BOAT TEST: BROOKER 435 GETABOUT RUNABOUT

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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Brooker’s 435 Getabout is the perfect platform from which to enjoy the Australian tradition of family boating, and as David Lockwood discovers, it delivers excellent performance and great value for money.

BOAT TEST: BROOKER 435 GETABOUT RUNABOUT
BROOKER 435 GETABOUT RUNABOUT

 

THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN GETAWAY


I find Botany Bay one of the most fascinating waterways in Australia. It has great cultural and historical significance, one of the largest shipping ports, our busiest airport, and stunning riches providing you know where to mine them.
While I hear jumbos roar overhead with deafening monotony, I also find birds known as curlews that have migrated from Siberia to sift the local wetlands for worms.
And while I can't miss the massive ship pumping crude oil to the Caltex refinery at Kurnell, I also note a clique of knockabout anglers of mainly Mediterranean extraction fishing alongside in trailerboats.
In fact, one friendly chap wearing overalls waves to me and flashes a broad smile as he bows and secrets a baby bream he just landed in his kit.
Back at the ramp, I notice the local anglers proudly display fluffy dice, photos of Christ and Mary, crosses and other religious charms for good luck on their trailerboats. They seem to work for one chap cleaning flathead at the table.
Today, it just so happens, I have an ideal bay boat to explore the bay. The runabout doesn't cost the earth to buy or run, is both comfortable and dry, and can very simply access those riches, be they fish, crabs or a picnic and swimming spot.
Like a lot of boats I see, the Brooker 435 Getabout Runabout is a modest tinnie that you can launch and retrieve yourself, tow with any old family car, keep in the driveway, garage, front lawn or street, and share with a fishing buddy, a fishing-friendly wife or a young family. Drive-away, the rig costs about the same as a base model Korean hatch.
On this or another bay, a river or lake, or an estuary of some shape or form, the Getabout's potential is limited only by your imagination and sense of adventure. Thus, tests of boats such as this are unlikely to reveal too many traps or tricks. What you see is pretty much what you get, sans the fishing gear, fuel, matey crew and photo of Mary.

 

 

RUNABOUT TOWN


I'm not sure how long Brooker has been around, but as a young kid kicking about the boat ramps I can remember the Brooker CT10 and CT12s chained to the she-oaks at my local lake and parked on trailers on the streets.
An old stager, Brooker must know a thing or two about building boats by now and, well, making tinnies like this isn't rocket science. The runabout looked smart painted white with a red graphics flash and it seemed solid enough.
It also looked beamy (1.85m) and, moreover, deep in the bow, with a high windscreen to boot. These are good things for protection from the spray, wind and to support the weight of you and your crew riding on the swivel seats up front.
Construction comprised 3mm alloy sheet on the hull bottom and 2mm sheet for the sides. The welds were of industry standard, meaning those on exposed areas had been ground back, though if I tried hard enough I found a sharp edge in less-obvious places. No big deal, though.
Rated to a maximum 50hp outboard, the demo boat had a 40hp electric-start Mercury with power trim and tilt, so there was no need to leave the helm to start the motor and journey. Also, the boat could be driven on and off its trailer, and you could tilt the motor clear of the bottom when coming ashore, as I did at the Towra shorebird sanctuary in Botany Bay.

 

 

SIMPLE RECIPE


The layout of the Getabout breaks absolutely no new ground. The simple runabout is made with a tried-and-true homespun recipe that has been handed down for generations. Nonetheless, it's worth running through a few things.
At the pointy end there's a split bowrail with a roller, a cross bollard and an open anchor well big enough to hold a small plough, rope and chain. I checked and, yes, the anchor well drains overboard. You need a carpet tile under the anchoring gear to stop rattles when travelling.
The boat came with navigation lights, which we are pleased to see, and a three-piece, well-supported, alloy-framed polycarbonate windscreen that was a deep design affording excellent vision when seated. With the centre panel open you could reach the anchor gear, though it was a bit fiddly undoing the press-studs on the canopy so you could open the windscreen pane.
But at least the dealers had the good sense to fit a canopy! It was a real stinker when I sallied onto the fray on Botany Bay and the shade was as welcome as a beach umbrella at Bondi. The centre section of the canopy unzips and scrolls up if you want some additional ventilation or to drive while standing.
Seated on the helm seats, the plastic steering wheel hit the top of my thighs but, again, it wasn't a major problem. The step in the flat, carpeted floor meant both skipper and mate had good legroom.

 

 

STORAGE OPTIONS


There was a dry storage area under the bow for safety gear. Ahead of the copilot was a plastic lockable glovebox that any fledgling Oliver could pick if he wanted to.
Storage also came by way of sidepockets and the aluminium box beneath the full-length aft lounge. This latter receptacle held the dealer-supplied lifejackets and a 25lt remote fuel tank.
The fuel lead exited the aluminium box through a rubber grommet. As such, it wasn't watertight. I thought there was room for the fuel tank in the furthermost port corner of floor alongside the engine well.
If it is possible to carry the fuel tank under the rear deck, then let's make that aluminium lounge base watertight and baffle in there. This way, the storage area could be used to hold the catch and a bag of ice to keep the drinks cool and bait fresh.
While the aft lounge seating will be welcomed when you carry the boat's full complement of four adults, it might not be so welcome when you want to maximise floor space for, say, crabbing or cast netting. So the aluminium base should not be secured with screws, as it was, but with snap-lock fittings so you have the option of leaving the lounge at home.
One final point about the lounge. There was no padded backrest and the flat aluminium section of the internal transom edge could whack your back when hard running. I would attach an upholstered foam-backed panel across the transom.
The battery sat on a tray off the floor; however, I couldn't find the bilge pump. That seemed like an oversight, though it will be simple to retrofit a pump that is surely needed as one can't get a bailer or bucket under the floor.
Standing back to admire it, I thought the cockpit was very spacious. It was also traced by extruded gunwales that will accept rodholders and handy aft handrails from which you could also mount rodholders.
Up front, the helm pedestal seats swivel aft so you can monitor lines, talk to your crew when doing lunch at anchor, and observe the kids getting whipped around like a rag doll on the tube. The 40hp motor should get them skipping along fairly well.

 

 

ROCKET SHIP


Helping the boat's performance was a pod that extended the hull's running surface and provided a terrific amount of buoyancy back aft. I can't see water coming over the splash well of this boat. Make a note of this: a lot of mainstream tinnies take on water through their transom when at rest. That's a real bugbear for me.
The other great thing about the pod was the chequerplate steps either side of the engine well that help with access. I stepped off the boat for a stroll along the local beach in search of birdlife - no, not that kind - before hopping back aboard and tootling off. Easy.
The bay was as flat as a billiard table, which was very much to a lightweight tinnie's liking. At the helm, I noted a small switch panel and a simple throttle within comfortable reach. You could add a marine radio and depth sounder. There is a transducer bracket waiting on the transom.
Under the flightpath, we must have looked like a speck of dust in the portholes before the hordes of frequent fliers with their faces pushed up against the foggy glass. But on the bay the boat did not feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the waterway or commercial conveyances.
I recorded a super low-speed planing speed - thanks again to that full pod - of just 7.1 knots (13.4kmh) with full in-trim. Low-speed carefree bay cruising came in at 13.5kt (26kmh), and 20kt (38kmh) with nominal trim felt like a smooth cruise. The engine got noisy at 23-24kt (45-46kmh) and flat-out I drowned the roar of the jumbos at 26.5kt (50kmh). There was no tacho to note the revs.
To the dealer's credit, the boat was propped correctly and, although it was a plain old alloy prop, it wouldn't let go when I swung the hull about around in tight turns as though the boat was an amusement ride at the local circus.
I kept clowning about for a while before seeing those local fishermen and the hungry pirate pocket that baby bream. Then there was Captain Cook's landing place at Kurnell to tour.
We've come a long way in a couple of centuries, but Brooker's 435 Getabout Runabout takes us back to the days before we all had such big expectations. Owning a simple boat like this was once a sign that you had made it. Today, it was all I needed.

 

 

HIGHS


* Very efficient boat
* Lots of benefits from the pod
* Good-sized cockpit
* High and dry swooping bow
* Plenty of storage
* Affordable boating

 

 

LOWS


* No electric bilge pump
* Aft lounge base not easily removable
* No aft backrest
* Noisy two-stoke motor at high revs

 

 

 


Specifications: Brooker 435 Getabout Runabout

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $14,977 with Mercury 40hp two-stroke motor, options and trailer
Options fitted: Painted hull, padded aft lounge, registrations and more
Priced from: About $14,500

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Sheet alloy, 3mm bottom, 2.0mm sides
LOA: 5.45m
Beam: About 1.85m
Deadrise: n/a
Weight: About 548kg drive-away rig

 

 

CAPACITIES


Rec/max hp: 40/50
Fuel: 25lt tote tank
Water: n/a
Passengers: Four (360kg)
Accommodation: n/a

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Mercury 40hp ELPTO Long Shaft
Type: Two-stroke, three-cylinder outboard
Rated HP: 40hp @ 5000rpm
Displacement: 1747cc
Weight: About 98kg dry
Drive (make/ratio): Outboard 2:1
Props: Alloy 17in

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Andrew Short Marie, Taren Point, tel (02) 9524 2699 or visit www.andrewshortmarine.com.au

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #191

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