With all of the wants, needs and desires sorted and a rough plan on what I wanted inside, I set off on a search for a custom boat builder who wouldn’t send me bankrupt!
My first port of call was to drop in and see the team at Stones Corner Marine for a bit of advice and some direction.
James Cullen, one of the owners at Stones Corner Marine pointed out a few facts about aluminium and fibreglass and he swayed my mind both ways, however I eventually settled on fibreglass as a hull material. This made perfect sense for a lot of reasons, most of all the ride as every time I fish the Flathead Classic the wind decides to have a good old fashioned crack at breaking my back and a glass boat would help sort that out somewhat.
From here I started to look at local glass boat builders and Shayne McKee and Wayne Kampe advised me to talk to the team at Galeforce Boats, so on a road trip we stopped in and saw Tony to see if he could meet my requirements.
Obviously Tony was pretty enthusiastic about his boats and after an hour or so of just messing about in the factory talking, discussing, modifying and getting some lessons in fibreglass, Tony had convinced me further that a glass boat just might be the best thing. So I sent Tony the rough plan I had and he got back to me with the good news that my ideas would be easy to incorporate with little change. So the hull was sorted – at last!
The chosen hull was the 4.8m Galeforce set up as a tiller steer. The boat was a bit bigger than I first wanted, but the advantages and the options it opened up were huge. This little boat could comfortably take on most days out on the bay and on a good day, head to the inshore grounds so I could tackle some mackerel, tuna and hopefully one day a little billfish. Being fibreglass the hull rides softer than I am used to and almost encourages you to go out on those days where previously I might have just said no.
But these extra options didn’t come with a reduction of the boat’s primary purpose, which was to hunt the flats in the estuaries and knock around the dams and rivers for cod and barra. In the water the 4.8 drew around a foot of water, a little more than what I was used to, but it would just take a little bit of time to get used to that. The stability was not as good as the vee-nose punts and tinnies I was used to fishing from, however it compared favourably with standard tinnies. This stability is a big factor for me as I lure cast a lot and often there are two or three people all on one side of the boat. The Galeforce was more than acceptable in these stakes.
Other advantages were the sealed floor that allowed for a massive 80L underfloor fuel tank, a customised live well/esky combination, storage for my Plano tackle trays, a mass of storage up front, a custom built rod locker, the ability to build a neat little sounder console and so much more.
And the best part of all from my 6-year-old daughter’s point of view was that the sides were higher than my old tinnie. And that’s has to be a good thing when it comes to having a bit more fun out in the boat with the family.
I had a few demands on the outboard I was going to buy and they all came together with the Honda BF60 4-stroke tiller steer. Firstly, this outboard is very user-friendly with electric start and power trim and tilt. Electric start was a given as was the need for the outboard to be 3 star rated from OEDA in regard to pollution. And the new tiller handle on the 60 Honda meant I did not have to install a trim tilt switch on the hull as it is placed perfectly where your thumb rests while operating the craft. In real use this trim and tilt switch was magic.
But the best bit was the Trolling Control Switch. To be able to drop 50rpm or jump up 50rpm is amazing. It makes about 0.1 knots of difference and with a range from about 750rpm through to 1000rpm, this little device is brilliant. If you do any amount of trolling, take a look at this outboard because it seriously rocks! I’ve already used it on a few flatty trolls and it controls the troll speed brilliantly.
Other features that made the Honda a contender, included the BLAST technology, ECOmo (Economy Controlled Motor) technology and the overall output that was more than adequate to push around the 4.8m Galeforce. I had also been lucky enough to test this exact outboard just over 2 years ago at Lake Natimuk in Victoria when the new 60 was released onto the Australian market. We had the chance to actually see the fuel figures in use, got to play with the BLAST feature and the Trolling Control setup and lastly we saw this outboard on several hulls. Apart from the major advantages of the BLAST, which improves hole shot markedly, the ECOmo was very appealing as this technology incorporates Lean Burn Control technology, which allows combustion to operate on a leaner air/fuel ratio than stoichiometric air/fuel. An O2 sensor, together with the ECM, precisely controls the air/fuel mixture for the best fuel economy at cruise setting.
The BF60 also has a multi-pole AC generator (ACG) that provides 22amp of battery charging capacity! Ample power for onboard marine electronics, livebait tanks and other equipment, which is brilliant for longer trips where I don’t have access to power, forget my charger or bring the charger and don’t have my Engel generator! Yes I do all of these things regularly.
So overall the Honda BF60 is a remarkable piece of engineering that ticked every box I wanted ticked and best of all the team at Bay Marine rigged it all up with minimal fuss and no issues. And I would absolutely recommend a qualified mechanic installs any tiller steer outboard that requires bolting on through the hull. It was a lot more complicated than I first thought and the Bay Honda team were efficient and explained it all clearly to me.
The trailer was always going to be an interesting project. I have yet to own a trailer that lasts. Why that is so is beyond me and I suppose it all comes down to keeping package prices as low as possible. But after a few repairs and a few dodgy trailers I’d had enough. It was time for me to get a trailer that had all that I wanted and was over-engineered to last.
I chose an R and M trailer from South East Queensland as they essentially custom build their trailer to suit the client’s needs. My list of options was thrown at them and to my relief they had no hesitation in confirming that everything I wanted could be done. So with that in mind I ordered a custom keel roller trailer.
This trailer was built from alloy I-beam and came with a spare wheel kit, stainless steel brake components and I had the bolt package upgraded to stainless as well. The trailer would be capable of handling almost 1200kg and the 4.8m Galeforce was not going to come close to that, which meant I had the ability to use the boat a little bit like a trailer when on longer road trips – something I was very keen to be able to do. Things like swags, tents, tackle boxes and the like could all be towed to the destination in the boat leaving the car’s cabin with more room. Gold!
The wheels were large and the spare wheel was attached to the trailer’s frame, making this the perfect trailer for me. Add in that the trailer was set up as a drive on and drive off trailer and this old boy was pretty stoked.
I’ve already mentioned the fabulous i-Pilot and that was the first electronics accessory as to me it’s the most important. After much discussion with the team at BLA, primarily Tim Morgan and Shaun Clancy, I was convinced to go for an 80lb i-Pilot. This meant 24V of battery were needed. In reality I can usually see the snags I am fishing for jacks and Murray cod and when I am flathead fishing I can usually see the sand and weed banks. This piece of equipment is far more important than the sounder, however…
If I am impoundment fishing for native fish or barra, a sounder is an absolute must. It not only allows you to see the depth, bottom contours, weed beds and more, these days you can actually see the fish!
To keep it simple I chose a Humminbird 898 after some great advice. This unit was small enough to fit on the console, yet had the screen size, power and ability to literally separate fish from water, and I generally need all the help I can get doing that!
Although not new technology these days, the side imaging and screen resolution was phenomenal, plus all SI units from Humminbird come with down imaging, a great feature that shows you more clearly what the snag or rock bar actually looks like.
But even better was that this unit linked in with the i-Pilot. This literally means that I can mark a feature on the sounder and tell the i-Pilot to go there. It’s almost getting too easy. I can’t wait to really get my head around this combination function and see how it improves my fishing opportunities. I say opportunities because you still have to catch the fish and fish the structure the right way. All of these electronics aids are still simply that, aids.
Livewell wise I had the team at Marine Warehouse fit a custom Flow-Rite livewell system into the massive well that was placed at the rear of the front casting deck. The system was a little bit of their basic system mixed in with their tournament grade system and I am glad I got the right advice from the start. My system has a manual and timed recirculating option and a separate fill system that allows me to pump however much water I need into the well. I can recirculate water, change the water completely by draining the well and adding new water or I can add ice and make the easiest ice slurry I have ever seen. The Flow-Rite system is simple to use, works incredibly well and will allow me to keep fish in the best condition wether that is for release or for keeping to eat. I love it.
One important piece of equipment I had never really given any thought to was a fuel filter and the team at Marine Warehouse solved that problem with their new release WaterScreen Nano Fuel Filter. This smaller version of the standard fuel filter has all the same attributes as their original and much larger version, however its size make it ideal for use on tiller steer boats of any size. I now have little fear of the fuel hampering the outboard’s performance or indeed doing much worse to the outboard.
I also installed a series of lights from Korr Lighting that operated on two switches. The first switch controlled the floor lights that would be used when baitfishing at night while the second switch controlled the hatch lights. These lights allow me to see what is in the hatches and are more brilliant than I thought they would be. We also installed a 10w spotlight underneath the electric motor mount. For locating channel markers and the like at night it’s brilliant.
Batteries are super important, especially with my electric use so I didn’t have any other choice than to stop in and see Steve Eldred at Battery Traders in Logan. Steve chose and installed the right batteries for my needs and did a first class job. He also sorted out the right chargers for the batteries to make it easy for me. I dropped the boat off one morning and the next morning I picked it up all ready to go. It was awesome.
Perhaps the most interesting other accessory is the Hydrowave. This piece of electronic noise is very interesting indeed and I can’t wait to give it a serious crack over the next 12 months or so. It recently won the Best of Show Boat Accessory award at the AFTA Trade Only show. I am also going to get a custom-fitted travel cover to stop prying hands and to stop the police pulling me over for an unsecured load and also to protect thing like tents, swags and more from weather when travelling. These days there are many reasons to have a travel cover and I will certainly get one.
And I am sure there will be all sorts of weird and wonderful accessories that find their way onto the boat over the coming years. I’ll probably wreck a perfectly good boat, but at least I’ll be wrecking my boat!
Next issue we hit the water and look at how everything worked out. I will discuss the pitfalls I had as well as talk about what I love, what I’d change and any thoughts on how I would do it differently next time.
The below list are the suppliers I chose to use. While some gave me a great price, the cost did not influence my buying decision. The decision was based on quality, the ability to meet my expectations and the service quality. I am not amazing at maintenance or fixing things up so all the products chosen were easy to maintain and had a reliability that many friends vouched for.
Battery Traders Logan
(07) 3209 3144
120aH batteries for electric, cranking battery for motor, dedicated chargers
(07) 3269 2702
Fit out and service of outboard
Minn Kota i-Pilot 55lb
All stainless latches, grab rails, screws, seats, switch panels, nav lights and more
--e-mail address hidden--
0427 870 799
Galeforce 4.8m Tiller, custom deck and internals
--e-mail address hidden--
07 3801 8332
Boat Light Strips
07 3272 7701
WaterScreen Nano fuel filter
Flow Rite livewell system