Allison boats are renowned for their finish, ride and handling. For over two decades, Bruce Allison has been known for manufacturing quality fibreglass boats and now this builder is heading in an entirely new direction – alloy boats.
Even though it may be a radical departure from the norm, Bruce has ensured that his standards of attention to detail and build quality will carry through to the new Allison Alloy Boats. Hot from the factory floor is the Allison Arafura, an all-plate series with 3mm sides and 4mm bottom available in sizes from 4.7m to 5.8m.
The test vessel was 4.75m long, 2.2m wide and 800mm deep, which is plenty of boat for your money. As tested, the four-person craft can cater for family fishing or cruising in an estuary/river/lake. It featured a cutaway transom and standard shaft engine.
The 4.70 Arafura is an open, roomy, side-console layout with two pedestal seats standard.
The rig reviewed came reasonably well set up for fishing or family boating; there was a livewell for bait aft plus a pair of rod holders amidships. And there was ample interior room for an icebox that could easily come aboard to handle the catch.
Up forward was a large carpet-lined anchor well, with the accompanying bollard mounted on the wide deck directly aft. A bow roller was also standard.
Paired storage hatches, large enough to cater for all safety gear plus additional tackle or clothing bags, were set into the raised, carpeted casting deck. There was a 25cm step down to the 640mm deep cockpit with its wide decks and plenty of fishing room.
The 4.70 Arafura had a wonderfully spacious feel about it, no doubt due to the generous beam and cockpit depth, but also thanks to the side console taking up so little space.
The Allison’s decks were wide enough to sit on, with one rod holder per side mounted up front; extra rod holders are an option. Most of the popular extras are available ex-factory because Allison Boats offer customisation as standard.
The fibreglass side console was equipped with a grab rail and featured some handy storage space.
An array of gauges for the Suzuki 70hp stretched across the console’s top section with a Humminbird 150 fish finder mounted uppermost and behind the small windscreen. There was ample room for additional nav aids if required.
Skipper’s and mate’s seating were pedestal style with plenty of padding, with a handy carry-all pocket set up behind each upright squab. The position of the skipper’s seat was ideal for easy reach of the side-mounted engine controls and the mechanical helm. Visibility was naturally unlimited; I could see over the screen with ease.
Paired compartments were located at the transom. In the test craft the plumbed bait well was to starboard and the engine battery to port. Both hatches were strong enough to stand on and would serve as additional casting platforms at a pinch.
The transom was semi-rounded, which is unusual in alloy boats but nonetheless effective in providing just a little more waterline aft. There was a bollard in each quarter and a transducer bracket and bilge pump were also fitted.
Allisons are solidly constructed. There are five side gussets traversing the hull with extra reinforcing provided by the anchor well bulkhead. The well is quite large. The paired storage compartments aft have solid framework.
Additionally, all cross members were stitch-welded to the bottom and sides for extra strength, the floor itself being resin-coated 15mm ply.
Not surprisingly the 4.70 Arafura is a solid craft of 400kg dry weight without the engine. But the weight is not a handicap; boaters in the know will understand that weight can equal an excellent ride in a well-designed aluminium hull.
The welds were visible but were neat and smooth. Decks were rigid without noticeable hums or thrums under way. The rounded decks in aft quarters as well as in the vicinity of the anchor well were a nice touch, ensuring that there were no sharp corners to cause concern.
I would also opt for a pair of grab rails up front and astern, for security reasons and ease of handling at the ramp.
The Arafura was easily launched from its Dunbier skid and roller trailer. The inherent stability of the hull was almost immediately noticeable. This craft was very stable when stationary, which of course is great for fishing.
Two of us on the one side did little to influence the solidly built hull with its keel, 17° deadrise and small reversed outer chimes running down from the bow, where they initially serve as spray deflectors.
At speed, the ride was impressive. For an alloy craft of this approximate size I doubt if I’ve been in better, such was its smoothness and lack of noise.
The bow features plenty of height to keep displaced water away, plus a large degree of rake is carried well aft so that wave impact is minimised at virtually any speed.
Handling was excellent; the hull turned sharply without any fuss or prop ventilation. Running just offshore the Arafura easily handled running against the small swell and just as easily running in a following sea with no tendency to broach.
The ride was dry under those conditions but, like most open boats, we should expect some spray about the place if running across waves with the breeze on the quarter.
I would definitely opt for more transom height if you regularly went offshore. The cutaway section of the already quite high transom caused no issues while I was aboard but increased height, or the provision of a high engine well, would be an asset nonetheless.
The 70hp Suzuki with its 21” propeller was near the top power for the rig – rating is from 50hp to 75hp – and with a top speed of 28.8 knots (53.4kmh) at 6000rpm, the Arafura was impressive. Other speeds noted were 7.4 knots (14kmh) at 2800rpm, 19.6 knots (36.3kmh) at 4000rpm and 26.2 knots (48.6kmh) at 5,000rpm. I also noted an excellent cruise speed with low engine noise at 21.6 knots (40kmh) at 4400rpm.
Given the ease that the hull planed, a 50hp on the transom is a viable option.
The Allison 4.70 Arafura has a lot going for it: Overall comfort, work room, stability, ride quality and sheer fishability. The rig as reviewed would best suit first-time boat owners in estuary, river or lake fishing situations as the standard length outboard requires a low transom. For offshore work a higher transom or engine well would be an advantage.
The paint job was well executed, with a good overall finish. The test rig was somewhat sparse, given that we sometimes see craft of this size fitted with virtually every option for the angler, but options are there ex-factory if required.
Price as tested was $26,000 with the 70hp Suzuki, but would be $23,000 if replaced with a Suzuki DF50. For more information or to tailor an Allison package just for you, contact Five Islands Marine 74 Princes Highway, Yallah, NSW 2530, call 02 4256 6135.
Construction:4mm plate (bottom), 3mm plate (sides)
Engine fitted:70hp Suzuki four-stroke
Towing:Family six sedan or wagon, or 4WD
Length:6m (on trailer, tow ball to propeller)
Gross mass:780kg (boat, engine, trailer)
– Overall eye-catching design.
– Ride exceptional, arguably one the best for that size alloy craft.
– Plenty of work room. Even with a big icebox aboard, four anglers could work in an estuary.
– Ease of handling under power; a beginner would find no issues.
– High sides and good interior freeboard will appeal to boating families with youngsters.
– Good paint job.
– Lack of a side pocket for additional storage.
– Only two rod holders.