Review: Poly Longboats 6.2 Dolphin

By: Barry Wiseman, Photography by: Barry Wiseman


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Check out the latest latest polyethylene plastic wonder — the Poly Longboat Dolphin 6.2.

Review: Poly Longboats 6.2 Dolphin
The Poly Longboats 6.2 Dolphin is, as the name suggests, made from extremely tough polyethylene. It’s a plastic boat in name only.

Polyethylene (PE) boats have been around for a few years. You only need a relatively light motor to push them, while PE resists UV rays and can withstand heavy impacts. We've all got polyethylene rubbish bins these days and you know how much of a battering they can take - the same goes for a poly boat.

The Poly Longboat Dolphin 6.2 is imported by Peter Hall, a long-time Kimberley fishing identity who now lives in Perth. An open boat suitable for tiller-drive and a centre-console are available; the CC version is the more popular format among recreational fishers, while professional fishing guide operations in the Kimberley prefer the open-boat configuration.

The Dolphin 6.2 has a double-skin hull that is roto-moulded in one piece in a factory in Jakarta, Indonesia - the floor is poly-welded into position at a later stage. The thickness of the material ranges from 8mm to 30mm at the transom, the latter also reinforced with a stainless steel plate to take the weight of the engine. If the outer skin is holed the vessel will remain afloat and repairs are conducted using a heat gun and a stick of polyethylene, the repairer effectively welding smooth any serious damage.

The colouring is selected at the time of manufacture - either white, blue or yellow - and the colour goes right through the material, unlike fibreglass that is gel deep and subject to fading.

 

Poly Longboats

The Poly Longboat is just that. Designed along the lines of the traditional longboats used by the islanders north of Australia, they are long and slim. They can carry big payloads but have narrow beams that allow them to slice cleanly through the water, while the length allows them to operate better in choppy conditions than a comparable shorter and stouter vessel.

When you first step aboard it takes a little while to get used to the roll of the vessel as you walk past the console down the sides, due to its narrow 1.85m beam. The boat lists quite some way before the chines comes into effect and halt the movement. However, I'm told you quickly get used to it.

Our test boat belonged to Mandurah local Ian Graham, who keeps his boat sitting on the water outside his canal apartment where it is subject to all kinds of weather, including the record heat wave WA experienced last summer.

Even so, he's not worried about his boat being permanently on the water. Although he had the hull treated with anti-foul paint, he says marine growth does not penetrate polyethylene products.

"A scrape with a paint scraper or I get the kids over the side with a pan scrubber and the bottom is clean," he says. Aquaculturists use the product a lot because barnacles and any other growth can be removed relatively easily.

In the construction of the Poly Longboats, stainless steel plate is used to reinforce those pressure areas such as the transom, the bow, gunwales and the flooring. The stainless steel safety railing, cleats and the floor space when the centre console is anchored, plus the side supports on the console, all have steel plates behind the poly to bolt into. For any other fittings the owner may wish to fix, it's just a matter of using a drill and self-tapping screws.

Ian's model was the basic boat with centre console and "T" bimini on its stainless frame. He had the Suzuki 60hp four-stroke fitted and commissioned by a Perth agent for the sake of any warranty claims, but he's enjoyed fitting out the rest of the boat himself. Access to the dash on console is via a side hatch, so fixing and wiring up his Lowrance Elite-5 GPS / sounder, and GME VHF and 27MHz marine radios, proved no problem at all.

The built-in rear quarter seats also have the standard 200mm round inspection hatches fitted facing the front, but he wanted top access so he didn't have to get down on all fours.

The boat comes with an 80lt fuel tank built into a thwart seat located just behind the console and the fuel lines are hidden from view. Twin or single seats are then fitted to a stainless steel frame that sits over the top of the thwart. Ian wanted just a single seat mounted behind the tinted Perspex windscreen, which is supported by its own stainless grabrail.

Being a keen fisherman, he's installed three upright stainless rod holders on the starboard side towards the rear, mainly for storing the rods when underway and supporting the baitboard, plus another is set at an angle on the port transom for trolling. There's a raised casting deck up front with storage underneath, and when bluewater angling Ian fishes three rods in brackets on the port side.

"The polyethylene is very tough so it's quite easy to fit those things that suit the individual," he adds, as I check out his rig before heading out deep.

"I've had several boats, big and small, and I first discovered the Poly Longboat in the Kimberley at Robert Vaughan's fishing camp. He has two of the tiller configuration and I was impressed with the PE boat's soft ride and durability compared to a tinnie."

The outer skin of the Poly Longboat is designed to flex; again, it takes a few minutes to get used to when you first drive one. But the fact the hull has that slight flexibility also means it helps absorbs any impact from the water.

"Since I've had this boat I find sitting on 18-20kts (33.3-37.0kmh) is most comfortable. I can do 25kts (46.3kmh) if I want to go fast, but I'm not into that anymore and the 60hp Suzuki runs on the smell of an oily rag, so I'm really pleased with it," he says.

 

Fishability

The quality and finish of the Poly Longboat Dolphin 6.2 was as smooth as, mainly because there are no joins in what is a fully roto-moulded product. The non-skid floor sits flush and is glued into place. Structural strength comes from a system of longitudinal stringers running the full length of the boat between the bottom skin and the deck. Peter Hall has sold some boats for commercial application so the air chamber between the two skins can be filled with foam so they meet Survey requirements, but polyethylene is a buoyant material so in effect the boat is "unsinkable". Coincidently, at the launching ramp a workman was assembling a Canadian-built PE floating jetty, bolting the sections together with plastic screws. This shows how recognised the material is for its durability in tough marine applications.

For the purposes of this review the importer brought two Dolphin 6.2m vessels for me to look at. Both were centre-consoles and each was fitted with the Suzuki 60hp motor, which turned out to be a good match. Ian Graham's boat was the latest one into the country, the only difference being the stainless steel framework for the "T" bimini was fixed to the sides of the console, giving fishers uninterrupted walkaround access. The frame on the other vessel was secured on the gunwale, meaning rod fishers faced a hand-swapping trick with the rod to get past the side structure, which could result in a lost fish or - even worse - the loss of expensive tackle over the side. All future imports will now come with the frame connected to the console.

Taking the wheel, the most noticeable thing for me was the boat's ease of movement through the water. The bottom is flat and there's no keel, which makes manoeuvrability a dream. Add power steering and this boat has finger-tip control. The shallow draught makes it ideal for northern waters; I can understand why they're a hit with the Kimberley fishing guides. Without a keel there is less drag and resistance in the water when turning.

On hard lock I turned this 6.2m vessel almost on its own axis, with 5000rpm on the Suzuki tacho. From a standing start the vessel was quickly on the plane as we headed into a slight south-westerly sea breeze 3km off Mandurah, with waves to around 0.5m. In these conditions the flexibility of the polyethylene came into its own. There were no hard knocks, its 6m length meant the vessel was still sitting well in the water as the bow lifted and sliced through the oncoming water, and we had a very dry ride - not always guaranteed on a centre-console!

Ian had also fitted electric trim tabs to his boat, which meant he could drop the nose more than the other Poly Longboat I drove on the day. The result was more of a slicing action from the slim-line hull and less impact underneath.

I drove both boats and both proved easy to handle, while the casting platform forward made it well suited to fishing and diving applications. Even better, it can be launched by one person and is easily trailerable with a family sedan. Throw in the palatable pricing, and we should be seeing many more examples of this "plastic fantastic" gracing Aussie waters in the near future.

 

Poly Longboat 6.2 Dolphin performance

10kts (18.5kmh) @ 2800rpm - on the plane

18kts (33.3kmh) @ 4200rpm - good cruising speed in chop

20kts (37.0kmh) @ 4800rpm - increased chop further offshore

27kts (50.0kmh) @ 5800rpm - following sea

30kts (55.6kmh) @ 6000rpm - calm waters back inshore, engine trimmed


On the plane...

  • Soft ride and rapid planing
  • Sturdy stainless steel work
  • Reinforced sections for deck hardware
  • Shallow draught and tight manoeuvrability
  • Easy hull repairs and DIY for optional fittings

 

Dragging the chain...

  • "T" bimini only shades console area (as with all centre-consoles)
  • Flexing hull takes some getting used to
  • Low freeboard

 

Poly Longboat 6.2 Dolphin specs

Poly Longboat 6.2 Dolphin pric: $33,000

Price as tested, owner still completing fit-out.

 

Options fitted: GME 27MHz radio, GME AM / FM stereo with two speakers, Lowrance Elite-5 DSI colour fishfinder / chartplotter, extra storage hatches, rod holders, baitboard, carpet, icebox, safety equipment, Suzuki 60hp four-stroke motor, Lenco electric trim tabs (no trailer required because the vessel is moored on the Mandurah canals)

Priced from: $12,100 (hull only) - options include S/S bow and gunwale rails ($1590), C/C and screen ($1495), bimini w/ nav lights ($2495), thwart seat / full tank ($200), custom trailer ($4200)



GENERAL

Type: Flat-bottom longboat

Material: Polyethylene

Length: 6.2m

Beam: 1.86m

Weight (hull only):530kg

Displacement: 1250kg


CAPACITIES

People: 6

Fuel: 80lt

Rec. HP: 60

Max. HP: 70


ENGINE

Make/model: Suzuki DF60A outboard motor

Type: Four-stroke outboard motor

Weight: 102kg

Displacement: 941cc

Gearbox ratio: 2.27:1

Propeller: Suzuki three-blade aluminium (11.75in x 14in)


DISTRIBUTED BY

Poly Longboats Australia

Perth, WA

Tel: 0418 715 046

Web: www.polylongboatsaustralia.com

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #286, September 2012.

Find Poly Longboats boats for sale.

 


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