Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore Boat Test

The 660 Tomahawk Offshore is a big volume, wide beam trailerboat from Brisbane builder Formosa Marine. Keenly priced and fitted with a hardtop, enclosed helm and spacious cockpit, this production plate-alloy rig represents exceptional value for a capable family trailerboat that will happily get you out there among the offshore gamefish.

Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore: BUDGET-FRIENDLY OFFSHORE GAMEFISHER
Author and photography: Jeff Webster

This boat test ran in ISSUE 125 of BlueWater magazine – JULY-AUG 2017

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Formosa Marine is one of the few remaining nationally distributed production aluminium trailerboat manufacturers in Australia. This Brisbane-based boatbuilder has dealers in every State and is arguably the only boatbuilder giving market leader Telwater (Quintrex, Stacer, Savage etc.) any real competition.

Established in 1998 and initially focused on producing lightweight tinnies, centre consoles and runabouts to around 5m in length, Formosa has expanded to now manufacture several different model lines with smooth-sided, production plate-alloy craft ranging from 4.5m to 7.4m in length.

The flagship of the range is a new 740 Centre Cabin, but for this review we secured a smaller, yet equally impressive fishing model, the 660 Tomahawk Offshore, fitted with a full hardtop and enclosed helm station.

Formosa Line-Up

At first glance the Formosa line-up is confusing as the company manufactures the regular Formosa model line-up, as well as the upmarket Sea Rod brand. Within these two line-ups you can also choose between the standard Classic level of fit-out or the deluxe Offshore specification – which has more standard features.

For example, the Formosa Classic and the Sea Rod Classic boats have marine-grade plywood cockpit floors, whereas the Formosa Offshore and Sea Rod Offshore boats have fully welded 4mm tread-plate self-draining alloy floors covered with marine carpet.

The Formosa and Sea Rod Offshore boats are also made from 5083 marine-grade alloy and have standard transom doors, hydraulic steering and other interior inclusions. These features are optional on the Classic models.

All models have plate-alloy underfloor box-section construction, fully welded side coamings, foam floatation underfloor (to Basic Floatation standard) and fast-back-style transoms with boarding platforms and ladders, along with 4mm alloy bottoms and topsides and 5mm hull bottoms on models above 6.2m.

All models also use Formosa’s latest wide beam, reverse chine V2 vee-hull bottom. However, the Sea Rod boats differ in that they have a water ballast system featuring four chambers in the transom which fill with water when the boat is at rest to increase stability and reduce rocking.

Another Sea Rod exclusive feature is the Active Transom, which allows customers to choose one of three different transom layouts to suit varying boating and fishing activities.

Strong And Durable

Our test boat for this review is the Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore, fitted with the optional enclosed hardtop. As it is the Offshore model and not the lower specification Classic series, the test rig featured the fully welded 4mm alloy cockpit with marine carpet laid over the top – along with a few extra interior features.

The 660 model uses Formosa’s V2 hull bottom, which has a sharp entry and raised sheer-line at the bow, pronounced forward spray chines, wide chine flats at the stern and a transom vee angle of 18.5 degrees. Although it does not have the water ballast hull chambers of the Sea Rod range, we found the boat to be very stable at rest nonetheless.

The 660 Tomahawk is not as heavily built as some custom-plate boat brands, but it is no lightweight either. The hull bottom and transom is made from 5mm plate alloy, while the topsides and floor are constructed of 4mm alloy sheet. Box-section construction underfloor, with longitudinal stringers and cross members all welded to the hull, ensures the hull is strong, rigid and durable.

Big, Beamy And Spacious

The Formosa 660 is a big beam, 2.5m wide trailerboat – and because it is made of alloy you can use all of this size and width inside. As a result, when you step aboard, the first thing you notice is that everything is big; the cockpit is large, the hardtop is broad and tall, and the cabin spacious.

The interior layout is simple but practical, with the emphasis on uncluttered space, while the open plan cabin (no bulkhead) features a traditional design. The vee-berth layout has two individual side berths (1.75m x 610mm minimum), which are ideal to curl up on for a nap or just as useful to stow tackle and storage boxes.

Included with the Offshore package is an infill board and vinyl-upholstered cushion which converts the two single berths into a massive double berth stretching 2.25m across.

As you would expect, there is storage space under each of the berths, along with provision for a porta-pottie under the starboard berth cushion.

The cabin has ample headroom and a large foredeck access hatch in the forepeak which leads out to the equally spacious open anchor well. Carpet has been glued down to all sides of the large anchor well, so you can stow the anchor without making a racket and spooking the fish. That said, for much of the time you would likely leave the anchor mounted securely in the cleverly designed extended bow-roller.

Helm And Hardtop

Some thought has gone into the design of the hardtop, which is big and tall enough to shelter the helm area but cuts off just behind the helm chairs so that it does not encroach on or restrict the cockpit fishing area. Ideally, you want to be able to fish all the way down the sides of any fishing boat, and you can certainly do this in the Formosa 660.

There is lots of headroom beneath the hardtop, and underway the structure feels solid and secure, with no movement or irritating vibrations.

The two front hardtop windscreen panes and sliding side windows are made from toughened glass and provide excellent visibility. With the exception of a small blindspot from the helm when you look toward the stern quarter, due to the rear hardtop pillar, there is excellent visibility all-round.

Although the test rig was not equipped with outriggers, there is ample space on the gunnels for deck-mounted fittings, or for scissor-arm models on the sides of the hardtop. The hardtop also has a rocket launcher with seven rodholders and well-placed side rails to clutch when you climb around the cabin to the bow.

Beneath the hardtop, the Formosa 660 has a wide, flat dash area suitable for bracket-mounted electronics units. The traditionally designed instrument panel and fascia is only large enough for the engine gauges, switch panels and perhaps a radio – although there is a panel under the hardtop designed for flush mounting two or three radios.

Seating And Storage

Good-quality bucket helm chairs with arm rests are included for the skipper and co-pilot. These are comfortable as they swivel and slide fore and aft, and also have appropriately placed foot rests. As the dash and helm is quite high set, I did find the helm chair mounted a tad lower than I would have liked. However, the seat and box height can be easily adjusted.

The seat boxes beneath the two main chairs contain storage lockers which should prove handy for stowing safety gear and clothing, as well as other items like small bags and snacks. Lifejackets should be stowed in the open lockers under each helm seat, so they are immediately accessible. Rear-facing seat squabs are mounted on the boxes behind the main helm chairs, but they are quite small and impractical – although children should find them comfy enough.

For stowing tag poles, gaffs, rod-buckets and general tackle items, the Formosa has cockpit side-storage pockets stretching from the transom forward to the helm chairs. There are no toe rails underneath them as they are elevated well above the floor, midway between the deck and the gunwale. However, toe rails are not necessary in this boat as the side coamings are wide and high enough (725mm off the deck) that you feel comfortably braced when leaning up against the gunnels.

Big Volume Cockpit

The high external topsides, wide beam and 725mm floor-to-gunwale freeboard combine to give the Formosa a huge volume interior and massive fishing cockpit. There is over 3m of space from the cabin half bulkhead aft to the transom wall, with 2.6m of uncluttered space aft of the helm chair boxes. That’s more than enough to mount a centre cockpit game chair or work station while still leaving ample room for three to five anglers. Whether you choose to mount a fighting chair or icebox/work station in the cockpit will be a personal preference, but it is good know you have the space to do it.

Other notable features included are an optional underfloor fishbox (sized for a big feed of reef fish), port side transom door, boarding platforms with T-bar-style alloy ladder, fold-down and removable three-quarter-width bench seat, short coaming rails, under-transom battery/oil platform shelf (behind Sopac hatches) and four plastic rodholders. The plastic rodholders are pretty useless for serious gamefishing, but the boat can be optioned with stainless-steel rodholders, or built-in, welded-alloy rodholders. The latter would arguably be the best option as this will prevent any potential galvanic corrosion issues a few years down the track due to stainless rodholders mounted into an alloy deck.

Baitboard And Livebait Tank

The standard Formosa 660 does not come with a proper built-in livebait tank, which could be an issue for some buyers, however, you can option the boat with the Formosa deluxe baitstation which combines a baitboard, four rod racks and a livebait tank. While the tank is large enough to hold about a dozen or so yellowtail-sized livebaits, you would struggle to keep the same number of big mackerel in good condition.

This optional baitstation/livebait tank is bolted to the transom top rather than welded so you can remove it as required. Of course, this would require the livebait tank plumbing to be hooked up with plug and play easily detachable fittings.

If you don’t like the idea of a combined baitboard/livebait tank – or you just don’t want something quite so obtrusive bolted over the transom fishing area, another option for keeping livebait is to have a bait tank fitted into a seat storage box behind the port side passenger chair. Although the seat box set-up in the test rig was perhaps a little small, Formosa will fit a larger box and/or customise the forward seating area to suit individual requirements.

Power To Burn

The 660 Tomahawk Offshore Hardtop is rated for single extra-longshaft (635mm) outboard engines to a maximum of 225hp.

Our test boat was rigged with a big capacity V6 Suzuki 200hp outboard engine – as opposed to the more recent in-line four-cylinder Suzuki DF200A. Although the latter is lighter and more economical than the older technology V6 model, it’s not quite as punchy in the mid-rpm range.

The dealer opted for more grunt over light weight given that the Formosa 660 is not weight sensitive. In fact, with the amount of lift and buoyancy in the stern of the boat, it could easily handle a much heavier engine.

With the high-powered V6 Suzuki on the transom, the test rig had power to burn. Hole shots were quick and efficient, and the boat had reserves of power and acceleration from idle through to a wide-open throttle top speed of 37.7 knots at 6000rpm.

The Formosa/Suzuki 200hp engine combination proved most economical, with the motor ticking over at 3500rpm at a speed of 20.9 knots and a fuel burn of 25.8L/ph. This equates to a maximum range on 95% of the boat’s 220L fuel capacity of 169.3 nautical miles.

Takes A Heavy Payload

The Formosa design team has taken a conservative approach with the hull shape under the 660 Formosa. The entry is quite sharp at the bow, but coming aft, the vee angle moderates to 18.5 degrees at the transom before leading out to wide, flattened chines. These design characteristics combine to give the hull a good-quality ride with exceptional stability, very easy planing and the ability to carry plenty of gear and weight in the stern.

The hull is also an easy handler. It responds superbly to the helm, and the bow trim range is excellent. While you may want to fit separate trim tabs to correct lateral trim, this probably isn’t necessary due to the lateral stability of the boat underway. This is unusual in a trailerboat of this size and with such a high cabin structure. Normally you would fit tabs as a matter of course, but with this boat you need to question whether you actually need them.

Great Value

Overall, the Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore is an impressive bit of kit. It delivers a decent ride through the chop for a moderate vee hull, excellent handling, loads of reserve buoyancy, and power and performance in spades. It also provides the rock-solid stability you need to fish offshore with your four burley mates.

For the price, this rig is remarkably good value for a 6.6m hardtop cabin cruiser with a heap of features and wide offshore fishing capability.

Highlights

  • Excellent value for money.
  • Great stability offshore.
  • Large cockpit, with ability to carry heavy loads.
  • Family boat with offshore versatility.
  • Sturdy construction.
  • Simple, practical and easy-care layout.

Capacities

  • Maximum power: 225hp
  • Fuel capacity: 220 litres
  • Maximum persons: 7

General

  • Type: Monohull enclosed hardtop
  • Material: Plate aluminium
  • Bottom alloy: 5mm
  • Topside alloy: 4mm
  • Length overall: 6.8m
  • Beam: 2.5m
  • Deadrise: 18.5 degrees
  • Hull weight: 1100kg approx.
  • Weight on trailer: 1950kg approx.
  • Floatation: Basic standard

Engines

  • Make/model: Suzuki DF200TX
  • Type: V6 24-valve DOHC EFI 4-stroke outboard
  • Rated hp: 200
  • Displacement: 3.6 litres
  • No. cylinders: 6
  • Weight: 263kg
  • Shaft length: 635mm
  • Gearbox ratio: 2:29:1

SPECIFICATIONS: Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore
Options fitted: Suzuki 200hp 4-stroke extra-longshaft (635mm) outboard with digital instrumentation, Redco Tinka Classic tandem-axle aluminium trailer with brakes, Garmin EchoMap 95sv fishfinder/GPS, GME VHF radio, deluxe baitboard/livebait tank (plumbed), fishbox, dual batteries and deluxe-coloured paint.  

Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Formosa 660 Tomahawk Offshore: BUDGET-FRIENDLY OFFSHORE GAMEFISHER
Author and photography: Jeff Webster
Supplied by: Australian Marine Centre

This boat test ran in ISSUE 125 of BlueWater magazine – JULY-AUG 2017

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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