By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Lou Martin

Rick Huckstepp gave a Polycraft 530 Centre Console the going over to see if it could take the heat in some tough conditions

Go to any marina along the East Coast and you’ll find the amount of fenders hanging off the sides of fragile gelcoat finished fibreglass boats out-numbers residents in the area. Gelcoat is precious and when you look at the expense of purchasing some of these small to gin palace sized rigs, little wonder people take the care. You would be silly if you didn’t.
Walking down the finger at Runaway Bay Marina was no different and had me thinking that a share in a fender building factory might be a good retirement gig. Then I spotted the line-up of Polycraft boats bumping each other as well as I had a rethink on my superannuation portfolio. If everyone got into this technology, my fender retirement punt would be dead in the water and I’d be boat testing for you guys until I brought up three figures (providing I was still around of course!).
The strength of the material used in these boats means they are a fender in themselves, making them an ideal option over boats that are unable to withstand abuse from the worst of us.
Low density polyurethane has been around for quite a few years and boats from other manufacturers have been churned out of these moulds in limited numbers. This material has an extremely high resistance to ultraviolet light and this in itself was one of the reasons it has been embraced by farmers and house holders all over Australia, in the form of drink troughs for animals and rain water tanks for thirsty gardens.
I’ve had a look at the Polycraft factory in Bundaberg and it’s a real eye opener. Huge rotating moulds with gas heating external to the aluminium mould where the liquid material is poured within and then the entire unit is slowly spun. This produces a finished shell that has an inner and outer liner with a void in between. In some models, the void may be filled with floatation foam in which case a certificate of buoyancy may be issued for survey purposes. In the 530 centre console it is standard and installed from near the water line to the top of the inner gunwales.

Due to the fact there are no welds holding the inner liner to the outer, the inherent strength is extremely good. The outer skin flexes during harsh handling in terrible seas which in itself provides a buffer against hard slamming. The air in between also acts as a buffer further adding to the soft ride of these boats. The skins average about 12mm in thickness on this model - close to half an inch thick for us old blokes. Attaching canopy frame bases is as simple as tek-screwing straight into the polyurethane. Aggressively ribbed decks bolster the rigidity of the hull and items such as winch cable eyelets are back plated with sturdy metal fittings. The foredeck in front of the console is raised about 11cm which stops any water and fish rubbish awash on the deck from entering the dry stowage under the large hatch. This area is bunged and drains to the inner hull which is channelled back to an open engine well revealing a bilge pump deep inside. The engine well is braced with a full metal internal jacket on which the outboard motor is bolted.
Bolted to the deck mid ships is a wide console behind which a couple could shelter should you have spray coming over the forequarters. Strong handrails feature behind a tinted Perspex screen. The console is also moulded in one module and has a storage area aft, which is also raised off the floor about 11cm.
A carpeted seat base, when lowered, covers the back stowage area across the beam of this boat. When it’s swung into play it has three legs that drop down. I tested it with two, 90kg blokes jumping on it and it didn’t look like failing so it would make a good casting platform. Optional cushions with Velcro tape can fit here in an instant, adhering to the carpet. Behind this on a raised shelf we find the battery, engine oil bottle and other stowage space. In the down position, the front edge of the seat base contacts the deck so you’ll be unable to tuck the feet under to give you improved stability when at the back fishing. This is also the case with the moulding along the edge of the cockpit, which joins the floor from above. It would be nice to trim about 10cm off the front edge of the seat base to give a good fishing pozzie, but some sort of rebate on the front edge of the bulkhead would have to be undertaken, in which to fit your toes.

A cutting board was fixed into a moulded recess on the top of the portside transom bulkhead and the other side featured an insert in the form of a live bait tank with hinged lid.
In between, a bait rigging station on posts made for flexibility in removal.
Outside, small pontoons extend either side of the engine leg offering extra buoyancy for heavier engines as well as improved stability when dead in the water. With 90kg of weight moving to one side, that gunwale only lowered about 10cm in the scheme of things. Edge tracking type aggressive chines also added to stability, catching water as they are forced down when occupants move about. It is these chines that give this boat a flat attitude during hard, on the plane manoeuvring. And flat it is!
Taking this boat out onto the Broadwater in 25-knot northerlies, there were plenty of white caps, but tucked in behind the console, one remained surprisingly dry from any spray, even with wind coming over the forequarters.

Taking the Johnson up to 5,700rpm I estimated the speed to be around 70km/h and over chop, the Polycraft proved soft riding, considering the lousy conditions we tested it in. High-speed turns produced plenty of inertia due to such little banking into the corners and the 17-inch propeller failed to ventilate any air. Such manoeuvres had to be done with the engine perfectly trimmed to alleviate any excessive torque at the mechanical helm but this could be reduced with adjustment to the torque reduction tab under the anti-cavitation plate, which I think had not been adjusted at fit-up.
As with all Polycraft I have tested, there is an enjoyable lack of water noise through the hull.
Back at the finger there was no ‘gently as she goes’ to worry about. Just hove to the finger and tie off. No dents or loss of paint to worry about with one of these rigs. The colour goes through the entire shell so rough spots can be sanded back and holes if you make any, may be plastic welded.
If you’re one of those boaties that is a little rough around the edges and don’t have the time to spend caring for your boat as many do, you should check out a Polycraft. They are as close to ‘indestructible’ that you will get in the marine marketplace. Oh, you don’t need any fenders either!

Soft and quiet ride
Can take the rough and tumble
Beamy and stable.

Unable to get toes under collapsed rear seat base
High speed turns with caution


Specifications: Polycraft 530 Centre Console

Price as tested:    $27,000 (BMT, safety gear and rego)  
Options fitted:    nil

Material:    Low density polyurethane
Length (overall):   5.3m
Beam:     2.4
Deadrise:    17.5-degrees
Weight:    700 (hull only)

Fuel:     130lt
People:     6
Rec/max hp:    115
Rec/min hp:    90

Make/model:    Johnson
Type:     Carburetted two-stroke
Weight:    152kg
Rated hp:    115
Displacement:    1726cc
Gearbox ratio:    2:1
Propeller:    17in

Polycraft Industries Pty Ltd.,
89 Childers Road,
Bundaberg, Qld, 4670.
Freecall: 1800 336 603
Phone: (07) 4155 2457
Facsimile (07) 4155 2088

Originally published in TrailerBoat #201


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