Review: Tiller-steer Honda BF40 on a McLay 441 Fortress

By: John Willis, Photography by: John Willis

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  • Trade-A-Boat

How does the tiller-steer Honda BF40 outboard motor perform? We test one in Eden, matched to a McLay 441 Fortress tinnie.

I recently reviewed the McLay 441 Fortress, an aluminium fishing boat built in New Zealand. The testing location was in Eden, NSW, in a variety of conditions.


Tiller-steer Honda BF40 outboard motor

Tiller-steer Honda BF40 outboard motor on McLay Fortress 441

The Honda tiller-steer 40hp four-stroke is a great choice for the McLay 441 Fortress. It provided us with plenty of power, even though it was pushing a full fuel tank, fishing gear and a couple of 125kg heifers as crew. McLay 441 Fortress he got up onto the plane quite effortlessly and held us there with a minimum of fuss, even when travelling in on the back of the swell. We did find a couple of cavitation issues, so perhaps the engine could be dropped to a lower hole on this package, but it’s always hard to find the perfect height on a tiller-steer tinny.

Top speed from the Honda BF40 outboard motor on the McLay 441 Fortress was around 24 knots with one person on board. This is quite satisfactory for this style of fishing boat, but while I love the silent power and smoothness of the four-stroke SOHC three-cylinder Hondas, I really wasn’t comfortable with the power-tilt control’s position on the tiller handle. You have to use two hands if you want to control the revs and adjust the trim, which isn’t ideal in any conditions.

McLay 441 Fortress boat review


Tiller-steer Honda BF40 outboard specs

MAKE/MODEL Honda BF40 tiller-control outboard motor

TYPE Four-stroke SOHC three-cylinder, six-valve outboard motor





PROPELLER 3 x 11¼ x 13



Sapphire Marine & Auto

2/2 Government Road, Eden, NSW

Phone (02) 6496 4490




See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #478, on sale May 19, 2016. Why not subscribe today?


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