The Offshore series from Canada’s largest aluminum pleasure boat builder offers practicality, range and ease of maintenance for dedicated fishermen and casual cruisers.

By Duart Snow

Ease of maintenance has become a guiding principle in the pleasure boat business as the industry responds to customer expectations of “wash and wear” boats. So it’s no surprise that aluminum craft represent one of the bright spots in today’s recreational boating market.

Aluminum is the closest boatbuilding material to “maintenance-free.” That advantage, along with its ruggedness and high strength-to-weight ratio, accounts for its popularity in West Coast working craft. Aluminum water taxis, tour boats, crew boats, freight barges and commuters are built to be “ridden hard and put away wet.” Now, a growing number of builders in BC and elsewhere are delivering yacht-quality aluminum boats that customers value for their sheer practicality.

With multiple lines from 16’ up to its Offshore series 24-33’ – including the 2825 Weekender reviewed here – Vernon BC’s KingFisher Boats is a leader in quality welded aluminum fishing and pleasure craft. The Offshore models appeal to two very distinct markets, both seeking utility and ease of maintenance, says Ian Binstead of Lower Mainland dealer Galleon Marine.

Historically, the boats have been popular with older couples who are avid fishermen but may have traded up from small sportfishers to larger cruisers to accommodate growing families – and are now downsizing in search of simplicity, flexibility and range.

“This is quicker, more efficient and more spontaneous for them – it opens up fresh territory. It’s not luxurious but it has what they need to get out on the water,” says Binstead.

More recently, the Offshore models have attracted BC’s growing community of Asian boaters, who use them strictly as fishing machines. “They like the fact that it’s like a pickup truck, with no frills,” adds Binstead.

The Offshore series includes 2525 and 2725 models, with an 8’ 6” beam, the 2825 and 3025 on a 9’ 6”-wide hull, and the 3325 with an 11’ beam. The smaller boats are suited to trailering, while the larger boats tend to be wet-berthed. The length difference between the model pairs is entirely in the aft cockpit; from the cabin bulkhead forward each is identical.

KingFisher calls its construction technology Pre-Flex: hulls are formed of pre-bent panels to increase strength and reduce flexing, providing a smoother ride and damping the noise and vibration common in many aluminum boats. Deadrise on the Offshore series hulls is a variable 18 degrees.

On Deck

At a glance, the 2825 testifies to the fact that Kingfisher has moved its boats away from the barebones look of the work or fishing boat. Outside and inside, the boat leans toward a yacht-style finish. Many of our test boat’s features are factory options which Galleon orders as standard.

Hull topsides are available in multiple urethane paint colours, while deck, cabin and interior are finished in Zolatone, a rugged, abrasion-resistant surface that is clear-coated and dealer-repairable. The beefy cabin door and front and side windows are furnished by Diamond Sea Glaze of Langley BC, and our test boat was fitted with optional oversized 1¼” stainless rails and bow pulpit.

The cockpit is action central on a fishing machine like this, and the 2825’s is extra-roomy, smartly laid-out and self-bailing. Entry is through a portside transom door (side doors are optional). The cockpit floor incorporates two enormous 55-gallon fish storage boxes fitted with pump-outs while a 30-gallon box in the transom is self-draining and covered by a cleaning board. A raw-water wash-down spigot to starboard is handy for clean-up.

A canvas bimini projects three feet aft from the cabin top to shelter the forward end of the cockpit, and eight optional rod holders are fitted to the cabin roof. An optional auxiliary helm here makes trolling and docking easy; our test boat was equipped with a Lowrance HDS8 multi-function display at this station.

Interior

Inside the cabin, a head with pull-out shower is located to starboard, while sewage discharge controls are accessible in a locker that doubles as a doorstep. The galley, just forward of the head, is equipped with an icebox or a NovaKool AC-DC fridge, a sink and a choice of cooktops: alcohol, butane or a Wallas diesel stove/heater. To port, the compact dinette’s bench seats extend about 7” to seat four around the table. Table top and galley surface are laminate, while the galley face and lockers surrounding the dinette are attractively finished in cherry veneer with lighter inlays. The woodwork warms the interior, otherwise finished in grey vinyl upholstery and cabin-side padding, with a carpet headliner.

Galley and dinette drawers and lockers offer plenty of storage space for essentials; bins are also built into the cabin sides. Up forward, a basic but spacious V-berth fills the forepeak and can be hidden by a vinyl curtain. There is more storage under the berth cushions. Espar diesel heat is a season-stretching option.

The starboard-side helm is all business and fitted with a standard Trail Boss suspension seat by Seats Canada to smooth out the ride. On our test boat, a Lowrance HDS10 display was mounted on a shelf inside the forward-raked windshield, with a Uniden VHF radio and Blue Seas electrical panel low on the cabin side to the right of the helm.

Power & Performance

KingFisher is an independent builder so power is the customer’s choice: Galleon equips its boats with Yamaha outboards. Our test boat was powered by twin counter-rotating F150 Yamaha four-strokes. The boat can handle up to twin 225s but Binstead says it doesn’t need that much power – an advantage of aluminum over fibreglass is its relative lightness, reducing power and fuel requirements. A single 350-hp outboard with bow thruster is also an option.

We ran the 2825 from Galleon’s dock out the North Arm of the Fraser River to the Strait of Georgia at Point Grey. In the river’s flat water, the hull climbed easily and smoothly onto a plane with a steady increase of power and no obvious “step” to climb over. The boat maintained a flat, even ride angle all the way onto a plane, with great visibility over the bow, no small advantage when it comes to spotting floating debris ahead. Hull noise was not intrusive and we carried on a conversation easily during our run.

The 2825 cruises comfortably at 28 to 30 mph, burning 16 gph of fuel at 1.7 miles per gallon, according to the engine instruments. At wide-open throttle, the boat topped out at 42 mph and 1.2 miles per gallon.

At speed the hull steered easily and tracked well, requiring little correction to hold a course. It tucked into tight turns with plenty of stability and no surprises. We stuck our bow out into the strait in search of waves or wake but found it almost as calm as the river, so we settled for turns across our own wake, again with no fuss.

In fact, the longer I spent at the wheel, the more comfortable and relaxing the ride – and the more the 2825 called out for a long run somewhere interesting. Three hours to Campbell River and some of the coast’s best fishing – no problem!

Photos

Photo 1:  Painted hulls and superstructures give KingFishers a finished look that is more yacht-like than the typical aluminum boat.

Photo 2:  The cockpit is roomy and practical, with three fish boxes and an optional auxiliary helm station.

Photo 3:  A three-foot bimini shelters the forward end of the cockpit.

Photo 4:  Inside, the 2825 is laid out for comfortable short-term cruising, with a dinette for four, head, galley and V-berth, plus plenty of storage.

Photo 5:  At the helm, a Trail Boss suspension seat smooths out the ride for the driver.

Specifications

LENGTH                     28’ 5”/8.66m
BEAM                         9’ 6”/2.9m
DRY WEIGHT              5,044lbs/2,288kg (approx.)
FUEL CAPACITY          160 gals US/606L
WATER CAPACITY      40 gals US/151L
WASTE CAPACITY      40 gals US/151L
POWER                     Twin Counter-Rotating Yamaha 150XA OB
CRUISING SPEED        30 mph @ 4,400 rpm
PRICE                       $177,900 as tested

Test boat provided and price quoted by Galleon Marine, Richmond BC www.galleonmarine.com

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