BOAT TEST: POLYCRAFT 4.80 BRUMBY
Kevin Smith heads to Hervey Bay to trip Polycraft’s plastic fantastic…
TEST: POLYCRAFT 4.80 BRUMBY
Clear skies, a light wind from the south-west, and typically flat Hervey Bay conditions greeted me as I prepared to test a customised Polycraft 4.80 Brumby Centre Console, kindly arranged for TrailerBoat by Hervey Bay dealer, Barney's Marine. The calm seas weren't ideal for a test boat like this, but that was okay - you can always pull out a few tricks to roughen things up a bit!
For those not familiar with Polycraft, these boats are made of plastic - well, polyethylene, to be exact. It's an extremely strong and durable material that's designed to stand up to seriously rugged Australia conditions. It's fair enough to have a boat made out of the stuff, but what effect would it have on performance when out on the water? I was about to find out…
LAUNCH AND RETRIEVE
For their size, Polycraft boats do weigh a bit more than comparable craft made from standard materials, but when towed on the right trailer they can be just as easy to get in and out of the water.
Our test began with the owner of this slightly customised Poly taking me through his launch and retrieve process. When launching from the ramp he made sure that the rear of the trailer and its wheel bearings were not submerged, obviously to maximise the life of said trailer. Then he released the winch and unwound it slowly, so as to not swamp the motor or crunch it, which is a very civil way to do things.
If your trailer is set-up correctly you can do this on smaller boats, and it will only prolong your trailer's life. Retrieving was the exact reverse, with the trailer still just off the surface of the water. Although a bit more effort is required when it comes to winding it in, you can always fit a small electric winch to take the effort out of it.
If you're not into that then the good ol' dunking in and out will of course do the trick, and one benefit with Polycraft boats is you can knock them around a bit without a worry. As I said, they're built to take it.
MOTORS AND CONTROLS
With the Polycraft 4.80 Brumby rated to take up to 80hp, and our test boat fitted with a Suzuki 80hp four-stroke, I had no quibbles with power. Not only that, but the first thing to grab my attention was the engine's whisper at idle. Quite simply, these engines are ultra-quiet and smooth-as, and an equally smooth standard Suzuki control box and hydraulic-steering completed the rig.
Wait a moment… hydraulic-steering on a 4.8m boat? Well hydraulics do make a world of a difference for handling, and when it comes to running heavy motors it's definitely worth spending that little bit extra.
Those 80 horses weren't overly aggressive as we pushed out of the hole. Instead, the going was rather smooth and effortless but the Brumby still got up to speed rapidly enough for a craft of its size. As a rule, I feel that going for the maximum rated horsepower is normally the best option and it's certainly something I prefer when running boats.
The Brumby tips the scales at a fairly hefty 540kg and this difference is quite evident when compared to similar craft constructed from other composites. However, before you cringe at that weight, remember that heavier boats generally give a softer ride, and this is also the case with this Brumby.
Although conditions were relatively flat, there was some reverse chop just outside Hervey Bay's harbour. It was enough to get a good indication of the hull's long-distance performance, seeing as we were travelling a few kilometres out to a small sand island for the photo shoot.
The ride out saw the wind on the aft starboard quarter, with a tidal current pushing from the reverse side. It was enough to cause a disturbance to a smaller hull and in these conditions a comfortable cruise speed of 22kts at 4500rpm was achieved, with the hull riding fairly smoothly and softly.
As we ran out to the island I picked up a fair amount of spray bursting off the bow-chines, which then blew back in on the windward side. Things improved a little with a few tweaks on the trim to lift the bow but it was still a little wet, although nothing too serious to whinge about. We spent a fair amount of time at various speeds, thrashing around and having a ball, and on average the boat certainly performed better than I had expected.
Whether you're flyfishing or spinfishing, you really want a wide-open layout that is spacious and free from obstruction. I myself am an avid flyfisherman and plastics thrower and I fully understand why this Brumby's layout had been modified to suit its owner's needs.
In the stern, the motor has a small separate well with side steps and grabrails on either side, which then flow into the false transom. The level false transom has flush-mounted rodholders built-in, along with dual-stowage pockets that could double as livewells or baitboxes.
The full rear lounge gives passengers some comfort and it's collapsible so as to provide access to the batteries. The deck is carpeted down the centre through to the casting deck in the bow, with non-slip sides butting up to the gunwales. These are actually sealed, without racks or sidepockets, but they're simple enough for mounting accessories. With this boat, the owner had mounted a few rodracks for his flyrods, which ran through tubes within the casting deck.
The console was small but adequate, and at this size it still maintained the space around the sides. Even so, there was enough room for the dual-Lowrance HDS systems, gauges, switch panel, mini nav lights, stowage and screen.
The casting deck on the standard Brumby is moulded with stowage hatches, but on this particular boat the owner had customised it by raising and extending it for better fishability. This is particularly effective when it comes to sightfishing for the serious pelagic species that come onto the flats in Hervey Bay.
The casting deck would be the most utilised part of the layout. Carpeted for comfort and raised up to just short of the top of the gunwale, it certainly provided the necessary elevation for sightfishing. The deck had no obstructions, which is of the utmost importance to the flyfisher who strips lines onto the deck. Beneath the casting deck is the bulk of the boat's onboard stowage space, which is accessed through one flush-hatch lid.
In the bow there's one small anchorhatch. On a standard craft this is normally open but on this one it was closed with a flush-hinged lid. On the side there was a bow-mounted electric motor with movable foot control on the casting deck. When it comes to stealth mode fishing and responsive manoeuvrability, these electric motors are definitely a big plus.
FISHABILITY AND HANDLING
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to flyfishing and spinning with lures, the ideal boat would be something that has stability, open and uncluttered space, and the capacity to handle some of the gruesome conditions occasionally thrown our way, especially in the open bays.
The 4.80's stability is good, thanks to the wide beam and outer chine/wing, and at rest you can move around without any unnecessary break dancing on the casting deck.
Obviously this isn't the case in rough conditions, but it was good enough for the medium chop we encountered. This is a great boat for the selfish fisho, but it could easily fish with two or three aboard working at the stern and amidships.
Stability is also on your side when trolling because the Suzuki 80 four-stroke displayed healthy fuel economy at low revs. You could safely chuck a few rods in the rear holders and troll the whole day without breaking the bank.
Even though it may look like a specialised fishing craft, you really can fish any way you like aboard the 4.80 Brumby. Thanks to its strength you can even smash your way up creeks and other freshwater systems without any fear of damaging your hull.
Power to the plastic! To be honest, the original idea of a so-called plastic boat didn't blow my hair back, but - and that's a big "but" - these boats are quite the real deal nowadays. They might not have a superyacht finish, but with a variety of colour schemes available they still look good enough, and they boast some exceptional strength and performance qualities. If you're in the market for a medium-sized centre-console, then these are worth a test - and you may well be pleasantly surprised.
Specs: Polycraft 4.80 Brumby Centre Console
Price as tested: $37,775
Options fitted: Suzuki 80hp four-stroke, custom-cast deck, Lowrance HDS5X colour-sounder and HDS5M colour-chartplotter, Structure Scan, Minn Kota electric motor, 130A deep-cycle battery, stainless console rail, spare wheel/carrier
Priced from: $31,114
Type: Monohull centre-console
Length (overall): 4.8m
Max HP: 80
Model: Suzuki DF80 ATL
Type: Four-cylinder four-stroke EFI
Gear ratio: 2.59:1
Barney's Marine Hervey Bay
Shed 3A, Nissan St,
Pialba, Qld, 4655
Phone: (07) 4124 3170
89 Childers Rd
Bundaberg, Qld, 4670
Phone: (07) 4155 2457
Originally published in TrailerBoat 258.
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