Polycraft 4.1 metre
Most boat tests in TF&BN are from outside sources. Often they are not tests, but reviews from the manufacturer. I don't have a problem with that at all; in fact it is quite helpful as we (TF&BN) don't have the time or resources to cope with testing boats. However this month it is different as the test boat is one we bought.
The challenge was to find a tough boat that could cope with an owner who wanted to get places that would wreck a fibreglass or alloy boat. Rough, gravel, potholed roads, rocks around lake shores, stumps and oyster racks are not kind to any boats and when we saw what Polycraft had to offer we took a good hard looked.
It needed to be stable, not too heavy, easy to tow, easy to get on/off the trailer, carry up to three people, have a bow mount electric fitted and be easy to care for. Of course it had to be sea-worthy and safe.
I had seen a few Polycraft boats around and one of my club mates had one. He was impressed he told me, but I did my own research as well - looking at the 4.3 and the 4.1 metre Challenger series. I decided on the 4.1 as surprisingly it had more usable room inside. The 4.3 is a more conventional v-bottom hull with a sharper bow, whereas the 4.1 is blunter giving more beam up front.
The boat was ordered with the custom fitted trailer and I'd consider this an essential item. It has a full Teflon keel skids and side rails supports. Other trailers just don't suit and in fact multi-roller trailers can put ripples into the bottom of a poly boat. They will come out, but you should just get the correct trailer as recommended by the manufacturer.
Whilst the trailer is terrific and easy to use lining the boat up to drive it on is/was not. I am a firm believer in being able to drive a boat onto the trailer - if the trailer is correctly setup. Most can be these days and it is disappointing to see a purpose built trailer for a particular boat where this isn't the case. A spring loaded Ezi Guide was purchased and this fixed the problem.
I believe the trailers for the bigger Polycraft boats are better in this respect with guiding rails already fitted.
A few additions within the boat were needed with the most important being a bow mount auto-pilot Minn Kota. This had to have a big battery and I didn't want to lose any storage space. So the front raised floor was extended back with a hinged plywood section. Beneath this now resides the starting battery, fuel tank and deep cycle battery for the bow mount electric. Importantly this kept the weight neutral without changing the trim of the vessel. I had ordered extra carpet from the factory so it all matches and the cover was custom fitted to shape.
How does it ride though?
Absolutely awesome for a 4.1 metre boat. I am used to my 6 metre plate alloy boat which has quite a deep-vee hull and a fantastic ride. I was on Arthurs lake with both boats to take photos and do this test. The morning was good, but a southwesterly of 30 knots (or more) blew up in the afternoon and I was not too sure about heading back to the ramp in it. My big boat was behind so I headed out of Cowpaddock Bay straight into it. There was plenty of whitecaps and the foam was blowing off the top of them.
I expected to get pounded and wet. To my astonishment it was easy.
An important factor here is having plenty of power as well. The Polycraft has a BF40 Honda tiller steer motor with gear change on the tiller. It is a great match for this boat.
Of course I managed the throttle carefully, and the electric trim on the BF40 Honda helped, and I took great care watching for bigger waves. At no time did I think it was too dangerous and I didn't get wet at all. There is no way I would have run into this sort of weather in a 4 metre vee-nose tinny punt. I am sure the heavier weight of the Polycraft was an advantage and the other big factor is the way the hull flexes and absorbs the pounding waves. The ride was much softer than I imagined.
In regard to comparing weight the Polycraft weighs in at around 265 kilos, whilst a Quintrex 4.2 metre wide body Dory weighs around 165 kilos and the Quintrex is a big boat.
You must be sure to not underpower any boat, especially in Tasmania when you visit the highlands at all. The altitude can rob you of up to 10% in power and freshwater probably a similar amount. If your boat is marginal in marine waters it will be a dog in the highlands. Fuel injected motors suffer less, but still suffer. Re-propping does help.
Sneaking around the trees looking for rising trout is a delight as well. With a Minn Kota bow mount electric it is great. Bumping trees or rocks is no great concern as there is no paint to scratch. The extra weight is often an advantage giving a little more stability and it does reduce the windage problem a little which is particularly evident on smaller boats.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues with the Polycraft though is noise - or more correctly lack of noise. This is a very quiet boat with no hull-slap, which I am sure frightens fish. Commercial fishermen all know what happens when a tinny get anywhere near a school of salmon - they all disappear. Even when you drop something there is little more than a dull thud.
A quiet boat is a blessing and no doubt they scare less fish. Motoring along it is also quickly noticed and it does seem like a much bigger boat from both the lack of noise and the soft ride.
How are they made?
Polycraft boats are manufactured by rotational moulding polyethylene in a two part mould. The entire boat is moulded in one piece and there are no joints or seam that can leak.
The mould is filled with UV stabilized Polyethylene powder, which looks a bit like washing powder. This is then placed into a very large oven and rotated under computer control in various directions to get the desired thickness throughout the entire dual skin hull.
Other common products you see in every day use using this method include rainwater tanks and wheelie bins. Polyethelene is environmentally friendly with no CFC or harmful by-products emitted during manufacturing and it can be completely recycled.
Some advantages claimed of polyethelene.
Not subject or susceptible to electrolysis.
Soft riding characteristics due to the flexible hull.
Easy to maintain or clean and never needs painting.
Quiet on the water.
Incredibly impact resistant (At least five times that of fibreglass).
Does not break down in direct sunlight. It has a UV stability rating of 11, compared to a wheelie bin with a UV rating of 4. The most similar product is a poly water tank and most of these are in permanent sun and come with a 25 year warranty
What if the hull is scratched - damaged or holed.
Polyethylene is very easy to repair if scratched or marked. Any plastic repairer will be able to repair a poly boat. While it's not impossible to hole a poly boat, it is certainly more difficult to puncture than an alloy or fibreglass boat. The hull is 10mm thick and flexes, absorbing a lot of the initial impact.
The 4.1 metre Polycraft seems like a bigger boat. It is very quiet and stable at rest and travelling. The combination of weight, flexibility and hull shape give a fantastic ride for a small pointy nosed punt. It takes very little care and won't corrode, peel or chip. There are a variety of colours and a long warranty. If damaged, which is more unlikely than any other boat it can be easily repaired. An ideal boat for the angler that wants something easily managed and easy care.
The only negative thing is weight, but as explained above this has real advantages as well. If you see anyone in one of these ask them what they think, chances are they will be Polycrafts best advocates.
It takes some thinking outside the square to consider one of these, but maybe it will be the perfect choice for you.
Polycraft manufacture boat from 3.1 metre tenders to 6 metre cuddy cabins.
Length Overall: 4.10 metres
Beam: 1.83 metres
Depth: 0.75 metres
Shaft Length: Long
Hull Thickness: 10mm
Maximum HP: 40HP
Number of People: Four or 300kg
Colours: Virtually any colour - from white to black
Polycraft`s range come with a four year manufactures hull warranty.
Boat supplied by Lindsay Deegan Marine, Ulverstone, Phone 6425 2238.