The iconic tiller steer tinnie – pretty much everyone who's ever spent time on the water has very fond memories of zipping around an enclosed waterway or drifting for flatties with a close friend or family member in one of these.
Australian manufacturers, AnglaPro, have made a name for themselves on the tinnie market in recent years, and the AnglaPro 394 Lite is the newest addition to the popular and successful stable of aluminium boats. Designed to fill a hole in the market for a light-weight, easy to handle, versatile but simple open tiller-steer runabout, this well priced package is sure to be a hit with families with teenagers keen to get onto the water, and those amongst us planning a trek around the coast line and inland waterways of our sunburnt country.
I've tested numerous AnglaPro open aluminium boats since they have sprung up and grown in popularity, and as with all of them the 394 Lite is well built with clean finishes, strong construction, a tidy paint job and no superfluous frills.
The beauty of this small boat is that it can be easily stored, towed, launched and maneuvered on or off the water. Delivered on a single axle trailer with a 15hp Suzuki 4-stroke, it can be towed behind almost any vehicle fitted with a tow ball.
Pushing this clinker style hull off the trailer and into quite calm waters, I can't help but think back to my younger years prowling quiet water ways at dawn looking for the first signs of surface feeding fish or towing friends around on a dinged up thruster surfboard. In fact the boat I learned to love the water from was a basic boat like the 394 Lite, and it did everything we ever needed it to.
The great thing about a basic boat with two bench or cross thwart seats, a carpeted floor, a small forward shelf and flat bow plate is that its so easy to use and can be applied to a range of purposes. Whether it's as a basic tender for a larger boat, a coastal weekend getaway or the first step in a string of love affairs for the growing kids in your family, it’s sure to provide weeks, months and years of fun and enjoyment where ever you choose to get it wet.
The 394 Lite looks very impressive with the traditional lines similar to a vee nosed punt. Manufactured with 2.0mm bottom and 1.6mm sides using a standard rib construction and solid welds at all touch points ensures the hull is sturdy with little vibration underway or at rest.
There is space behind the aft thwart seat for a fuel tank and a spare, plus a bucket or tub to stow ropes or basic fishing gear like hand lines, a chopping board and bait.
Between the seats there is an optional fitted flat floor that runs almost the full width of the 1.69m centre beam and offers a stable flat surface between the seats to make standing and getting around easier. Carpeted in marine grade grey carpet, it goes nicely with the white paint – also an optional extra.
The rear corners are strongly welded using flat aluminium plates, which is the first place I'd be adding in the required rod holders, along with a set of upright rod holders attached to either of the bench seats for rod storage.
The 15hp 4-stroke Suzuki we fitted just prior to rolling out the drive way started immediately and will run for hours on a tank of fuel, due to the technology packed into these great little engines.
We slowly made our way past the moored boats in the Bay, and opened up the 4-stroke 15hp as we cleared the 4 knot zone. As you'd expect the little rig pops up onto the plane with ease and in no time we're zipping along the gently ruffled surface.
Banking from side to side is always fun in tiller steer boat, and the keel and rails deliver a safe and surefooted ride even when I pull hard into a loop at three quarter speed. The bow design cuts easily through the light chop whipped up by the wintry westerly, and the reverse chines deflect spray down and out keeping us dry and carefree.
At rest I feel stable enough to get up and move around, and wish I'd brought along a pack of soft-plastics, a handful of jig heads and a light rod and reel combo to see if we could have tempted a lizard or two to bite.
I switched places with my passenger and took a ride on the forward seat down river towards the more open sections of the tree lined estuary. The ride is as quiet as can be in a small tinnie, with the 4-stroke keeping the noise to a minimum. As we encounter bow waves from other boats we do bang a bit, but that's part of the experience you just have to learn to enjoy. At least we're out getting back to it all, leaving the technology packed world behind us.
The 15hp Suzuki 4-stroke weighs a manageable 44kg and can easily be removed for safe storage. It is possible to opt up to a 30hp outboard, although I'm not convinced this is necessary even with my desire to go as fast as safely possible.
Off the showroom floor, the 394 Lite is impressively finished, feels sturdy, is built well, is evidently capable and priced to compete in today's marketplace. Although really designed for calm water use, with the right conditions and safety gear I'd feel comfortable ducking out to fish the washes, or launching off the beach. That being said these bones of mine have had a bit of experience and it isn't something I'd recommend to a novice or those new to boating.
Whatever your intended use the AnglaPro Lite 394 is a great option for an easy to use and care-free boat that will take you to picturesque places, help you catch a feed or simply have a great day in the amazing waterways Australia has to offer.
The AnglaPro 394 Lite with a 15hp outboard can be picked up at about ______. For more information or to have a look at the AnglaPro range get in touch with your nearest dealer via the website www.anglapro.com.au.
|Construction:||1.6mm sides, 2mm bottom|