There is a growing trend towards bow-riders and most boat manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon to try to accommodate this burgeoning market.
Ron Webster from Webster Boats is no exception and he recently released his version of up-front seating – the 4.6m Bowfisher. I was privileged to be one of the first journos to give it a whirl, on the Parramatta River.
Since Ron just specialises in bloody strong, stable, fishing platforms, don’t expect the elegantly-padded seats and fancy backrests in the bow section that are prevalent in many other bow-riders. The Bowfisher’s three inward-facing places are made from carpeted marine ply with 260mm metal backrests. In bumpy water, the ride could be a little hard on the rump without cushions.
However, cleaning is a breeze as the whole area can be hosed down after a day fishing. Also, the seats can be stood on without damaging delicate vinyl and the area can be used as a casting platform, giving near 360° flinging access. In basic dimensions and statistics, the new Webster 4.6 Bowfisher is the same as the current Webster 4.6m Twinfisher, except both driver and passenger consoles have been pushed back 760mm to accommodate the forward seating.
The bow seating area is quite large, 1670mm wide by 1100mm long, so three larger-than-average people can sit up front without knees or bottoms bumping together. The entry through the windscreen door is big enough for folks like me to pass through without removing any skin from the hips.
Under the bow seats there is extra storage and it would be a good idea would be to put in plastic or wood slats, keeping these items off the floor and away from the damp.
A classy, new, top-shelf, high-pressure direct injection, 70hp two-stroke Tohatsu TLDI outboard powered the test boat. This gave the Bowfisher plenty of ergs, even with three hefty blokes aboard. A 65-litre integrated transom-mounted fuel tank fed the beast but I would like a bit more in fuel reserves if going offshore or had to do a few kilometres to get to a fishing spot.
After a recent run of testing boats with whisper-quiet, four-stroke motors, the ‘Toey’ was a bit on the noisy side but, as far two strokes go, it really was pretty muted. Being mounted on a cat hull, the engine was an extra-long shaft version. The supplied prop was a 15” pitch that I felt was a bit too fine, as the engine wanted to over-rev when fully gunned.
Due to extra waterline length, cats need more power than monohulls to get them, and keep them, on the plane. The one main advantage of two hulls is stability and this was shown when three of us leaned against one side of the boat with hardly a tilt from the Webster.
The moving back of the consoles made not one iota of difference to performance out on the water. The boat had the typical characteristics of safety and stability that all Ron’s boats have across the range. Chasing over the River Cat ferry wakes was the nearest I could get to rough water. These Websters devour small chop with relish as the huge tunnel between the sponsons cushions out any bumpy water.
The old problem of cats sucking in water is now just folklore, as the new breed of twin hulls are as dry as any monohulls. There is a slight outward lean when cornering; common on almost all twin hulls, but this is a boat that should always get you home when conditions turn unpleasant.
Up front, the strong anchor post is set just behind the smallish well for ground tackle. Split bow rails have an anchor roller between them that will be strong enough to withstand a fair amount of force. Behind the twin consoles are swivel seats atop metal boxes. The seats can be tilted to allow storage within the boxes.
I found the helm position comfortable with good forward visibility and the single engine control lever falls nicely to the right hand. There is a mile of room for instrumentation and electronic gadgetry, as well as a switch panel, on the dash. The passenger console has a lockable glove box for valuables.
Two quarter grab rails allow a handhold in rough water for cockpit passengers and the wide coamings come standard with two rod holders. Two small tanks are integrated into the transom and can be fitted for reticulation for those who employ live baits.
Two quarter side pockets will keep fishing clutter off the floor and the whole deck is solid checkerplate covered with marine carpet. The battery has its own shelf, well above floor level, but it would have to be disconnected and removed to check fluid levels. The large, fully floating pod keeps the engine well away from the cockpit and has boarding platforms on both sides – a boon for getting in and out of the boat on the trailer or out on the water.
The only extra the test boat had was a rather poorly designed bimini that we immediately took down, as it gave the boat a ‘cappuccino and ice creams afloat’ look – not the image a fisho likes to portray! We collapsed the bimini for the pics.
The rig comes with a solid South Coast trailer complete with override brakes and Teflon skids. It is very well-made and will take the rigors of long hauls. The trailer has a centre walkway and is designed as a drive-on/drive- off model. That’s not something that I would do at most local boat ramps as it lends itself to prop damage, as well as causing a mass of swirling water.
Ron Webster makes nothing but good, solid fishing platforms and his foray into bow-rider boats follows the market trend. However, because of the design, you can stand in the front section and cast away to your heart’s content.
The new configuration has not detracted one bit from a fishing boat but gives alternative seating for those who have a young family or passengers who want to feel the breeze in their faces. The Webster Bowfisher is another boat in the Webster range that I would seriously recommend casting your eye over if you are thinking of investing in a class fishing platform.
Webster Bowfisher 4.6
Weight (boat only)350kg
Boat as tested, on trailer, with 70hp Tohatsu TLDI direct injection motor: $29,500 inc GST
As above with 70hp Hi Tech Yamaha oil-injected motor: $25750
Boat, and trailer supplied by Independent Outboard Services, 59 Holbeche Road, Arndell Park 2148. Phone 02 9672 1922, fax 02 9672 1076