If you’re after a functional offshore Sports Fisher that doubles as a coastal runner for overnight forays to remote barra waters, and you like the idea of an inboard/outboard turbo diesel that won’t break the bank at the bowser, you might like to check out the slick Horizon 5.8m Sports Fisher. I believe it was the first time I’d ever been in a boat with Territory fishing icon, Wayne Buffalo Ross, aka simply Buff. And who could possibly have believed we didn’t have a rod between us? We discussed that, but the main purpose for being on the water together was to road test a Horizon 5.8m Centre Cab powered by a 165hp Steyr inboard outboard. Buff is the Manager of Darwin’s Boatland Winnellie, and he’s pretty excited about this new plate boat with its 4-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engine. Clearly, a boat of this size, with its sharp entry and pronounced V-hull, its roomy cockpit and its comfortable walk-around design, lends itself to offshore sport and reef fishing. However, Buff’s main pitch is the boat’s suitability as a coastal runner. It’s a major trend in the north nowadays to utilise medium-to-large trailer boats for running the coast to access secluded creeks and remote rivers. You need a boat that can get you there comfortably, with ample fuel capacity and range, and hopefully as economically as possible. Once there, you need a boat that you can manoeuvre in tight waterways and one which permits easy casting with your favourite barra lures. But you also need a boat in which you can store swags out of the way while you are fishing, which offers ample sleeping room for two or three people at night, and which will accommodate a full-wrap mossie net over the top. The Horizon 580 fits the bill in all these departments. Let’s look at what’s on offer. Internals Additional features include: side pockets, transom storage, fully-carpeted floor, step-up forward deck, four trolling rod holders and targa rocket launcher. Although not intended for anything more than a sit-down, accommodating an ice box or bulk storage, the centre-cab is well-designed and spacious. Thanks to this boat’s generous 2.5m beam, there’s also plenty of room to walk around it without a squeeze. The lift-up engine cover for the Steyr diesel is a necessary evil in the cockpit, but it’s quite compact, probably taking up less than 20% of the total cockpit space. On the plus side, it’s an ideal working platform and height for rigging tackle, rummaging through tackle boxes, cooking for sure, cleaning fish and a multitude of other potential uses. Plus, what you questionably lose inside, you gain with the duckboard on the back of the transom. That in itself is a pretty neat place to have a fish from, and you can shove a big ice box there too, or lump things on it at night when you’re clearing the deck. The targa top is a beauty and an ideal anchor point for a mossie wrap. Steyr Marine Turbo Diesel Engine Two things stood out with this engine: firstly, how surprisingly quiet it was given that it’s there in the cockpit with you; and, secondly, the speed it generated was definitely more than I expected: 65km/h at full noise (4050rpm). At first I thought it was a bit slow getting out of the hole, but the turbo kicks in only moments after you throttle down fully, and up and off she goes. According to the figures supplied, the engine consumes 39.3L/hour at that speed. With the 200L tank supplied, that’s a range of just over five hours and 330km. Unlike outboard engines, you don’t gain a huge amount of fuel economy/range when you throttle back, but it will take you further. Bottom line is the considerable fuel efficiency of a 4-cylinder diesel engine across the board right up to WOT speed. Ride & Handling It was quite calm on the test day in Darwin Harbour, so the only way we could get a feel for its riding comfort was to belt over our own wake. That actually does give you some idea, and the ride was excellent. I can’t comment on how dry this boat would be offshore in a steep chop and 20 knot sou’easter, but it is fitted with spray-deflecting chines and you are inside a centre-cab after all. The addition of clear curtains between the windscreen and targa top would not be a huge cost. As an offshore Sports Fisher, there is much going for this boat. As a coastal runner, it’s hard to beat there too. Once in the creeks, the centre-cab won’t give you the same unimpeded vision of a centre or rear console, but you wouldn’t get all that useful bulk storage and weather protection with just a console…boats are always compromises aren’t they?
Length 5.85m Beam 2.5m Bottom 4.0mm Sides 3.0mm Hull Weight 700kg Max Engine Weight 350kg Max HP 165hp Fuel Tank 200L
Package as tested on Dunbier dual-axle trailer, and including Garmin GPSMAP750s GPS/Sounder combo and offshore safety kit for 6 including EPIRB