Fish & Boat Magazine Review
Vindicator 720 Half Cabin – Reviewed
When the editor of Fish & Boat Magazine called and asked me to review a 720 Vindicator plate alloy boat, I knew straight away that I was in for a treat. I met Frank Watson of Watsons Marine Centre located in Gympie at the Tin Can Bay boat ramp. I had done my research and knew Frank’s reputation for taking great pride in his boats, not cutting corners, building them to last and personally testing his boats in conditions which he knows fisho’s will be using them in, including beach launching from Fraser Island.
As I shook Frank’s hand in greeting, I could see the excitement in his eyes. Even after 40 plus years of being involved in boat building this man’s passion is as strong as ever. And when I witnessed the 720 Vindicator backing down the ramp sitting on a custom built heavy duty aluminium trailer, also build at Watsons Marine Centre, I struggled to contain my own excitement.
Take A Closer Look
The 720 Vindicator is a engineering masterpiece. The hull of the 720 Vindicator looks and feels solid, something you would expect from a 1200kg hull with 5mm thick plate bottom and 4mm sides and with a 19 degree deadrise.
However, the really striking feature of the 720 Vindicator is the Vortex Hull design. Which is proven to provide improved lift, greater response, better fuel efficiency and more stability.
The Vortex Hull design was released around 2 years ago after extensive testing and sea trials along the Fraser Coast and is only available on the 680 and 720 Vindicator due to the engineering involved.
Notice Anything Along the Bottom of the Hull ?
The hull is built traditionally, upside down on a jig. Has only 3 runs of weld running crossways for the 3 floatation cells which are watertight compartments, foam filled to survey standard. The hull draws strength from 12 runs of weld which extend along the entire length of the hull. Of note there are no hose clamps below the waterline, instead all fittings are welded. Adding to this there are also 4 strakes along the entire length of the hull and two chine release points on either side of the hull.
The overall length of the 720 Vindicator is 7.7m and on testing day we had 3 large blokes on board, well under its 7 persons in smooth water rating. The 400 litre fuel tank was full and we also had 85 litres of fresh water. After a smooth launch and with the whisper quiet twin 130hp Yamaha 4 strokes pushing us along, Frank steered us towards Fraser Island. Once out of the designated ‘go slow’ zone Frank looked at me and simply said “time to hang on”.
How Does It Ride
The 720 Vindicator shot out of the hole incredibly quickly and lifted onto the plane smoothly. This was an aspect of the boats performance which we tested many times on the day. Travelling with us was Scott Harradine from AMI Marine and Offshore who was with us specifically to check on the performance of the fully automated 7 inch Zipwake trim tabs.
Entering the channel between the mainland and Fraser Island we had a reasonable 10 to 15 knot breeze pushing in from the north and a rising tide pushing from the south east meaning the water in the channel was fairly choppy. I can honestly say, I barely noticed any chop on the water, the combination of the Vortex hull design assisted by the Zipwake trim tabs kept the 720 Vindicator level and steady as we cruised to the island.
Once at Fraser Island it was time to take in every detail of this offshore fishing weapon, starting from the bow. Now, I am not the smallest bloke and my sense of balance can be questionable at times. However, I found climbing through and around the 720 Vindicator very easy. Non-skid paint has been applied around the forward deck and on top of the gunnels making moving around the boat easy and safe. After inspecting the Maxwell electric free fall winch, I climbed easily through the large front hatch, into the roomy V berth front cabin. The cabin is 2 metres in length, laying down fully extended, I still had room to move above my head and below my feet. Two adults and two children could easily sleep in this space.
The extra tough mattress coverings are all made in house at Watsons Marine, there is a LCD flat screen TV and a good sized fan to help with air circulation. The amount of storage space available under the mattresses is bordering on ridiculous, you could almost fit an entire tackle store in there. Another feature which I think highlights the thought put into the layout of this boat, is a small compartment with door hiding the toilet paper. At the base of the mattress is space for a 20 litre porta potty. There is a heavy duty canvas door which can be zipped up to provide privacy while using the toilet or for while sleeping.
Leaving the front cabin you will find 2 x deluxe flip back / reversible seats with adjusting sliders sitting on the top of two deluxe seat boxes with extra opening rear seats and cushions. The seat boxes provide loads of storage accessible through good sized hatches. Slightly forward and between the two seat boxes is more underfloor storage. There are also two foot rests meaning the option to stand or sit while driving and / or navigating is a comfortable one.
The skippers console has ample space for electronics. As tested, the console had flush mounted a 12 inch Garmin 7412XSV, integrated with auto pilot and 36 mile Garmin radar. Zipwake trim tabs control, Yamaha digital gauges, Garmin compass and power monitoring panel. Above and centre to the cabin was flush mounted a GME stereo and radio. A large carpeted dashboard with a stepped edge to prevent items from falling lead to the 2 large front windows, with 2 equally large 50/50 split sliding side windows, providing a high level of visibility for both the skipper and navigator.
Stepping back from the skippers seat and out onto the rear deck, you gain an appreciation for the 720 Vindicators 2.5 metre beam. There is literally loads of room to move around. High 750mm gunwales which are fitted with thigh high cushioning mean that any angler hooked up to a giant of the deep will not only have extra leverage, but also will not be bashing knees on hard edges. The high gunwales also provides extra safety for any children on board. Along the port side is a solid rear swinging access door with divers ladder fittings flush mounted.
The rear deck also has a plumbed kill tank astern that drains into the bilge. An impressive clip-in curtain provides weather protection for the battery shelf and its ancillaries. Above this, along the transom, sits a well-designed bait station. Wider than a standard bait station and which features two hinged cutting boards with shallow sinks below and storage for bait, knives and rigs. To one side of this a live bait tank and to the other side a small transom door leading to a fold out ladder.
Rounding Out The Deck
Rounding out the rear deck are full length illuminated side pockets for easy storage for items such as ropes, boat hooks and a net.
Lighting is provided by two mounted deck lights and swivel light bar, there are also front facing travelling lights.
A saltwater deck wash and freshwater shower, full storm covers, six flush mounted rod holders plus more rocket launcher style rod holders behind the bait station and much, much more.
After soaking in all the 720 Vindicator had to offer it was time to put the boat through its paces.
Powered by twin 130hp Yamaha 4 strokes we achieved a top speed of 62 km per hour or 34 knots at 6200 rpm achieving .7 of a kilometre per litre.
Cruising speed was recorded as 48 km per hour or 26 knots at 4400 rpm which achieved 1.2 kilometres per litre. The 720 Vindicator is rated to a max of 300hp or 500kg transom weight.
We put the 720 Vindicator through a series of manoeuvres including lots of tight turns and figure eights, this was a particular highlight for me, as the boat turns extremely well.
Claims that the Vortex hull provides improved stability and greater response were well and truly proven. At high speed there was no, noticeable sliding during cornering, the boat felt as though it was on train tracks.
If you are in the market for an absolute offshore fishing weapon which is equally at home in more protected waters for day trips and family adventures then you need to take a close look at the Vindicator range of plate alloy boats.
Some may look at the price tag and consider it a little high, however, you are definitely paying for quality which is built to last.
If you are a believer in the saying ‘do it once and do it right’, then you will understand exactly what you are getting in the workmanship of a Vindicator boat.
RRP – As tested 190k includes full heavy-duty aluminium trailer plus tender with 3hp Yamaha.