract baitfish.

Trailer The FC700 HT is carried on a Voyager tandem axle trailer. This is the standard cradle A-frame design (for easier loading) and is galvanised for corrosion resistance. One axle is hydraulically braked and leaf-spring suspension is used. Six pairs of wobble rollers are fitted on each side and a keel entry-roller is added. Other fittings include a dual-ratio manual winch, wind-down jockey wheel, submersible lights and galvanised-steel wheel arches. The tow weight of the rig is approximately 1988kg.

Over-all… FC’s entry into the popular seven-metre class is an excellent one. The classy rising shear lines, black and grey paint job and the latest white Mercury four-stroke 225 outboard, along with quality construction and workmanship, makes for a great-looking rig. Add the benefits of excellent sea-keeping and stability, as well as very reasonable pricing, and you can bet FC’s biggest boat yet is going to be a popular rig.

This article is reproduced with the permission of
New Zealand Fishing News

Grant Dixon

Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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