Reviewed by Erwin Bursik
NOSTALGIA, excitement and some trepidation all raced around my mind as the three of us aboard the Getaway 520 slid off her trailer into Durban Harbour. With a moderate south-easterly already blowing at about 12 knots and heavily overcast skies, I was expecting a trying and possibly wet morning on the ocean.
Surprise, surprise… that wasn’t the case.
After a few minutes on the water, just beyond the no-wake zone when we could get the single 100hp Yamaha into real action, this 17ft monohull came to life. Right from that moment I knew that I was going to enjoy my time on the ocean with the Getaway 520.
Vince Potgieter of Fibre Craft Manufacturing who makes this boat was equally as impressed as I was; this was also his first experience on this newly completed craft.
Until now, this craft with the basic hull design has largely been used on inland waters and for water skiing. Bill Harrison, Natal Caravans and Marine’s manager, informed me that it has now been reconfigured for inshore coastal fishing. Being a single-motor powered craft, it also becomes a lot more affordable than some similar boats. In addition, many boaters find great appeal in a craft that’s equally at home on inland waters it is on the ocean because it makes a great family boat.
The Getaway 520 was towed from Pinetown to Durban Harbour on a single-axle galvanised trailer behind Bill’s Ford Everest. I hardly knew she was behind us; not surprising really considering how streamlined this monohull is.
My task remained to experience her performance in a full range of offshore conditions in order to establish her credentials for safety as well as fishability.
With the offshore conditions fairly rough, as often happens off Durban, the 15 knot-plus south-easterly that was blowing only left the area off Vetch’s with some protection. These conditions were great for reviewing this sized craft.
Running the Getaway 520 out of Durban Harbour gave me a fair amount of time to establish this craft’s performance and establish how to trim her using both motor trim as well as crew positioning to ensure a stable and comfortable ride. Bear in mind that on a craft this size, the prop torque has an impact on lateral trim, and that can only be adjusted by crew positioning.
When we got out into open waters I felt very comfortable with the craft’s ride and was confident that I could safely put her through a full range of extreme manoeuvres to establish how she was likely to perform both out at sea and in the surf.
Running at fair speed following a swell, and then putting her into a 360 degree turn, then getting back onto the plane is a demanding task that puts a lot of pressure on skipper, craft and motor. With the Getaway 520 and the 100hp Yamaha this test was achieved efficiently in both port and starboard manoeuvres, and without any cavitation. Unsurprisingly, her out the hole recovery was fast with no shortage of thrust and power from the Yamaha 100hp outboard.
In the open water deep off the South Pier, I expected and found some very choppy water with crests almost at white horse stage. This allowed me to try her at both troll speed as well as into and with the sea. Not only did she handle this with ease, but — very surprisingly — we also did not get any windblown spray on us.
I tried my best to get wet during the run back into the lee of the South Pier, which, with a south-easterly blowing is normally a wet ride home, but could not do it. We not only stayed dry, but also experienced no yawing as one would expect on a monohull running with the sea on the craft’s starboard aft beam.
Of course this mono was more laterally unstable than a cat hull of equal size would have been, but at no stage did I feel unsettled by her performance.
I did, however, feel that she needed a tad more weight up front, especially in a head sea, but considering that she wasn’t carrying all the extras we load onto our crafts when we go fishing, I am convinced that she will be great once fully loaded.
Vince Potgieter told me that the Getaway 520 is manufactured without any wood or ply, thus following the trend in modern small craft manufacturing of only using composite materials. As a result, this craft is not only lighter in overall weight than similar craft built with different materials, but is also not prone to deterioration in the long term.
I subjected her to a thorough string of tests and, having had a close look at the quality of manufacturing in both the lamination and finishes, I can confidently state that this craft is well put together and finished off.
I had to test this boat very close to our print deadline and space was severly constrained, so I have simply focused on the craft’s performance at sea. I encourage readers to visit Bill at Natal Caravans and Marine to fully inspect the deck layout and accessories not visible in the accompanying photographs.
In conclusion, this craft is a “head turner” on the road, on the beach and, very importantly, on inland waters where style and appearances are so vital. However, she’s also solid, fast and dry out at sea, so she’s the perfect allrounder.