As you get older, comfort becomes a higher priority, and after years of banging around in tinnies my bones are telling me it’s time to switch to fibreglass. The Sea Pro Kingfisher certainly hits the mark in terms of comfort, and has a number of unique features that will make it appealing to all kinds of anglers.
Simplicity of layout is often the secret to a great boat but can belie the thought that has gone into every aspect of the design. Dave Powell, from Quay Marine in Cairns, worked closely with staff from Mercury Marine to come up with the ultimate all round boat for northern anglers.
Dave agonized over the layout for months, sending drawing after drawing to Mercury and consulting widely about the pros and cons of different layouts before finally laying it on the table.
At first glance it looks like a standard centre console, with forward and back casting platform, but start lifting a few hatches and the full picture becomes more obvious. The rear casting platform has twin rear quarter storage hatches, while across the front there is a full width, fully insulated esky that will hold some serious fish. Dave did a test run with John and Jenny Mondora, and the trio boated two monster Spaniards, with the smallest going 32kg. They slipped into the 165cm x 33cm x 32cm (174L) esky with ease. The esky doubles as a seat, with the cushion folding forward to rest upright and out of the way in front of the esky when it’s not needed. The padded seat is fully attached rather than simply being fixed on by Velcro, so it won’t blow off during transit.
The self-draining deck has scuppers in the back corners, which are fitted with internal bungs to keep the floor completely dry in winter. In summer the bungs can be left out, as a bit of water on the floor is pleasantly cool.
The console is set back, with the helmsman sitting on the esky. The distance between the console and seat can be adjusted to order. There is standard Mercury instrumentation, with an hour meter, speedo, tacho, fuel gauge, six-switch panel and storage tray underneath the console. The battery is on the floor, with room for a marine radio to be stored out of the weather.
In front of the low profile console is a padded seat with storage inside. With two people, the passenger can sit in front of the console, and with three on board, one can sit either side of the helmsman. With all the weight at the back the Kingfisher rides beautifully on its tail, producing a very comfortable and dry ride for all people on board. The wash doesn’t come out from under the hull until back behind the helm seat, minimising the chance of copping spray on a beam quarter. There is also a three-tray tackle box built into the front of the console, along with a padded backrest.
Under the gunwales, amidships, there are three rod-storage racks on each side. They do need the addition of elastic bungy straps to stop the rods bouncing out when in transit, but they are perfect for easy stowing and retrieval of rods when fishing. Six stainless steel through gunwale rod holders finish off the rod storage options.
The test boat had a full flowcoat finish inside, and there was much discussion amongst punters over whether it should come standard with carpet. My preference is for uncarpeted because I like to be able to just hose a boat out and put it away when I get home. Cleaning carpet covered with slime, blood or mud is a pain, but on the flip side, a couple of big Spaniards flapping around on the floor can make it pretty slippery. At least if it comes standard without carpet, the owner has the option to add it.
The craft, as tested, is a prototype and the production model will have a moulded gelcoat finish for the front platform, centre console and rear casting platform. The gunwale and main cockpit will be flow coat. While a flowcoat gunwale might not look as flash as gelcoat, experienced anglers know it is much easier to maintain and repair. The other big advantage of flowcoat is that it makes adding a mounting bracket for an electric thruster much easier and neater.
The large front platform is set down about 20cm and is completely snag free, making it an ideal cast net or fly casting platform. The foredeck is another bundle of surprises, with the rear hatch revealing the biggest livebait tank I have seen in a recreational boat. The full width tank holds over 100L and could sustain a massive school of sardines for bait, or live bass ready for the weigh-in. It was plenty big enough to keep a 73cm barra alive for over two hours when we tested the Kingfisher on Lake Tinaroo.
From the impoundment to the islands the Sea Pro proved its versatility and fish catching qualities. I broke my ten-year hoodoo on Tinaroo barra during the trials, when a very lively barra nailed a new gold tiger coloured Tropic Angler large floating lure. We kept the barra as it was tagged, and John Mondora was keen to pass the tag and otoliths onto the Northern Fisheries Centre. This fish was a part of the Tableland Fish Stocking Society’s new program of stocking 30cm-plus fingerlings in Tinaroo, which is proving to be a huge success.
The middle hatch in the front is for dry storage, with a weather-proof seal around the lid. It is large enough to hold all the safety gear. The self-draining anchor hatch is at the front, and is a bit small for my liking, but certainly proved adequate during trials. The size of each compartment will be slightly adjustable, but will be restricted by the positioning of the moulded hatches in the production model. The anchoring system is simply a cross-mounted, pop-up, stainless steel horn cleat on the nose, which sits flush with the deck when not in use.
The Sea Pro Kingfisher, powered by a 60hp Mercury four-stroke EFI Big Foot, just purred along at a cruising speed of 32km/h (20mph, 17kt) and topped out doing 57km/h (35mph, 31kt). The acceleration was instant and threw us back in the seat when we hit the throttle.
I also took the Kingfisher for a run out the front of Trinity Inlet in Cairns, into a strong wind warning, just to check out how well it would handle the rough stuff. The conditions were atrocious, with a 1.5m swell coming from the east and a wind chop being whipped up at right angles to it, along with wakes coming off large boats returning to port. The Sea Pro just ate it at all angles with only a tiny bit of spray catching me when running beam-on to the wind. The Teleflex Marine hydraulic steering made it a breeze to handle, even in the wild conditions.
As we turned for home we were hit by a rain squall. The rain was hitting so hard that we had to protect our faces with our hands to reduce the stinging. The Kingfisher lapped up the mayhem, and the ride was so good there wasn’t even any need to hang on. We just sat at the stern, filled the livebait tank using the in-line pump to keep the nose down and raced for the protection of the inlet. It sure was a convincing demo of just how well the Kingfisher handles the rough stuff!
The Sea Pro Kingfisher is perfect for the angler who wants to cover long distances over rough water and then have the ideal fishing platform under them. With 100L of fuel under the floor, the Kingfisher will be able to cover a serious distance, especially when coupled with the fuel economy of a four-stroke Mercury. It has everything an angler could wish for in order to fish impoundments, estuaries, coastlines, around islands or out on the reef.
The Sea Pro is the best package I have seen for covering all the options available to the northern angler. For further information, contact Dave Powell at Quay Marine in Cairns on (07) 4041 3166.
Length overall - 5m
Beam - 1.85m
Draft - 0.4m
Maximum horsepower – 60hp
Material - FRP and synthetic core (no wood or ply); fibreglass cavity stringer grid; durable flowcoat on deck, floor and internals
Weight - 340kg (approx)
BMT package price – from around $26,000