By: Rick Huckstepp

A great all-rounder, Plaka Boats’ polyethylene 4.6m Centre Console is built to withstand anything you can throw at it. No wonder it's winning fans up north, writes Rick Huckstepp


It’s not that unusual to see polyethylene boats on our waterways in this day and age. They have found a niche market in the Northern Territory, where only the tough will last, and there are more than a few of them being used as tenders to large boats around the country. In issues past, you would have read of the Polycraft models that emanate from Queensland’s sugar city, Bundaberg. Those are mono-hulled configurations and on our recent trip to Western Australia we came across another to add to the list of ‘fantastic plastic’.
This latter one is the Plaka Boat, which is similar in shape to a rigid inflatable, but made from rigid polyethylene.
Unlike a standard inflatable boat, the Plaka 4.6m Centre Console features a prominently upturned bow point under which a very sharp keel line protrudes forward. The aft ends of each pontoon are rebated to act like a step to climb aboard over the transom and the hull features a deadrise of 24-degrees while the outer pontoons act as huge chines.
The stability of this and the smaller 3.6m model is awesome. When we initially viewed these hulls they appeared to be made of a material other than the standard polyethylene. Once this material is rolled into a cylinder or an arc it becomes extremely strong, while a flat sheet tends to wallow. We looked at the 4.6m centre console model, which features a stowage box in front of the console and high grabrails on top. The forward section of the cockpit is sectioned off, creating an anchor well. This boat also had high grabrails around the front third of its girth, making for very stable movement when on the water. A full thwart seat had a concave top which, to some extent, would prevent one from slipping forward and rearward when underway. The lid of this seat opened to show a cavernous stowage area. The grabrails on each pontoon at the ends of the thwart seat were sturdy. The railing system inserts into the poly hull and tap screws through the side and into the rail ends give a surprising amount of strength and rigidity.
The 3.6 model we looked at was a tiller control version powered by 25hp two-stroke Mariner outboard and featured two thwart seats and low profile hand rails at each end of each seat. A full aluminium brace plate covers the transom, to which the engine is securely bolted.
While they may look light in weight, the hulls check in at 250kg for the 4.6 and 115kg for the 3.6m version.
The trailers for these rigs are made from galvanised tubular steel with no rollers, buffers, or skids. According to the manufacturer, the trailer will wear out before the boat will wear through. It was easy to launch and retrieve and, even during a botched approach, the guide rails on the trailer seized the prominent hull and guided it on straight.
Some nifty options are available for these boats. One is a ‘T’ top canopy and an insert for the front of the console stowage box. This would make it an ideal ice box that would be easy to remove for cleaning. There is also a ‘hook over the side’ dive ladder available and a side skid plate made of aluminium.
These boats can also be surveyed with little trouble.
Out on the water in front of Hillary’s Boat Harbour, the steep, high chop showed that the hull configuration proved to be drier than the standard inflatable – provided you keep the revs up to the motor – thanks to that upswept bow and deep keel line. It handled the recommended maximum horsepower of the 60 Yamaha four-stroke nicely, although there was some ventilation of the propeller during hard high speed turns. Just for good measure, back in the harbour we tried to swamp the 3.6m boat with two big blokes on board. No problems at all! Filled it to the gunwales then drove off and let the water pour over the transom. These would be great little boats for surf situations.
Plaka has been around for seven years, with the new deep keel line being in place for the last 12 months. This would make a great runabout, tender, and a safe boat for the kids to play in. Their durability will hold them in good stead at a barnacle-encrusted wharf or on a rock bar up north.
Plaka Boats is currently looking for dealers in the eastern states.

Good stability
Dry ride
Lots of stowage space
Easy to handle on the trailer at the ramp



SPECIFICATIONS: Plaka 4.6m Centre Console

Price as tested:   $17,500
Options fitted:   Liner in stowage box
Priced from:   $17,401

Material:   Polyethylene
Length overall:  4.6m
Length internal:  3.7m
Beam:    2.0m
Deadrise:   24°
Weight:   250kg hull only

Fuel:    Tote tanks
People:    4
Rec/max HP:   60

Make/model:   Yamaha
Type:    Four-cylinder, four-stroke
HP:    60
Displacement:   996cc
Gearbox ratio:   13:24 (1.85)

Rota Moulding – Plaka Boats,
4 Artello Bay Road,
Midvale, WA, 6056
Phone: (08) 9250 1125
Fax: (08) 9274 3688
Web: www.plakaboats.com

Originally published in Trailerboat #208


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