In the world of boats there is an indisputable volume of choice that potential boat buyers have. From poly tenders to supercharged bream boats and offshore battlewagons, the average punter needs only to answer two questions before finding the perfect boat.
How much can I spend and what do I want to do with the boat? I didn’t say the answers were easy, just the questions.
For many the selection of a boat is a compromise when it comes to their budget. The reality is, budgets are being increasingly restricted by the powers that be, while the price of fuel can severely offset the speed advantage of big, thirsty motors.
So what do you do when you want a safe, value for money, fuel-efficient boat that will handle all your estuary and calm offshore work? That answer is simple – take a look at the Ally Craft Kakadu Karrier 4.35.
As I pulled up to take the Ally Craft for a spin, I admit to thinking the open deck plan and tiller-steer Yamaha 40 looked a little pedestrian – a bias I have developed since fishing from 100km/h bullet bream boats.
Pete Caves met us and explained the construction and detail in the Ally Craft boats and alluded to the manufacturer’s willingness to accept feedback from dealers and customers. The extra ribs in the build, the plate thickness, welding and attention to detail are things that make one boat better than the next.
Pete was genuinely enthusiastic about the KK 4.35 as we slipped it off the Sea-Link trailer for the test. When a dealer shows as much genuine enthusiasm, as Pete did, you can bet there is a reason and in this case it was for a well-built, comfortable boat, motor and trailer package.
I maintain that boats are like cars; not everyone likes the same style, shape or attributes so when doing boat tests, I try to start with an open mind and run the boat over a few regularly occurring patterns. I also like to put in a few hours or a full day on the water and create the conditions that may occur in general use.
In this case I tested the boat one-up, with two lure-tossing anglers and with two adults and two pre-teen children, just to see if there were any worries with load distribution or stability.
The basic layout is simple enough. A raised forward deck area provides a comfortable gunwale height for the kids to lean on and a sprit and bow rail provide a little more security. The rail would also be easily fitted with a spray deflector for the times the chop in the bay gets out of hand or for a sneaky, close-in shore troll around the headlands.
At rest in the estuary, the rail impeded lure fishing until we corrected the drift. I have to also admit I was constantly looking for a foot pedal for the non-existent electric motor! The nature of the boat and the intended uses don’t warrant an electric motor although I imagine accommodation could also be made for one.
Five seating positions allow for plenty of seating options and the mounts are sleeved with polyethylene to minimise wear on the pedestal shaft and smooth swivelling. It is these types of inclusions that make the difference between thoughtful boat builders and the also-rans.
The forward hatch was impeded by having a seat in the back of the raised deck position but Ally Craft were aware of the minor hiccup and rectification was as simple as re-forming the carpeted lid so it passed under the seat, allowing full access to the sub-floor storage area.
The area below the raised deck is adequate for storing life jackets, soft esky-type bags and so on and makes good use of otherwise wasted space.
The lower or main carpeted deck area hides the 60-litre fuel tank and floatation. The side panel on the test boat had the fuel gauge and switch plate forcibly removed by someone who obviously liked the look of it. Pete apologised for the inconvenience but looking at where the panel was, it would be easy to see the instruments and yet keep them out of the way.
The test 40hp Yamaha (50hp maximum rating) had the tilt controls and starter ergonomically placed for easy one-handed operation on the tiller. After the flat-out pace of the BREAM scene the 40hp didn’t seem to light a fire under me but it did shove the KK 4.35 along at a fair pace – plenty quick enough for estuary and family fishos.
The stiffened keel and extra ribs in the hull seemed to eliminate any ‘tinny’ feel. The reduced span of the 3mm bottom sheet provided a soft ride and the hull tracked straight and responded to directional change instantly.
Even while I was bow-riding to get some shots the boat had no trouble with the extra 100kg or so on the point and the bow rails came in handy for bracing myself with the camera.
Without any real chop on the water, a few boat wakes were all the rough stuff we could find but I’m confident the little Ally Craft is more than capable of sneaking out into bigger seas in fine weather. The steering position also allows a solid grip of the starboard handrail for more stable steering and security.
The anchor well has an external drain but while standing up the bow I couldn’t help but imagine a plug in the anchor well drain hole and a circling crowd of livies. With a hinged poly lid, it’s not beyond possibility.
The rear live bait tank is just that, a live bait tank. Poddies, yabbies and a few prawns in the unplumbed tank would survive with regular water changes but I’d spend the extra cash and plumb it with a water pump and overflow.
With two young boys and two adults aboard, the Kakadu Karrier 4.35 got along at a fair pace and there’s plenty of room to swing a cat, or a threadline outfit anyway. The boys fished the bow area while Brian and I fished at the rear and the sense of space was quite reassuring. Even with movement from the junior quarter, the hull handled it fine with few stability problems. Certainly there was no lurching that made you wish you’d taken Arthur Murray dance lessons to stay on your feet.
The four gunwale rod holders are good inclusions, though it is advisable to occy-strap your outfits down when travelling to prevent them jumping out. The raised side pockets are handy for all the things that would otherwise roll around on the floor. There is even enough room to fit a horizontal rod rack to the hull ribs.
All in all, the Ally Craft Kakadu Karrier 4.35 with the 40hp Yamaha and Sea-Link trailer is a great package for anyone who wants to get on the water and enjoy a variety of angling options without necessarily needing to get there at light speed.
The hull is well-built, very well-finished and will accommodate the family for a day on the water in safety. It is certainly worth a serious look.
Weight (hull only) 298kg
Max power50hp (120kg); rec 40hp
Hull bottom sheet 3mm
Features: Internal keel; four rod holders; side storage pockets; underfloor 60-litre fuel tank; underfloor floatation; live-bait tank (unplumbed); navigation light brackets (lights fitted to test boat); transducer bracket; painted inside and out; five seat positions.
Price: (as tested on Sea-Link trailer including galvanised walkway, springs and axles, complete with safety gear and all registrations) $17,800.
The 40hp tiller-steer Yamaha two-stroke offers lively performance and easy manoeuvrability.