When the economy goes pear shaped, the marine industry is always one of the first to sink unfortunately. Since the GFC in 2008 there have been short bursts of good times, along with droughts where manufacturers have gone under, or just hung in by the skin of their teeth. This year has brought on the potential of a total defeat to the industry, however, it’s been the total opposite and I have never seen or heard of so much positivity from the manufacturers, dealers, and chandlery suppliers alike. They can’t seem to keep up, order books are full and for once, something positive has come out of this negative pandemic.
Cruise Craft are one of the many boat manufacturing companies that are currently flourishing with full order books for the financial year ahead, and not surprising as they most certainly sit at the top of the food chain in Australia when it comes to trailer boat manufacturing. In late 2018 they released their F360M centre console which was perfectly timed to suit the centre console revolution and as per usual, another Cruise Craft success that’s lead to the development of another stylish, smaller, and innovative model — the F360S.
Bigger is not always better, and particularly when it comes to buying a new trailer boat. Price, ease of operating and towing are always important factors to consider. Looking back, Cruise Craft’s tricked-up F360M sits just on the 6.4m mark with a 2.44m beam, weighs in at just on 2-tonnes and has a price tag between $80,000 and $120,000. The new F360M is 5.6m with a beam of 2.33m, weighs in at just over 1.5 tonnes, and has a significantly lower price tag of $70,000 to $91,000, depending on options.
BIG LITTLE BOAT
Designed to suit those who can’t splash out on the slick F360M, Cruise Craft’s smaller F360S centre console still sports the same sleek, modern, and innovative design as its big brother. Aesthetically, I really like the slight American look to these boats, having a beefy bow with slight sheer-line tapering to the transom. Cruise Craft have also done a good job at incorporating a nice Aussie mix into the layout.
First up and at a glance, the F360S is not your standard ‘off the shelf’ centre console as it boasts a packed layout of decent features. Nice high gunwales, self-draining decks with SeaDek covering, cast-deck up in the bow, a large organised console layout, T-Top, live-well, kill-tank, decent seating, big side-pockets, and plenty of storage most certainly make it an organised and ready-to-go multipurpose centre console.
A closer look at the stern includes a boarding ladder, neat engine well and transom-door, along with a compact false-transom at the same height as the gunwales. The batteries and plumbing are concealed, as well as a tackle tray hatch included. A nice option available is the ski-pole that fits into the bait-boards mount – adding to the versatility of the boat.
The decks are self-draining and lined with custom Cruise Craft SeaDek that’s done in-house. This decking not only takes the look of the boat to a new level, but also adds so much comfort in all areas.
The console is also worth a mention as it's oversized, but still proportional to the boat size. Not only does it provide decent protection from the elements, but also has a built-in front seat and heaps of space for electronics and gear storage. This F360S also had the optional T-top powder coated in black, and a definite must for the hot sunny days.
Up front the small cast deck at half height is another good feature to have as it still gives decent elevation for casting lures and adds to the storage onboard. The anchor has a dedicated sealed hatch with bow-sprit and they also have a nice custom stainless base-mount option for those wanting an electric motor fitted.
Being more affordable, Cruise Craft specifically designed the F360S to suit those on a tighter budget and for those looking for a centre console that’s a bit easier to manage and store. The size of the F360S no doubt brings the price down, but ability to run it on a far lower horsepower also makes a significant difference to the overall price. In this case the standard option includes a Yamaha F115 4-stroke and on the test boat we had the Yamaha F130hp 4-stroke. The max rating for the F360S is a whopping 150hp.
Onto performance. I will say that if you’re into lighting hole-shot and eye watering top-ends then the 130hp is probably not the option for you. Hole-shot is mellow and smooth so to say, along with a smooth acceleration to a top-end of 36 knots at 6200rpm, which is not bad going at all. For mum, dad and the two small youngsters, this would probably be a good option. In the mid-range you can comfortably sit between 20–23 knots and sip away at a mere 17–20 litres per hour, which is nice and light on fuel.
For those wanting to load up the big mates and head off on long trips, I’d probably look at fitting the 150hp if the budget allows. The 115 or 130 would suffice, however, you would be sitting hard on the throttle if you had a few big boys on board.
SMOOTH AND DRY
On the day, the conditions were as perfect as they come, which isn’t always ideal for a boat test. Regardless, we always manage to find a way to put boats through their paces as best as we can and this day it was searching for ferry wakes and any form of chop possible to suss the ride out.
Ride wise, I must say the F360S comes across as having a nice balance between smoothness of ride and stability for its size. At common speeds between 18–25 knots the ride felt soft, along with the outer chines deflecting spray down and away from the hull, indicating a potentially dry ride in the rough.
Throwing it around, it’s a fun and easy boat to drive and handles nice and smooth when chucking it into tight turns. There’s no excessive cavitation or slip, and overall feels nice and safe on the water.
The included layout most certainly suits bait and lure anglers alike, having plenty of storage for gear onboard. The kill-tank, live-well, bait-board, rod-holders, high gunwales with big side-pockets and toe-locks and cast deck are the main features on offer for fishos. Whether it be trolling offshore for gamefish, flicking lures in the creeks or sitting on anchor catching bottoms, it’s a small centre console that can do it all, and comfortably at that.
To sum it up, the Cruise Craft F360S is an easy to handle, economical to run and maintain, quality built, and stylish looking 5.8m centre console. As tested, this boat had all the optional bells and whistles included. Naturally, you are going to pay more when tricking a boat up to the max, however, you can get into one of these little weapons for as low as $69,990.
Overall, the centre console popularity is growing at a rapid rate and I'm a definite fan as manufacturers across the board are making them more versatile, suiting serious fishing and family boating alike. So, if a 5–6m centre console is on your radar, make sure you check out the new Cruise Craft F360S as its locally manufactured and most certainly competes with the decent imports.
FACTS & FIGURES
PRICE as tested
$91,517 – fully optioned demo
Yamaha F130LA EFI 4/Stroke motor?– Yamaha 6YC square colour gauge?– Coloured hull sides (CHARCOAL)?– Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 125sv?– Fusion MS RA55BT stereo + 2 x speakers?– GME VHF marine radio?– SeaDek flooring?– Padded rear coaming?– Padded console seat?– Upgrade to black switches, aerial & speakers?– T-Top (Relaxn) including Sunbrella canvas?– T-Top rod rack (Holds 5 rods)?– T-Top LED down/bar light?– Ski pole & bait board combo?– Extra pair stainless steel rod holders?– Live bait tank & saltwater deck wash combo?– Dual batteries with VSR?– Trailer Latch & release?– 12 months boat & trailer registrations?– Safety gear package?– Cruise Craft custom TANDEM AXLE trailer?– Spare wheel & carrier?– Includes all factory standard features
$69,990 – nicely optioned and ready to go
Type: Centre Console
Weight: 1680kg incl. standard fuel
Rec. HP: 115hp
Max. HP: 150hp
Fuel: 130L (optional 210L)
Water fresh: Optional 50L
Make/model: Yamaha F130 XA
Type: 4-Stroke, 16 Valve DOHC Direct Action In-line 4
Gear ratio: 2.15:1
Propeller: 131/8 x 16in
Cruise Craft Boats
31 Fox Street Wynnum, QLD 4178
PHONE: 07 3396 9777