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Little big cat
  |  First Published: August 2004



The Webster Twinfisher 4.6 Runabout is a roomy, stable fishing platform able to be customised exactly to any owner’s needs.

SECTION: NSW boat test

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THERE’S a current trend towards ‘turnkey’ packages where a boat is displayed with all the extras and the dealer advertises the rig at a drive-away price.

It’s all very neat and tidy and the package gets the average fisho into something practical in which they can catch fish in relative comfort from the word go.

There are, however, those who want a certain layout with certain extras, all in the right place and maybe a particular brand of electronics, motor and ancillaries. This, then, becomes a custom boat and no two custom boats are the same.

Ron Webster, the brains behind the success story of the twin-hull Webster Twinfishers, builds a basic platform and is then guided by the customer or the dealer how to turn that boat into a hand-crafted machine that complies with exactly what the customer wants.

As regular readers know, I have tested a number of Websters over the years and it’s hard to find a better fishing boat when it comes to room, safety and stability. Starting off as a one-man business many moons ago at Orange, Ron Webster has now relinquished a large part of the operation to another party.

Don’t panic. The Websters are still the same boat with the strong build quality that they have become famous for and Ron will still have a big say in the manufacture of these cats.

One of the relatively new Webster models is the 4.6m Runabout. This boat has the equivalent cockpit space of a 5.1-metre cuddy and is ideal for the angler who fishes Broken Bay, Botany Bay, the Hawkesbury, Moreton Bay and who occasionally likes to poke their nose outside when conditions allow.

With a 3.5mm alloy bottom and 2mm pressed clinker sides, the seam-welded Websters are rigid boats and are not subject to lateral twist.

The test rig sported a 75hp two-stroke Salt Water Mercury spinning an 18” Vengeance propeller. Twin hulls need a bit more grunt than a similar-sized monohull to get them up and running. The big black outboard supplied plenty of go-forward.

My companion for the day was Ken Bullen, from Ken Bullen Marine, who supplied the test boat.

The Webster planed at 2400rpm with 15mph showing on the speedo. At 3000rpm we cruised at a comfortable 20mph. Flat stick at 4800rpm, the speedometer needle indicated a touch over 34mph – plenty fast enough, even for the speed freaks. However, the transom is ticketed to take two- and four-stroke motors up to 90hp, which would give brisk performance even with heavy loads.

ACRES OF SPACE

I ran the ruler over the useable cockpit space and it came in at a whopping 1702mm x 2502mm, which will allow four anglers to fish with little jostling. The 650mm coaming height just passes my minimum limits but, with the addition of full-length side rails, they will give a lot more support and security when leaning over to net or gaff fish.

Standard inclusions were few and far between on the test boat as it’s up to the customer to add what he/she wants on the rig. The small bowsprit holds a plastic bow roller and there are solid split bow rails for hand-holds.

A small self-draining anchor well holds a modicum of rope and an anchor. The Webster could hang vertically off the extra-strong, welded cross bollard up forward but the chequerplate front deck is just a wee bit too small to act as a casting platform.

I liked the new, curved, three-piece, tinted windscreen. It looks so much better than the square screen of previous models.

The screen is solidly mounted with a thick, non-reflective black frame that can act as a hand-hold. An opening in the middle gives plenty of hip room to lean forward and work the anchor.

For those who have a penchant for electronics, there is a mile of dash room to mount sounders, GPS, radios and music boxes. On the lower dash a four-way switch panel operates the various electronics such as bilge pump, navigation lights and accessories.

A lockable, dash-mounted passenger glove box will hold a few small personal items and there is a plastic port-side drink holder included in the fit-out.

An optional ‘T’ hardtop and/or bimini for sun protection can be ordered from the factory. Also as an option, a rocket-launcher for rod storage is available for the enthusiast.

Two very comfortable seats are atop storage boxes that are a bit awkward to get into because access is from the top and the seat has to swing up.

When seated, visibility was excellent over the short, stubby bow with no impingement from the top of the screen frame. Standing gives 360° vision and the throttle quadrant is within reach at all times.

Under the dash there is dry storage or an optional 70-litre fuel tank can be fitted there to supplement the 65-litre, transom-mounted triangular tank. Unfortunately, due to the transom tank’s shape a sender can’t be mounted so fuel reserves have to be measured with a dipstick.

The single breather exits as a fitting in the transom well. There is a large, east-west, hinged box with a padded top for storage just behind the seats. It can be used as a seat when fishing and, with an insert and some plumbing, could be converted to a large live-bait tank.

Two rear grab rails come up from the boarding platforms either side of the pod-mounted engine. Two small quarter rails are fitted just aft of centre.

A CHOP-STOPPER

Underfloor, towards the transom, a drained fish box/kill tank is accessed by a floor hatch. Under the carpeted marine ply deck there’s the standard bilge pump and the boat comes complete with a single marine battery, water-separating fuel filter and battery-isolating switch.

The Webster loves the sea head-on and as I powered into the short, sharp wind chop, the tunnel hull took out all the bumps and the ride was very smooth.

Abeam, it was a bit wet with spray blown back into the cockpit but the wind was around 20 knots and most boats would have copped a bit of spray.

In turns, the Twinfisher has a slight lean outwards, as do most cats, which is a bit disconcerting but this very safe boat did not have any bad habits, even under hard power turns.

The cat is not too keen on a following sea, with a bit of bow-down attitude displayed. Here the tunnel can’t do its work and the Webster thumps just a tad.

With both of us leaning well over the side, the twin-hulled cat just sat there with hardly any movement. Great stability at rest is something the outside bait soaker relishes and it’s not in short supply here.

Having high sides, Websters are a bit smart on the drift, catching the wind and moving quite quickly.

As an out-and-out fishing platform that can be tricked up to whatever you want, it is hard to go past the Webster range. Room, stability and ride – this boat has it all.

Towing with a large four-cylinder car would be no problem. If you start loading it with extras, fuel and gear and taking it long distances, maybe a six-cylinder would be better.

I strongly suggest an on-water test in which you will experience all of the above. The feel of a Webster can’t be gleaned from a brochure.

Specifications

Length4.6m
Beam2m
Gunwale height650mm
Gunwale width110mm
ConstructionAluminium
Bottom3.5mm
Sides2mm
Max power90hp (long shaft)
Fuel Capacity65 litres
Weight325kg (approx)

Standard Inclusions

Marine carpet; navigation lights; bilge pump; water-separating fuel filter; marine battery; centre padded console; 2 rod holders; swivel seats; fish box; powder coated.

Options

‘T’ hard top; rocket launcher; cutting board; full side rails; rear lounge; plumbed live bait tank; bimini top; extra fuel tank.

Boat as tested on a Dunbier Teflon skid trailer, all registrations, safety gear and on-water instruction: $24,599.

Boat supplied by Ken Bullen Marine, 58 Garden Street, Narrabeen NSW 2101, phone 02 9913 3522, fax 02 9913 1545; or visit www.kenbullenmarine.com

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