A brisk southwester hit us as we rounded the harbour wall and headed into the open sea. A touch more throttle took the Amara over the chop and the heavy plate boat met the sea head on. Water sheeted wide and even in tight turns with the weather across the beam we remained dry. It was a crystal clear day with a strengthening northeaster, perfect for putting a boat through her paces.
I was in an Amara 5.5m Bowrider down at Port Kembla putting this part-fishing, part-cruising boat through her paces. As astute boat review readers will be aware, this is another craft from the Boab Boat Hire stable which is available for rent or sale.
My companion for the day was the boss of Boab, Anthony Gelfius, a keen angler who loves to fish the waters south of Sydney. As stated before, I am not all that fussed about bowriders as I think they chew up valuable fishing space but I do understand that families just adore this style of boat as the kids revel being up front with the wind and the spray in their faces.
The Amara’s power plant was a big Honda 90HP four stroke turning a 17” prop but it also had a 5HP Honda auxiliary with its own fuel tank and line for emergencies. The 5.5m Bowrider is built under NSW Maritime 2C survey, which means it can carry passengers a limited distance offshore. To do this, an auxiliary manual bilge pump, extra flotation and a few other requirements must be met. The upshot of all this is a very safe boat that has all the safety features for a trip on the big blue briny.
Two rod holders up front are for those who want to fish from the bowrider section. A small, open anchor well will hold plenty of warp for deep anchoring as well as a rock or sand pick. Solid split bow rails and a bollard complete the hardware up front. The bowrider section will accommodate three adults comfortably without any knee clashing. Padded seats and back rests come as standard. Under all of the cushions is a mile of dry storage space.
Entry to the section is via a split windscreen and an inwardly opening door. Despite the low-slung bimini top, I had no problem going up front. Two struts plus wiring support the windscreen, which is solid and can be used as a grab rail by both helmsman and passenger. Two bucket seats are supplied but I had a bit of trouble getting my rear into them. Anthony assures me production boats will have larger chairs.
For communication the boat comes with 27mHz as well as VHF two-way radios. There’s also a CD/AM/FM player to give you music to fish with. As well as the standard analogue engine instruments and compass, there’s a combined sounder/GPS to find the fish. Under 2C survey, an emergency EPIRB is also fitted and neatly stored under the dash. A switch panel looks after the electrics and there’s a 12V outlet for any extra equipment such as a spotlight.
Compulsory drink holders are provided for both passenger and helmsman. A fire extinguisher is also part of the safety gear fitted to the boat. I do like the knob on the wheel which offers great grip when manoeuvring. Three quarter length pockets will accommodate the fishing paraphernalia as well as all the other accumulated junk.
A no-frills, chequer plate floor can be covered by carpet if required. I found the deck to be a little slippery so a covering would be a good idea. At the rear of the boat a ski pole comes standard as does a twin battery system, water separating filter and manual bilge pump. The deck is self-draining with two small scuppers letting water out, however we had them shut as for part of the test I drove the boat in reverse for a short stint to see its reaction. Two swim platforms, a boarding ladder and a lockable transom door finish off the stern.
Fuel fill is mounted amidships in the port gunwale and the twin breathers are in the transom. Four, super strong flush-mounted metal rod holders come as standard but more can be added. A bait well that is too small to be converted into a livebait tank is inset into the transom.
For summer, the boat comes with a strong folding bimini top for protection. It is well constructed, not soft or flimsy, and will stand up to the rigors of offshore travel.
When I ran the ruler over the Amara 5.5m Bowrider, she was 5.6m overall from bow to the swim platform. Inside cockpit room is 1800 x 2106mm, which is quite spacious for a boat this size.
There was plenty of get up and go and the Honda was hardly heard as we ploughed our way offshore. Remember this boat weighs a hefty 1300kg and this was put to good use in the ever-increasing chop. There was plenty of go forward with the bow happy to meet the sea head on and not lift and bang.
The lack of planing strakes was not noticeable and in fact contributed to keeping the nose down. Motor trim made very little difference to attitude and performance but I kept her tucked in to make the forefoot do its work. Dryness was a big feature with the Amara Bowrider and even with the wind blowing abeam, it was only a light mist that greeted us. I just loved the knob on the wheel as I could flick the boat left and right in all power configurations to see the boat’s reaction. Downwind, due to the weight, she tracked straight and true, even driving the boat hands off. It certainly has a solid feel and this is transmitted into the ride.
I wish we’d had time for a fish as birds were working only a short distance from us but I had to be back in Sydney for a mid-afternoon appointment. If you are keen to look at the boat as an investment, why not take it out for a day’s hire? All you need is a current boat licence and Anthony will do the rest.
Price of boat as tested with aluminium trailer, all registrations, safety gear plus on-water instruction if required – $52,300 inc GST
Boat supplied by BOAB BOAT HIRE
Phone: 0421 919 305
Fax: (02) 4237 5164
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Online: www.boabboathire.com.auReads: 3797