Two defining characteristics of the Clark Abalone 500 are its tough build quality and its affordability, but it's also a versatile inshore fishing and crabbing boat for fishos that scorn creature comforts.

Clark Abalone 500

The name Clark is no stranger to hardcore fishos. These tough-as-nails tinnies have been around since time began and have won legions of fans right around Australia, particularly with those involved in commercial operations like trapping, abalone diving and professional line fishing. Put simply, the Clark tinnie could take a beating without a murmur of complaint.

The brand has come a long way since its original owners and builders sold the company a few years back. Now the Clark boats (and its near-identical cousins, the Haines Tinnies) are built by Alf Stessl's well-respected firm on Queensland's Gold Coast, and are marketed by The Haines Group - joining such names as Haines Signature, Haines Traveller and Ski Nautique.

The Haines Group insists that under the shiny paintwork and slick-looking decals, the heart and soul of Clark boats remains the same. Extra-thick aluminium sheet, rock-solid multi-directional ribbing and no-nonsense construction techniques were always trademarks of the Clark brand, and so it is today.

The no-nonsense theme continues through most models in the range, with simple internal layouts, proven hull designs and basic fit-up levels. And despite the build quality, the boats have a basic price to match.

One of the more popular lines in the Clark stable is the Abalone range - particularly the five-metre open dinghy detailed here. A favourite with knockabout fishos who target everything from whiting, flatties and bream (with the occasional run offshore for snapper on calm days), the open layout also lends itself to crabbing, where space is needed to stow wire-mesh traps.

Two cross-thwart seats take care of the passengers while leaving room for a stack of witches-hat or wire-mesh crab pots. That said, those with bad backs can buy factory-fitted pedestal seats to make things more comfy.

In terms of hull design, there's not much to tell - it's a traditional tinnie with extra high sides (95cm depth), a decent beam for its length (2.05m) and is best powered by a tiller-steer outboard between 40 and 60hp.

These days, the newly-branded Haines Tinnie and Clark boats are packaged up with Suzuki four-stroke outboards - appropriate considering the engine brand's reputation for reliability and big-block torque and power. That said, customers can also just buy the hull and choose their own engine, as long as it weighs less than 111kg.

The relatively shallow-vee hull weighs in at 240kg dry (sans outboard) which says something for the amount of metal that goes into the build.

All boats have a flat, carpeted marine-ply floor with chequerplate foredeck, forward anchor locker and decent-sized coamings for strength and rigidity - but those wanting to keep up with the Joneses can opt for the Tournament variant with casting deck and pedestal seats.

The Clark boat has reinvented itself for the 21st Century with the meeting of two of the most respected names in the boatbuilding industry - The Haines Group and Alf Stessl.

For anglers that don't want to spend a fortune on a good-quality, versatile inshore rig - and want to get some dough back when it comes time to sell - it's hard to go past the Abalone 500.




Priced from (hull only): $5400
Length: 5.0m
Beam: 2.05m
Thickness: Bottom 3mm,
topsides 2mm
Hull weight: 240kg
Payload: Five adults
Rec/max hp: 50/60
For more information, contact The Haines Group, tel (07) 3271 4400


First published in TrailerBoat #176

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