By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Rick Huckstepp

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When the going gets tough, the tough choose Polycraft, a range of trailerboats made from durable and resilient polyethylene. The manufacturers say it’s near unbreakable, so Rick Huckstepp had to try...




The skeptics would have to be on the back foot in recent times when they look at the increasing success Polycraft are enjoying in a buoyant boat market (pardon the pun). While fibreglass and aluminium will most likely continue to dominate the trailerboat market, there is an increasing awareness of these boats moulded out of polyethylene.
The advantage of polyethylene is its strength and toughness. Polycraft boats are made from Rotathene, a linear low-density, UV-resistant, petroleum-based, thermoplastic compound, which the manufacturer claims has an impact resistance five times greater than fibreglass.




The most recent boat model to come out of the moulds at Polycraft's factory in Bundaberg is the 599 Cuddy, which we took for a spin out of Paradise Point on the Gold Coast.
Newcomers to these types of boats might have preconceived ideas of what a boat should 'feel' like, but when you get onboard a Polycraft, you have to clear that section of the memory bank then get on with the business of enjoying the boat.
Unlike the rigidity we expect in 'glass boats or tinnies, a polyethylene boat is soft underfoot, with a small but perceptible amount of flexing in the floor and other panels that cover a large area. If you felt that movement in fibreglass boat you would have an anxiety attack about osmosis, and in an alloy boat you would be waiting for the work-hardened cracks to appear; but in a Polycraft you just don't worry about it, simple as that.
The skin on the outer hull averages about 12mm in thickness, as does that of the topsides. On this model both top and bottom sides are moulded and then welded together
Aggressive ribbing under the deck provides enough rigidity, which may be enhanced with the injection of foam. Even without that foam injection the silence during water travel of this type of material compared with fibreglass and alloy is quite noticeable.



Standing in the cockpit of the 599 one can appreciate the enormity of the beam. At 2.5m it provides a great workstation with high coamings for safety of kids but also comfort while fishing. What you don't get is the rebate at the bottom of the side lining in the cockpit that allows the feet to tuck under while standing and leaning against the gunwales, but hopefully this will be incorporated into the boat design in the future.
A rear lounge is fixed in place and has three apertures in its forward bulkhead that allow for stowage of gear. With this optional extra removed, you can get your feet under the transom bulkhead for support when fishing. The lounge sports a permanently fixed backrest that comes in quite handy as a comfortable leaning post.
The coaming of the transom bulkhead features two bait tanks (which may be plumbed), along with four rodholders.
The engine well looks directly down to the bilge, which has a float-activated automatic bilge pump installed. The Honda 130hp four-stroke is fitted to a robust reinforcing section that is inserted into the well, forms part of the transom proper, and is bolted to the hull.
The helm and passenger seat are installed on poly modules. While the passenger seat swivels, the skipper's seat has only forward and rearward movement. The back of each module has a couple of drink holders and a trinkets tray for hooks and sinkers.
The helm station is neat and catered for the full Honda lineup of instrumentation. There's plenty of room on the top of the dash to install large housing electronics. The dash is supported by stainless-steel posts which allow for an airy cabin area.
The cabin deck is raised about 75mm up from the cockpit deck preventing water intrusions. This area has three removable hatches, the centre one covering stowage which may be converted into legroom for those seating inside. Another each side allows for other gear to be stowed. A full surround pocket in the cabin is high set but functional and the cabin roof hatch allows a large person access to the open anchor well.




On the plane, the quiet 130hp Honda complemented the silence of this hull. Holeshot was snappy and the Honda wound out to 5000rpm at full throttle to hit a top speed of around 60kmh. This engine has more legs than rev so a drop in prop size to 16in should get it to 5500rpm.
Running along and over wash I could really feel the flex in this hull that is typical of the entire range. The flex allows the hull to absorb the effects of crossing turbulent waters, so there is considerably less 'banging' of the hull in the chop.
The Polycraft range features aggressive rail chines, similar to those seen on Stessl EdgeTrackers. The chines give the sides of the hull rigidity but also allow the boat to have good directional steering. They do bite in and this is evidenced on hard turns where the hull has very little sideslip and maintains a flat attitude rather than leaning into the corner. They also assist this hull to sit snug on the trailers that are purpose built for the Polycraft range and which are compulsory for if you want to retain warranty status with the hull. The Sea Star hydraulic steering at the helm assisted this boat to perform without any bad manners whatsoever.
The polyethylene is coloured all the way through the material. If scratched, there is no different under colour and should you hole it, although you'd be struggling to do so, those fissures are easily welded by the tradespeople who repair plastic car bumper bars. High spots on a scratch are easily sanded back, but it is near impossible to dint the hull - you can take to one with a sledgehammer and the only return is the hammer, back to you and quickly!
Coming from a background in fishing and boating where smashing into snags and running aground on rock bars at full noise was all in a day's work, the potential of these hulls for boaties who have a tendency to mistreat their gear is quite real and of great benefit. Having just attended the Darwin Boat Show, I saw firsthand how far polyethylene boats have permeated into the Northern Territory's tidal rivers, for that very reason. These boats are Territory tough and can handle anything you might dish up to them!



Quiet four-stroke
Easy on the helm
Very stable at anchor and on the plane



No cabin liner foot recesses on the sides




Specifications: Polycraft 599 Cuddy




Price as tested: $41,298
Options fitted: Hydraulic steering, boarding ladder, navigation lights, fuel gauge, canopy, clears, baitboard, cushions, depth sounder, radio, switch panel
Priced from: $41,145 with trailer and Honda BF130



Material: Polyethylene
Length overall: 6.1m
Beam: 2.5m    
Deadrise: 18°
Weight: 920kg hull only



Rec/max hp: 175
Fuel: 200lt



Make/model: Honda BF130
Type: Fuel injected four-stroke
Rated hp: 130
Displacement: 2254cc
Weight: 225kg
Gearbox ratio: 2.00:1
Propeller: 17in



Currumbin Marine,
6 Stewart Road,
Currumbin, Qld, 4223.
Phone: (07) 5534 6606


Originally published in TrailerBoat #198

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