The Horizon 540 Getaway is a 5.45m cuddy cabin aluminium boat perfect for the small family with a bit of fishability thrown in for the man about the house. It features a beam of 2.4m, can carry six people maximum and in the standard model is constructed of 3mm aluminium bottom and 2mm sides. This can be upgraded to the Elite Series finish which features a 4mm bottom and 3mm sides.
An internal fuel tank carries 110 litres, with the boat rated to a maximum 115hp engine. The boat tested was fitted with just that, a 115hp four-stroke Suzuki. Horizon does recommend a modest 90hp on this boat. The boat itself weighs 545kg (dry weight).
Internally there is excellent provision of grab rails for passengers in the front and rear of the boat. A thin rear bench seat stretches three-quarters across the transom stopping for the transom door in the model we tested. In a standard model this would run all the way across the transom.
Storage is more than ample with sturdy side pockets and storage under the cushions in the cabin able to fit all PFDs and safety gear. A chemical toilet could be added to the space between the bunks in the forward cabin.
The finish on Horizon boats is always extremely good and attention to the small things makes these boats stand out. In the cabin, there are no open aluminium edges with all flat spaces covered with carpet. In the cockpit, it seems like even the welder cares about how the finished product looks.
Fortunately for us, the weather on the test day was superb – unfortunately for testing a boat, these conditions do make for great photos but don’t give a true indication of a boat’s handling of normal conditions. The seas were dead flat, there was not much swell and no wind but in saying that, stepping behind the wheel of a Horizon is always a comfortable and pleasant experience.
Vision is excellent while driving seated and a footrest is perfectly positioned for the driver. Being of average height, vision while standing was impaired by the top of the screen, but the wheel height position was comfortable and nothing restricted swinging the wheel to full lock.
The 115hp four-stroke Suzuki was perfectly matched to the boat and provided great performance for this hull, launching it from a standing start quickly onto the plane. The Horizon 540 came onto the plane at 3200rpm and 25km/h. Cruising speed was 35km/h at 3800rpm and WOT 60km/h at 6000rpm.
Hull noise while underway was minimal; however, due to the calm conditions, this was difficult to get a true value on. The Suzuki is exceptionally quiet at idle, with a little noise at speed; however, being a new engine, we would expect this to settle as it beds in.
Neal from Neken Marine in Mona-Vale has had this boat set up for family use but also for offshore and inshore fishing with mates and a host of features have been added.
A live-bait tank sits in the rear port side and is ample enough to hold good numbers of fish for an entire session.
A plumbed kill tank has been added underfloor and will easily take a full day’s catch (within legal limits, of course) and a deck wash rounds off the plumbed additions.
The Horizon has plenty of deck space for separate GPS and sounder units if you prefer not to toggle through screens while underway or trying to find the perfect fishing spot. The gunwale is 0.7m high, which is a perfect height to lean against and there is plenty of space under the side pockets for your toes, making leaning against the side of the boat a safe and comfortable way to do it.
Overall, cabin space is a little small for a boat of this size. The 570 model offers an extra foot of space in the cockpit and would be well worth consideration. For any sort of fishing from this boat we would suggest two to three people would be the most you would want on board. However, the hull stability and roll when all bodies are to one side is manageable.
The transom door is a neat addition but comes at the expense of being able to lean up against the gunwale in the rear port corner. If you are catching big fish, you are limited to fighting them from only one corner of the boat. The extended swim platform is also a great addition for family use, but again, if you are a serious angler you could be better off without it.
A bait board and rocket launcher round out the fishing additions. The bait boat is mounted in the middle of the transom and is situated at a perfect height and features a neat little storage box underneath. Six rod holders have also been well thought out and positioned.
Anchoring is a simple procedure and you can either walk around the cabin to the front, courtesy of the wide gunwale, or access the anchor via the cabin hatch which is large enough to fit a sizable person.
The Horizon 540 sits on a Dunbier Loader Series trailer with keel rollers and side skids. Total package weight is 1450kg, making it towable with a Commodore or Falcon type of vehicle. Overall dimensions on-trailer are 6.3m long x 2.4m wide x 2.5m high to top of windscreen. Start measuring the garage!
The Horizon 540 is a neat package which has been well thought out and is a perfect compromise between affordable family cruising and fishing. Attention to detail and carefully considered standard additions and options should place this on the must-see list for anyone looking for a boat this size.