|  First Published: May 2011

The Surtees 4.85 Workmate is a compact plate alloy craft that is ideal for those seeking sure ride, handling and useful angling features. Suited to bay or estuary work, it can even make the occasional run offshore in the right conditions.

General Layout

The 4.85 Workmate’s cuddy cab is well designed. Set up with a three piece windscreen, it provides slip stream protection for those at the helm seating and enhances the craft’s sleek lines.

The cuddy features a flat tread plate floor with a big front opening hatch to allow access to the deep anchor well at the bow. Ample storage was allocated on a wide overhead shelf to port. The best use of the cuddy cab would be for gear storage or as sheltered seating in bad weather; there’s no provision for bunks.

Exiting the cuddy cab to dig some yabbies on a beach or bank would be easy as the front hatch is fairly wide and the bow rail offers a useful hand hold.

Sturdy comfortable pedestal seats on storage boxes are provided for skipper and first mate. Aft of the windscreen is a wide carpet-lined shelf – just the place for a 10” sounder/GPS screen – extended full width across the rear of the cuddy and is set up with a neatly constructed dash area extending down and in front of the helm seating.

The dash set up has gauges for the Honda 60 installed up top, steering wheel is central with switches higher and to starboard. Forward controls, plus a neat shelf, are set up at the skipper’s right elbow. Overall an efficient and ergonomically pleasant driving position with all items easily monitored or reached.

An optional alloy frame was set up on the test rig with overhead rod holders directly aft of the helm area; it was high enough to duck under with ease but close enough to access the rods.

cockpit shelving

The cockpit of the 4.85 Workmate offers a lot of fishing room with the nearly 2m wide and long tread plate floor. Additional seats were not fitted to the test rig, although clip-on side seating is just one of its many extra features.

Cockpit features include two rod holders plus a drink holder each side, 30cm wide decks with rubberized non-skid top surface, and a grab rail aft. A gunwale height of around 600mm provides ample security for three for four anglers to work.

Cockpit shelving was generous. Large off floor side pockets adorned each side and continued aft under the transom with a separate central compartment for the engine filter and battery. In all, a praiseworthy arrangement.

Catch storage is via a large under floor storage compartment aft, with the craft’s cockpit sump and bilge pump directly aft again.

Twin boarding platforms are set up at the stern. Divers or swimmers can enter the craft by the wide non-skid platform to port, which is set up with a ladder and grab rail.

Ride, handling, performance

Surtees craft are built to last. The 4.85 Workmate boasted 4mm plate construction all round with six under floor welded stringers, associated compartments, and a fully welded tread plate floor.

The 350kg, 18º Vee hull is without formed strakes on the bottom but has a water ballast system (capacity 280L) built into it via a keel tunnel, which assists both the ride quality and stability at rest. And I would rate the ride of the 4.85 Workmate as having one of the best I’ve experienced in an alloy craft of this size.

The Surtees water ballast system is controlled through a cable set up at the rear that opens or closes a flap on the exterior of the tunnel. Test runs were done and with the ballast tank open the hull settled just that little deeper, which offers even better stability at rest. The water almost expelled instantly as the craft moved forward onto the plane.

In Moreton Bay chop the Surtees powered along without fuss or undue noise. The well raked bow made easy going of chop that might have bothered a similar sized alloy craft, and the cuddy cab’s well formed water line chine, plus 710mm high sides, kept water well away from the two of us on board.

Handling was really outstanding. The Surtees 4.85 Workmate could be thrown around like a go-kart on a race track. It could practically turn on its own length then recover to a dead flat attitude in only a couple more lengths. Even though not so important in daily fishing use, it is nice to know that the craft will handle sharply if required to do so. Tracking dead straight was as easy as maintaining just the lightest touch on the wheel with its non feedback steering. The Workmate is a beautifully balanced rig.

Engine ratings for the 4.85 Workmate are from 30-75hp, which saw the 60hp Honda astern as near top power. The 60hp started first turn of the key, ran so quietly that the only sound was that of the engine’s tell tale, and had plenty of power through all throttle settings. The match of engine and hull was fine; the smooth and quite nippy Honda easily pushing the craft onto the plane at 14.4km/h at 2200rpm (very good hull performance), with 3,000rpm seeing 26.3km/h, 4,000rpm provided 34.6km/h and 5,000rpm at 43.2km/h. Test runs were carried out with two people aboard.


The Surtees 4.85 Workmate is a fishing rig through and through. It’s suited to bay or estuary work, with a run off shore in the right conditions also possible.

The 710mm external freeboard and the overall excellent stability of the hull, offer good sea keeping ability and general all round fishability of a high standard. It should be a dry boat under most conditions. About the only options an angler might tick on order would be a live well and bait station.

Summing Up

The Surtees 4.85 Workmate offers a lot at a very reasonable price. As a well built plate alloy rig from a long standing manufacturer it should offer years of fishing life. It’s a stable craft, runs quietly, handles very well indeed, and will revel in the sort of conditions that a sub 5m craft is best suited. Finish was of a high standard with all welds visible but smoothed, finished with an excellent paint job.

Fishing room was good; even with clip-on side seating there should be ample area for between two and four anglers to enjoy themselves. Supplied on a Dunbier trailer the craft is a one person launch/retrieve operation and ideal for family use.

Price, as supplied by Leisure Marine of Capalaba was $34,875. Contacts are phone, (07) 3245 5111, fax (07) 3245 1263 or on the net at www.leisuremarine.com.au .

Technical Info

Weight hull:350kg
Hull construction:4mm bottom, 3mm sides
Engine fitted:60hp Honda four-stroke
Towing:Family six sedan or wagon, or 4WD
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