Kitted out Cross Country
  |  First Published: April 2012

Once upon a time there was a family in need of several new boats. One for deep sea fishing, one for estuary work and crabbing, one to teach the kids to ski and one to ferry them to picnic and swimming spots. The wife also wanted one for the Caribbean but the husband thought this was taking things too far. They all lived semi-happily ever after.

Back in the real world I can’t have a boat for every circumstance and need to compromise on choice of a new boat because I want it to do a lot of things.

This time I’m going with a fibreglass composite. I’m sick of getting belted to pieces in tin boats in the chop, which is the way I’ve gone in the past for fear of ruining a glass boat on a rock bar – I’ve have hit my share, but it’s happening a lot less frequently now I’m maturing.

We’ve just moved back to Queensland, leaving Darwin and a 6m plate boat behind. The boat was great for the long river and ultra remote island hopping trips, but when it came to going to check the pots or heading to a beach for a sunset beer it was more of a job than I would have liked.

Luckily for us Cross Country Boats make a glass composite 4.3m model, and are more than happy for us to customise our orders. I have read good reviews about the boat, and two of my best mates have bought one and are stoked with them. I’m really happy with the ride and have been convinced that these boats are nothing like the fibreglass strength of old.

I have attached the drawings that are hopefully going to let me kit it out really well, while still keeping the size down.


I want to be able to run in super shallow water. I do a lot of crabbing around the saltwater lakes of the sunshine coast and the winner runs in the least water. It’s the same when you’re on the dream trip in the gulf and you have to get in the shallow creek mouth, or when following the creek to the very end, only to see the million mangrove trees that you knew would be up there – but hey, it was worth a try.

Enter the CMC motor jack plate. The jack plate will allow me to run at that shallow depth which will give me an edge in the crabbing game. It will also give me better fuel economy and more power out of the hole.

The esky I am mounting in the middle of the floor is to also be used as a table. It needs to have a narrow width to allow easy access around the floor. I found the Evakool plastic esky was the right size, however when I rang to buy it, the salesman talked me into a fibreglass one. I told him I had a fibreglass esky before but the lid buckled from being used as a casting platform. He said and I quote, “Tap dance on ours for the next 10 years. If it’s not the same we will replace it”.

He had me sold. Fibreglass holds ice for longer, therefore keeping beer colder for longer. It turned out to be an easy decision!

I often end up coming into the ramp that hour too late and in complete darkness, so I had a need for a good lighting setup. I found Korr Lighting at the Tinnie and Tackle Show last year. I bought a 12m waterproof strip of LED lights to run under the gunwale. They have a dimmer switch so when your anchored over your favourite spot at night you can still see but other boats can’t see you. Clever.

I was watching The New Inventors on TV a couple of years ago and saw this bloke who invented a new lightweight anchor. Great idea but he’ll probably go broke. Much to my surprise the guy has a very successful business at Hervey Bay.

I was very tempted to buy the 1kg anchor recommended for boats up to 3.5m since my boat will be light but decided on the 2.3kg one to be safe. They are all one piece and bury fully in the sand. Smaller, lighter, and no base flapping around over the handle.

With the stereo I really wanted to go with ipod technology. After looking around for a while I happily settled on a fusion 700 system. Ipods are too expensive to get wrecked by salt spray, and the fusion has the only fully sealed face on the market and is backed by a three year warranty.

Your ipod slides into the docking station inside your fully sealed stereo. My old boat stereo had the docking station mounted separately under the casting platform and was a bugger to get to, not to mention I had my doubts about how airtight the unit was. I will mount this one at the bow of the boat for easy control by the front riding passenger and mount a remote on or near the console for myself.

I went with Humminbird for my sounder. I love the GPS function when travelling between two points that the screen orientates itself to make navigation easy – instead of facing north all the time. The push button removal is also great instead of unplugging leads and unscrewing side screws every time you take the screen out.

Then it was time to choose what to push it through the water with. I need at least a 40hp, but they weigh the same as the 50hp and really aren’t really that much cheaper. On the odd occasion I have four big blokes and a big esky full of ice and (hopefully) fish, it’s nice to have that extra power there. It will also be hand for bar crossings.

I really want 4-stroke for fuel consumption and low noise. I found that the Honda is the lightest, and from reading engine tests the most fuel efficient and quietest in class. The decision was easy.

Feeling as though I haven’t really skimped on anything so far in this boat building process, I thought I would search for a bargain on the trailer. You couldn’t buy a cheaper one if you tried. I found a trailer from Seatrail that is being imported from china and has Ford bearings, LED lights and a two year warranty.

My main goal for this boat is to make it comfortable, safe, clean, and a pleasure to be in. Cross Country Boats are supplying the safe, a great ride, and a pleasure to be in, while the comfort and cleanliness – which is having everything laid out so your not having to get in everyone else’s way every time you want something – is going to come back to design.

I know it’s going to cost me more to customise it, but not nearly as much as if I don’t build the boat I want and it’s not as user friendly as it can possibly be.

Next edition we’ll talk about the layout, design and build of a little tinnie that I’ve been dreaming about.

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