QFM Project Boat (Part 1)
  |  First Published: April 2004

IT HAS been a while since QFM has built a project boat, so when the opportunity to work with up-and-coming Gold Coast aluminium boat manufacturer, Blue Fin boats, presented itself, the decision was easy.

Fishing Monthly Group advertising sales representative, Shayne McKee, is a dyed-in-the-wool mud crabber who has recently developed a taste for chucking lures around for flathead and bream. Shayne grabbed the project by the horns and has set out to put together a fair dinkum crabbing and lure casting boat that’s got enough room and horsepower to load up and take camping for a weekend down the ‘Pin. The boat is also going to be tournament ready and will make several appearances through the year at ABT tournaments, where you’re all invited to come and check it out.

We’ll follow the progress of the project boat over three months. This issue we’ll look at the construction and design of the hull, while in following issues we’ll check out the fit-up options and finally run a serious boat test (read: fishing and crabbing weekend down the ‘Pin) on the finished craft. With a diverse list of requirements it’s going to be an interesting fit-up, and Blue Fin plans to introduce the finished product into its range when we iron out all the fine details and make this rig a truly angler-friendly boat.

As luck would have it we’re also involving you in the process. Like all good boats she’ll need a name, and if you look at the entry form on this page you’ve got the opportunity to win some fantastic Fishing Monthly and Blue Fin merchandise just by posting in your ideas. All you need to do is think up a more clever name than the rest of the entrants to win the prize and have the new Blue Fin model named in your honour.


Blue Fin Boats is a young Gold Coast aluminium boat building company that started by building a 3.8m dinghy in February 1999. After building 100 boats in its first year of operation, it now occupies two industrial premises and employs 15 staff on its way to around a 700 boat output per year. Owned by Darrel and Samantha McMahon, and Alan and Margaret McDonald, Blue Fin boats is set for further expansion in coming years as they develop new models for various user groups.

Thirty-three dealers around Australia carry Blue Fins, which have developed a reputation for quality and reliability in their relatively short time in the marketplace.

“We now export to Noumea, too,” said Margaret, the real motivator of the company’s smooth operation. We could tell that these guys were particularly proud of their export achievements.

“We really came of age at a Brisbane Boat Show, where Stones Corner Marine gave us some space to sell out boats. We caught the train to and from the Show each day and ended up selling 20 of our boats. It was tiring, but it gave us the confidence we needed to step up the business,” she said. “Dealer and customer feedback is important for our product development, and projects like this give us ideas for our future product lines.

“Alan is the real brains of the operation though. He’s precise and makes sure that nothing that leaves the factory is sub-standard.”

When we met Alan he was busy photographing the ABT BASS Pro prize boat that was ready to ship to Yamaha for the fitting of the prize engine. Blue Fin are not only sponsors of the ABT BASS Pro series, but also of the Hinze Dam Classic, which was held in mid-March.


As this boat will be powered with a 40hp tiller-steer Evinrude E-Tec, and having a little knowledge of McKee’s rough-house tactics when it comes to missing mangroves that get between him and the crabs, we’ve opted to beef up the hull a little. The standard 4.2m Mangrove Jack hull, which sports 3mm bottom and 1.6mm side, has been upgraded in the project boat to sport a 3mm hull sheet and transom sheet. This heavier design should be able to handle the punishment that Shayne will dish out while chasing crabs.

As the rig will be toted from location to location on a Special Trailer, there will be no worries about the rig making it safely. Special Trailers is providing a trailer that will cope with the long distances the rig will be towed and the various launching facilities it will have to deal with.

Our first visit to the Blue Fin factory saw the hull in its infancy, with the pressed sides and hull welded together and the ribs ready for installation. As the ribs and floor framing get added, the hull gains rigidity and starts to resemble more the finished product. It’s at this stage that the careful internal design starts to take shape and you start to see where everything will sit.

The vee hull shape of this craft allows for a pile of underfloor storage, and Shayne’s layout gives a stack of space on the front deck and main cockpit for casting lures and cast nets or crabbing.

The addition of a 110L EvaKool esky immediately behind the casting deck and flush with the level of the deck adds flexibility – you can use it as a livewell for tournaments, as a crab receptacle, or as a ice box for a weekend’s camping provisions. It’s a simple and watertight solution to the dry storage problem many small boats have, while still providing a workable livewell set-up for tournament fishing.

Keeping rods and tackle out of harm’s way while travelling or crabbing are two, 2.1m rod lockers along the gunwales.

We won’t go into too much detail about the final deck fit-up, as that will be the focus of the next piece in the series.

Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words, so you can see the process of how the hull came together in the photographs hereabouts. Remember to enter the Name the Boat Competition for your own chance to have an input into our new little addition to the family.


Name the Blue Fin

Here’s your chance to share in over $200 worth of Fishing Monthly and Blue Fin boats merchandise and earn bragging rights to say you named a boat model.

The Fishing Monthly Group Blue Fin project boat is an upgraded version of their popular 4.2m Mangrove Jack. Designed for crabbing, lure casting and tournament fishing, the boat has been toughened up to cope with the harsh treatment serious anglers dish out.

Simply fill out the entry form below and send your entry into Fishing Monthly to go in the draw.

Fishing Monthly

PO Box 621


QLD, 4007

Model Name:



Day Phone:

Entries close last mail May 30, 2004.


1) Alan and Margaret overlook the construction of the internal framework.

2) All internal framing on Blue Fin boats is over-engineered.

3) Early in the construction process the internal ribs are welded into the boat.

4) This project boat was constructed with boat lure crabbing and mud crabbing in mind.

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