I first encountered this pedigree plate aluminium fishing platform at the Fishing and 4 x 4 show at Homebush, and was immediately keen to give it a whirl. As good fortune would have it, my old game fishing teammate Michael Beck had ordered one and he lives only a few kilometres from me. After a quick phone call, we agreed to meet at Bayview boat ramp. I was looking forward to seeing how this boat from Yamba on the Far North Coast would perform to our persistent chop.
Jopalos are made for one thing only – offshore fishing – and that’s why it turned my head at the Fishing Show. It boasts a fair bit of testosterone and at first glance the build quality looked to be top notch.
As Michael got ready to launch, I took out pen and pad to jot down a few details. The first thing I noticed was the fantastic finish on this rig. Excellent welds and a beautiful paint job really make you take notice of this machine.
Up front is an open anchor well that is double drained to the outside. A single large crucifix bollard to tie off the ground gear sits amidships just behind the well. Split bow rails trail all the way back to the stern and provide an excellent handhold when climbing about the boat. On the port coaming up front is the fuel filler which could be a bit of a problem if you have a tight fitting tonneau cover and pull up at a garage to fill. Under the bow is another open well for life jackets or a spare anchor and warp. The raised platform in the foredeck, which hides a 120L fuel tank, is punctuated with in-floor, five either side rod storage. Although this seems a good idea, stored rods do impede access to the anchor and have to be moved. One of the best seats in the house is the small dickey seat in front of the console (which also has internal storage).
Covering us was a hard top with a seven-shooter rocket launcher – which can be de-pinned and lowered for storage purposes. Seated at the helm, forward vision is excellent and there’s plenty of room for two large bums on the single seat, which also acts as an insulated esky for bait and drinks. There’s a separate hanging basket within so bait can also be kept cold separated from food.
There are two watertight lockers flush mounted under the console. One contained personal items and the other housed the CD/MPEG/AM/FM radio feeding to waterproof speakers flush mounted either side of the console.
Standard Suzuki analogue gauges are easy to read and the nine-gang switch panel gives excellent status on the electrics. Also supplied is a power socket for any other appliance such as a spotlight or maybe a kettle to boil up some water for a cuppa. Under the console are the dual batteries right on the centre of gravity. Michael selected a Raymarine sounder and GPS as his preferred electrics.
Four rod holders grace the wide coamings in the cockpit and I loved the supplied rod spreader which clips into a recessed rod holder, a very useful gadget when fishing a mixture of baits.
Small quarter under gunnel pockets run from the helm seat to the transom to store fishing knick knacks. The aluminium floor is carpeted and the cockpit is self draining via two screw-in bungs set into the transom.
A large, fully plumbed livebait well stands proud off the transom, which holds at least half a dozen slimies and around eighteen yellowtail. Above that is a bait and rigging table with an additional two rod holders. A small drawer in the table accommodates the bait preparation tools as well as spools of leaders.
In addition to the livebait pump, there’s a separate bilge pump on an automatic float switch AND a separate rotary pump for the deckwash. If you fish baits and capture bloody pelagics, a deckwash is an essential piece of equipment. Two grab rails at the stern plus an inset berley bucket complete all the hardware down the blunt end of the boat.
I climbed inside the boat and Michael reversed the rig into the water. As he pushed the Jopalo off the trailer, I lowered the 90HP four-stroke Suzuki and kicked her in the guts. The gentle purr of the engine told me she was alive and I slowly motored to the pontoon to pick up my companion.
Steering was a breeze due to the hydraulic set-up and I could swing the engine from lock to lock with one finger. We set off through the four-knot zone to open water. I did notice how laterally sensitive to people movement the boat was but this is a common factor with deep V hulls.
As I increased speed, the boat eagerly climbed on to the step aided by a couple of full length planning strakes under the hull. There was enough grunt for this old salt but some might like a bit more oomph. Then a 115HP or even a 130HP engine might satisfy the need for speed.
We headed up Pittwater and out to sea where we were greeted by a building southerly and short sharp capping chop. At three quarters throttle I hit the waves head on to get the boat airborne. She took off and landed slightly stern first with a very gentle woosh, which in no way strained my ageing lumbar vertebrae.
In hard power turns the boat responded well to helm input and there was no pushing from the cross sea wanting to throw the boat onto an unacceptable track. Working hard across a beam sea, we were very well protected from spray by the small windshield and hard top. Beam sea showed no chine lift and the deep V dug in to keep the boat dead on track.
The next manoeuvre was hard throttle in a following sea and as expected the boat behaved perfectly with no inclination to dig in or broach as we surfed a wave. At rest there was a bit of rock and roll, as to be expected of a deep V hull but the reverse chines played their part in helping keep the boat steady. With both of us leaning out, the boat did list but there was at least 40cm of freeboard to the gunnels. All in all I was impressed by the offshore performance of this thoroughbred fishing platform and it handled the deteriorating conditions with aplomb.
Michael pointed out that his boat, like all Jopalo models, was unique because there is no stock, standard boat. All are built to customer requirements and George the owner will listen to whatever layout you have in mind.
If fishing is your passion and you are looking at a hardcore platform to weave your magic from, take a very close look at the Jopalo.
Boat supplied by Jopalo Boats, 2/10 Uki Street, Yamba NSW 2464; Phone (02) 6646 3273; Fax (02) 6646 1994; Email jopaloboats.com.au; Web address: www.jopaloboats.com.
|Size||5.5m Centre Console|
Standard features: Full level floatation, wide console with fold down screen, console lockers, rear transom lockers, 60L livebait tank, bait board with storage, rod holders and anchor well, flush mounted boarding steps, flush mounted rod holders, removable trolling rod holders, rear console seat box insulated with separate food tray, fold down hard top with rocket launchers, forward console seat box, full length pod with built in berley bucket, side pockets, fully carpeted, painted inside and out, electrics, nav lights, anchor light, bilge pump, float switch, bait tank pump, 2 x under gunnel fluorescent lights, dual maintenance free batteries, isolating switch, deck wash pump, six gang panel switch, VHF radio and aerial.
Price as tested: including Sea-Link multi-roller braked trailer, all safety gear, registrations and on-water instruction if required - $45,500 (incl. GST).
Anchor well The self-draining anchor well holds plenty of warp as well as a reef pick.
Bait table The bait table is at an ergonomic height and has two rod holders for trolling. Underneath is a drawer for rigging tools.
Boat shots 1-4
Transom Shot – This shows transom set-up, boarding steps and the moderate V.
CD/FM/Radio – In an enclosed weatherproof hatch. Speakers are either side of the console.
Hard top with launcher – this is solid and can be used as a grab. Seven shooter rod holders above hard top.
Helm – Comfortable driving position. Standard Suzuki analogue gauges.
Helm Position – this shows the seat/esky which is two man and has an insulated lining for drink/bait. Also has a suspended basket within to keep bait from food.
Helmsman – when seated al controls fall nicely to hand.
Live Bait Well – this is deep, plumbed and has rounded corners. Will swim around 4-5 slimies and a dozen yakkas.
Michael Beck with his pride and joy.
Michael sitting on the dicky seat in front of the console. The seat also has storage underneath.
Optional Spreader – this is a great way of spreading rods when bait fishing. Can be ordered as an option.
Rear cockpit – this shows driving seat and the bait board. The whole floor is carpeted.
Rod Holders – this shows extra rod storage up front inset in the fuel tank. There is the same number the other side.
Transom showing step and sliding transducer.
Underside of hull Minimal planing strakes help to prevent bow lift in choppy water.