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A great reef boat
  |  First Published: October 2004



YALTA Craft enjoys an excellent reputation as a great seafaring fishing craft, and with good reason. Their no-nonsense layout, great sea handling capabilities and excellent construction make them a very popular choice amongst reef fishermen in North Queensland.

A number of my fishing buddies have Yaltas which are now getting on in years, but they are still delivering the goods trip after trip to the outer reef.

The layout has changed little over the years (why change something that has proven such a success?). There are none of those tricked up bits and pieces which break the first time they get a bit of hard work. The layout in the Yalta Triple 5 HC, which I tested for Quay Marine in Cairns, is simple and uncluttered yet extremely functional. The whole back half of the Yalta is open and allows four anglers to bottom fish in comfort.

LAYOUT

Boarding over the stern is via twin boarding platforms with a grabrail on either side. The full-height transom, which is a must in a reef boat, has a wet box/livebait tank in each corner. There is a padded thigh-rest right across the transom which doubles as a backrest for the two storage boxes, which combine to make a full-width rear lounge. The lift-out fibreglass boxes were removed for the boat test. They have a hinged padded lid and add to a mass of storage options in the Yalta. They can also be easily converted to eskies if desired.

A large deep bilge at the stern drains water off the floor, and at a glance the skipper can see whether he needs to run the bilge pump.

Large deep side pockets hold a stack of gear, and towards the front there are two very deep storage slots for bigger equipment. A small side pocket is also situated near the passenger seat, within easy reach, and there are two shelved storage compartments under each wraparound pivoting bucket seat. A solid grabrail is positioned in front of the passenger seat so the crew can stand and hang on securely during those long rough trips back from a great day’s fishing. There’s nothing worse than pounding back from the reef for a couple of hours and be continually looking for somewhere to hang onto every time the waves drop out from under the boat.

The helm has standard Mercury instrumentation and a huge dash top, which is great for tossing all those bits and pieces out of the way and out of the weather. A four-switch panel operates the bilge and lights. The raked back tinted perspex windscreen provides great protection for dash-mounted electronics and passengers.

The large V berth has a lift-out middle for comfortable sitting or fitting of a Porta Potti. There is enough room for two crew to catch a few hours’ sleep on an overnighter, and a stack of under-bunk storage to get all the gear out of the road to stretch out. Large side pockets inside the cabin will also hold a lot of equipment.

Access to the nose is excellent through the large front-opening hatch, which rests against the windscreen when open. This is much better than side-opening hatches, which often swing unsupported when open and invariably bust the hinges in rough weather. The split cross bollard, with lock pin, is within easy reach of crew kneeling in the cabin, which is an important safety feature in adverse conditions. The self-draining anchor well will hold stacks of ground tackle, and simply mounting a PVC tube to the bowrail gives separate storage for a reef or sand anchor. The split bowrail makes it easy to get the anchor on and off the short bowsprit and roller or for boarding and alighting on the beach. Just the same, it’s much easier and more comfortable to back into the beach and board or alight over the stern.

The finish throughout the Yalta is top class and the bonding between the hull and top deck is done to survey standard, making for a super-strong boat.

TEST DRIVE

The 140hp Mercury Saltwater Series two-stroke really got the Yalta out of the hole in a hurry and made it fly.

Thinking anglers are reconsidering the headlong rush into EFI and four-stroke motors, especially in remote areas. The big advantage of carburetted outboards is that they’re easy to work on – someone with basic mechanical skills can get the motor going again after it sucks in a gut full of water. According to Dave Powell, sales manager at Quay Marine, fuel problems account for around 60% of outboard problems, with water in the fuel being the number one culprit. With carburetted two-strokes it’s simply a matter of draining the fuel filter of water, clearing the fuel line and (provided there isn’t any more water in the tank) she’s up and away again. With an EFI (electronic fuel injection) or four-stroke motor you have to tow it all the way back to the workshop for a serious overhaul before it will fire again.

The 140hp Mercury returned impressive figures of 38km/h (24mph, 21kts) at 3000rpm, 50km/h (31mph, 27kts) at 3500rpm, 59km/h (37mph, 32kts) at 4000rpm, 66km/h (41mph, 36kts) at 4500rpm, and 73km/h (45mph, 39kts) at 5000rpm. With that sort of top-end speed, the Yalta Mercury combo will have you home from the reef in no time.

The Yalta handles beautifully. I have had many trips to the reef in these hulls and will certainly vouch for their great sea handling capabilities. If I was going to get caught out in rough weather, I’d rather be on board a Yalta than just about any other boat.

Another big plus with the Yalta Triple 5 is the 150 litres of underfloor fuel capacity. There’s always plenty of fuel in reserve if you get caught out in bad weather and have to fight your way home.

The Yalta Triple 5 fitted with a Mercury Saltwater series outboard and Belco gal trailer is an excellent reef rig at a very reasonable price and gives you a lot of boat for your dollars. For further information contact Quay Marine on (07) 4041 3166.

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model – Yalta 555

Length - 5.5m

Beam - 2.3m

Transom - 25”

Max hp - 150

Fuel - 150L underfloor

Base price (hull only) - $16,900

[CAPTIONS]

1) The Yalta Triple 5 has a large open cockpit which is ideal for bottom fishing at the reef.

2) The extra wide opening into the cabin makes it easier for big blokes to get to the anchor.

3) The anchoring system can be operated from inside the cabin for better security in rough weather.

4) The Yalta has a heap of storage compartments.

5) The V berth is large enough for a couple of fishos to grab a nap during an overnighter. Note the large front hatch for easy access to the anchor.

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