Pursuit 255 Offshore Boat Test

Pursuit 255 Offshore Boat Test

The Pursuit 255 Offshore is a high-quality boat that performs well on the bluewater while providing a level of comfort appealing not only to anglers tired of being beaten in rough seas, but also to the entire family who will revel in this boat’s outstanding features.

Pursuit 255 Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Pursuit 255 Offshore: PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 110 of BlueWater magazine – JULY 2015

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

If this Pursuit 255 Offshore is anything to go by then Americans like a splash of comfort in their fishing boats. While giving little away as an efficient fishing platform, this boat offers concessions to a softer lifestyle that will have the entire family wanting to share time on the water with you when you’re not getting serious with big fish offshore.

Pursuit is a family-owned boatyard in Florida run by the second generation of the Slickers family. Their 16 models range in size from 6.9m centre consoles through to roomy 12.5m full-cabin examples.

The parent business started back in the early 1950s when Leon Slickers got tired of rolling industrial strikes in the Chriscraft factory where he was a foreman, so he started making his own timber boats at home. This eventually led to the establishment of Slickcraft, and the early adoption of fibreglass in the construction and the development of S2 Yachts. From this wealth of experience the fishing-oriented and outboard-powered Pursuit range, as well as the fishing and cruising shaft-drive Tiara brands, were born.

This background has given the family an enormous depth of knowledge and experience to draw on for the development of new and improved boats. Knowing what works in a luxury cruising yacht can be seamlessly included in the fishing-boat line as well.

Big, But Trailerable

Because of less-restrictive towing laws in the United States, the 255 Offshore is one of Pursuit’s most popular models. It can be towed in Australia with an ‘Over Width’ permit and it comes on an aluminium Rocket trailer made to Australian specifications, with a total weight of over 3500kg with fuel. It can be towed with a vehicle like an F250, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a big rig.

All Pursuit hulls benefit from heavy-duty construction with hand-laid fibreglass. They are made with attention to strength, especially around the keel where several layers of matt are crossed over. A strong fibreglass grid of stringers and latitudinal frames is bonded to the hull and deck and then the cavity is filled with flotation foam for strength, sound insulation and buoyancy.

Styling is sporty and well balanced, with plenty of flare in the bow. A straight sheerline flows into a swept-back transom, while a narrow-profile hardtop sits over a high windscreen.

Cockpit Lounging

The neat and clean looks carry through to the cockpit where a single-piece self-draining liner includes the integrated transom and seat bases for the helm and rear lounge. This layout departs somewhat from what we might consider a proven fishing-boat workspace, but let’s not be too judgemental.

When I suggested to Damien Hurt, from Australian importer Lifestyle Marine, that the rear lounge seemed awkward in a hard-core fishing boat, he pointed out that most fishing is done to the side of an outboard-powered boat because of the intrusion of the engines at the transom. Touché.

Rear-facing seats at the front of the cockpit have comfortable backrests and would be a popular place for crew to keep an eye on lures or baits when trolling. A hinged seat base on the port side hid a blue-lined and plumbed 121L livebait tank, while the other side had a tacklebox near the floor and an insulated fishbox or cooler depending on the circumstances.

The rear lounge is wide enough for two and it doesn’t completely ignore the fishing slant of the 255. Lift the seat and there’s a monster fishbox with a drain to the bilge. It comes out for easy cleaning, and to reach the bilge and pumps underneath.

To starboard is a sink with a freshwater tap on an extending hose under a sturdy hinged lid. This makes it easy for washing down the gear and keeping fishy hands clean.

With fittings moulded into the liner, the cockpit is free of sharp edges and anything likely to trip you up when fishing. While it seems unusual at first, the location of the livebait tank and fish storage looks like it would work well in practice. Cockpit sides aren’t complicated by storage shelves, with only a pair of rod racks to port and room for a couple of gaffs if required on the opposite side. Both have well-padded coamings and ample foot room for balance while fighting fish.

Hardtop Shelter

The hardtop is an option, but is well suited to the looks of the boat, with unobtrusive anodised aluminium supports that don’t impact on the driver’s vision. The hardtop itself is a single skin moulding, which no doubt keeps the weight down, as well as having a minimalist appeal. Although they weren’t yet fitted to the test boat, it comes with Rupp outriggers, which are easily deployed from below the hardtop.

Steps either side of the cockpit seats, and handy grab rails on the hardtop make it easy to get to the bow, where there’s also a long bowrail for added protection. A Lewmar winch rests on the foredeck, while the stainless-steel Delta anchor sits under a prominent bowsprit that is neatly integrated as part of the deck moulding.

At the transom there’s a portside walkthrough and a step up to a boarding platform, with a grabrail and a removable ladder that clips into place for use. It’s cleverly and securely stored out of the way on the transom, forward of the engine well.

Our test boat was powered with twin 150hp Mercury 4-strokes, but the Pursuit 255 Offshore can be optioned with a single 350hp outboard for a bit more punch if desired, not that the test boat was by any means a slouch.

Delightful Cabin

A single timber step leads down through a sliding companionway door to the cabin, where an impeccable cream lining and nautical blue cushions mix with rich timber cabinets to create a very upmarket impression. I found good standing room at the back of the cabin, and with small ports and an overhead hatch there was plenty of light and good flow-through ventilation. Even with cushions in place for the full-sized bed, there was still seating room for three people, while the bed’s 1.8m length should be large enough for most couples to sleep comfortably overnight.

Cupboards either side of the companionway are a nice touch, with storage to port and a stainless-steel sink opposite and more storage in padded shelves around the sides. Lifting one of the central cushions in the bed reveals a Raritan flush toilet that empties into a 50L holding tank.

Comfortable Cruising

At the helm, the 255’s size is emphasised by the high dash and a screen that I was only just able to see over from a standing position. However, when settling back into the comfortable helm seat it became apparent the driving position is designed for long runs to the fishing grounds or for coastal cruising. The seats slide and the steering wheel is adjustable to suit different skippers, while stainless-steel footrests set into a moulded recess added to the comfortable driving position.

Vision is unimpeded forward and to the sides through the six-section screen, although I would have liked to be able to see over the screen more easily for checking things at close quarters when docking. At no stage during our test did we get spray over the screen, but if this does occur the twin wipers should keep things clear. With most of the breeze flowing well overhead, it was good to see quarter vents that could be opened for as much fresh air as desired.

There’s no shortage of room on the well-angled instrument panel for screens up to 38cm, while lower down a flatter section has a row of switches either side of the stainless-steel steering wheel, with controls for the winch and tabs further to the side.

Twin Power

Our test boat was yet to be fitted with navigation electronics, but the 18cm Mercury VesselView screen gave an accurate display of all relevant engine information. The twin throttles are easily reached, and while the Mercury 150s don’t yet have digital throttle and shift they engaged silently and were smooth and light. The throttles can’t be synchronised, but the trim can be set to either a central switch or independent control.

Our test of the Pursuit included a run from Lifestyle Marine’s headquarters in Toronto on the mid-NSW coast across Lake Macquarie to the Swansea bar and out to sea, where a sharp 2m swell was going to be a good test for the hull’s ocean-going capability. With 300hp on tap, the boat didn’t disappoint in accelerating quickly from rest to a planing speed of 12kts and up through its range to a decent 40kts at wide-open throttle.

At all speeds and through all sorts of high and low speed turns it felt big, competent and safe, with a soft dry ride and predictable steering. Cruise was around 4000rpm at 26 knots, with hardly a whisper from the engines and no vibrations or rattles from the hull or fittings.

Out to sea the conditions weren’t ideal for full noise runs, with the close-packed swell at just the wrong separation, making things uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the 255 maintained 21kts straight into the sea without pounding, which I considered pretty good in the circumstances.

Heading across the sea we saw 25kts without difficulty, and at rest and at slow trolling speeds things were as safe and as stable as could be expected. Into the following sea we held an easy 30kts without any hint of broaching and with spray thrown well wide of the boat as the nose dug into the back of some waves.

Fishing And Family

Pursuit’s 255 Offshore may not be the raw hard-core fishing boat that some gamefishermen crave, but there’s no doubting its seagoing capability. Those who see the practicality of its versatile design will embrace some of the soft edges and its long-distance comfort. It shines as a crossover model capable of both fishing and family fun.

Considering its attributes you shouldn’t be surprised it’s not the cheapest boat in the marina. As tested, our 255 Offshore comes in at $211,583, including the options of the toilet, hardtop, Rupp outriggers, wipers, plumbed livebait tank and fishbox macerator, which make it a good package.

A Rocket aluminium trailer will set you back a further $15,900. If that appeals, give Damien a call at Lifestyle Marine as I understand there might be a stock boat available at a good discount.

Highlights

  • Big, safe and stable fishing platform.
  • High level of finish and quality fittings.
  • Handling and ride.

Capacities

  • People: 9
  • Recommended Power: 300 to 350hp
  • Maximum Rated Power: 350hp
  • Fuel: 492L
  • Water: 76L

General

  • Type: Monohull cabin
  • Material: Fibreglass
  • Length: 8.31m
  • Beam: 2.67m
  • Weight: 2767kg (dry with engines)
  • Deadrise: 21°

Engines

  • Make/model: 150hp Mercury x 2
  • Type: Four cylinder in-line, fuel-injected 4-stroke
  • Weight: 206kg
  • Displacement: 3000cc
  • Gear ratio: 1.92:1
  • Propellers: 19-inch, 4-blade Revolution
Pursuit 255 Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Pursuit 255 Offshore: PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Author and photography: John Ford
Supplied by: Lifestyle Marine

This boat test ran in ISSUE 110 of BlueWater magazine – July 2015

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