Tested: Water Snake Bow Mount Electric Motor
  |  First Published: June 2007

The saratoga slurped an insect at the base of one of Borumba Dam’s old drowned trees. With two quick back casts and the fly in the air almost ready to deliver, a sudden gust of wind spun the small craft’s bow crazily to the left and my cast went hopelessly off course.

Even with full power, the 28lb thrust electric motor on the stern of our little tinny could not hold the boat steady against the gusts ripping through the impoundment’s fairly sheltered arm. It was there and then that we decided the transom mount-motor needed to go. We’d put up with this sort of monkey business for far too long – enough was enough.

Despite looking at various makes and models of electrics, we came back time and again to the Water Snake, marketed by Jarvis Walker Pty Ltd. It was a compact unit, seemed to have everything going for it that other makes had, and was selling for a very attractive price. A 44lb thrust bow-mount should be able to make easy work of powering the tinny and keeping it heading exactly where we wanted it in windy conditions.

Installation of the unit took around 15 minutes. We had a backing plate supplied with the unit and after having it welded to the tinny’s bow, the Water Snake was affixed to the plate with stainless steel bolts. The side plates of the Water Snake are easily removed (via heavy-duty Phillips head bolts) to allow access to the holes in the motor’s main base plate.

Once fixed in place, the motor hinges upwards in the manner of most other bow mounts when not required. To operate it, simply pull back on a handle at the rear and it will unlock the motor from its retracted position and then slide down and lock in place. Bringing it back up simply requires a reversal of the procedure, with a final pull to see the motor unit locked up securely.

A locking ring on top of the shaft governs the amount of engine shaft in the water and it’s a simple matter of working out how long it needs to be for the job and then lock it in place. The shaft on the 44lb bow-mount is 1200mm long, which we found ample for our old 3.6m tinny.

In use, the 44lb bow-mount was a stunner. The way it pulled along the tinny was remarkable, probably around the same speed as the 15hp engine at revs higher than merely fast idle. The foot controls were a real surprise; they were so easy to use, probably more so than a larger engine’s cable-operated controls.

The on/off switch is located on the left side of the big control pad with its very long cable, while the left and right steering buttons are at the top on each side. The best thing is the easily-operated paddlewheel-style speed control on the right side. By simply touching it with a toe or shoe, I found the motor would increase or decrease power very smoothly.

Steering was spot-on – the servos engaged the moment I touched the control surface. They are fairly audible but not dramatically so.

I’m very happy with my purchase and I note that a few of my friends have, after seeing ours in use, gone and purchased their own ‘Snakes’ for their small craft.

The price, you see, is a big factor here. Compared with other electrics on the market, the Water Snake is a very good buy and available at a huge number of outlets, such as Kmart.

Water Snakes come with a 12-month warranty.

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