The Clark 430 Crewmate reminds me a lot of the small estuary boats I grew up with, the difference being that the hulls these days are much more refined and the ride is uncountable better.
Set up as a forward steer, the Clark 430 is a basic boat that has that element of protection many anglers want, especially if cold weather and a bit of wind are about. At 4.3m long, this rig is an ideal platform for two-up fishing, however the rear seat will allow for four anglers on the boat if you have to. I’d fish this boat 2 up as a maximum, but knowing there was room for a third angler just in case you suddenly found yourself with more friends now that you own a boat.
Internally the Crew Mate is sensibly kitted out. Up front, underneath the bow there is room for storage of large items such as life jackets and safety gear. This is a good place to store this gear too as it keeps it away from the outboard, battery and fuel. Above this storage area, the bow section contains the anchor well, a large enough receptacle for all the rope, chain and anchor you will ever need to secure this boat safely. The anchor well is accessed via a fold out windscreen that is secured with two twist handles. This access is all you need and the bow of the rig can easily be reached making deployment and retrieval of the anchor very easy from the safety of the cabin.
The front dash is large enough to take all your instruments, including space for a massive sounder if you're that way inclined. Gauges, steering wheel and throttle control are all placed sensibly and within easy reach of the skipper’s seat, which, like the first mate’s seat is set down lower than the main floor. In between the two forward seats is a handy little wet storage area. While I wouldn't store fish here, things like bait traps, spare ropes and other odds and ends that can get wet would be ideally stored here out of the way.
The main deck is a good flat working area that backs onto the rear thwart seat. This is a very useable clear space that will allow users to easily access their bait rods, troll lines and pick up yabby and crab pot floats. Just in front of the rear thwart seat are some storage pockets on either side that can hold all sorts of bits and pieces. They’re not large, however they are very handy to keep items off the floor and keep the working space neat and tidy.
Behind the rear seat is the battery (with an isolator switch) and the tote tank for fuel and strapped onto the back was the impressive 40hp EFI Mercury 4-stroke. This outboard was a good match for the rig with the boat reaching 21 knots at 5,800rpm, which was wide open throttles with two aboard.
While most smaller boats these days have centre, side or rear skipper positions, the Crew Mate has the skipper in the front third of the craft. In terms of ride, this is a pretty ordinary place to be in a boat that is not designed to handle the extra forward weight. I remember sitting in the first mate’s seat in old-school rigs set up like this and wondering whether my teeth would fall out or not. These days, the Clark hull does not deliver that same crash and bang. In fact it was a really good ride given my expectations and trepidation. And that is one thing I reckon a lot of people will need to get over – that trepidation that this boat will rattle you to the core.
While we tested the rig on a relatively flat Lake Mulwala, during testing I looked for and searched out any boat wakes I could to test the ride. Banging over boat wakes is never really pleasant, but the Clark 430 Crew Mate didn't deliver any unexpected pain and misery, in fact it was a really soft ride.
Being so far forward in the boat also provided unparalleled view for the skipper. It was easy to see where everything was and how close you were running to snags, channel markers and more. When it came time to drive the boat back on the trailer, being up front allowed a perfect view of where the boat was in relation to the trailer and driving the 430 Crew Mate onto the trailer was a breeze. It might just be my old eyes starting to go, but this rig was one of the easiest boats I have driven onto a trailer for a long time.
Summing up the ride I would say to not be afraid of the set up. The forward seating delivered a good ride, a ride that was far better than I thought it ever would be. A delightful surprise.
The 430 Crew Mate would be at home in any estuary, smaller bay, or inland waterway. I can see owners anchored up on a hot whiting bite in Western Port or bobbing for redfin in Lake Eildon. This would be a great craft to troll for trout in winter too as the windscreen and bow set up would provide superb protection from the elements and the large working area would allow for creative trollers to get four rods out and working in a canter.
With modern designs there is a little bit of a return to the past with craft like this and the Clark 430 Crew Mate is the first one I have really had a good chance to play around with. It brought back great memories of bobbing for redfin out of Swan Hill as a kid and bashing around Andersons Inlet chasing silver trevally, estuary perch and flatties on bait. Super fun and a great little craft that will fill a niche for anglers chasing a craft that will provide a good deal of protection coupled with an ability to do a lot of great fishing.
Check out the 430 Crew Mate at Boats and More in Shepparton or Echuca. Priced from $14,850 (the tested rig as fitted out by Boats and More is priced at $20,990 drive away), this is a great rig to get you into some great fishing.
|Max Motor Weight (kg)||120|
|Weight (kg) boat only||278|
|No. of persons||4|
|Bottom Sheet Thickness (mm)||3|
|Side Sheet Thickness (mm)||2|
Suzuki 30hp 2-stroke electric start
2 x part upholstered swivel seats on fixed pedestal bases
3mm bottom sheet with 2mm pressed side sheets
Anchor well - self draining with cleat
Bilge pump bracket
Rear side rails
Double bow eye
Fishing rod holders x 2
Folded side decks
Low split bow rails with bow roller
Full width fuel tank rack
Fully carpeted floor with underfloor floatation
One transom handle
Painted white inside and out
Rear aluminium bench seat
Rear step with grab rail
Screw in bung x 1 (35mm)
Steering wheel with steering cable
3 piece windscreen
Registrations and inshore safety gear
Additional features on this boat
Mercury 40hp 4-Stroke electric start motor, bimini, electronics package, nav lights, bilge pump, switch panel, marine battery, battery box and isolator switch