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TABS pulled out all the stops and delivered an exceptionally stable estuary boat with its Bullshark P400.


South East Queensland aluminium-boatbuilder TABS Boats puts plenty of effort into building its larger trailerboats, but the small fry coming out of its factory more than measure up on quality and price as well. A fact well and truly confirmed during a recent run down the Tweed River in a new TABS Bullshark P400.

This hull has a slight deadrise of only two degrees that runs well forward before rising from the forefoot, making this hull exceptionally stable at rest. And this is exactly what you need when mooching around in a 4m boat in estuaries inhabited by large "wash making" vessels, intent on making everyone's boat rock.




This boat has a two-stage casting deck at the bow. It's short and not wide at the pointy end, but those with a good sense of balance could take advantage of its extra 100mm height above the main aft-casting deck.
The small platform conceals the anchorwell. Access is via a hinged hatch that opens from the starboard side; the other half is fixed. There's plenty of space inside for an anchor and rode, although there was no tie-off point for the rope. Nor was there a cleat, or bollard on the bow to tie off to. Then, there wasn't a rebate in the hatch, so rope trailing back into the anchor well (that was not deployed) stopped the hatch from closing properly.
The inside of the hull was lined with carpet to stop chain rattle, but the aft bulkhead was not. An electric-motor base mount has also been configured into the bow as a standard feature.
The main casting deck has a seat base and there's a strut support under the deck to ensure rigidity.
A central locker is large enough to stow the electric-motor batteries in, while more storage is available forward under the deck surrounding the killtank, which is centrally located to balance its 80lt volume. It's not plumbed, but to do so would not be too difficult.
The cockpit features three seat bases for the two seats supplied - two on the portside and the third for the skipper at the tiller. The two aft are situated forward of another raised platform, which forms a bulkhead against the transom. The two compartments inside are big enough to house two 22lt-tote fuel tanks. The inner corners of the removable lids are cut away to allow the fuel lines to pass through.




There's a shallow engine well to catch any wash coming over the stern. The front edge of the well is carpeted to prevent paint damage to the underside of the tiller arm of the outboard.
The test Bullshark was fitted with a 30hp CV Yamaha two-stroke outboard, which comes standard with a short-tiller arm. From the normal tiller-steer position on the starboard side, the distance of the swing when turning to starboard (pushing the tiller away from you) is too great for relaxed steering. This would be exacerbated if you installed an optional longer-tiller arm, or used a different brand engine with a longer tiller than that on the test craft.
As you can see from the photos hereabouts, the test pilot used both seating positions, but that might not suit some skippers.
A quick check with the manufacturer revealed the seat-base position may be changed, or the inclusion of a sliding-seat base will assist to reposition the skipper's arm in relation to the tiller making the setup more ergonomically friendly.
There's a pocket running between the casting platform bulkhead and the rear platform on the portside. There is no sidepocket to starboard, but nothing prevents the inclusion of one as an option other than the budget perhaps.
We also noted the sidepocket protrudes past the inside of the coamings, which we are normally critical of in a larger trailerboat, because it contacts the shins when feet are tucked under and the upper legs cannot easily lean against the coaming as a brace when fighting a big fish.
In the case of vessels of this size though, one normally does not stand right at the edge of the cockpit to fish and lean against the gunwales for balance; rather, one tends to free-stand toward the centre of the deck for balance.
Over the transom we noted that the transducer bracket sits up from the bottom edge where the bottom sheet meets the transom sheet. We would like to see this flush mounted to utilise full travel of often restricted transducer bracket adjustment systems.




Underway, with two adults sitting in the aft seats, holeshot was a little slow, but nonetheless acceptable and once the bow settled down a "guestimate" of the speed at WOT was in the vicinity of 50kmh (27kts). We had the chance to bounce over small-boat wash and chop and the hull proved dry and could corner with ease.
At rest and with two adults moving around the deck, the Bullshark displayed the stability typical for this style of boat; nearly that of a flat-bottomed punt.
While it looks like I have picked this boat to bits, the things I have criticised are easily fixed and no doubt will be in the future. In reality, this is a really good small trailerboat with a very good finish and it was a pleasure to be in.
The seating/tiller issue is one you will need to look at when pondering this purchase, so take into account the length of the tiller on your proposed outboard.
Not only would the TABS Bullshark P400 be a good boat to start one's boating career with, it will fit in nicely as a large tender to a mother boat and makes a calm estuary fishing platform for those that are looking for a heavier-duty-than-normal boat that gives good bang for their buck.




Very good finish and stability
Plenty of under-deck stowage




Needs an anchor rode end tie-off point, a bow cleat or bollard, the aft edge of anchorwell carpeted, rebate in anchorwell hatch through which to pass anchor rope
Transducer bracket lowered flush to bottom edge of transom





Specifications: TABS Bullshark P400




Price as tested: $11,990
Options fitted: Nil




Material: Aluminium; 3mm bottom; 2.5mm sides
Length overall: 4.0m
Beam: 1.87m
Weight: 220kg (hull only)
Deadrise: 2°




People day: A number to 300kg
Rec. max. HP: 40
Rec. min. HP: 25
Rec. max. engine weight: 110kg
Fuel: Tote tanks




Make/model: Yamaha 30CV
Type: Two-stroke single carb.
Rated HP: 30
Fuel mix: 100:1
Weight: 55.5kg
Displacement: 496cc
Gearbox ratio: 2:06 (27/13)
Propeller: 9-7/8 x 12in alloy (std)




Tanner Marine,
1 Ducat Street,
Tweed Heads, NSW, 2485
Phone: (07) 5536 5312
Fax: (07) 5536 6609

Find TABS Bullshark boats for sale.


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