Horizon Boats’ range of alloy pleasure craft includes everything from 2.4m punts through to 5.25 runabouts and bow riders. I took their 445 Northerner, a three to four person fishing rig with a 50hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard, out for a spin recently.
Horizon makes well finished craft and the 445 Northerner, a Deluxe sports boat, meets all the usual standards. Standard features include a tackle box, four rod holders, live bait well, 60L underfloor tank with deck fill, front and rear casting platforms, side rails fore and aft, a splash well and nice wide side decks. There are four standard seat bases with two Deluxe pedestal seats included.
The 445 Northerner is an ideal family boat for fishing smooth waters. You could sneak it offshore in the right conditions but the engine recess in the transom dictates that the craft should mainly be used in estuaries, bays, rivers, and impoundments. Horizon’s offshore craft feature full-height transom and gunwales that meet the demands of offshore work. However, there is nothing about the 445 that detracts from its intended use in its proper environment.
Up front there is a low but useful bowsprit, a split bowrail with navigation light brackets, bow roller and anchor well – all within easy reach of the raised front casting deck. An enclosed bulkhead in the bow area can also be accessed via a hatch for storage of smaller items. Major storage is available under the front platform via a pair of large inbuilt hatches.
Stepping down a little, and moving aft, the main work area offers side pockets, rod holders in the wide gunwales and plenty of fishing room. The gunwale height was quite impressive for a boat of this size; Horizon has obviously put the floor well down into the framework of the hull. The side pockets on the test craft were situated off the floor but are only really large enough to accommodate paddles and the like; they’re just a bit small for rods or longer items. The factory can provide longer pockets if requested.
The rear grabrails have been placed more amidships than aft in a much better position in case anyone needs to steady themselves.
A fuel gauge and switches were set into a section of the starboard side just below the gunwale and are placed near the driver’s seat.
Under floor flotation has been fitted below the cockpit carpet as well.
The rear two casting platforms have also been carpeted and are large enough for an angler to comfortably stand on while fishing astern. The port platform has a livewell built into it.
A boarding platform and small transom grab handles complete the layout of the Northerner’s basic hull configuration.
The Northerner has been fitted out with a 50hp Yamaha four-stroke that has the brand new tiller control arm. This state-of-the-art technology is now available on selected two and four-stroke engines ranging from 40-60hp. It can also be retro fitted.
The tiller arm, which is designed to pivot upwards for easy use, features a side mounted gear shift, a finger touch trim and tilt in the throttle handle, plus an array of warning lights for safe operating levels.
I really liked the ease of trim, its one-touch operation couldn’t have been be simpler and the unique Variable Trolling Switch allows the operator to increase or decrease revs at the touch of a button.
The engine started immediately and was whisper quiet at idle. The noise hardly increased much at any time, whether cruising hard or just idling along.
Driving from the starboard mounted aft seat was easy. The Yamaha’s tiller arm is in the right place for easy reach and the Northerner planed at 18km/h. It was hard to judge engine revs without a tachometer but we had a couple of snappy runs at 49.4km/h and settled down to cruise quietly at 38km/h with the engine hardly audible astern.
We flicked some plastics among a couple of mangrove outcrops but there were no takers except for a rather vicious looking long-tom. I found the 2.2m wide hull to be extremely stable, too, and having two anglers on the one side didn’t upset the balance.
The Northerner’s ride was excellent thanks to a degree of V in the hull’s aft section plus a fine, well raked entry. We hit chop from the other large craft using the river but we didn’t hear or feel much of an impact.
The pedestal seats can be moved to where required when travelling, and then relocated for fishing. The trick with small craft is to drive in accordance with conditions. While the 445 does have high gunwales, which virtually guarantees a dry ride, there’s no point hammering along in a crosswind where some wind-carried spray is inevitable.
The Northerner is a great value for money craft at around $16,900 as tested. With its handy Sea Link trailer and hull weight of around 360kg it’s never going to be much of a problem to tow. The positioning of grab handles and rails means that it’s going to be no problem at the ramp either. The standard Mum, Dad and two kids will love it. And full marks to Yamaha for their hi-tech tiller arm.
Length - 4.5m
Bottom sheets - 3mm
Side sheets - 2mm
Power - 50 hp Yamaha four-stroke tiller steer
Fuel - 60L
Weight(hull) - 360kg
Price (as tested) - $16,900