Cruise Craft Explorer 685 Review

Explorer returns 

Cruise Craft’s new model can be a family cruiser or top offshore sportfishing package – discover the options.


The Cruise Craft Explorer 685 deviates from the company’s well-established traditions. Until now, Cruise Craft Explorer models have always favoured cabin space over cockpit area, while its Outsider models go the other way and feature walk-around decks.

But now the Explorer 685 also has narrow walk-around side decks down each side of the cabin and a bigger cockpit than the preceding Outsider 685 – a boat that was quite a standout among its peers.

Whether or not this is merely a ‘refined’ version is a moot point.

There is an all new cabin and deck mould with both more cabin and more cockpit space and narrow side decks.

Rough Water Handling
Any changes to the hull itself are subtle and on the water she still handles superbly. Like the Outsider 685, the Explorer 685 still doesn’t ‘rise’ onto the plane, but passes a point where the hull breaks free of the water’s grip.

This is one thing that made the Outsider 685 an exceptional rough water boat, because it doesn’t waste time ‘flapping its bow in the air’ in transit between displacement and planing speeds.

Cruise Craft would have been silly to change anything about that characteristic and they’re certainly no fools! The Explorer 685 version is simply one of the best rough water outside fishing boats built in this country today.

We were able to run two Explorer 685s side by side during this test, one a basically equipped boat powered by a single Yamaha 225hp four-stroke and the other an all bells and whistles rig fitted with a pair of Mercury 135hp Verados.

Single or twins
Stepping from one to the other confirmed what I had suspected.

The single outboard hull was more nimble in tight, slow speed turns, while the twin installation’s movement showed that it carried substantially more weight on its stern.

The twin Verados were only 2.1 knots faster than the single Yamaha, which shows how much extra drag is involved in a pair of lower units as opposed to a single one.

But anything lost on that ‘swing’ was regained on the available power ’roundabout’ in the low to mid range.

There’s also a gain in safety by opting for a twin installation. Many Explorer 685s are likely to be operated in remote locations like the Great Barrier Reef and the Top End. So any minus points incurred by the substantial extra cost of twin motors has to be weighed against the safety of a separated system.

Forgetting about budget, the single offers simplicity, while the double offers safety – you decide.

Over the course of a day on the water, which actually includes some fishing (how else can you properly test an offshore fishing boat?) we got to give both boats a very detailed going over.

The Explorer earns a big gold star for good attention to fine detail.

All Cruise Craft boats are beautifully built, but even by those standards, the new Explorer 685 is outstanding.
Top to toe excellence

Extensive use is made of individual mouldings to finish off the interior and the result is excellent. Full marks to Cruise Craft for achieving a package that meets the imports head on.

As a local, it’s gratifying to note that returning across Moreton Bay from South Passage after a brisk sea breeze built the usual wicked little wind chop – the GPS SOG readout flickered around 50 knots. But the hull acted as a tight unit with no creaks or crunches, something few boats in this country have achieved, imported or otherwise.

I won’t describe all the details that you can see in the photo spread, but there are some I must elaborate on.

The Explorer 685’s cockpit floor now has enough camber built into it to drain any water on the deck into a channel down each side, so it runs to a collection point and is pumped overboard. Which is how a fishing boat should be built.

Unlike others in the Cruise Craft range, the Explorer 685 does not lean towards either family cruising or serious fishing, although fiddling with the options list can easily make her one or the other.

Priced at $98,830 this Cruise Craft is by no mean an inexpensive boat, but you have to remember she’s fully rigged for sportfishing, right down to her LMS337C sounder/GPS combo unit.