Fishing and family fun both come first
AFTER testing the Allison Vision 175 earlier in the year (NSWFM March 2004), I was keen to get to grips with its larger relative, the Vulcan 189.
The Vision came away with very good marks for style, safety and ride and sales have shown it to be a popular choice. It was going to be interesting to see if the Vulcan could continue on its smaller cousin’s success.
A meld of the Queensland-based Allison company’s 175 Fisherman with the Vision has produced the Vulcan, a fishing/cruising machine with a few extra home comforts that will appease Mum and the kids, yet allows Dad a fishing platform to be proud of.
For instance, the Vulcan comes with a deluxe full rear lounge – great for a social trip with family or friends but it can be removed or tipped up (and it has a cutting board on the underside) when you have a few mates aboard for a serious day out in search of fish.
There is a bulkhead with a natty, lockable, bi-fold, smoked acrylic cabin door that gives privacy to those who want a bit of peace when reclining on the ample V-berth.
For the fisho, two plumbed live-bait wells are standard and the boat can be tricked up with an optional targa tower with rocket launcher, plus a removable rear bait table.
Make no mistake, the Allison Vulcan 189 looks and feels like a much bigger boat than its 5.7 metres indicates. There’s a fair bit of fibreglass under and in front of you when you sit at the helm. It’s more up there in the small luxury cruiser range, with its large cabin and roomy cockpit.
It’s big enough for four people to fish without any pushing or shoving. It’s a full sleeper and has the inclusions for extended stays out on the water. The test boat was fully kitted out and most of the comfort inclusions come as standard. See the fact box hereabouts for all the goodies.
The test boat had the big black 115hp four-stroke Mercury driving an 18” stainless steel Vengeance propeller. Podded out, this power plant gave plenty of herbs to get on the plane and keep it there with three hefty alpha males aboard. When trimmed out and planing, the mechanical steering was light but under slow manoeuvring it took a bit of effort to turn the wheel. For a donk as big as this Mercury, I would opt for hydraulic steering.
The boarding platforms either side of the outboard pod have stainless steel grab rails and there is a port-side folding boarding ladder of glistening stainless. The luxuriously upholstered, full-width rear lounge hides the battery, fuel filter, bilge pump, primer bulb and so on and is a very comfortable place to sit for a relaxing day out.
Two stainless steel rod holders and rear mooring cleats grace the transom and more rod holders can be fitted in the wide gunwale tops if desired. The padded cockpit coamings would be nice to rest against when braced against the sides fighting a fish. With a very safe floor height of 850mm, there is no feeling whatsoever that you are ever going to fall in the drink!
Useable cockpit room is 2.335 metres long by 1.670 metres wide ,allowing the three of us to pass by without collision. Under the non-slip cockpit floor, a 135-litre tank with dual breathers will amply supply the four stroke’s frugal thirst for a full weekend on the water without bothering the bowser.
Set in the deck is a large bilge-drained hatch that can be used as a fish kill box or somewhere to store drinks on ice. Large, full-cockpit-length side pockets will hold marine knickknacks, gaffs, nets as well as fishing tackle and even a set of paddles.
The helm seat is well-positioned to give 180° unobstructed vision and can be adjusted fore and aft. Optional shock-absorbing gas struts can be fitted to both the helm and passenger seats for those who have lumbar problems or who prefer a smoother ride.
I liked the moulded footrests, which open to give additional storage for personal items, although they not lockable. The throttle quadrant was fitted with a slight tilt forward, which made engine speed adjustments easy and ergonomic. Standard Mercury analogue gauges showed speed, trim, engine revs and motor hours and can easily be monitored from the helm whether standing or sitting.
A compass is standard issue and there is plenty of dash room (780mm width) to add sounders, GPS or any other electronics. A 27MHz two-way radio is included along with the four-gang fused switch panel.
The curved, smoked, three-piece windscreen was rigid and an optional full wrap-around grab rail can be added to give extra handholds in bouncy water.
A folding bimini top with front and side clears gives shade in Summer and protects from the wind in the cooler months and I was grateful for it on this blustery Winter’s day. Stainless steel split bow rails are also standard and the smoked acrylic lockable hatch, which gives light to the cabin, is complemented by two small tinted side windows.
The large, fully-lined cabin has two of the deepest full-length side pockets I have encountered on a boat. In fact, these pockets would be an ideal place for a small baby to sleep! The bunk infill makes into a large double bed and there is a standard Porta Potty set in the front for overnight or extended trips. Sitting on the bunk with the infill removed, the head liner just grazed my bald spot.
Up front, the self-draining anchor well has room enough for a sizeable pick and its associated warp. I had no trouble coming out through the hatch to work the ground tackle, with enough room for my pear-shaped body to emerge without grazing the hips. A small bowsprit has a plastic roller to centre the anchor rope and there is a split bollard for securing the anchor warp when the boat is kellicked.
On the day of the test the wind blew around 20 knots from the south and the air temperature stayed around 18° all day. Flooring the throttle, the Vulcan stayed level and had no inclination to rear. Turns, although wide, kept the boat level and there was no lean into a beam wind.
There is a lot of fibreglass built into the Vulcan and choppy water was hardly felt as the heavy hull cut through it with ease. In reverse, water gurgled up around the pod but there was no intrusion into the cockpit.
A dip just past the chines was all we could manage with the three of us all leaning over one side. Talking of chines, the large, lipped, inverted moulding on the waterline pushed water almost horizontally away from the boat giving a very dry ride. These wide chines also help with stability.
Four-stroke technology has kept engine noise to a minimum and we could talk without shouting when up on the plane. Transom deadrise of around 18° should give the Allison Vulcan 189 good offshore performance and a fair bit of stability at rest. After an hour or so of putting the boat through a series of hoops, I came away with the opinion the Vulcan had no bad habits.
A five-year hull warranty is indicative that the company has total faith in the build quality. The finish on Allison boats is impressive and will encourage owners to take good care of their investment, keeping the boat looking like new.
Matched with the latest Dunbier DLX Rollamatic galvanised trailer with spare wheel and fold-away jockey wheel, the Allison Vulcan 189 is not going to be an impulse buy. However, the boat fares very well pricewise compared with its imported counterparts and is well worth a test drive if you are in the market for a classy craft that can be used as a fishing platform as well as an overnight family camper.
Boat supplied by Watersports Marine, 11 Binney Road, Kings Park NSW 2148 ph. (02) 9676 1400.
Allison Vulcan 189
|Hull weight only||625kg|
|Fuel tank capacity||135 litres|
Five-year hull warranty; two-tone hull; mechanical steering with sports wheel; padded helm seats; deluxe rear lounge; 135l cruise tank; stainless steel split bow rails; stainless steel stern cleats; bow roller; split bollard; porta potty; bimini with clears; stainless boarding ladder; stainless hand rails; compass; 27MHz radio; navigation lights; lifejackets; 2 x rod holders; water/fuel filter; bilge pump; plumbed rear wells; single battery, transom fuel filler.
Options: Rocket launcher; gas strut seats, targa tower, rear bench seat.
Price as tested – $41,500 which includes offshore safety pack, boat and trailer registrations, free NRMA insurance and maintenance kit. Price with Mercury 115hp two-stroke and all the above inclusions – $37,750.