The concept of plastic boats does initially conjure up a joke or two and you would be excused for seeing the novelty side – but that is where the joke finishes.
The first time I encountered a Polycraft was as a non-boater in an ABT BREAM event on the Hawkesbury a few years back. I was a little apprehensive about attempting the swell and chop of Broken Bay in a plastic boat but the 4.1m Challenger handled all the conditions superbly, from passing super bream boat and game cruiser wakes to sloppy cross-tide winds, I was impressed with the ride.
My initial preconceptions on how the boat would perform with two big blokes aboard were erased and I had an instant respect for what I had unkindly called a floating wheelie bin.
Since my initial contact I have had the pleasure of riding in the open/tiller-steer and side console versions powered by donks from 30hp to 50hp so I had no hesitation in accepting the offer of an official test in Vic Arnold’s 4.1 Challenger, prepared by Twin Towns Marine.
Power choice is a personal thing but an intending owner should consider the weight of the load in the boat under normal circumstances. A 30hp engine is great one-up and with minimal gear, but with two big blokes with all the tackle, a full livewell and so on, you may need to consider a few more ponies.
During the photo shoot I quizzed Vic why he had bought it and what he thought of it over the two years he’d owned it. He simply said he loved it, especially the confidence that the hull can take the pounding on the water, even if his body couldn’t. Without seams or welds, the Polycraft hull has no weak spots to fatigue and split.
On the test day, a cold south-westerly around 25 knots whipped the incoming tide into a rolling, capped and uncomfortable chop. Vic opened up the 50hp Suzuki and we punched across the wind.
While spray was crossing the cockpit, I was surprised at just how little. I guess it depends a lot on how the boat is driven and in what conditions, but the Polys don’t seem to be any wetter than other boats of their configuration.
They certainly are more stable at rest than most and that is a big bonus, especially if you intend to use an electric motor on the bow.
The hull settles quickly as it comes off the plane and while Vic had a tiller-steer electric clamped to the bow rail, a bow-mount, foot-controlled motor would be easily fitted to give a totally hands-free approach.
The fit-out of the side console is simple and has no real flash and sparkle to it. The console has a tinted screen and limited space for the standard gauges and perhaps a block of accessory switches or small sounder.
The steering wheel is high and unobstructed, with the throttle control a relaxed reach away.
The swivel seats are well padded and sit atop moulded boxes with open storage underneath. With a little imagination and a modicum of handyman skills, it would not take any effort to customise and organise even more storage space available in the 4.1 Challenger.
The same efforts could be applied to the face of the side console, where vertical rod racks could be mounted, There is nowhere else that can safely store rods in the boat.
Remember, too, that this is only a 4.1m craft and that initial roomy feel could soon get crowed with heaps of gear, a mate and three or four rods each.
The Polycraft ride is smooth, with the impact and much of the jarring absorbed by the dual-hull construction offered by the rotomoulding process the Polycraft team use. Any possible cuts, scratches and holes the hull accumulates over time can be easily repaired without any of the additional costs of painting or weak spots.
With a newish 50hp Suzuki, it was not surprising that we were skipping along the chop and slop of the late-afternoon Wallis Lake roll.
This shallow lake can deteriorate quickly but I’d be confident in the boat’s ability to handle the roughest water the weather could whip up.
The factory stainless steel work is, as you would expect, sound and Vic had installed another stainless grab rail on the passenger side to help ride out the rough water. It’s also a good idea because some people have a tendency to hold on regardless of the conditions.
There are two aft rails that would be employed by passengers at the stern or for entry and exit.
The moulded non-skid sections up forward provide ample grip when moving to or from a wharf or pontoon.
The boat rides pretty well on the four skid rails on the single-axle trailer, too. The Long skids, rather than rollers, mean the hull never becomes point-loaded; weight is distributed along the entire length of the keel side skids. A walkway down the trailer would be a nice touch but once the boat is hooked up to the web strap, winching the boat up to the post is easy.
Don’t expect massive storage areas in a 4.1m boat but you will appreciate the amount of under-deck space Polycraft have afforded. There are no flash rod holders or tackle box compartments but the two forward under deck wells are 110L each and an open anchor well can swallow a reasonable amount of ground tackle.
Two aft storage bins house batteries and tote fuel containers and the forward storage could be plumbed for a livewell.
The Polycraft 4.1 Challenger is without doubt a contender for anyone looking for a compact estuary fisher for one or two anglers. The smooth ride and almost maintenance-free hull offer many advantages over both glass and alloy competitors. Those who own them reckon they were great purchases and those looking should seriously consider the Polycraft range.
The test boat was sold and serviced by Twin Towns Marine and the experience of Dallas and the gang will help put a turn-key package together just the way you want it.
|Length on trailer:||5.20m|
|Height on trailer:||2.0m|
|Capacity:||4 adults (300kg)|
Standard Features: Anchor well; bow and hand rails; casting platform; driver’s pedestal box and seat; non-feedback steering; pinstripes and Polycraft logo; 2 rod holders; side console box and screen; split front hatch storage; winch point; 4year recreational hull warranty.
Optional extras: Passenger seat and pedestal; carpeted floor; carpeted front and rear casting decks; rear casting deck upgrade; canopy; side pockets; rear bait box/storage box; multi-coloured hull; pinstripes; available built to survey.
For more information contact Polycraft at www.polycraft.com.au or Twin Towns Marine, Phone: 02 6555 2303, fax 02 6555 2306