Coastal Craft 45 ProFish
Local Builder Delivers Aluminum at its Finest
By Peter A. Robson | Pacific Yachting Magazine
When we think of aluminum boats, small cartoppers, rugged crew boats, commuter boats, water taxis or fish boats are most likely to come to mind. They are usually roughly finished and not very pretty. One exception is Gibsons-based Coastal Craft. The company, founded by CEO Jeff Rhodes in 1996, started out building aluminum workboats, but has since reinvented itself into what is now arguably the finest builder of medium-size aluminum yachts in North America.
Rhodes grew up in a commercial fishing family and went on to spend many years as a tugboat skipper. About the time of the ill-fated Fast Cat Ferries, he saw an increasing opportunity in aluminum and started building those rough-and-ready water taxis and commuter boats. However, when a customer asked Rhodes to build an aluminum workboat-style vessel, but with a yacht interior, he took the challenge. Word spread, and Rhodes began to get steady orders for more of his finely-finished aluminum yachts. Coastal Craft earned its success on finely faired hulls, rugged good looks, quality workmanship and luxury appointments. Today, the company offers models from 30 to 65 feet. Most are characterized by trademark dark blue hulls; sweet, sweeping sheer line; forward sloping windshields and prominent brows.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The 45 ProFish I reviewed was built for a sport fisherman from Whittier, Alaska. This was the owner’s third Coastal Craft. For his new yacht, he specified numerous custom touches aimed at creating the ultimate sport-fishing platform. Those changes, primarily to the cockpit, set the ProFish apart from the standard 45-foot Coastal Craft, which was introduced in 2010. For dozens of years now — despite a higher cost than fibreglass — aluminum has been the go-to material for hard working commercial vessels. It offers a greater strength-to-weight ratio than fibreglass and because the hull, deck and house are all welded into a single structure, there is no flexing or creaking. In addition, should an aluminum vessel run aground, the hull is less likely to crack or puncture.
The issue of galvanic corrosion between the aluminum plate and stainless fittings is a concern, especially where paint is involved. Corrosion where the two metals meet can cause the paint to peel. To address this Coastal Craft assures that all stainless fasteners are isolated from direct contact with painted aluminum. For example, the stainless grabrails on the cabin sides and along the side decks are mounted on welded aluminum studs with polyethylene sleeves to keep the dissimilar metals from making contact. Those posts rest on thick poly gaskets and the stainless screws are isolated with additional gaskets. When it comes to deck fittings, aluminum cleats are used and these eliminate the chance of galvanic corrosion.
It is interesting to note that the paint process for Coastal Craft takes a similar, or greater, number of hours than the actual fabrication and welding process—and it shows in the immaculate finish. For the ProFish, the fabrication and welding took approximately 2,300 hours, while it took 2,800 hours to fair and paint!
To provide a larger cockpit for fishing, Coastal Craft pushed the cockpit aft by enclosing the swim platform with bulwarks. This allowed for a larger cockpit and a very well-equipped fishing island.
That island is a beautiful piece of work and allows full walk-around in the cockpit. It is topped by a huge fish cleaning station with fresh and salt water washdown, built-in cooler drawers, icemaker, garbage receptacle and numerous lockers with tackle trays. Additional tackle storage is built into bulwark cabinets.
The other significant change to the cockpit was the elimination of the hardtop overhang. While this provides shelter from sun and adverse weather, when it comes to fishing, overheads only get in the way.
A well-equipped cockpit steering station allows for precise manoeuvring when docking, playing fish and retrieving prawn and crab traps. And once the catch is cleaned, it’s only a few steps to the propane barbecue at the front end of the cockpit.
No expense was spared when it came to the choice of deck hardware. For example, the bulwark doors have hidden stainless hinges and catches, and the bulwarks are fitted with top-of-the-line Burnewiin rod holders, deck sockets (with drop in fender cleats) and downrigger mounts.
Instead of a flybridge, the entire cabin top is dedicated for storage of traps and other fishing gear. Storing the catch is important so a premium seven-cubic-foot Frigibar freezer was mount- ed on the cabin top. Access is via port and starboard ladders.
The waters around Whittier are remote. It is 400 miles across the sometimes- treacherous waters of the Gulf of Alaska with few places to stop, and since the owner often travels 100 or so miles from Whittier to his favourite fishing grounds, he needed to be able to carry plenty of diesel. Therefore, fuel capacity was increased from the standard 460 gallons (1,741 litres) to 800 gallons (3,028 litres), which is expected to give a range of 600 miles at 27 knots (with a 10 percent reserve). Because of the extra fuel weight, the rest of the boat was “put on a diet” according to Rhodes. This included the use of lightweight Lithium ion batteries, lightweight honeycomb materials and reducing the fresh water capacity (but adding a watermaker).
While the focus in the cockpit is fishing, the saloon is luxurious and comfortable. There’s 6.5 feet of headroom and the woodwork is horizontally grained, bookmatched black walnut. Many of the doors are louvered which helps with ventilation. I especially appreciated the distressed Ultraleather upholstery as its mottled finish is much more durable than single colour upholstery.
Access to the guest cabin is immediately to port and down a few steps. At the aft end is a wet locker for storing raingear and such. The cabin’s queen berth (convertible to two singles) is located under the saloon floor, so there isn’t a lot of headroom once in bed, but there is good headroom elsewhere. Forward of the cabin is a U-shaped settee (with a beautiful inlaid walnut table). Forward of that is a double companion seat, fronted by a well-thought-out fold-up table.
The standard 45 layout has a day/guest head immediately to starboard when entering the saloon. However, to maintain better sight lines when fishing in the cockpit, it was eliminated. The linear galley runs along most of the starboard side. It features quartz counter- tops, convection microwave oven, three-burner propane cooktop, side-by-side Nova Kool fridge and freezer as well as lots of drawers and two handy pull-out pantry drawers.
Ahead of the galley is the helm station with a single Stidd helm seat (incorporating the joystick controls) and a steering wheel that flips up to make it easier to get in and out of the seat. The con- sole layout is exceptionally clean and fitted with two 17- inch Garmin flat screens, the Volvo-Penta engine screen and a VHF radio. There’s also an iPad (and Launch-Port charging station) that displays and controls the E-Plex distributed power system. An on-board wifi hotspot system allows remote connectivity so owners can monitor and control on- board systems. It also allows remote factory support and software updates.
The master stateroom is in the bow with an island queen berth. One of the most impressive features here is the separate head (starboard) and shower (port side) compartments. The shower is huge, 53 x 43 inches (1.3 m x 1.1 m), larger than many much larger yachts.
ENGINE & SYSTEMS
The test boat was powered by twin Volvo-Penta 435-horse- power D6 diesels with forward facing IPS 600 pod drives and counter-rotating props. While not specific to the 45, Coastal Craft fits 12-inch-deep (30.5-centi- metre) skegs in front of the forward-facing duo-props. These are designed so that any debris will be deflected or forced under and aft of the props. One might think that the skeg would disrupt the clean flow of water over the props and introduce cavitation. However, Coastal Craft has positioned the skeg far enough ahead of the props so that the wake of the skeg closes before the water hits the props. This works to eliminate any issues, except in hard turns when all boats will experience some degree of cavitation.
The test boat was equipped with a Seakeeper 6 gyrostabilizer system, which works at any speed and runs off AC power through a massive eight kW inverter. Auxiliary power is from a Northern Lights six kW generator. There’s 800-amp hours worth of high-end Lithium ion batteries. Heat is provided by two Espar forced-air diesel heaters, while hot water is provided by a Hurricane hydronic system.
The Volvo-Penta diesels proved to be exceptionally vibration-free with plenty of power. We were up on a plane in a remarkable five seconds while bow rise was minimal. There’s very good visibility over the bow and all around. The bow deflected spray well and gave us a dry ride in the two-foot chop and about 18 knots of wind. The pod drives provided excellent steering control and we didn’t lose any speed in turns.
The ProFish was fitted with Humphree Intercept- or-type trim tabs (upsized to 1,000 millimetres), as op- posed to standard Bennett- type trim tabs. Interceptor tabs are vertical and work by varying their depth below the hull. Humphree’s Active Ride control system is far more efficient than manually trimming the vessel and this means one less thing to deal with while underway.
At a displacement speed of 8.25 knots (1,240 rpm), our fuel burn was a combined 3.4 gallons per hour (12.9 litres) which works out to 2.4 miles per gallon (0.64 miles per litre). Thanks in part to the placement of the engines under the cockpit as well as Soundown vibration dampening tiles and two inches of poly foam sprayed on the inside of the hull, the ride was very quiet (65 dBL at 8.25 knots). The sprayed foam also provides thermal insulation and helps eliminate condensation. At a comfortable cruise of 19.75 knots (2,600 rpm), we were burning 22 gallons per hour (83.3 litres per hour). A fast cruise of 27 knots saw us burning 32 gallons per hour (121 litres per hour). The fuel curves for Volvo Penta diesels are almost a straight line, and at speeds above 20 knots, we were getting be- tween 0.84 and 0.9 miles per gallon (0.22 to 0.24 miles per litre). Wide-open throttle brought us up to 30 knots.
The Coastal Craft 45 is a beautiful and proven yacht in its standard configuration, however, the ProFish is very close to being the ultimate fishing and cruising plat- form. It looks tough. It is a go-anywhere, durable yacht with an excellent range and is economical on fuel. Its Seakeeper gyro will be sure to keep it stable in all conditions. Its cockpit design is perfect for all kinds of fish- ing, yet when one enters the saloon, it radiates luxury and comfort. Price as tested in Canada is US$1,645,000.