TMA 25FT WALKAROUND BOAT REVIEW

By: Kevin Smith, Photography by: Kevin Smith


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As Kevin Smith recently discovered, TMA’s new 25ft Walkaround is a powerful predator that’s full of surprises.

TMA 25FT WALKAROUND BOAT REVIEW
TMA 25FT WALKAROUND BOAT REVIEW

As everyone knows, the glittery strip that is the Gold Coast is full of surprises. Being an ex-pat of the Broadwater waterfront from more than 10 years ago, I was surprised by the changed skyline while at our launch site near Labrador on a recent golden Gold Coast morning. I was also surprised at the amount of lycra galloping past on the pathway — I don’t get out much anymore — but the biggest surprise was yet to come…

Tailored Marine Accessories’ owner John Zac and engineering manager Chris Coffey had already launched their test boat by the time we had arrived. These guys have loads of experience in the marine manufacturing industry and they’ve pooled their knowledge, passion and resources into developing a sportfisher based on a proven blue-water mould. And so the TMA 25ft Walkaround, Predator, was born…

Interestingly, the craft’s dimensions were designed with export potential in mind, as evidenced by the 2.32m beam — this enables the boat to be easily shipped by container. This aspect, coupled with a speedy build time of eight weeks, ensures eager buyers aren’t kept waiting.

Another key advantage of a TMA boat is how far the company goes to meet its customer’s needs. John and his team will change pretty much anything to adapt the layout to a personal preference. For example, a larger fuel tank can be incorporated by reducing the volume of the kill tank, or an upholstered deck lounge can be installed in place of the current storage compartment. All you have to do is ask.

Shiny stainless steel fittings frame long, sleek lines that look fantastic on the water, and her high bowrail, fancy T-top and glossy gel coat draw attention. With an overall length of 7.81m, this vessel has a long, subtly curved gunwale, plus an equally smooth but sharp chine that draws your eye.

Obviously inspired by the American SeaVee 25 hull, the bow’s exaggerated Carolina flare suggests a dry ride. However, the narrow beam and aggressive 25° deadrise had me concerned it might be a tad unstable.
I was to be proven right… and wrong.



INTERNAL AFFAIRS

We slowly eased the Predator out through the Gold Coast’s Broadwater while I took my time mooching around. For a 25ft walkaround, she seems to have ample room. The aft deck fishing area has an open layout with considerable storage, including tackle lockers, fish kill tank, live bait tank, deckwash, shower and general storage wells. Access to the bilge and batteries is also first rate.

Future models will have slight modifications to the hatches and storage compartments but, as stated earlier, just about any layout configuration is available.

The engine mounting area aft of the transom will also be modified by fabricating a larger, flatter deck, more like a duck board. This will enable easier access to the cockpit / main deck after swimming or boarding, and will extend the fishing area if you want to get up close and personal with your catch.

The main deck and tops of the sides have a straight GRP moulded non-slip surface — a fantastic idea that felt great underfoot. I especially liked the non-slip on the topsides because the kids will inevitably try jumping from these platforms and, given that stepping over the sides is the only mode of access, it ensures us oldies a surer footing when embarking.

Because the floor sits just below the waterline, two strainer-covered drain pipes funnel excess water from the main deck into the bilge. A pair of 1100g/h pumps will have the bilge drained quickly, but I have to question how long it will take to pump a significant amount of water through the dedicated pipes following
a sudden and large ingress of water (from a sizeable wave, for example).

The gunwales are a good height, allowing an angler wearing a gimbal and harness unfettered access around the perimeter. The rod holders are sufficiently and evenly spaced and are of a decent quality. Optional padded coamings would be a nice touch to protect your tender bits, as would toeholds around the perimeter of the main deck for added comfort and safety.

Access to the foredeck is safe and easy, with good handholds on the side of the cuddy cabin along the T-top. Well positioned deck lights guide your way at night, while the sufficiently sized forward-raking bowrails make you feel safe and offer an assured holding point.

All in all, you get everything the serious fisherman would require in a boat of this size.



TOUCH OF CLASS

While the boat provides appreciable comfort for the full range of offshore boating activities, space is clearly the top priority — on the deck, at the helm, and for all the necessary gear. Comfort is definitely the next consideration, however, and it’s the subtle inclusions that motivate me to call this a multi-purpose boat, rather than a pure fishing platform. John and Chris have built a vessel that’s practical for both serious fishing and social activities, with the kids along for the ride.

Most fishing boats have a lack of decent seating for anyone but the helmsman, who invariably gets a dry and comfortable seat while the passengers are left to either stand or dangle over the edge. This vessel has a comfortable settee in a nice, dry and quiet area forward of the helm. On the boat as tested, this was a storage compartment with a cushioned cover, but it would easily convert to a deep semi-lounge seat for two or three people.

The cabin is large enough to be enjoyed during adverse weather conditions, though it’s not so sizeable that you’d spend more time there than you have to. This vessel can carry six adults, so a full complement in the cabin for an extended period would be interesting, to say the least — especially with the toilet situated under a starboard-side berth cushion!

There is also a sink in the cabin and sufficient table space for food preparation or a game of cards. The table drops and converts the vee-berth to a comfortable queen-size bed.



DRIVING AMBITIONS

We had rounded the breakwater of the Southport bar before I had a chance to settle into the helm seat. But by then the typical spring northerlies had blown up to about 10-15kts (18.5-27.8kmh), making the sea quite lumpy on top of the 0.5-1.0m easterly swell. Even so, she seemed quite stable and happy to bob around without any undue listing, sitting comfortably at rest.

The driving position is comfortable, with the steering wheel and left-hand throttle controls nicely within reach even when settled into the back of the seat, which was adjustable fore and aft.

However, while in a seated position at drift I really had to stretch my neck to have clear vision over the instrument panel. In addition, there was a relatively small gap to peer through due to the screen’s top frame and the clear’s bottom zippers. I am admittedly a little short on stature, and after bringing it to the attention of John and Zac I’ve been assured the production models will address this issue.

Initially I tested her with neutral trim, basically trying out the response without having to actually drive her. The boat seemed slow and sluggish as I gently eased the power up on the 275hp Mercury Verado while pointing the nose directly into the wind and swell, testing her want to yaw off to the side or dig in her bow.

Well, other than a slight trim to port on the rise through the revs, she wanted none of that, and, being a little slow out of the hole, she settled nicely on the plane at around 2800rpm and 18kts (33.3kmh). As it turned out, I was driving the boat far too timidly, so I got a bit rougher.

I trimmed her up to what I believed to be perfect and faced her running with the wind and swell on the stern, as if running in home from the deep, and then gave the Verado plenty of juice. She now easily climbed out of the hole and rode extremely well on the plane, comfortably holding 24kts (44.4kmh).

I now had no qualms about performance and my confidence grew. I banked into a tight turn at good speed and the boat still loved it. Her chine dug in, rounded up smoothly and took off again into the swell. We even put her through a speed test in the open water and, even though a standing position was sometimes a little more comfortable when driving, she handled it superbly.

The 25° deadrise, in conjunction with the narrower beam, yielded exceptional rough-water performance. A fine entry with minimal bottom surface area combined with a very deep vee has this boat running with the best of them. It comfortably absorbed the punishment we dished out, and will probably be just as comfortable in rougher conditions. Just drive with confidence.



THE WRAP

TMA’s 25ft Walkaround is a fantastic offshore fishing boat the family will find equally fun and comfortable. With a price tag of around $156,600 it’s not cheap, but few fibreglass boats in this class feature the high level of customisation TMA offers.

While a few quality and detail issues were evident, it’s hardly surprising given this is the first 25-footer to roll off TMA’s production line, this particular boat serving as something of a floating test bed for the following production versions.

I have no doubt that with John and Chris’ continual input into the design and manufacture of these great sea boats, TMA has a great future ahead of it.



On the plane...

Great for offshore fishing or family fun

Large, open fishing deck

Soft, comfortable ride in choppy conditions

Looks great



Dragging the chain...

Restricted vision from helm seat (since modified on new hulls)

Insufficient grab rails (new hulls will have more)

Higher-quality hardware would be nice

A bit of TLC with finer details will finish the boat off nicely





SPECS: TMA 25FT WALKAROUND

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $156,600

Options fitted: 275hp Mercury Verado outboard; Lowrance HDS8; Simrad autopilot; six heavy-duty rod holders; clears around the helm; Dunbier aluminium trailer; four-speaker stereo system with DVD player

Priced from: $133,642 (with 150hp Mercury Verado L4 and Dunbier aluminium trailer)



GENERAL

Type: Full walkaround cabin

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 7.81m

Beam: 2.32m

Weight: 2000kg dry (approx.)

Deadrise: 25°



CAPACITIES

People: 6 adults

Berths: Twin vee-berths (can be formed into a queen bed)

Min. HP: 150hp

Rec HP: 225hp

Max. HP: 300hp

Fuel: 490lt

Water: 120lt



ENGINE

Make/model: Mercury Verado L6 MV 275XXL

Type: Outboard

Weight: 289kg

Displacement: 2598cc

Gear ratio: 1.75:1

Propeller: 17in stainless steel Mirage Plus



MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY

Tailored Marine Accessories

18 Kingston Drive

Helensvale, Qld, 4212

Tel: (07) 5502 7255

Mob: 0408 422 242

Web: www.tailoredmarine.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #288, November 2012

 


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