WE SEE some great boats around today in both fibreglass and aluminium as manufacturers broaden their range to try to corner as much of the market as they can. Despite this we still see a number of small manufacturers keeping themselves quite busy with orders.
The plate aluminium boats are best noted for this and while a few may look similar they all have their own characteristics and followings that keep them on the go. An addition to this range is Bullet Proof Plate Boats, manufactured at Noosaville on the Northern end of the Sunshine Coast.
Jason Andrews has been in the trade for 15 years, and as a keen angler and a certified surveyed welder he’s been producing a range of plate boats from 4.5m to 10m.
As you’d think, with a name like ‘Bullet Proof’ they’d have to be a pretty tough boat and Jason takes pride in explaining how the frame and stringer system are put together before the side sheets are pulled in and fully welded to give three large airtight chambers under the floor of the boat.
When you have a look at the quality of the work and the extent that the frames are put together you soon understand why he’s proud of the strength of these hulls. A great idea I thought was the 25mm solid aluminium bar along the keel. One of the selling points in purchasing any plate boat is the ability of the hulls to be dragged up beaches, bump on boat ramps and land on hard foreshores. While the aluminium resists this better than fibreglass many of them still dint. Add a fully welded keel that sits in this 25mm x 40mm flat bar and you have a very tough keel indeed. Jason has so much confidence in the integrity of his hulls that he backs them up with a 10-year warranty.
The bottom sheets of the boat are made from 5mm alloy while the sides and deck are formed from 4mm sheets and the top from 3mm. Before the fitout the basic bare boat goes down to Brisbane for a visit to Marine Refinishing Services for its paint job. The team here put the boat through the works from and acid wash through to a first class two-pack Protec paint finish. Add a few decals to the boat and you’ve a rig that catches the eye of any fisherman.
With the Noosa River very handy to the bar and then open water, you have the ideal grounds to take the boat for a test run. The bar is pretty shallow so even in very moderate conditions you’ve got to go through some whitewater and breaking waves.
The new 150hp Yamaha four-stroke had plenty of pick-up in a short time to give that little bit of speed to catch a wave and, in the case of running back into the bar, there was enough power there to keep us riding a wave in at slower speeds. The last thing you want on a shallow bar is for the engine to not hold these revs, because if the boat slows too much it sits deeper in the water and more again when you have to push the throttle down to pick up speed. This is one way you can come to grief if you hit the bottom and run aground, with another wave right behind you. Both boat and motor did their job – not that it was a bad day, but you can never be too cautious. Once out in the open water it was nice to get a bit of speed going and run down the coast a few mile.
Running across and into the swell was fine with a nice dry run. Very little water was thrown out, with most being caught by the generous reversed outer chine. Even at a few inches wide you’d be surprised at just how much difference this can make to the ride, performance and stability of the boat.
With most boating it’s the run home that see the water a bit rougher so it’s nice to have a boat that runs well with the sea and swell without broaching. On the way back in I trimmed the nose up and give her a bit more speed down some of the swells to see how she’d perform. The fine entry and deep foot of the bow have plenty of lift to keep that nose high and on course, with no broaching detected. It’s only when you slow down and there is a bit more hull in the water that you start to push a bit of water out. This is another area where we see the benefits of a decent chine as the water is thrown well clear of the hull instead of being thrown back into the boat.
As far as handling offshore conditions goes, the Bullet Proof does a good job. The boat at rest was more stable than I thought it would be; deep- and even moderate-veed plate boats can be a bit tender at rest, especially side on to the swell with a couple on one side of the boat. This was a nice little benefit that I didn’t expect to find.
The centre cab is a very versatile layout in a boat of this size. The cab is dry for both storage and with enough room for two to bunk down overnight.
Being a hard top with fully sealed front windscreen, the cab is nice and dry and fully protected from the elements. The lower windscreen on the sides is also fixed, with removable top sections to let some breeze through on hot days.
In the cab, both seats swivel and are mounted on storage boxes which give that added storage area which is always a bonus. Between these two seats there’s more storage under the deck in a long narrow section.
The dash is flat and stretches the width of the cab, so while it may be simple it’s very practical for a good spread of electronics and room to throw a few other items.
The for’ard deck is slightly raised with the step-up section right next to the rear of the cab. It’s not an overly wide walkway but there’s enough depth there with the raised side of the boat and the side rails to comfortably walk up to the front of the boat while fighting a fish, or going up there to drop the anchor over.
The section in the front of the cab must be useable or it’s a waste of time, and here we see adequate room for a couple of anglers to stand and fish. It’s the ideal spot for throwing lures at mackerel and tuna.
Out back you find a nice open deck area where most of the fishing is done. All cables and batteries are tucked away out of sight and the rear corners house two raised compartments for batteries. The area below them leads out to the scuppers of the self-draining deck.
The side pockets here are long but they are deep and run right back to the transom so you still end up with quite a bit of room in here for all those extras you tend to accumulate.
While there is a centrally mounted bait board across the transom, any customising for fishing needs it is left up to the individual angler. For boats like this, which tend to be one-offs, customisation is the best way to go because we all want something different.
The trailer below this rig is also worth a mention because Jason makes the trailers himself to suit each boat. The trailer is made from aluminium which not only keeps the weight down but eliminates corrosion problems on the frame of the trailer. It’s a skid set-up and the boat goes on and off quite easily, and lining up the boat when driving up the trailer isn’t as crucial as is the case with rollers. Even if you’re off centre no damage will be done and the boat soon slides down the skids back into the centre of the trailer. It works very well.
The design, finish and layout of the Bullet Proof Plate Boats is certainly of a high standard. With a good range in size and design they are worth keeping in mind if you’re in the market for a plate boat.
One other point many boaties will be happy about is that I think we might be in for an upgrade of the ramps at Noosaville. I know they got a nice little contribution from me for parking in the boat ramp car park here! What a shame I’m not a boatie or was out in a boat or I’d really be upset for getting a parking ticket here.
Price as tested: $69,990. For Further information contact Jason Andrews on 0417 077 627.
Make - Bullet Proof Plate Boats
Model - 6.2m centre cab hard top.
Length - 6.2m (6.8m overall)
Beam - 2.4m
Weight - 700kg hull only
Construction - plate alloy
Bottom - 5mm
Sides - 4mm
Deadrise - 17 degrees
Fuel - 250L underfloor
Max hp - 200
Flotation - 3 pressure tested underfloor air cells
Height on trailer - 2.7m
1) The 6.2m Bullet Proof has very appealing lines and cuts nicely through the water.
2) The 150hp Yamaha four-stroke is the perfect partner for this rig, with power, speed and economy.
3) Centre cabs can be a bit tight for space but that’s not the case here. There’s additional storage below deck between the seats.
4) While not a big cab there’s plenty of depth and enough for two to bunk down.
5) A nice neat aft deck is good to fish from. The self-draining deck runs under the corner compartments and out the scuppers.
6) The high sides allow for safe transition from for’ard to aft.