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Plating Over Glass: The new Allison Arafura 4.70
  |  First Published: March 2010



Allison boats are renowned for their finish, ride and handling. For over two decades Bruce Allison has been well known for manufacturing quality fibreglass boats, and now the boat producer 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. New for 2010 is the Allison’s 4.70 Arafura. The all plate 3mm sides, 4mm bottom Arafura is available in sizes from 4.7-5.8m.

The test vessel was the 4.75m long, 2.2m wide and 800mm deep rig, which is plenty of boat for your money. As tested, the four person craft can cater for family fishing or cruising in the estuary/river/lake situation, it featured a cut away transom and standard shaft engine.

Layout

The 4.70 Arafura is an open, roomy, side console craft with two pedestal seats as standard fare. The rig, as reviewed, came reasonably well set up for fishing or family boating; there was a live well 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 front was a large carpet lined anchor well, with the accompanying bollard mounted on the wide deck directly aft. A bow roller was also standard fare.

Paired storage hatches, large enough to cater for all safety gear plus additional tackle or clothing bags, were set into the raised carpeted front 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 being mounted up front; extra rod holders being 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 sounder mounted uppermost and behind the small windscreen. There was ample room for additional nav aids if required.

Skipper and mate’s seating was 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 controls, the steering wheel with its mechanical steering, and the side mounted forward controls for the Suzuki four-stroke. Visibility was naturally unlimited; I could see over the screen with ease.

Paired compartments were located aft in the transom area. 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 crafts but nonetheless effective in providing just a little more water line aft. Completing the stern features were a bollard in each quarter plus a transducer bracket. A bilge pump was also fitted.

Construction

Allison’s are solidly constructed plate alloy crafts. There are five side gussets transversing the hull with extra reinforcing being provided by the anchor well enclosure up front, which is quite large, plus the paired storage compartments aft with their solid frame work. Additionally, all cross members were stitched to the floor and sides for extra strength, the floor itself being resin coated 15mm ply.

Not surprisingly the 4.70 Arafura is a solid craft, sporting 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.

Even though the welds were visible they 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, a pair each quarter astern, for security reasons and ease of handling at the ramp.

Ride and Handling

The vessel was easily launched from its Dunbier skid and roller equipped trailer. The inherent stability of the 4.70 Arafura was almost immediately noticed after we got underway in the Southport Broadwater. The 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 degree deadrise, and small reversed outer chimes running down from the bow where they initially served as spray deflectors.

At speed, the ride of the 4.70 Arafura was impressive. In fact, so far as alloy craft of this approximate size are concerned I doubt if I’ve been in better, such was its smoothness and lack of noise. The bow design featured plenty of height to keep displaced water away, plus a large degree of rake carrying well aft so that wave impact was minimised at virtually any speed.

Handling was excellent; the hull turned sharply without any fuss or prop ventilation. Running out through the Seaway saw the Arafura easily handling the small swell we encountered and just as easily running in a straight line with no tendency to broach as we came back in with the swell astern.

The ride was dry under those conditions but like most open boats we might 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 cut away section of the already quite high transom caused no issues while I was aboard but increased height, or the provision of a high anchor well, would be an asset nonetheless.

The 70hp Suzuki with its 21” propeller was near the top power for the rig – ratings are from 50-75hp – and with a top speed of 53.4km/h at 6,000rpm the Arafura was impressive. Other speeds noted were 14km/h at 2,800rpm, 36.3km/h at 4,000rpm, 48.6km/h at 5,000rpm. I noted an excellent cruise speed with low engine noise input of 40km/h at 4,400rpm.

Given the ease that the hull planed, a 50hp on the transom is a viable option.

Overall

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 the estuary, river, lake fishing situation as the standard length outboard requires a low transom. For offshore work a higher transom or anchor 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 as Clinton White of Whitewater Marine explained, options are there ex-factory if required.

The test rig was supplied for Clinton White of Whitewater Marine ( 07) 5537 7752. Price as tested was $26,000 with the 70hp Suzuki, but would be $23,000 if replaced with a Suzuki DF 50hp.

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Facts

Technical Information

Length:4.75m

Beam:2.2m

Freeboard:800mm

Cockpit depth:640mm

Deadrise:17 degrees

Fuel:60L

Construction:4mm plate (bottom), 3mm plate (sides)

Engines:50-75hp

Engine fitted:70hp Suzuki four-stroke

Persons:4

Towing:Family six sedan or wagon, or 4WD

Length:6m (on trailer, tow ball to propeller)

Gross mass:780kg (boat, engine, trailer)

Facts

Advantages

– Overall eye catching design.

– Ride was exceptional, arguably one the best experienced for that size of alloy craft.

– Plenty of work room. Even with a big icebox aboard four anglers could work in the estuary situation.

– Ease of handling under power; a beginner would find no issues with this craft.

– High sides and good interior freeboard will appeal to boating families with youngsters.

– Good paint job.

Disadvantages

– Lack of a side pocket for additional storage.

– Only two rod holders.

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