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Little Big Boat
  |  First Published: July 2003



This is one boat under five metres that the author says is born for offshore work

SECTION: boating

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We are very fortunate in NSW that productive reefs are close to shore and can be targeted by trailer boats. In good weather, most boats over five metres can access these grounds and be able to run safely back to base if conditions start to look a bit iffy.

Smaller boats, designed more for river and estuary work, which venture outside in bad weather erode the security margin that we must constantly maintain to ensure our safety. Flying in the face of all this, a newly-released 4.5-metre boat has hit the market that I would have no hesitation in recommending for offshore work, as it still maintains that safety envelope.

Astute readers may recognise the shape of this craft, as it is based on a very successful, proven design. The Flycraft 445 profile has a demonstrated history of being a blue-water thoroughbred. Flycraft, a division of Enterprise Marine in North Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches, has just released the 445 project boat after meticulous research. I had the honour of being the first journo to give it a spin.

The new Flycraft is like no other boat in the 4.5-metre range. First and foremost, it has a hull crafted for offshore work. With around a 21° deadrise, high sides and wide chines, the boat handles the east coast swell and chop with ease.

A quick glance at this model reveals features that the discerning boat buyer now expects. Small boarding platforms either side of the motor allow easy access and there are two wells set in the transom that can act as live bait tanks. The 700mm-high coamings keep you safely inboard and the hull’s broad shoulders sheet water well away from occupants.

A centre console, complete with a bench helm seat, keeps the boat in balance. With a cockpit that measures 3.2 metres in useable length by 1.6 metres wide, there is plenty of room to manoeuvre. I found the small ‘dicky seat’ in front of the console a nice place to sit when under way. The large hatch up forward will hold anchors and a fair length of warp and chain. The strong anchor bollard stands proud and will take the weight of the boat, but could be a pest when loose line catches round it.

Under and below the hollow centre console is where the optional cruise tank can be fitted. The recessed floor leaves plenty of room on top for storage. There is also extra storage in the dicky seat which can be accessed through the console.

As the boat had just come from the factory, there were no side pockets. However, even without full-length pockets, hull rigidity was excellent with no lateral flex whatsoever. For fly anglers and lure-tossers, the Flycraft 445 can be ordered without side pockets so rods can be clipped in horizontally under the gunwales. With all the add-ons I could visualise a top fishing platform that would satisfy the bottom-basher as well as the purist sportfisher.

The 60hp four-stroke Yamaha with a standard alloy 13” propeller had plenty of power to lift out the hole with three occupants aboard. There was Matt from Enterprise Marine, Claudio – a prospective buyer who owned a 445 many years ago and wanted to get reacquainted with the boat – and me. The Yammy was mounted on a floating, full-width transom pod. Whisper-quiet at idle with just a low-down growl on acceleration, it would be hard to revert to noisier two-stroke motors once you’ve sampled the super-quiet four-strokes.

Two 25-litre plastic removable tanks come as standard, providing plenty of sea miles for this frugal motor. Speed was around 20 knots at 4000rpm, a comfortable speed to get to the outside grounds. Pushed all the way, the Yamaha showed 65000 rpm as we sped across Pittwater around 35 knots. With the throttle quadrant mounted north/south on the starboard side of the console, it took a few minutes to get used to the controls.

The steering cable set-up was interesting. The Flycraft 445 employs the new TR Extreme from Teleflex, which allows shorter loops back to the steering arm, such as in the transom well, without creating wheel stiffness. With a full load of fuel and all fishing gear, the 60hp four-stroke is more than adequate for the job. However, for those who want to get there a bit quicker a 70hp is an optional extra.

No vices

Heading round Barrenjoey and out to sea, I gave the Flycraft the usual tests across/down/and into swells and the boat came through with flying colours. It was obvious the hull was exactly the same as its predecessor, with just a bit more artistic styling on the upper deck. The large transom showed no vices, with water shedding away from the pod in full reverse. Water intrusion via the transom is one of the main reasons boats get swamped when hit by a rogue greenie.

Accelerating into wind chop, the boat climbed on top and stayed there under trim with no sign of rearing from the pointy end. As the chop increased, a little down trim forced in the forefoot to take the brunt of the waves so we could maintain planing speed. Running with the sea, due to its size, the boat shot down waves and looked for the next with no inclination to broach.

The ride and stability of this small pocket cruiser enable me to give it my stamp of approval for offshore work. Having a low profile, the boat doesn’t scoot along in a wind, making it ideal for drift work. Idling back to the boat ramp at Bayview, I checked the gauge on the plastic fuel tank and was surprised at how little juice we had used. The boat is very easy to handle one up – in fact, a lot of owners go solo in search of fish.

The standard supplied trailer is an absolute beauty, coming complete with a full galvanised axle pack; 13” alloy wheels, spare wheel and bracket, galvanised springs, galvanised hubs and a swing-away jockey wheel, all on a fully-rollered galvanised chassis.

Future Flycraft plans include building larger boats with this proven hull design. The ever-popular bow rider is also on the drawing board. There are many anglers who will confirm what a great offshore boat this 445 design is and will bore you stupid with tales of how they still made it home when Mother Nature turned nasty. Don’t take their word for it – go for a test drive in the new Flycraft 445 and see for yourself. I did and I was not disappointed.

Facts

Flycraft 445 Console

Specifications

Length4.45m

Beam1.6m

Weight (approx)700kg

Deadrise21°

Max power100hp

TrailerUnbraked Special Trailer

Standard fittings: Marine carpet, Yamaha engine management gauges, rollered trailer, centre console, front dicky seat, 2 Live bait wells.

Options: Navigation lights, plumbed live bait tank, in built cruise tank, 70hp Yamaha four-stroke

Price as tested: $23,995 drive away. (Includes all registrations, safety gear, trailer and on-water instruction)

Boat supplied by Enterprise Marine, 1416 Pittwater Road, North Narrabeen 2101. Contact Chris Tocchini Ph (02) 9913 7767, Fax (02) 9913 9951 Email --e-mail address hidden--

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