By: Phil Kaberry

One South Aussie company set out to build a safe, seaworthy and affordable family fishing boat, and it seems to have achieved its goal, writes Phil Kaberry.

Goolwa Craft Sahara 530

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #181, July 2004

The South Australian coastline is notorious for its rough seas, and it takes a special sort of hull to be able to fish them on a regular basis. One local boatbuilder understands this, and set out to design a family fishing boat that is seaworthy, stable, safe and above all, affordable.

The 5.3m Goolwa Craft Sahara is the result, and Trailer Boat recently had the chance to take this capable little craft out through the Gold Coast seaway for a brief sea trial. Powered by an 115hp Johnson two-stroke, the boat's relatively flat bottom aft helped it maintain low cruising speeds, which means long trips for less cash.

The hull is set out in a fairly conventional format with the outboard mounted directly onto the transom, which is fitted with a deep splash well, while the coaming height at the back of the boat has been elevated for better freeboard when the boat is at rest. Stability was excellent, even with three adults leaning over the cockpit coamings.

The Sahara has prominent chines which are carried low all the way forward for directional stability and improved tracking.

We pushed the boat very hard both up- and down-sea, and despite getting a bit wet in the rough conditions, we could not uncover any bad habits. It tracked straight down swells, landed quite softly in troughs while the bulging buoyancy-enhanced bow and shoulders helped lift the hull out of the hole and up the face of the next wave without burying the nose in green water.

The high-profile cabin allows for better headroom and an airy interior with open bulkhead and basic vee berth in the bows. Two adults can sit comfortably in here - the cabin lining and upholstery adds to the neat finish. There was plenty of dry storage to be found about the boat.

Both the helmsman and passenger get good quality pedestal seats while there are two lift-out quarter seats at the stern.

Our test boat came with a handy cutting board fishing station fitted over the outboard and an optional canopy which attaches to the windscreen.

Although fitted with mechanical steering, the helm was light when trimmed up and underway. Top speed was about 70kmh while the hull could easily maintain an easy plane in the big, loping offshore swells.

Inside, the emphasis is on practical, easy-to-clean flowcoat surfaces. The boat is not self-draining but comes with an automatic bilge pump, and the batteries are on shelves above the floor.

Recessed grabs in the cockpit and a sturdy bowrail add to the vessel's safety features, and it's not far to reach the anchor locker through the cabin hatch.

The boat carries a reasonably long inventory of optional accessories and can be ordered fully fitted out (depending on your budget) or bought more modestly appointed.

The Sahara 5.3m will appeal to family anglers wanting a safe, comfortable boat from which to fish inshore reefs, bays or big rivers. The cabin is a good family-friendly inclusion, and dad would struggle to get himself into trouble behind the wheel, as it's a pretty forgiving, predictable boat to drive.






Priced from: $33,490 with 115hp Yamaha two-stroke, Dunbier single-axle trailer and regos




Material: Hand-laid fibreglass
Length: 5.3m
Beam: 2.3m
Deadrise: 18 degrees in the bow
Weight: 650kg hull only




Fuel: 120lt underfloor
Rec/max hp: 115/130
People: Four

For more information, contact South Coast Marine, 25 Hutchinson St, Goolwa, SA, tel (08) 8555 2211, email


Find Goolwa Craft Sahara boats for sale.


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