THE thought of buying a centre console had been on my mind for a couple of years and it wasn’t until I attended the 2018 Brisbane Boat Show that I knew what model my gut was set on.
At the time I had absolutely no idea Cruise Craft manufactured a centre console, and seeing this boat for the first time it was love at first sight. I was thinking ‘finally, a boat I can do everything out of!’ while looking over the box-fresh Cruise Craft F360M centre console. Following the show, I sat on the idea for a couple of months and finally pulled the trigger to further increase my knowledge on the boat. I reached out to the Cruise Craft team to see if I could learn a little more about the boat and see if it was really the boat for me. I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was asking all the questions everyone now asks me. Is it a wet ride? How does it handle in rough seas? What’s the storage like? The questions went on. When all my questions were answered the way I wanted them to be, it was almost too good to be true!
I had to test ride the demo model and see it for myself. I was so impressed by the demo on the first test ride that the team offered to loan me the boat for a weekend to put it through an ‘offshore fishing test’, Bats style. The boat was certainly tested on a trip off Mooloolaba around the Hards in a 15-20-knot northeasterly with a 1.5-2m swell. Generally I wouldn’t even consider heading offshore in these conditions, but the boat had to be tested in worse than average conditions for me to make the call.
What I experienced was simply incredible. The way the Cruise Craft F360M moved through the water, the fuel economy and feeling of safety all added up to exactly what I was looking for. I knew that if the boat handled the way it did in those conditions, I was set for a lifetime of wicked adventures to come. Not to mention we caught quality fish on the test too! I handed the boat back to the team and it seriously felt like I was breaking up with my high school sweetheart.
Something not many people know about is our family’s connection with Cruise Craft. From the age of two my old man had my brothers and I out on the water fishing and learning there was more to life than being trapped behind a TV or computer. Our journey began fishing out of an 18’6” Cruise Craft Easy Rider (that we still own), which led to my purchase of a 500 Explorer a couple of years ago. Throughout my lifetime we have bought and been in several boats and all have their pros and cons.
The one thing I say daily to anyone who asks me about any product is “service”. You cannot put a price on good service. Seeing how the Cruise Craft team values its customers and work colleagues was something we wanted to be a part of. After learning more about how the boats were built, where they were built and who was involved in the builds, there was only one thing left… to get my dream boat built! It was on and the team got under way building what in my eyes is the best Australian centre console on the market.
We wanted to max out the horsepower rating of the Cruise Craft F360M with a Yamaha F200, add in SeaDek Mocha flooring, an 80lb auto-deploy Minn Kota Ulterra i-Pilot, fibreglass T-top, 300-litre insulated kill tank, powder coated Easytow trailer, full Garmin package, Lenco Auto Retract trim tabs, 250-litre upgraded fuel tank, Fusion Apollo stereo and much more. This boat had to be versatile in all aspects of fishing. We chose to go down the Garmin pathway because Garmin offers a great all-round package that excels in both shallow inshore fishing and deeper offshore depths.
We knew that with our long trips off 1770 (sometimes in the dark), we had to go for a radar and autopilot. Our good mates from Quality Marine Electronics guided us along the path to ensure we got the best electronics package/readings for this boat with an A-class install. The Cruise Craft F360M was built in six weeks with the intention of fishing over the Easter break, however due to the weather not playing the game, we were limited to what fishing we could do.
Our first proper fishing trip wasn’t until we were asked by Team Cruise Craft to join them on the Boyne Tannum Hookup, where we set ourselves a goal of landing a place among over 3500 competitors. Chris Henry and I chose to fish the comp in average conditions, heading out on the Friday night in 15-20-knot wind. The long steam out to the reef at night was certainly not pleasant, with a new moon, rain and side-on seas, but we were fortunate to get a couple of hours’ sleep and wake to an incredible morning bite, which led to Chris landing a 78cm snapper and myself an 85cm red emperor in one drift. We knew both these fish had a chance to be in the running for their species categories.
We spent the rest of the session trying to see how many species we could boat in one day, with a heap of coral trout, redthroat emperor, cod, trevally, spanish mackerel and several others coming on board. Our fishing time was limited to six hours on the Saturday before making our way back for the weigh-in. In the three days of the comp we were only able to get out to the reef and fish one day, but we were extremely happy with our results and how the boat handled. Chris went on to take out the prize for largest snapper caught over the three days and I only just missed out on biggest red.
I still have so much more to learn about the boat, but it sure did well during its debut trip! I cannot wait for the next comp and all the fishing memories to come with my new boat and extended boating family. Everyone involved did what they do best and have simply created my dream boat in the form of the stunning Cruise Craft F360M. cruise craft f360m