Bar Crusher 780HTP – Fishing Monthly
REVIEW: Bar Crusher 780HTP
Bar Crusher is well known for its sturdy and tough fishing craft that deliver in the worst of conditions and the addition of the pilothouse range, especially the 780HTP reviewed, adds a level of comfort and fit out that will see this model being used for far more than just your average fishing trip. Stephen Booth puts this beast through its paces…
We had the good fortune to meet the Bar Crusher team on a cool winter’s morning on Port Phillip Bay with a mild offshore breeze that meant we’d have to create our own waves. Luckily we had two boats to play with and when you want to create some waves, the big Bar Crushers can deliver it.
Needless to say, the 780HTP handled the steep half metre messy cross chop with ease, whether we hit it at a cruising 4000rpm or took it on at full throttle. Barely a bump was registered and with the plush cabin fit out, there was no annoying thump and bang.
The tested 780HTP was fitted out with the top rated 300hp Suzuki 4-stroke and this was more than enough power for this rig. In fact the team recommends a 250hp outboard is all that is required, but I have to say after blasting around with 300 ponies on the back, I’d be heading this way if money was not a concern. It was simply straight out good fun.
This rig may look familiar to many and in fact the rig is essentially the same as the 780HT. The difference is in the pilothouse, which is set up with overnighting and family cruising in mind.
The 780HTP is a set up to be a family cruising and overnight boat with enough features to ensure everyone is catered for. Features such as a macerating toilet, a sliding table and seat arrangement for meals, the fully-enclosed pilothouse, full carpeting throughout the pilothouse, an Engel fridge/freezer and just outside in the fishing area a sink and a cook stove for meal preparation and clean up.
All of this is highlighted by perfectly-placed LED lighting that gives you brilliant lighting in the right areas when you’re at rest and anchored up for the night, be that fishing, eating or sleeping.
Speaking of sleeping, the 780HTP can fit up to three people up front when the time comes to catch some shut eye. This area would be sensational for a couple to sleep and the sliding chair and first mate’s seat will easily fit a child up to about 12 years old. This pilothouse area is quite impressive in real life. The word ‘volumous’ came to mind when I first lay eyes on the pilothouse and after running around in the boat, that impression did not change.
Inside the pilothouse the skipper’s area was impressive. A massive cockpit area with room for the largest sounders and gauges sees everything at the skipper’s fingertips. Additionally, all of these gauges are easy for the skipper to see. Peter Cleland told me they did not want to have sounders or gauges on the port side of the cabin and they designed the internals so that everything could be on the starboard (or skipper’s) side and easy to see. Job done there for sure, as they had a massive 12” Raymarine factory-fitted package surrounded by other engine management gauges and still the helm area did not seem overcrowded.
The controls for the 300hp Suzuki were all fly-by-wire and this negated all of the crunching and grinding you can get with cabled control boxes. The throttle handle sat perfectly whether the skipper was standing or sitting and the rig had awesome visibility all round as well. If the rough stuff gets a bit much and the skipper must sit down, there are foot rests that allow you to stabilise yourself and keep good control of the rig. There are also grab handles throughout the pilothouse that are in instinctive places. By that, I mean that when you go to grab something to stabilise yourself, there is a grab handle right there.
All visible welds were well finished, the paint work was immaculate and all the upholstery was first rate, giving you a sense of quality throughout, something the Bar Crusher team holds dear, especially in this top-of-the-line family fishing rig.
The helm area also sported controls for the trim tabs and the anchor winch, which make trimming the boat out simple and anchoring a breeze. While the cabin does have a massive access hatch to the winch, getting an auto winch would be mandatory with the size of anchor and lengths of chain needed on this rig. Think of it as not optional, but necessary in my mind.
The fishing area was unreservedly that: a practical fishing area that has been managed and altered over the years to be an ideal platform from which to tangle with big ooglies.
The deck itself is checkerplate and there is FishMat non-slip flooring over the top of this to provide security. Bar Crusher makes its own baitboards and they are sensational. Everything you will need in a baitboard is there and they are built tough to last. The baitboard has a drain into the berley muncher that allows users to keep this area clean and this also keeps bait scraps and the like off the floor where they can cause slipping and ultimately accidental falls.
The gunwales are massive – big enough to take a seat on and fitted out with non-slip material in between the custom cast aluminium rod holders, of which there were two on each side. The back deck also had two wash down hoses, a saltwater and a freshwater to make clean ups and wash downs a breeze. It’s interesting to note that the freshwater is also used on the windscreen wiper up front to help wash off all the salt crystals when needed – a brilliant idea.
The transom and motor pod are large and there is a fold-down bench seat attached for when you’re travelling and you have extra bodies on board. Given the size of the Bar Crusher 780HTP and the fact you can take up to six persons, this extra seating, which can be folded out of your way when fishing, is a very sensible idea.
The deck also sports a kill bin that would be an ideal place to bleed your catch. I wouldn’t store fish in here though as with the Quickflow water ballast technology used, this kill tank takes on the ambient water temperature of the water the boat is sitting in. You’ll still need to pop the fish in an ice bin after they have bled out to ensure their best performance on the table.
Lastly, but not least by any measure, if you want mass rod storage, then the rod holders on the roof of the pilot house will hold plenty. There are 10 slots that will store any rods safely and out of the way of fishing activity on the main fishing deck.
Constructed from heavy duty, high-tensile 5mm (bottom sides) and 4mm (top sides) marine grade plate aluminium, the 780HT measures 7.80m overall with a 2.47m beam. Its high-tech Waveslicer non-pounding, deep-V hull delivers an ultra-smooth ride, the expertly-engineered Rigideck sub-floor system ensures maximum hull strength and Bar Crusher’s exclusive Quickflow water ballast technology ensures the boat is extremely stable at rest.
The innovative Quickflow system incorporates a cavity running the full length of the keel that quickly fills with water when the boat is stationary, which lowers the chines into the water for greater stability, and drains in seconds as the boat moves forward to allow it to leap effortlessly onto the plane.
The optional Bar Flap system can be used to keep water out, to make the boat lighter in shallow-water applications; or to trap water in, to make the boat heavier when running in extreme rough-water situations.
Every Bar Crusher boat is factory-packaged on a custom-designed trailer, which ensures towing, launching and retrieving is a breeze. Self-centering and aligning perfectly every time, Bar Crusher’s innovative Bar Catch system also allows for single-handed launch and retrieve. These are all important points as the main impediment to use of any trailer boat is generally difficulties at the ramp. Not many people want to have hassles loading and unloading a 7.8m boat and the Bar Catch system, trailer design and set-up and drive-on, drive-off operation make this a breeze. The trailer on the test boat was alloy, eliminating most of the rust that can quickly weaken a trailer, and the brake systems are built specifically to bleed the heat away meaning there will be no brake fade on long trips – a crucially important design factor.
To say I was impressed is probably a bit of an understatement. This rig blew me away from the ride and power through to the impressive design and usefulness of the pilothouse. I can see plenty of offshore anglers overnighting at Lakes Entrance or even up in the Whitsundays. Those chasing tuna offshore in adverse conditions will love the ability to travel with the pilothouse fully enclosed, keeping the crew warm and dry and when you’re trolling, the barn style doors can be locked open and the skipper can easily talk to the crew while they work the rods.
An amazing rig with a diversity of use that will appeal to many. At its heart, this is still a fishing machine, but the niceties included make this so much more than just a fishing rig.
Impressive is the word and with an as tested cost of around $160,000, this rig will be out there and amongst it all over the country.