BOAT TEST: TABS 4700 MASTER SERIES ALUMINIUM ALLOY RUNABOUT

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: JOHN WILLIS


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Angelo San Giorgio drags his long-suffering daughter, Mikaela, to a chilly Lake Eildon to play happy families with the new TABS 4700 Master Series aluminium alloy runabout runabout.

BOAT TEST: TABS 4700 MASTER SERIES ALUMINIUM ALLOY RUNABOUT
The TABS 4700 Master Series aluminium alloy runabout. Family boating at a budget.

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of testing TABS Boats' sultry 4800 Wildfisher, a slinky seductress that tempted and teased with her low-cut lines and breathtaking performance. While our encounter was brief, the raw emotion of it left me wanting more. So when James from TABS dealer Regal Marine invited me to Victoria's Lake Eildon to try another one, curiosity got the better of me. "It's a family day," James said before hanging up… "And we've got a good little family boat for you to try." Trying not to sound disappointed I hung up, a tad deflated.

Two days later as I drove into the carpark of the Jerusalem Creek General Store, my daughter, who'd accompanied me on this trip, quipped, "So which one's ours, Dad?" From our elevated position we gazed down on the flotilla of boats perched on the beach located adjacent to Lake Eildon's main launching ramp.

Senior boat tester John Willis, who joined us on the trip on account of the fact that my efforts behind the camera are at best inconsistent, pointed out a handsome-looking runabout resplendent in a cool blue hue with charcoal trim.

Either side of it were TABS of all shapes and sizes. Runabouts, cuddy cabs, bow riders, bream boats and simple open tinnies stood shoulder to shoulder, each populated by families obviously proud of their rigs. It was quite a heartening sight to witness so many boaties brave a frigid winter's morning to have a social fish with other likeminded folk.



HAPPY FAMILIES

As I stepped aboard to begin loading our gear I instantly appreciated the walk-through foredeck and windscreen, which allowed us easy access from the beach. Unlike similarly sized rigs, which sport an alloy hinged bow panel, the 4700 Master Series made do with a simple removable vinyl jobbie, which was held in place with press studs. While a cost-saving exercise, its simplistic functionality did nothing to diminish my appreciation for the thought put into this boat.

Conscious of the need to maximise storage in a relatively compact vessel, bulkheads either side of the walkway framed handy boxed-in storage lockers. Now while this might not initially seem all that remarkable - many manufacturers utilise the otherwise dead space below the consoles as makeshift storage - more often than not the gear is left unrestrained to bounce around your feet every time you encounter some slop. The 4700's setup, however, is clever. So too is the helm position, which while understandably compact still managed to accommodate both my daughter's slight physique and John Willis's more substantial frame in relative comfort.

The ample alloy dash featured neat rolled edges along its base and was treated to a moulded fibreglass shroud that housed a compact flush-mounted Garmin Echo 500C Fishfinder, the latter flanked by a speedo and fuel gauge on one side and a tacho and hour meter on the other. Personally I missed the trim gauge, although admittedly the rig responds instantly to trim and telegraphs its attitude well. One can be fitted as an option if required. The helm passenger hasn't been forgotten either, and their dash sports a low-profile moulded glovebox with two moulded-in cupholders immediately behind. A waterfall edge provides an ideal position to mount a stereo or in this instance a Uniden 27Mhz marine radio.

Overhead, a folded bimini sat at a
good height, while an alloy overhead
rod rack complements the standard plastic angled ones located in each corner of the transom.

Speaking of the transom, TABS is to be commended for the way in which it finishes the posterior of its boats. Shapely, with plenty of curves in the right places, the company goes all out to prove alloy can have sex appeal without sacrificing functionality. This can't be said of the majority of aluminum boat builders, many of whom seem to monotonously adopt the fall-back design standard of either a bluff or aggressively angled sheer-line. A compact but functional full-width landing rounds out the 4700's attractive rear end.



HOW'S IT GO?

So did the performance live up to the aesthetics? I had concerns that the 4700 Master Series's relatively heavy plate construction, 2.25m beam and reasonably sharp (for a smallish tinny) 15° deadrise might conspire to tax the moderate 60 horses strapped to that ample rear end.

I was needlessly concerned. While she won't be mistaken for a drag boat, the compact blue runabout leapt briskly onto the plane in around four seconds with short-lived and acceptable bow lift. The ride quality was more than acceptable for a rig in this class and the hull exhibited very little noise. It tracked true in straight runs and turned tightly without exaggerated lean. Top end speed at around 5800rpm was 29.7kts (55kmh) with loads of trim. A comfortable cruise was achieved at around 4000rpm, which saw us hold plane easily at around 21kts (38.9kmh) with three-quarters trim. Pull back to under 3500rpm however, and the limitations of the torque being generated by the willing Mercury 60hp four-Stroke saw the rig falling off the plane. My advice would be to simply hold those revs up to keep the engine in the torque-rich zone of its powerband.
If social skiing's on the cards the maximum 75 might be an option, but at a significant weight penalty. For all other applications, the engine as tested is a cracker.

A special mention needs to go to the Mercury 60hp four-stroke outboard on the back of this boat, as this is an engine we've been less than kind to in the past. On this occasion and in this application, it was absolutely spot-on. Vibration levels were minimal even at the elevated altitude we were operating at, and it gave a great account of itself throughout the rev range, despite being a brand spanker.



RIB FISHABILITY

It's an aluminium runabout… 'nuff said. It's a winning formula in Australia, particularly among the boating fraternity focussing on our bread-and-butter species. Seriously, there are more of these things floating around our larger bays harassing snapper, whiting, gummies, gars, bream etc than I would care to count. All the better if it's a decent, unfussed example like the Master Series. A flat floor with reasonably high coamings is backed up by a neutral and stable hull that will fish two to three comfortably or four in a pinch (to be fair, I have the same opinion of most boats under 6m). In its standard form as presented the 4700 is instantly fishable but with enough scope for customisation as time and / or budget allows.



THE WRAP

While the sporty 4800 Wildfisher was pure sex on water, the 4700 Master Series Runabout is the PG version the entire family can enjoy. Affordable and a cinch to tow, it could well be the ideal passport to adventure for many boating families looking for a compact rig that could comfortably tackle windblown lakes, bays and the occasional jaunt offshore.




MIKAELA'S TWO BOB

Let's face it - this is a family fishing boat by design so who better to consult as to its functionality than my beautiful daughter, Mikaela, who has been plying the waters with me for most of her 13 years? Since she's rarely shy to voice her opinion, I thought I'd put her on the spot. Here's her take on this little blue boat…

"I like this boat because unlike the one we have at home, this one has a windscreen - it was a very chilly morning when I hopped in this boat and I already had a cold. Mum would like it too because our side console is very exposed; this one, however, has a lot more protection but it still has more than enough space to fish out of. I also loved the seats. Often my sister, brother and I have to sit on the casting deck when we're travelling or on the floor if the weather is nasty, since Dad took out both the seats to give us more fishing space. The TABS also has a bench seat in the back that folds down and out of the way when you're not using it. I also thought the opening section of the windscreen was a good idea. The front part of the deck opens too, so you can get out there to anchor, climb over the front onto the beach or have a fish up the front of the boat. It wasn't as fast as our boat, but still heaps of fun. Dad still couldn't catch a fish out of it, though!




ON THE PLANE…

  • Stable
  • Lots of room
  • Good access
  • Good layout
  • Great value

 

DRAGGING THE CHAIN…

  • Rear bench base could be positioned further rearward
  • Alloy bow access would be a nice touch





PERFORMANCE

4.9kts (9kmh) @ 1500rpm (trolling)

10.9kts (20.2kmh) @ 2700rpm (starting to plane)

12.7kts (23.5kmh) @ 3000rpm

21.0kts (38.9kmh) @ 4000rpm

24.7kts (45.7kmh) @ 5000rpm

28.1kts (52kmh) @ 5500rpm

29.7kts (55kmh) @ 5800rpm (WOT)




Specifications: TABS 4700 MASTER SERIES RUNABOUT

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $35,375

Options fitted: Bimini, Garmin Echo 500c fishfinder, alloy rocket launcher, marine radio, two-tone Hull



GENERAL

Type: Monohull

Material: Aluminium

Bottom: 3.0mm

Sides: 3.0mm

Hull length: 4.90m

Beam: 2.25m

Weight: 455kg



CAPACITIES

Fuel: 70lt

People: 5

Min HP: 50

Max HP: 75



ENGINE

Make: Honda 60hp

Type: Four-stroke, fuel-injected four-cylinder

Rated: 60hp @ 5500rpm

Displacement: 995cc

Weight: 112kg

Gearbox ratio: 1.83:1

Propeller: 16in Vengeance



MANUFACTURED BY

TABS Boats

2 Activity Crescent

Ernest, Qld, 4214

Tel: (07) 5594 6333

Web www.tabsboats.com.au



SUPPLIED BY

Regal Marine

514 Canterbury Road

Vermont, Vic, 3133

Tel: (03) 9874 4624

Web http://www.regalmarine.com.au/

Originally published in TrailerBoat #287, October 2012.

Find TABS boats for sale.

 


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