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Campion Explorer

Campion Explorer

Campion is not a name many in the UK will be familiar with, but it a long established company of some 31-years based in Kelowna on the shores of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada.

I sent an e-mail to a fishing friend based in Vancouver, British Columbia asking him what he knew about Campion. His reply was that they are one of the most noted names in Canadian boat construction with a reputation for advanced design and innovation. Due to the sheer size of many Canadian lakes boats need to have open sea capabilities regards rough weather and the Campion range is a frequent choice for popular choice for Canadian anglers working the inshore waters off Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

I was heading down to Poole, Dorset then, to test a Campion Explorer 582 that looked ideal for inshore fishing for bass, wrasse, plus longer range work in ideal conditions.

Build Features

Campion boats feature a redefined hull with exaggerated high pressure zones to increase stability and to give a higher planing speed with improved economy.

Their hulls are built using a glass fibre stringer system eliminating the chance of rot, increasing strength and encouraging light weight.

They also feature 3TEX which is a 3-D woven fabric that requires less resin to form the layers of fabric in to one with a higher glass to resin ratio. This creates laminates that are lighter, stronger and stiffer.

Checking over the boat myself, the bow features an anchor locker built in to the bow structure, but there was no bow roller fitted on the test boat. Forward of the bow is a raised off the deck triangular upholstered seating area concealing a large storage locker accessed via a hinged hatch. This is large enough to take fenders, spare rope and other essential items.

There is also a full stainless steel safety rope fully encompassing the bow from the front edge of the centre console and a T cleat for tying off at the bow. Additional T cleats are sighted on the mid gunnel tops.

The console is built with a stainless steel frame carrying a Florida Keys style sun protection canopy keeping the sun off the helm area. These stainless rails also act as grab handles when manoeuvring around the boat. The top rear of the frame also carries four stainless rod holders built rocket launcher fashion, plus a deck light.

The design of the console itself features a double seat built in to the front of the console which hides a live bait well via a hinged hatch cover. There is also a cushioned backrest above this for added passenger comfort.

At the port side the console has a hinged door which gives access inside the console to more storage room. This area is surprisingly spacious and will hold stacks of tackle securely, plus gives enough room for a small boat toilet to be carried. An important point when the family are on board.

The helm wheel is on the port side and is a round car type with a slightly roughened rubberised coating, but this gives good grip and is very comfortable to use.

The ignition is low down on the port side of the wheel, with the instruments easy to read and mounted in a slightly angled dashboard rear of the wheel. The throttle lever is to starboard of the wheel and at a comfy height. The upper flat area of the console has more than enough room to fix GPS and sounder, plus a compass putting each in direct view when seated. The console is completed with a spray dodger that protects the occupants when seated.

The helm area also carries a two/three man bench seat with a back rest that can be levered forwards or backwards allowing the bench seat to be used facing the stern when fishing. This bench seat area also hides an additional storage locker ideal for spare clothing, spare life jackets and other items

The inside of each gunnel has been recessed to take rods, deck brushes and the boat hook storing them out of harms way for working in side the boat easily.

There are stern lockers either side at the stern built in to small dive platforms. These again offer a surprising amount of inner space. The splash well does jut out in to the main deck area which does limit room a little. This is topped with a short safety rail.

On the outer stern dive platform there is a stainless steel boarding ladder. The T cleats at the back are situated inside the back edge of the stern corner. This can be a problem when mooring and tend to be best placed on top of the gunnel for better access and to minimise boat rub from ropes.

The gunnel height from the console to the stern is not that high, I’d guess at about 20” at the stern and this really is too low for sea work without having a safety rail fitted.

Assessing the whole boat though, it is well designed to give easy work space for fishing, and the storage space for the size of the boat is exceptional. The overall finish was good and the quality of fixtures and fittings top grade.

It looks good too finished in all white with a black line.

Performance

My test Campion Explorer 582CC was partnered with a Yamaha 150hp 4-stroke engine that hinted at lively performance.

It was late afternoon test with an intermittent sun and wind over tide, though the sea was fairly flat as we headed out towards Swanage Bay.

Initially there were four of us aboard, but even this well loaded at cruising speed the boat proved very stable and not prone to suddenly leaning over to one side when one of us suddenly shifted position.

I transferred to another boat acting as a camera platform, and watching the 582 being put through her paces. I saw that the bow wave remains quite low pushing outwards, and the wake left behind was flat and minimal. You can see from this where those exaggerated pressure points work getting the boat on the plane and skimming the surface to maximise efficiency.

I jumped back aboard the 582 and took the wheel myself. The throttle power band comes in instantly and remains even throughout the full throttle range. Push the lever forwards and the boat hesitates for just a fraction before leaping forward and climbs over the hill quickly to hit full planing speed.

To get a better idea of the power band and top speed, I edged her back in to the accompanying boat to drop people off and reduce our crew to just two of us. During the transfer manoeuvre the boat behaved predictably at minimum speed, even with a slight side wind and is not difficult to steer under minimum power, something I had considered with her high planing capability.

Edging away from the other boat, I whipped the wheel over and shoved the throttles forward. In a straight line the boat was running at 40mph at around 4500RPM. My Yamaha engine bible tells me that the maximum fuel consumption on the F150A 4-stroke is 60-litres per hour, but in normal use economy would be better than that.

Taking my hands off the wheel I did notice a slight bias to pull to port, but this was minimal and not caused by poor distribution of stowed gear, so I’m not sure what accounted for this.

Looking for some more exciting water I started to hedge hop my own wake. The boat takes a good wave at speed well with little hull chatter, but you do occasionally hear a little panel flex noise rear of the helm when really pushing in to waves, but this is minimal.

Finding a series of slightly bigger waves I took the 582 at an angle across them looking for sideways sheer, but the hull grips well and I had to make little compensation at the wheel, the boat keeping a pretty straight course on her own.

Making quite tight turns and still under decent power the boat digs in at the stern and grips well, only showing a slight tendency to slide when forcing her through a turn exaggerated beyond normal use.

Finding reverse and backing the boat in to the waves you do see some water climb in to the splash well, but it didn’t get to high up the transom to cause any concern and showed little sign of water making it back over the transom and on deck in the conditions I had on the day.

Visibility when seated at the helm is good, but as always I preferred to stand for maximum vision over water, especially as I was in unfamiliar seas.

Cruising at a steady 30mph the boat is quiet and stable. I also noticed that the canopy made little if any noise which added to the comfort. The wind through some canopies can mentally wear you down on a long run home.

With the power off I found the canopy made no appreciable difference to the way the boat drifted either, even though the wind had built to a steady for 3 to 4.

Attacking waves head on and I did find that spray did find its way back to the helm. We had five back aboard travelling back to the marina with one guy sat on the live bait well getting soaked, plus the two of us at the helm getting a fair share of the damp stuff, but to be fair we were pushing the boat pretty hard and easing back would have reduced this, and its something most other boats of this type suffer from as well.

I found the Campion Explorer 582 handles really well, is easy to work with, stable and very predictable when at sea. She’d make a comfortable fishing platform, and with plenty of room to work from, even with the canopy frame.

Campion Explorer

Things We’d Change

I definitely fit a 6” stainless steel safety rail to both the gunnels and the transom. As it is the gunnels are too low and it would be all too easy for someone to fall over the side. You could then also use these as mounts for rod holders

I’d change the positions of the stern T cleats and reposition them on the upper rear gunnels.

On the test boat there was no bow roller. I suggest fitting one to make lifting anchor easier and to minimise bow damage.

I was conscious of the ignition key on the port side of the console being a little too vulnerable should a knee or lower hip catch it and break it off. Maybe that’s just me though.

Conclusion

I see this as a two man boat ideal for inshore bass fishing, general reef fishing and picking your weather for longer range trips to deeper water. It has serious speed capability meaning you can launch and hit the throttles powering yourself out to offshore marks for just a couple of hours on a summers evening maximising your overall fishing time, as well making a full day of it. It has the room to take the wife and kids out for the day too.

I was really impressed by how much storage space the 582 has to offer, plus you’ve loads of seating area available. I also like the overall design which gives you easy manoeuvrability around the boat.

Specifications

  • Length: 20’ 8”
  • Beam: 7’ 8”
  • Draft: 17”
  • Weight: 1920lbs
  • Maximum Engine Size: 150hp