Orange Roughy Part Four
  |  First Published: November 2011

It has been a little while since the last story on progress, but things are gradually moving along.

The Orange Roughy had a few more ‘structural’ issues than previously first thought, and combined with a massive workload for other major projects at Penguin Composites we haven’t had a real lot to report. Plenty has happened recently though, and the Orange Roughy is set to emerge from the ugly duckling status to the beautiful swan – well maybe something like that!

Heritage finally revealed

I have never been totally satisfied that actual brand and model of the Orange Roughy was correct. The registration papers said it is a Pride, the previous owner said it was something else.

After the first instalment in this story went to press a reader emailed to say that he had exactly the same model boat! Trevor Rowley from Victoria has emailed to say the boat is actually a Caribbean Invader, produced in Victoria during the 1970’s. He hasn’t seen many/any others on the water, and as no one else seems to have seen this particular hull shape I suspect there weren’t many made.

Trevor says that he uses his in Western Port and at Corner Inlet combined with a little offshore work, and rides very well in the rough water as well as being stable at rest. That is a relief, because that is exactly what we are after with this project.

Trevor has a 90hp Brown Band Mercury on his boat, which is a 1985 model. As far as I can determine, engines of that vintage were rated at the crankshaft, not the propeller, so the actual output is probably a bit less than 90hp.

Engines and Transoms

David Mercer at Penguin Composites is something of an expert when it comes to the back end of boats. Any regular viewer of the series ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ will no doubt recall the project boat that David was involved with – the Beast. This boat was an old Bertram with a clapped out old inboard petrol engine. The Beast was fitted with a new transom design and then a 300hp Yamaha outboard was bolted on. It takes an expert to do a job like that, and that same expertise has been applied to the Orange Roughy’s transom.

Given the extra strength in the new stringers and the method of fitting the new transom, David is very confident that the Roughy will handle 150hp of modern outboard very easily.

After a lot of deliberation and research, we have decided to fit a 125hp Mercury Opimax to the stern. This was a very difficult decision, as there are a great many excellent options with outboards these days. The clincher wasn’t down to one single reason, but the weight issue, fuel consumption and the widely-acknowledged reliability of the Optimax range sealed the deal.

We are sourcing our engine through local Tasmanian business Specialist Outboard Service – a relatively new business in Tasmania headed by Grant Garwood. Grant specialises in mobile outboard engine servicing and repairs, as well as the occasional Mercury engine sale and fit-up. Grant has been in the game for a long time and is highly recommended.


The Orange Roughy is currently upside down at Penguin Composites, as the guys have quite rightly decided to do the outside paint job with the boat ‘gunnels down’ before it gets too heavy with the decks and so on fitted. All the ‘issues’ with the hull have been fixed and smoothed over, and the painting process is pretty much done.

The big decision has been all about colour. Ultimately we have decided to paint the hull white, and will reference the Orange Roughy’s heritage with some decals and wraps.

Painting is an important part of the whole process, and while it is a job that the average handy person can do in their sheds or back yards, nothing beats a professional job.

David is using Wattyl Industrial Coatings Colorthane in Alliance White. This is a high gloss polyurethane coating and will make the Roughy look rough no more.

Penguin Composites has found that this product delivers the best in finish and protection, and these guys do a lot of painting!


After wavering one-way and then another, I have decided to build our own. Over the years I have built quite a few horse floats and horse truck backs (as well as plenty of steel sculpture), so welding rods and steel are second nature to me.

We were offered a discount trailer from one of our great advertisers in Queensland Fishing Monthly in Pacific Trailers, but there isn’t much margin in trailers, and while it still would have been heaps cheaper to get the trailer if we were on the mainland, the freight cost of around $1200 to get it over Bass Strait to Tasmania made it more expensive than if we’d bought it at full retail. That piece of water has a lot of negatives….

Essentially the trailer will be a copy of the trailer under ABT boss (and champion angler) Steve Morgan’s Stratos. The Americans have boats and trailers just about as good as you can get, and while most yanky trailers are wider than they probably should be, the basic design for fibreglass boats with the carpet skids and axle placement is excellent. These designs are pretty much the same as ski boat trailers.

The design I want to use is with carpet skids that support the boat along its full length, especially at the transom. With any engine for a boat this size, there is going to be a lot of weight bouncing on the transom, so it is very important to support it as strongly as possible, but more of this in the next instalment.

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