by Shane Mensforth

Northbank Marine was established in Port Adelaide back in the middle ‘90s and, from meagre beginnings, has grown steadily to become a force on the national boating scene. Its model range has expanded significantly during that period, kicking off with the neat little 500 cuddy and culminating with the superb 750 Hard Top. I’ve ridden in most of them over the years, and have rarely failed to be impressed.
Northbank boats are designed primarily for fishing, which is clearly evident when you climb aboard and have a good look around. There are four hulls with three available deck configurations, each of which has developed its own market niche and enjoys consistent sales success around the country. There’s no doubt that the company has conducted its R&D thoroughly, and figuring prominently in various national awards has certainly been no accident.
My first interaction with the Northbank 750 Hard Top took place three years ago when the prototype was rolled out of the Lonsdale factory. This was an outboard version, powered by a 250hp Mercury Verado, and it was certainly an impressive rig. Cockpit space was staggering, and all-round performance was extremely impressive when I took the boat for a lengthy ride out on St Vincent’s Gulf, west of Adelaide.
Given Northbank’s desire to evolve and improve, it’s no surprise that the latest 750 Hard Top has progressed to another level. I’m a big fan of diesel stern drives in larger trailer boats and, from what I was able to glean from my second on-water experience with the big Northbank, fitting a Volvo Penta has only made a very good boat even better.
Northbank 750HT 9
Northbank 750HT 3WHAT YOU GET
The 750HT is quite an imposing craft, both on its trailer and out on the water. It is designed to provide maximum possible cockpit space for fishing, diving and similar pursuits that entail plenty of equipment and significant payloads.
Immediately noticeable out in the cockpit is interior gunwale height. It’s exactly a metre from deck to gunwale coaming, which is significantly more than you’ll find on most other boats of the same size and style. I quite like this feature, but could understand why those of shorter stature might find the high sides a smidgen inconvenient. There’s no doubt this provides added security with kids on board, and it’s something I’m sure would be easy to get used to in time.
I really like Northbank’s hard top design, which offers plenty of head room and excellent all-round vision from the helm. The front windscreen consists of three separate panels, with wipers fitted port and starboard, and sliding side windows for convenient airflow when required. A six-rod overhead rack is fitted to the aft end of the hard top, with sturdy grab rails positioned immediately behind the helm and passenger seats.
There is provision in the hard top layout for mounting marine radios, which can be set either side of a small, but strategically positioned roof air vent. Everything works nicely under the hard top, which is definitely an asset in any big trailer boat that’s built to travel well offshore in a variety of sea and weather conditions.
I was quite surprised at how compact and unobtrusive the sterndrive engine compartment is. It also looks quite stylish, with soft, curved lines and a neat upholstered cushion top that’s quite comfortable to sit on. Fishing over the transom from either side of the engine box is no problem at all.
Northbank 750HT 4
Northbank 750HT 6As you’d anticipate with such high gunwales, the storage pockets in either side of the cockpit are cavernous. The test boat had been fitted with a Life Cell marine safety device, which sits nicely in the port side storage pocket and consumes surprisingly little room. These really are a great idea, providing substantial flotation for up to four people in the event of a capsize as well as containing all necessary safety equipment such as EPIRB, flares, VHF radio and torch.
Set smack in the middle of the Northbank’s cockpit is a neat stainless steel work station that features a bait board, three extra vertical rod holders, cup holders and well positioned grab rails. Directly beneath the stainless framework is space for a fibreglass icebox, which is held securely and is easy to get at when required. This entire workstation doesn’t intrude too much when it’s time to go fishing and, in fact, provides convenient support for those in the cockpit on bumpy days.
The 750HT’s helm station is nicely laid out an appointed for offshore cruising. The top tier offers sufficient mounting space for smart gauges and engine management systems, while directly beneath you’ll find room to install a big screen GPS/sounder combo unit. The test boat had been fitted with a new Garmin GPSmap 7412, which is a great choice for all offshore fishing situations.
The cabin provides comfortable overnighting, particularly with bunk in-fill cushions included. There’s also a heap of dry storage space up forward beneath the berths.
Northbank 750HT 11
Northbank 750HT 1Northbank offers a decent catalogue of optional extras to make the 750HT even more angler friendly, with a pair of 14 foot Top Shot outriggers a handy inclusion for serious blue water fishing. These can be added or removed in the blink of an eye, and really do add to the boat’s sport fishing versatility.

POWER
Northbank offers this rig with outboard (single or dual) or sterndrive options, each of which will appeal to users with different needs and inclinations. As mentioned earlier, the first of these boats I tested back in 2012 was powered by a 250hp Merc Verado, which was just enough to get it up and working in a decent sea. The hull is rated to a maximum of 400hp, so it can definitely cope with plenty of grunt, and I’d be looking at a 300hp outboard to achieve optimum performance.
Twin motors are a very sensible option in any offshore fishing rig, so opting for a pair of 150s on the back might appeal to some users. This means plenty of weight on the transom, of course, but the 750HT can definitely handle it.
The test boat was powered by one of Volvo Penta’s fabulous D4-225hp diesel sterndrives with DuoProp, which turned in truly sparkling performance. This is a four-cylinder engine with common rail fuel injection, turbo charger and after cooler. It’s compact, relatively lightweight and packs a serious punch through those clever counter rotating propellers.Northbank 750HT 12
Northbank 750HT 14ON THE WATER
St Vincent’s Gulf was relatively calm as I powered the Northbank to exit O’Sullivan Beach Marina, south of Adelaide. It was a superb early summer morning, with clear skies and the promise of a warm, sunny day to come. There were fishing boats scattered in every direction, causing the odd twitch in my casting arm as we powered offshore.
A slight turbo lag was apparent as I hit the throttle and pointed the boat westward – something you come to expect from common rail diesels – but we were soon rocketing over a glassy sea and pushing beyond 30 knots (55km/h).
The Northbank hull enjoys being thrown hard into tight turns at speed and, with the amazing torque provided by the Volvo, I was able to corner at 25 knots with absolutely no side slip and minimal loss of momentum. The hull turns like it’s on rails in these sort of conditions, which is pretty exhilarating.
Running in a straight line, fuel flow figures throughout the rev range were pretty damn impressive, and very much on par with what I had expected. At 10 knots (18km/h) we were burning 10-litres/hour, at 20 knots (37km/h) it was 20 litres an hour, and at 30 knots that figure had bumped up to 35 litres an hour. Wide open throttle (3500rpm) provided maximum speed of 34 knots (63km/h) and a miserly burn of 40 litres per hour. This really is incredible fuel economy for a rig of this size, and typical of what you can expect from Volvo diesels.
Stability at rest is excellent, despite a relatively sharp deadrise of 21 degrees. It’s a heavy boat with plenty of beam, which definitely helps out when you’re drifting or sitting on the pick.

Northbank 750HT 5
Northbank 750HT 10ON THE TRAILER
Northbank presents the 750HT on a dual axle trailer fitted with a combination of Teflon skids and wobble rollers. The boat slid off the trailer with little fuss, and was just as easy to power back on at the end of the test run. Weighing in at around 3300kg on the highway, the big Northbank is going to require a large four wheel drive to tow, launch and retrieve it comfortably. We’re talking a Landcruiser, Patrol or F250 to be safe and legal with this outfit.

OVERVIEW
Those in the market for a boat that’s designed for offshore fishing should look closely at the 750HT. It offers a terrific combination of space, comfort, range and versatility that will rival many larger moored craft. It can be built to survey if required, opening up the market to charter operators, commercial fishermen and marine safety organisations.

POSITIVES
Northbank 750HT 17
Excellent hard top design
Massive fishing cockpit
Top class performance with diesel sterndrive

NEGATIVES
Interior gunwale height may not appeal to all users

NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (as tested with Volvo Penta sterndrive and full fishing package) $195,000 (starting from with 250hp outboard) $145,000
Construction: GRP
Length: 7.37m
Beam: 2.45m
Height on trailer: 3.20m
Dry weight: 1650kg
Maximum HP: 400
Fuel capacity : 350 litres
Deadrise: 21 degrees