Australian boat builders hate them, recreational boaters are warming to them and we are seeing more and more of them at boat shows. They are the burgeoning imports we are now getting from America, Canada and now Asia.
New boat buyers are well-armed with a load of information before embarking on a floating investment, mainly due to the internet and magazines like this. They are looking for the biggest bang for their buck and these ‘grey imports’, with all their bells and whistles, seem to be fitting the bill.
Regular readers will know that I’ve conducted a few tests on the Scout range of boats from South Carolina in the US and it appears they’ve found a niche market with the Australian public.
On a still, cold day I met Neil Aitken, owner of Neken Marine, and his helper, Nigel Newton, at Bayview boat ramp on Sydney’s northern beaches to take a run in one of the latest offerings from Scout, the new 175 Sportfish. Neil had previous commitments so Nigel was my companion for the morning.
Powered by a 115hp Suzuki four-stroke spinning a 19” three-bladed prop, this pocket rocket could sure get up and boogie. I’m convinced it would be a lot tamer with a 90hp strapped to the stern as it would be lighter and therefore use less of our very expensive petrol.
But if you’re one who likes to see the speedo hit 70kmh, go for the biggest allowable power, which is 115hp.
Deck surfaces all have an anti-slip finish and there’s heaps of room for two to fish very comfortably, one up forward and the other from the stern.
Scout’s unique double chine gives the boat excellent rough-water travel and good stability at rest.
There are some nice touches. On the starboard side of the console is a rod holder to store four rods vertically. There are also pop-out rod racks on the port coaming which will harbour another four rods.
The dash has an imitation walnut facia which I found to be a bit chintzy. Analogue instruments showed speed, engine revs, tilt and fuel. The labelling under each electrical switch on the panel was small and hard to read because it blended in with the walnut grain but every switch had its own, easily replaceable fuse.
Up forward the anchor locker is huge and will store a mile of warp as well as a sand or rock pick. A north/south cleat is supplied for tying off the ground tackle.
A trolling motor plug and harness, ready to accept an electric, is standard issue.
Stepped back from the stem is an enormous, fully insulated and gelcoat-lined kill tank which drains overboard via a skin fitting.
In front of the console is a removable 88-litre insulated icebox, comfortably cushioned to allow two people to sit side by side.
Passenger and helm seats are very comfy and there’s superb vision over the top of the racing-style windscreen.
On the passenger side is a small console for personal items but I would replace this with an inset GPS/sounder unit because the lid of the console is unable to be opened when the throttle arm is forward.
There’s a heap of room on top of the console for additional electrics if you don’t want them flush-mounted.
In the console, accessible via a hatch on the port side, is an acre of dry storage, ideal for lifejackets
Two quarter seats set in the transom corners complete the seating arrangements. Under the starboard squab is the water-separating fuel filter, primer bulb and battery isolating switch. Under the port squab is a very large, plumbed livewell which will hold at least a dozen yellowtail or four or five slimy mackerel.
There is an automatic bilge pump with manual override switch and the cockpit is self-draining via outlets at the transom.
Four stainless steel rod holders adorn the transom and there are recessed grab rails and rear mooring cleats.
The fuel filler, which stands proud on the port-side coaming, could be intrusive, catching fly lines and rod tips.
On the bow and at the stern are the fittings for lights to comply with regulations when under way at night.
When seated as a passenger, I needed another grab rail because I had to lean forward and hold onto the rail running across the top of the windscreen.
The boat has foam up in the gunwales, giving it a certificate of level flotation, but there are inspection and cable-draw hatches in the hull for ease of wiring.
So how did she perform? As I said, there is power to burn and the Suzuki sure shot us out of the hole with minimum bow lift.
Straight line under full power, the Scout was as steady as a rock and clung well in corners. With hard lock and three-quarter power, the boat showed no nasty vices like flicking or bucking.
Our lean test, with Nigel and I hanging over the side, produced lean but there was still 600mm or more freeboard in reserve. In reverse we experienced some water intrusion over the transom but the self-draining cockpit made short work of it and within seconds we had a dry deck again.
Rough water gets eaten by the double-chine system and no slam is felt in the cockpit as the boat eagerly climbs over the chop.
Back at the ramp, Nigel reversed the multi roller Dunbier trailer back into the water and the Scout winched on as easy as pie.
This boat is ideal for solo use and retrieving in a crosswind would not be a difficult task.
As usual, the finish on US boats is immaculate and the Scout 175 Sportfish is no exception.
|Fuel capacity (underfloor)||121 litres|
|Inclusions: Centre console with grab rail and windshield; stainless rub rail; horn; electronics locker on console; insulated kill box with drain; self draining cockpit; 4||rod holders; console rod rack; plumbed livewell; adjustable captain’s chair; front cooler seat with cushions; anchor locker; stainless cup holders; trolling motor plug and harness; flip-out rod holders.|
Options: Yellow, green or blue hull; on-board battery charger; swim platform; full bow rail; bimini top; side rails; bow fishing seat; bow cushion; underseat cooler; boat cover; seat covers.
Price as tested including Dunbier Supa-Roller braked trailer plus all registrations: $48,743. Boat supplied by Neken Marine, Unit 8, 9 Apollo Street, Warriewood, NSW 2102. Ph 02 9918 4120, fax 02 9979 7049; email --e-mail address hidden-- web, www.neken.com.au