Orange Roughy Part Three
  |  First Published: September 2011

Doing complete re-builds on older boats isn’t for the faint of heart or the tight of budget.

One of the key lessons learnt in the Orange Roughy is to explore a lot deeper into the condition of the structure of the boat.

The Orange Roughy needs a complete re-doing of the stringers that run longitudinally from bow the stern. These timbers give the boat the strength to handle the acceleration thrust of the engine and the pounding the hull can receive when in choppy waters – and in Tasmania that is pretty much all the time.

Doing the stringers is a complicated job – the old ones need to be completely removed, and all the old fibreglass cut and chiselled out to allow the new ones to slot in so as to ensure a good strong job. This is why Penguin Composites have such a great reputation – this is their forte.

The stringers also create the platform for the floor to sit upon and the space for the underfloor foam to sit. As this boat will have raised decks, the floor on the stringers will allow for heaps of under-hatch storage and the addition of an under-hatch fuel tank.

The Plan

The plan shows approximately where the hatches and other important things are placed, and just how much space is dedicated to storage. Safe boating is often about uncluttered decks, and this is very important with raised decks – there isn’t the gunwale height to catch a stumble before plunging into the drink.

Having a plan at this stage is very important, as there is plenty that can be done under all the floors that makes life very easy later down the track, such as laying conduit for pipes, cables and so on.

Before the decks are built, provision needs to be made for wiring and plumbing from one end of the boat to the other. As this boat will have a bow mount electric engine, we need to make provision to lay cables from the batteries (which are located just forward of the consoles) to the bow mount. While it would be easy to just glass over the cables, I suspect as time progresses we will be adding all sorts of things to the bow of the boat, so we will put in some conduit to enable cables to be replaced or added to.

In addition to the bow mount, we have decided to put in a fully recirculating live well at the stern. Initially we weren’t going to, but with the chance of doing the odd tournament and so on, we may as well put it in. If we don’t use it then we can always use it for storage.

Live wells are a pain to install after the floors are in, so we will be putting the plumbing in place before the floors are added, and then installing the pumps in a place where they can be accessed if need be for cleaning or maintenance.

Having a conduit between the bow and the console area allows tricky things to be added after the floors are in, like an outboard trim toggle switch at the bow – a bow mounted sounder and so on. All you need to do is put a length of string in the cable so that new cables can be pulled through.


The Orange Roughy will be fitted with a Humminbird 798Ci Combo GPS and sonar unit. This model has the extraordinary side imaging as well as the ultra-handy GPS mapping system. The unit has a 640x640 pixel 5" display with 4000 watt power output, and includes dual card slots for maps and saving waypoints. I have plenty of fishing mates like Wayne Friebe that rave about this unit, so we are very happy to be installing one of these.

Up front will be one of the new Minn Kota Terrova iPilot bow mounted electric engines. I’ve had plenty of bow mounts over the years when I was guiding, and the iPilot has been getting so many rave reviews that we just had to get one.

As this is a big boat, we will be installing the 24volt 80lb thrust model Riptide Terrova, and just to keep things in order I’ll also punt for the on-board charger as well.

In terms of the build up at this stage, the big bow mount means we will need to make the mounting plate at the front very strong to cope with the torque with 80lbs of thrust, and provision for big enough cables to run to the batteries.

These two essentials turn this boat from an average vessel into something that can make the transition from chasing trout on Great Lake and hunting bream on the Derwent River to a snapper chaser in the Tamar and a kingfish catcher off Elephant Rock on the east coast.

We still haven’t made the final decision about outboard engines yet, save for the fact that it will be between 115hp and 150hp.

Trailers are very close to be sorted. Initially I was going to build my own, but reality has kicked in and we will be sourcing an Australian made trailer to suit. The idea is to use a ski-boat style tandem axle trailer with carpet skids. This will support the hull properly along its full length and allow for easy launching and drive-on retrieval.

What’s Next

Once the stringers and transom have been finished it will be full on into the deck construction and conduit and plumbing layout.

By the next instalment rolls around we will have the outboard engine sorted, the trailer being built and the decks on the way.

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