Space is the main thing you look for in a smallish boat, and other than a centre console the runabout is the layout that comes up trumps. The bonus it offers is much better shelter than a centre console, and on days when you are not actually fishing shelter beats space.
The Coraline 525 Explorer is a good example of the current breed of runabout. Its windscreen is mounted on a raised structure, increasing the level of protection it gives, and its centre section is hinged to give access to the anchor well. This does not require much of a stretch over the foredeck, yet the driving position is set far enough aft to locate weight in the right place and to be out of the higher impact zone.
Overhead protection is provided by a simple canopy mounted high enough for a standing driver; for fishing – or towing - this folds away simply and quickly. With it folded the cockpit has a lot of room: a pair of swivels mounted on cave lockers is the only seating occupying the deck. The rail is all usable by anglers, with toe space under side pockets and the transom locker – the top of which makes a good substitute seat.
Like all Coralines the 525 has a self-draining deck, and like nearly all of them this is carpeted. Unlike many smaller self-drainers the deck is high enough to resist back flooding, and the carpet stayed dry for us. On the other hand it was low enough, or the coaming high enough, to give me a secure feeling when standing at the side.
Coraline models are constantly subject to improvements ranging from fine tuning to redesign from the waterline down. The 525, though, is an entirely new design and the review boat was the first example. The builder’s aim, as always, was to find any niche in the market and fill it, and the niche here was for a straightforward boat that provided a lot of ability for the price asked. The painted finish – and a good one too - could be argued as something beyond simplicity, but overall the 525 eschews the bells and whistles in favour of the practical.
Omit the canopy and fit a 70hp two-stroke instead of our 80hp Yamaha four-stroke and it’s yours for $41,553. Omitting the paint as well would drop it into the thirties. This gives you a boat with 4mm sides and bottom, anchor well, bowsprit and bow roller, grab rails in all the right places, cruciform bitts, boarding ladder and navigation lights. You get a five year structural warranty too.
The 80hp option gave lively acceleration and would probably crack 35 knots with a few more hours on it. We used all the speed over the light to medium corrugated ocean and experienced an above average quality of ride. Everything worked well: the power trim was effective and set us up well for seas from different directions; the mechanical steering was commendably light; the seats and controls were in sympathy with each other.
It also behaved well when not moving: two men moving or standing at random had no great effect on its stance. Over all it showed itself fitting the bill for a mostly fishing and occasionally family boat.
A keenly priced plate aluminium boat; many people might find this the only boat they need in a lifetime. Economical in every way, including the amount of car needed to pull it.
Price from $41,553
Price as reviewed $45,733
Length overall 5.6m
Hull length 5.2m
Fuel capacity 100L
Motor fitted 80hp Yamaha four-stroke