Vindicator 580 Boat Test

Vindicator 580 Boat Test

Boat Test Vindicator 580: BLUEWATER TINNIES DON’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe

This boat test ran in ISSUE 94 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2012

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

It’s debateable whether a 5.8-metre boat has any place at all in a magazine dedicated to fishing some distance offshore. The truth is that for true bluewater fishing, some boats longer than six-metres aren’t suitable either. But without deviating from that line of thought, there are also a few boats under six-metres long that have what it takes – and Vindicator’s 580 is clearly one of them.

If a small boat is in any way related to bluewater fishing, this is a BIG little boat with ample freeboard, high sides around a roomy cockpit (specs say 2.85-metres long), a proper self-draining deck, and inside – a hull built entirely from 4 and 5mm 5000-series marine-grade aluminium. There are three watertight compartments to maintain ultimate safety in a worst-case scenario. Literally underwriting that shortlist is a weight around 950kg (this of course varies depending on how individual hulls are fitted out), which is enough to ensure the boat doesn’t bob about on rough water.

In the end I was as impressed by the Vindicator’s ride compared to others of its genre as I was by any other aspect. Some trailerable bluewater fishing boats quite a bit bigger than the Vindicator 580 can’t match it in terms of comfort and safety offshore.

The 580 Vindicator’s build-quality is matched by very few ‘plate’ aluminium boats of my experience. So-called ‘plate’ aluminium boats are usually workhorses among bluewater gamefishers, with priorities leaning towards utilitarianism rather than smooth and shiny bits. This boat has visible welds in all the structurally important areas – never an example of poor workmanship. An appropriate balance is maintained between a nice finish and visible welds where welds are best left au natural. As plate tinnies go, they just don’t get any better.

The Vindicator 580 is typical of plate aluminium boats in that Watson’s Marine offer a Naval Architect designed hull into which owners can basically design their own interior as they see fit. The hull’s sides are high set (720 mm above the self draining deck they tell me,) with nicely rounded edges to ease contact between your legs and the side decks, and a huge side-pocket runs along each side. All is, in fact, how it should be, including a deck (carpeted as standard) carried high enough to properly self-drain through a big scupper on each side. A big fishbox (or underfloor stowage) is set into the deck; it can be drained overboard when necessary or sealed with an internal bung.

Our test boat had a well-designed workbench welded in place atop the transom bulkhead, and while these are enormously popular amongst the reef fishing set, for bluewater gamefishing some may prefer to omit it or make it removable. The transom also featured the requisite transom-door opening onto a boarding deck on the exterior and a livewell to starboard, with a shelf underneath holding a coiled deckwash. A shade canopy covering the entire cockpit and braced down onto the workbench had also been fitted by our test boat’s owners.

The hardtop seen in our photo spread is, believe it or not, standard fitment and is a major asset. It has a toughened safety-glass windscreen and side windows and is so well integrated into the hull it almost goes unnoticed until you realise it’s not wobbling about. Ventilation on a warmish day wasn’t an issue thanks to a pair of hatches bringing air in through the roof. A radio console across the hardtop roof is another standard item usually found on options lists.

Standard seating is a pair of pedestal seats, although our test boat has them set atop stowage lockers. The helm and passenger area was well-supplied with grab bars and footrests, and would rate overall as how a helm and passenger area could and should be done in bluewater fishing trailerboats!

Typical of plate aluminium hulls, an over-enthusiastic hand on the throttle could produce a few bumps and bangs, but driven appropriately these could be minimised. As far as my ride went, the Vindicator 580 was as good a plate aluminium hull as I’ve ever ridden in – and was noticeably better than some.

Deadrise at the transom is 17 degrees, which is getting steepish for an aluminium hull this size, and no doubt contributed towards an astute hand at the helm being able to provide a quite reasonable ride. At rest the hull sat rock-steady in the water as we moved about inside, so apparently the deadrise is in fact an excellent compromise between the demands of speed and sitting still.

Aluminium boats tend to be a little noisy on the water, but this one was quite the opposite, and was in fact actually quieter than a lot of GRP offshore fishing boats I’ve tested. Presumably this has to do with the carpeted deck and no doubt that Vindicator fill-space between the gridded girder-system below-decks with Microlen foam flotation helps to make noise levels aboard generally pleasantly low.

Watson’s Marine rates the hull to a 150hp maximum, and while there’s little doubt a single 150hp motor would out-perform twin 70s, this is where things get interesting … there’s no denying the added safety of a twin installation. Yamaha prepared one of their excellent Performance Bulletins on a twin-70-powered Vindicator. The figures tell an impressive story with a top speed just over 60 km/h (or 33 knots) with especially impressive fuel-consumption around a 4000 to 4500rpm cruise. A single installation could be expected to provide better acceleration, a higher top speed, and would hardly be a thirsty proposition either.

The Vindicator 580 is a boat that theoretically sits at the smaller-end of boats that can be considered realistic and safe bluewater fishing boats; but it punches WAY above its weight in every respect and deserves to be taken very seriously indeed.

Highlights

  • A big boat for its size with truly excellent workmanship.
  • Safety aspect of twin motors.
  • Inherent safety of Microlen flotation, self-draining deck, and robust engineering.
  • Integrated hardtop.
  • Configuration of cockpit sides and transom bulkhead.

Capacities

  • Maximum Rated Power: 150hp
  • Maximum Engine Weight: 250kg
  • People: 6 (calm water)
  • Fuel: 200 litres
  • Fresh Water: Optional
  • Holding Tank: Portable toilet optional

General

  • Material: 4 and 5mm marine-grade aluminium
  • Hull Type: Traditional half-cabin monohull
  • Length: 5.8 metres
  • Beam: 2.45 metres
  • Deadrise: 17 degrees (at transom)
  • Weight: 950kg (hull only)
  • BMT Towing Weight: Needs a tow vehicle rated to two tonnes

Engines

  • Make/model: Yamaha F70A (x 2)
  • Type: 16-valve SOHC inline 4-cylinder 4-stroke
  • Rated hp: 70 @ 5800rpm
  • Displacement: 996cc
  • Weight: 119kg (x2)
  • Gearbox ratio: 2.33:1
  • Propeller/s Fitted During Test: Yamaha K series aluminium, 15-inch pitch

SPECIFICATIONS: Vindicator 580
Options fitted: Twin F70A Yamaha motors, twin batteries, transom door and boarding ladder, plumbed livewell, deck wash, under seat stowage boxes, transom workbench, extended soft top, flush-mounted fire extinguisher and EPIRB, engine cowl covers, Raymarine electronics package.  

Vindicator 580 Boat Test

Boat Test Vindicator 580: BLUEWATER TINNIES DON’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe
Supplied by: Watson’s Marine Centre 

This boat test ran in ISSUE 94 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2012

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