The Alaska 500 XL has undergone a few changes from the original being retooled with enclosed sides and the neat looking swept back cabin, plus the hull is double skinned incorporating woven sandwich construction. The boat is said to be virtually unsinkable.
The bow is fitted with a forward stainless steel safety rail at a good height that when kneeling you are fully surrounded, also a stainless bow roller and stainless mooring bollard.
The steaming light was fitted direct to the cabin roof on the test boat, but the roof has room for an additional stainless steel gantry for adding height to VHF aerials and rod rocket holders should you so choose. I also noticed the Nav lights were positioned correctly as high as possible on the cabin sides for maximum visibility in bad weather.
The windows are split in to three at the front, the middle one being a Houdini hatch for access for anchoring, with spacious side windows. Sat in the helm seat you have full forward, sideways and rearwards vision. The windows are fitted oversize and secured in place by plastic bolts. A proven system!
The rear cabin edges each have a stainless steel grab rail fitted, with the gunnel tops also carrying a short stainless grab rail.
On deck the helm seat is positioned on the starboard side. The boat is fitted with two upholstered seats with locker access in to the seat console. The helm console features a stainless steel wheel with room for all the instruments on the facing console, plus electronics on the consoles flat top, though most anglers would fit the sounder and radio up on the inner cabin roof out of harms way. You also have locker access inside the helm console.
The switch panel was positioned on the left side of the console top with a recessed fair extinguisher at the base. The switch panel was not flush fitted and this faces into the access space to the forward cabin making it easy to hit the switches unintentionally when passing.
Inside the cabin of the Alaska 500 XL you have U shaped upholstered seating with locker access underneath. Access to the Houdini hatch is easy and gives a comfortable position for hauling anchor.
The rear cabin was fitted with an optional canopy. This is well worth investing in as it makes the 500XL in to a real cabin boat with maximum protection when running in to wet weather, also for keeping the sun at bay should we ever see another decent summer here in the UK. It does not limit working deck space much either and is quick and easy to remove.
The Alaska 500 XL main deck area is spacious and uncluttered, plus is painted non-slip grey for minimum light reflection.
The inside of the gunnels also carry a neat upholstered edge for leaning against when fishing.
The transom is fitted with a full width upholstered seat, but hidden by a drop down flap is a massive inner space with the battery box on the starboard side and with room for main and additional fuel tanks when running the boat to long range.
The splash well is deep with the stern quarters carrying a single rod holder at each side, plus tying off cleats. The starboard side has a stainless steel grab rail with a dive step bolted at the base of the stern. The port side carries an auxiliary engine bracket.
The boat is well finished with no sharp edges and looks smart with the contrasting upholstery and fittings.
On The Water Performance
The 7’ beam gives you the feeling that the boat is way bigger than her actual size, but also contributes to the overall stability of the craft which allows two big blokes to stand on one side and pull in a 50lb plus fish without the boat heeling over at a sharp angle.
Underway, even though the engine was new and tight, the boat is very responsive to the throttle and sits up on the plane in a flash.
The boat seems noticeably quieter in the water than the old Alaska 500 I remember and attacks waves cleanly with no sign of any hull shudder. You can also walk about on deck when underway without the helmsman having to adjust the steerage to any great degree.
Throwing the boat in to tight turns at speed the hull grips the surface well and feels extremely receptive and nimble to the wheel, plus the boat does not heel over at a sharp angle in mid turn to any great degree.
The test Alaska 500 XL was fitted with a 50hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboard. During the test the boat achieved a top speed of 24-knots, but I was well off full throttle as the engine was new and tight. This would equate to an easy cruising speed around 18-knots and a top speed around 28-knots. The fuel consumption is likely to be approximately 15-litres per hour when cruising.
Things We’d Change
The switch panel is on the inside edge of the helm console facing in to the gangway access to the cuddy and Houdini hatch. This means it would be easy to accidentally knock switches when passing either way, especially in a bumpy sea. I mentioned this during the test and they are looking to alter either the position of the switch panel or fit the panel in a recess like the fire extinguisher.
Although the 50hp motor gives good speed and economy and saves some money in the overall package, if I was the purchaser I’d go the extra distance and opt for the 60hp motor which will add very easy cruising speed with little noticeable difference in fuel consumption, plus the slightly bigger engine works less hard to achieve the same result. The boat will take a 75hp unit, though the 50 or 60 will be the obvious choices.
A well proven boat with the advantage of a good build pedigree! For a 16’ 4” boat the 7’ 0” beam makes the boat feel much bigger than she looks from the outside and gives great stability both when underway and when fishing on the drift and at anchor.
The helm seat gives great all round visibility when seated and the helm seat position is very comfy with easy physical and eye access to all controls and instruments.
There is ample space in the available lockers to hide all the bits and pieces onboard, plus the massive space under the transom has the room for additional fuel tanks when long range running maximising deck space.
The Alaska 500 XL can fish two big guys very comfortably, though without the additional canopy attached will fish four if need be for short sessions.
She’s ideal for both inshore and sensible offshore fishing and is still one of the leaders in her class.
Overall Length: 16’ 4”
Beam: 7’ 0”
Engine: 50/75hp Outboard
Approx Height On Trailer: 7’ 0”
CE Category: C8