Project Blue Fin hits the water
  |  First Published: June 2004

AFTER a couple of months of the theory, design and fit-up – and a whole collection of excellent ideas for a model name – it was time to finally get the project ‘Fin wet. We’ll announce the winner of the model naming competition next issue, but this part of the series looks at how the Blue Fin/E-Tec combination performed out on the water.

To be honest, I didn’t get to set foot in the roomy little 4.2m until the BASS Pro event at Boondooma, where we used it on the freshwater as a camera boat and the a second time down the mouth of the Brisbane River, where we properly put her through her paces.

Two things were immediately apparent – both unexpected. The first was the ease with which these 40hp E-Tecs start and the second was how stable the boat was as a fishing platform.

We’d gotten to test drive the Evinrude E-Tecs at media days in the past, but when you’re set loose in these test craft they’ve been warmed up nicely for the journalists, and the engines usually start at the first turn of the key.

The real test, though, is on a cold morning when you try to start an outboard without squeezing the priming bulb. The E-Tec not only passed this test, it did so with flying colours. It doesn’t turn over a few times and then kick. It seems to kick on the first movement of the cylinder!

I also found, though, that you can turn over the engine while it’s in gear. It won’t fire, but it’ll happily labour away, leaving you wondering just what you’re doing wrong. Most outboards won’t move a millimetre while in gear. I don’t know if this is standard, but if it is, it’s unusual.

Shayne’s experience is that the outboard uses ‘hardly any fuel’. In fact, we were on his fourth fishing trip on the test day and the gauge for the 40-litre underfloor tank was still registering above half full. In a future issue, you’ll be able to read about some accurate usage figures in several horsepower bands but, anecdotally, the E-Tec is miserly.

The full rig isn’t light, but spinning a 17” prop and with two of us on board, there were no problems with hole-shot. A top speed of 51km/h on the Humminbird’s GPS jumped suddenly to 53mph – we reckon that is was at the time when the automatic double-oiling stopped, but the laptop will confirm our suspicions at the first service in nearly three years’ time!

Tiller drive outboards with power trim and tilt are often difficult to trim while travelling, but the addition of a gunwale mounted trim switch gives your right hand something to do (apart from holding on) while driving.

Like most craft, the Blue Fin responded well to a little positive trim, lightening the pressure on the tiller and lifting the bow a little out of the water. And, like many craft, too much trim resulted in porpoising. It was a luxury, though, to be able to make these adjustments on the run.

There’s no arguing, though, that you spend more time fishing than travelling for most forms of fishing, so I was particularly interested in the stability of the boat at rest. 4.2m is no huge craft by any stretch of the imagination, so I was under the impression that we’d have to be a little careful walking around the decks while throwing casts and using the Minn Kota.

I’ve already mentioned that the stability was surprising, but after a while you forget that you’re in a vee-bottomed boat and I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t in a vee-nosed punt.

While fishing, you appreciate the bonus floor space generated by the lack of a foredeck. The front casting deck is low enough to not have to worry about kicking rods overboard and the amount of flotation up front is ample for both anglers to be standing up front vying for the best shot at an upcoming snag.

Likewise, the extensive foredeck offers a huge amount of space for the crab pots, and the recessed cockpit will hold a pile of camping gear.

Overall, Shayne is very happy with the project’s performance.

“People have started asking me whether the low-profile 40hp on the back of the boat is enough to push it around,” he said. “I tell you what, the only thing small about that E-Tec is the amount of fuel it uses – it’s got heaps of power.”

Finishing up the project, all the model needs now is a name – and next month, Margaret from Blue Fin will pick the name she likes the best. We’ll announce the winner then.


1) From above, you can see the amount of space gained by designing a boat without a foredeck. The casting deck framing gives the boat its rigidity.

2) Getting on the plane, the ‘Fin behaves well with some increasingly positive trim.

3) Having a gunwale-mounted trim switch is seemingly a luxury feature, but after driving with one you’ll find it hard to do without it.

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