CSB Hunts­man 5.85m Sotalia

CSB Hunts­man’s handy 5.85m Sotalia is a con­ven­tional cabin-style trailer boat of a type that’s peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar with Kiwi boaters.

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY JOHN EICHELSHEIM

Light, great per­for­mance, easy to tow. What’s not to like about this South Is­land trailer boat?

Named Mc­fish, this par­tic­u­lar N ex­am­ple, al­though fresh off the yard at Wood­bine Marine, Auck­land’s CSB Hunts­man dealer, had al­ready clocked up 30 hours on the Honda BF 115, tes­ta­ment to the keen­ness of its new own­ers.

The Sotalia’s an easy boat to like: small enough to be stress-free at the boat ramp, rea­son­ably light to tow, with no heed for dual axles or brakes on the Wa­ter­craft trailer, and nicely fin­ished. And, as we learned dur­ing our af­ter­noon on the wa­ter, it’s also a sweet han­dler, de­liv­er­ing a ride that wouldn’t shame a much larger boat.

Mc­fish has a sturdy stain­less steel and black can­vas bi­mini top with wrap-around clears. Across the back of the frame, a rocket launcher holds up to five rods, plus the all-white run­ning light. The bi­mini can be folded down for easier garag­ing.

The boat’s cock­pit ben­e­fits from Ul­tralon floor­ing, which looks good and is com­fort­able un­der­foot, and a full cock­pit liner. Across the tran­som, a raised locker holds the bat­ter­ies (house and start), along with the iso­la­tion switch, while a re­mov­able stain­less-steel ski-pole sup­ports the af­ter­mar­ket Manta bait ta­ble.

A cou­ple of through-coam­ing rod hold­ers ei­ther side of the cock­pit com­ple­ment two rod hold­ers on the bait sta­tion and there’s a board­ing lad­der on the port side.

The cock­pit drains into a sump aft where the bilge pump di­rects wa­ter over­board. Ac­cess to the pump (oc­ca­sion­ally nec­es­sary to clear it of de­bris), proved easier than I first thought: sim­ply re­move the rear seat bins and lie on the floor to reach into the sump. The corner seats can be re­moved al­to­gether for ex­tra cock­pit space, but they do of­fer handy stowage.

There’s plenty of stowage un­der the king-andqueen-style seat on the pas­sen­ger’s side, too, as well as un­der the floor where the locker is both wide and long. A handy pull-out panel in the front means the locker can ac­com­mo­date re­ally long items, which can ex­tend into the cuddy cabin footwell.

The side pock­ets are long as well, though not par­tic­u­larly wide, and there’s ad­di­tional stowage un­der the vee-berths in the cabin. Fit, fin­ish, up­hol­stery and all the GRP mould­ings are of a good stan­dard through­out and the hull is foam-filled for buoy­ancy and quiet­ness.

The helm seat is a form-hug­ging bucket on a gas pedestal. It swivels and ad­justs for height and reach. Moulded footrests and sim­ple grab han­dles help the

boat’s oc­cu­pants stay put when un­der­way, com­ple­mented by the alu­minium wind­screen sup­port, which makes a good handrail with the clears re­moved for sum­mer boating.

The Hun­st­man’s moulded dash con­sole is large enough to fit a seven-inch Garmin echomap CV mul­ti­func­tion dis­play, as well as Faria gauges for the Honda en­gine, cap­stan con­trols, switch panel, com­pass, Garmin VHF ra­dio and Fu­sion stereo head unit. Speak­ers are set into the gun­wales.

There’s no cabin bulk­head as such, so ac­cess for­ward is good and the space feels light and airy, even with dark cloth up­hol­stery. A large over­head hatch helps by let­ting in more light and also pro­vides ac­cess to the fore­deck.

It’s easy to reach the an­chor, fair­lead and an­chor locker stand­ing in the fore-cabin with your torso through the hatch. The Maxwell cap­stan is hid­den away un­der the moulded an­chor locker cover, which blends in per­fectly with the rest of the fore­deck.

The vee berths in the bows, with an in­fill squab, are a de­cent length and the shelves are wide and deep enough to be use­ful, but there isn’t a huge amount of seated head­room inside the cabin.

It’s enough for kids and shorter adults, but any­one my height or taller will be touch­ing the ceil­ing. That said, the Sotalia is only 5.85m long; a taller cabin top would, I think, up­set the boat’s nicely-bal­anced styling.

Like other CSB Hunts­man mod­els I have tried over the years, the Sotalia has a sweet-han­dling, soft-rid­ing hull. It tack­led the usual short chop and wind-against-tide seas at the entrance to the in­ner Waitem­ata with the aplomb of a much big­ger ves­sel thanks to a re­ally well-sorted deep-vee hull.

The Honda 115hp four-stroke is quiet and un­ruf­fled, but there’s a def­i­nite surge of power when the vari­able valve tim­ing comes into play as the revs build – it’s al­most like turbo-charg­ing.

Al­though at the bot­tom of the rec­om­mended horse­power range for this model, the Honda of­fers sharp throt­tle re­sponse and plenty of power over­all. Con­di­tions were a bit lumpy on the day but we still man­aged a burst of 34 knots at 5,700rpm with revs in re­serve, while the hull hap­pily con­quered the bumpier stuff cruis­ing at 18-20 knots.

Equipped with Max­tek hy­draulic steer­ing, helm­ing the boat was easy. The Sotalia re­sponds nicely, carv­ing sharp turns with ease and go­ing ex­actly where it’s pointed. It is well-be­haved and feels safe and pre­dictable.

LEFT The Sotalia is a nicely bal­anced pack­age that’s fun to drive, but also safe and pre­dictable.

BE­LOW The Sotalia’s in­te­rior lay­out is quite con­ven­tional, but ver­sa­tile too, which is why boats like this are so pop­u­lar with Kiwi fam­i­lies.

RIGHT The Honda four-stroke pro­vides plenty of per­for­mance, de­spite be­ing right at the bot­tom of the rec­om­mended horse­power range.

TOP LEFT An af­ter­mar­ket Manta bait ta­ble is easy to re­move when tow­ing the kids around on a ski, boo­gie board or bis­cuit is on the agenda.

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