BOAT TEST: CLARK AR430 NAVIGATOR

By: Andrew Norton


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Clark's neat 4.3m Navigator packs a pint into a pot glass, reports Andrew Norton.

BOAT TEST: CLARK AR430 NAVIGATOR
Clark AR430 Navigator

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #183, Sep 2004

 

 

Back in the '80s, Suzuki Australia and Rumsey Marine in Parramatta set me up with a series of long-term evaluation aluminium hulls, culminating with a Stessl 4.3m runabout powered by an oil-injected two-stroke Suzuki DT40C.

The Stessl was used on Lake Macquarie and occasionally taken out through Swansea Heads when the weather conditions were right. The rig was easily towed by my Mitsubishi L200 ute to Rumsey Marine and back for servicing.

Earlier this year when discussing setting up the first in a series of project boats for Haines Marine Industries, I settled on the entry-level Clark AR430 powered by a Suzuki DF40. CoastLife Marine of North Wyong supplied the trailer and performed the fit-up and engine pre-delivery. At about 5.3m long overall on the Dunbier CL4.4M-13 trailer, the rig can be shoehorned into most suburban garages.

 

 

TIMES HAVE CHANGED



The old Stessl 4.3 had a lean-through windscreen, two box-thwart seats with bucket seats atop the forward thwart, and carpeted floor between the thwarts.

There was a small engine well but no sidedecks. The absence of an anchor well and bowroller made anchoring lots of fun!
But for an entry-level model, the AR430 is very well equipped. It has an attractive hull with a handsome sheerline and a deep forefoot, and fairly deep transom deadrise. Maximum recommended power rating is 50hp or 111kg on the transom.

Forward is a bowroller, a substantial alloy mooring cleat, and split bowrails that also accommodate the port and starboard nav lights. However, these don't shine through the correct arcs and should be moved aft.

The deceptively large anchor well holds a 2.7kg anchor, 2.3m of chain and 74m of 8mm-diameter rope, and cleverly drains out below chine level to prevent mud streaks on the topsides. Moving the cleat aft would make anchor retrieval easier.

The well is easily reached via the centre-opening screen which, thanks heavens, is clear. The screen is well braced but does need a grabrail, as it's the right height to lean on when standing up underway.

The dash with centre cutaway has plenty of space for a sounder and a 27mHz radio ahead of the lockable glovebox, while to starboard there's space for full instrumentation directly behind the screen. There's a soft-grip steering wheel and the helm seat can slide fore or aft and both seats swivel freely without contacting each other or the cockpit coamings.

Although no rodholders are installed, clip-on holders and a bait cutting board could be easily attached to the side rails.

The short cockpit sidepockets each hold two standard PFDs and are well above the flat carpeted floor, which runs from stem to stern, to provide toeholds when playing a fish. Sensibly, the floor is below chine height to further increase occupant safety.

Under the full-width engine well is an access hatch to the standard 31.5lt-per-minute bilge pump, plus space for a battery and two 25lt portable fuel tanks. Either end of the well is a chequerplate surface to assist boarding the boat from a beach, but there's enough space to port of the main engine to mount a short-shaft auxiliary outboard: my Suzuki DF6 fits snugly here.

Two 38mm screw-in bungs drain water from the hull when back on the trailer.

 



OUT AND ABOUT



Weighing a total of 600kg including the hull, engine, safety gear, a full fuel tank and the trailer, the project rig is easily towed by my two-wheel drive four-cylinder Mitsubishi Triton.

I don't believe in exceeding 80kmh or using fifth gear when towing a trailer, and at this speed the rig is a delight to tow.
At the ramp, the boat slides off the trailer easily without needing to dunk the axle; but when retrieving it, the keel rollers don't turn as freely as they should. Still, the 5:1 winch makes pretty light work of hauling the hull up the trailer.

Once you're aboard the AR430, it's hard to believe the hull is only 14ft long. The forward-mounted screen increases the feeling of spaciousness, and the stability is such that two adults can fish safely from one side.

The mechanical steering is direct but light, and at no time through the rev range with the leg trimmed in or out is there any prop torque. Through full-lock figure-eight turns at 4000rpm, there's no prop ventilation and the hull tracks well without needing constant helm corrections across a sea or downwind.

The hull rides softly over a chop to 20cm at up to 25kmh and will handle a chop to 15cm at wide open throttle without pounding. Trimming the leg out slightly when running upwind under these conditions gives a softer ride than with the leg trimmed in, and so far not one drop of spray has found its way aboard.

 

 

POWER PACK



Suzuki's EFI four-stroke DF40 has 12 valves with DOHC valve actuation and chain-driven camshafts, but Suzuki has revised the WOT rev range to 5600-6200 with maximum power being developed at 5900rpm.

What isn't apparent until you read the owner's manual is the number of engine-protection features fitted. Not only do revs reduce to 3000 after a warning alarm sounds should the engine over-rev, overheat or suffer low oil pressure, but a clock in the electronic engine management system also records total engine hours and gives warning beeps if an oil change is overdue.

The demo engine starts as easily as an EFI car engine after the alarm check has sounded. And where the DF40 really scores over the old DT40C are the low vibration levels and miserly fuel consumption when pottering around at displacement speeds. When breaking in the engine, the consumption was a mere 2.0lt/h!

When the mood strikes you, "flooring" the throttle planes the hull in a couple of seconds, with the power trim working quickly to get the hull trim right. Pushing a total of 590kg including two adults and spinning the standard 13in alloy prop, the engine returned the best fuel efficiency from 800-2000rpm and 4000-5000rpm on this hull.

At an average speed of 10kmh with a total of five per cent WOT operation, fuel consumption was 2.8lt/h. At all times ULP 91 RON was used, and all trials were conducted after the initial three-hour break-in period. The speed figures are the average of two-way runs on calm water using a handheld Lowrance GPS.

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS - CLARK AR430 NAVIGATOR

 

Price as tested: $18,400 w/ Dunbier trailer, Suzuki outboard, ground tackle, safety gear for four adults, navigation lights, bilge pump

Options available: Canopy, storm covers, hull paint options, depth sounder, full bowrail

Priced from: As above

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Aluminium, 3mm bottom, 2mm sides
Length (overall): 4.3m
Beam: 2.05m
Weight: 240kg
Rec/max hp: 50

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: Portable tank
Passengers: Four adults

 

 

ENGINE


Make and model: Suzuki DF40
Type: DOHC four-stroke 12-valve with multipoint sequential EFI
Rated hp: 40
Displacement: 814cc
Weight: 105kg
Gearbox ratio: 11:25
Propeller: 13in alloy

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Coastlife Marine, 300 Pacific Highway, Wyong North, NSW
tel (02) 4353 3644 or visit
www.coastlife.net.au

Find Clark boats for sale.

 


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