BOAT TEST: POLYCRAFT DRIFTER OPEN 4.5

By: Michael Guest


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When Michael Guest isn’t out on his Pirtek Super-Vee boat you’ll find him puttering about in his Plastic Fantastic

BOAT TEST: POLYCRAFT DRIFTER OPEN 4.5
POLYCRAFT DRIFTER OPEN 4.5

There's a big market for boats in the 4m to 5m range. They have a lot of advantages over bigger boats - easy to tow; uses less fuel; are easy to handle on your own; and, have a lower initial outlay. The sort of person buying into this market could be someone looking for a first boat to test the water so to speak, they could be downsizing, or they might have a big boat, but want another for estuary fishing, or for a quick splash of the line.

This test boat falls into the last category - Michael Guest's Polycraft Drifter is a smaller sister boat to the Pirtec Noble Super-Vee (now known as Noble Boats International) tested recently.

Polycraft have been producing its range of boats in Bundaberg, Qld, since 2001. Made from polyethylene in a process they call rotomoulding, where polyethylene beads are introduced between male-female moulds and heated and rotated to form the dual-skin, seamless hull with an average thickness of 10mm for each skin. The hull is thicker and stronger in the transom area and the test boat was foam filled as an option. Polycraft claim that polyethylene has an impact resistance five times higher than fibreglass, it's UV-resistant, osmosis and corrosion free, never needs painting and floats. The manufacturing process is capital intensive, which is why Polycraft are one of only three producers of polyethylene boats in the world.

 

 

KNOCKS & BUMPS

It sounds good, but to see if it lives up to these claims we took the Drifter for a spin across the Swansea Bar into the open sea and then had an afternoon fishing and exploring on Lake Macquarie in NSW.

Michael said he chose the Polycraft because of its toughness and its ride. "When you are fishing estuaries you need something that can take the knocks and bumps," he says.

He also liked the simple layout, which meant he could fitout the boat the way he wanted and chose tiller steering to get maximum use of the space.

Launching is straight forward as the boat slides easily off the Teflon skids, which Polycraft specify as mandatory on their trailers. Launching and retrieving can be easily handled on your own.

Simplicity is the word to describe the layout. It's setup for maximum use of the space and provides an uncluttered area for fishing. The transom houses the 50hp Evinrude tiller-steer motor and there are two built-in seats with a carpeted infill running across the stern. This section serves as the rear-casting platform.

The carpeted floor runs forward to a custom-built, raised casting platform with two hatches in the front section, which open up for storage. The bow is fitted with a roller, a built-in anchorwell and a Minn Kota electric motor. Stainless steel bow and rear handrails are mounted on the gunwales. A Lowrance LMS 520 GPS/sounder sits on the starboard coaming in front of the driving position. There are three rod racks along each side and tackle boxes have been built into each rear seat. Under the floor is a 70lt-fuel tank.

 

 

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

The tiller steering takes a bit of getting used to. It seems to be common to sit to starboard with the control in your left hand, but I felt happier the other way round. Either way the controls are simple with a twist throttle and a thumb control for the tilt. With the 50hp Evinrude E-TEC fitted the boat was willing to get moving. The boat jumps out of the hole and got on the plane around 10kts. It cruised along at an easy 22kts and managed just on 30kts flat out. The steering was a bit on the heavy side, but it had yet to have the steering vane adjusted.

The boat has amazing stability for its size due to the pronounced reverse chines moulded into the 15-degree deadrise hull. Walking around and fishing at rest it feels safe and steady, even with two of us on the same side.

At speed the foam-filled hull is very quiet - none of the slap and echo of a tinny - and the ride is soft over chop. At sea, off Swansea, it handled the conditions well, although it is a bit wet through the bigger swells going into a side-wind as you might expect from such an open design. At rest in the swell it was stable and offered enough freeboard in the lower section of the boat to feel comfortable enough to fish while standing, depending on the conditions. It would benefit from a recess for feet to give a better fishing stance.

Out on the lake it rides flat and turns easily with quick response from the tiller steering. It is a great platform for fishing despite the lack of freeboard on the raised platforms.

The foot controls for the Minn Kota electric motor are easy to operate steering the boat through the various obstacles that make up a fishing environment.

Lake Macquarie offers kilometres of shoreline and vast expanses of sand flats and open water. With exploring and testing out of the way we set our minds on catching some fish.

With the sun sinking low over the power stations to our west it was a great time to test Michael's theories on lake fishing.

 

 

CHANGING TIDES

The time seemed ideal for estuaries - he likes low light and changing tides. Michael's tip was to work the fringe areas of the lake. He reckons fish will be within the first few yards of the shoreline, or significant structures and don't usually like bright sunlight.

Seeking out a drop-off from some shallow water on the incoming tide it wasn't long before we were hooked up on soft plastics to some hard-charging bream. It was an idyllic fishing afternoon and it showed off the Drifter at its best and in the roll for which it was intended.

 

 

THE RAP

The Polycraft Drifter is a well thought out alternative to glass or aluminium. It offers the advantage of being tough and repairable in the event of a disaster. The fact that it can take the punishment of estuary fishing where it will encounter oyster leases, rocks and submerged tree branches should endear it to dedicated fishermen, while offering years of service in a tough and durable model.

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED

Tough

Stable

Clean layout

 

 

NOT SO MUCH

No toes in under

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications: Polycraft Drifter Open 4.5

 

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $17,999

Priced from: $14,999 w/ 40hp motor and trailer

 

GENERAL

Type: Open, tiller-steer

Material: Polyethylene

Length: 4.5m

Beam: 1.99m

Weight: 300kg (hull)

Rec. max. HP: 50

People: Four

 

 

ENGINE

Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC

Type: In-line two-cylinder two-stroke outboard w/ direct injection

Rated HP: 50

Displacement: 863cc

Weight: 80kg (dry)

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Polycraft Industries,

89 Childers Road,

Bundaberg, Qld, 4670

Ph: 1800 336 603; (07) 4155 2457

Fax: (07) 4155 2088

Email: polycraft@polyindustries.com

Website: www.polycraft.com.au

Find Polycraft Drifter boats for sale.

 


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