REVIEW: MORNINGSTAR BOATS 460 ANGLER SC

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


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The Morningstar 460 Angler SC from Cadcam Marine is a new player on the world stage. The company claims to have revolutionised aluminium boatbuilding. We sent along John Ford to see if it lived up to the hype.

Ian Wang says he went out looking for a boat about six years ago and could not find one that suited his family. "I wanted an aluminium boat," he told me. "But they were not stylish enough for my taste so I decided to build my own." Luckily for Wang he had a close friend, William Fan, who ran a sizeable car parts business in Taiwan. Both were keen on boating and they hatched a scheme to create an aluminium boat using Ian’s ideas and Fan’s technical skills and equipment.

 

MORNINGSTAR BOATS

MORNINGSTAR 460 BOAT

Cadcam Marine was created to develop the project and five years — and countless hours of R&D — down the track, the Morningstar 460 SC is the first production model. It brings a new sense of style to the humble tinnie and it may indeed revolutionise boatbuilding.

Accepted wisdom among aluminium boat manufacturers says it isn’t possible to form aluminium sheet into the complicated shapes and smooth lines of moulded fibreglass. But that thinking did not take into account Mr Fan’s 30 years of experience bending metal to his will in a 300-ton press.

The more Ian talked about the project, the more I came to appreciate that this team doesn’t do things by halves. Ian had a design in mind but he needed a skilled naval architect to see it to fruition. He sought the services of Troy Munnery from Boden Boat Plans for professional assistance.

Based at Warners Bay on the shores of Lake Macquarie, Troy told me he was surprised at the ambition of the project, but went ahead with initial plans which he and Ian modified over 12 months to suit the new production method. Ian would present a design and the team in Taiwan would run his 3D model through their software over a period of six weeks to accurately predict how the metal would react under pressure. They would then go back to Troy for modifications and the process would start again. Separate dye sets were needed for the bottom, each side, transom, the intricate floor grid, the various internals and the outside plates. When everyone was happy with the design, a set of male and female dyes were cast, allowed to cool for a month, and then machined to a perfect finish with C&C routers. By this stage the R&D dollars must have climbed into the millions!

 

ALUMINIUM BOATS FROM ASIA

MORNINGSTAR 460 ANGLER

Prototypes were built using aluminium from Taiwan but it proved too brittle for the task, and hulls are now formed from 3mm 5083 marine-grade Alcoa aluminium out of Europe.

Production involves robot-welding together the sub-floor grid, a bottom section, two sections for the sides and the transom to create an extremely rigid monocoque shell, which has the hydrodynamic properties of fibreglass.

A 4mm shield at the bow and 7mm keel line are then welded on for extra strength in high impact areas. A pre-production model was unveiled at the Shanghai International Boat Show in March, apparently to much amazement and industry acclaim. Now, the first production models are on their way to Australia and Enterprise Marine in Narrabeen, Sydney, is one of a network of dealers in place in NSW.

Our test at Pittwater allowed us to experience the boat in sheltered waters before heading to sea off Barrenjoey Head.

 

CONSTRUCTION

MORNINGSTAR 460 ANGLER HULL

If Ian’s dream was to create a stylish boat with the finesse of fibreglass, my first impression was he had well and truly succeeded. The closer I looked the more impressed I became. The clean, wide lines of the sides flow seamlessly up and around the complex shape of the gunwales. With the sides painted white, you’d swear it was fibreglass. The giveaway is the aluminium showing on the undersides, in a concession to practicality.

Closer inspection shows perfectly welded joins between the sides and bottom that a human hand would struggle to emulate. Ian explained that he wanted a consistently high standard and while humans might be up to scratch on Monday mornings, that could change on Friday after lunch. The robot has no emotion and turns out consistent quality day after day. They may run counter to notions of craftsmanship, but you can’t argue with the quality of the product.

On the trailer, the beautifully formed running strakes and prominent reverse chines were clearly visible, as was the deadrise at the transom that increased from 12˚ at the extremities to 18˚ at the keel line. A sharp forefoot looked the goods for cutting through waves and there seemed to be enough flare in the bow to disperse water well clear of the boat.

When I spoke to Troy afterwards he admitted to having real pride in the initial design, but even he was surprised at how well it turned out. He said there were early doubts about the idea of producing an aluminium boat with the beneficial shape of fibreglass but he now realises that Mr Fan means what he says.

Troy explained how the metal becomes super strong by being ‘work hardened’ in the press and how this strength is enhanced by the use of robust bends in the gunwale and knuckles along the sides that preclude the use of unattractive ribs.

 

LAYOUT AND DESIGN

MORNINGSTAR 460 ANGLER DECK

The boat slid easily into the water from its locally made Dunbier trailer and we were off. My immediate impression upon clearing the no-wake zone was that the hull feels really buoyant and smooth through the water, with just a hint of low-speed slap to remind me that it’s a tinnie.

Our test boat was a pre-production model lacking some improvements that will appear in future versions, including a forward raised casting deck, plus fishing and storage options. Layout is a conventional side console with a carpeted, flat floor of marine ply over a sophisticated aluminium grid.

In the forepeak, there’s a smallish anchor locker with a practical roto-moulded plastic liner and a single central cleat but no roller. Low (hand-welded) bow rails run from amidships to split at the bow and nav lights are well protected under the rail.

The side console is to starboard around the centre of the boat so the driver is slightly to rear of amidships for a comfortable ride but without concentrating too much weight towards the stern. It’s a simple aluminium construction with room on the dash for basic instruments and space on top to bracket mount a GPS / sounder.

There is storage below and a clear screen on top. A handrail is pop-riveted to the side of the console but I feel it’d be better placed over the screen for better positioning and to stop passengers using the screen for support. When I mentioned to Ian that it was unusual to see pop rivets used he explained they each have a 300kg loading so they were strong enough, but he’ll likely weld future bars for aesthetic reasons.

Two folding chairs are set into spigots in the floor and can be positioned into different parts of the boat. Upholstery is high quality and they seem to be well constructed and strong enough to handle the weight of big blokes. The console and seat bases are through-bolted to the aluminium — not just the plywood — so they should withstand the sort of rough treatment fishermen are likely to dish out. A hatch opens to a central killtank in the floor and some of the foam flotation is on display on both sides.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

MORNINGSTAR 460 ANGLER SC PLANING

When we got out of the slow zone it was time to let the Morningstar off the leash and with the 60hp Honda on the back I expected it to boogie. Planting the throttle got an immediate response from the engine and as we surged forward there was some bow lift but not enough to hinder visibility.

Planing speed was about 13kts (24kmh) at just over 3000rpm with two of us onboard and by 3500rpm we settled in to an easy, slow cruise of 16kts (29.6kmh). The boat rode smoothly over the bay chop and was happy to maintain a fast cruise of around 26kts (48.2kmh) at 5000rpm. It topped out at 32kts (59.2kmh) at the 6000rpm limit and felt steady, smooth and really well balanced with hardly a touch on the wheel.

Handling was just as impressive in the slight chop. There was a bit of cavitation into slow, sharp turns, but it wasn’t bad and it was suggested that dropping the motor a notch would probably fix it. Keen to see how the boat fared in open water we headed around Barrenjoey Head, where we found some sloppy sea close into the cliffs. For a 4.6m boat its handling was very impressive, riding though waves and landing off some of the bigger ones in style. We stopped for a fish and in the rocky conditions there was no trouble keeping balance. I swapped over to the camera boat, leaving the lads from Enterprise Marine to do the fishing, and happily Simon broke the drought with a slimy that put up a hell of a fight. Hey, it’s still a fish.

 

THE VERDICT

MORNINGSTAR 460 ANGLER FISHING

It was a privilege to be the first journalist to test the new Morningstar and it impressed not only with its performance and style but also with regard to Ian Wang’s enthusiasm and commitment. Any doubts I had about its durability have been dispelled. Any fears that the design would not perform have been unproven. There are things that need to go into the boat to turn it into a practical fishing machine but most of that has already been planned or is included with the next batch of boats.

The word ‘revolutionary’ can be easily applied to any new idea but in the case of the Morningstar, it may be justified. This boat is a true breakthrough in design and execution and it should be just the beginning of things to come. Already in planning are smaller and larger versions of the hull and a long-term desire to move production to Australia.

With a price around $29,990, the 460 Angler SC is right in the middle of similar-sized boats on the market but it offers a fresh perspective. If Ian was looking for a new boat today and he found the Morningstar, I doubt he would wander home dissatisfied.

 

PERFORMANCE

3kts (5kmh) @ 1000rpm 

5kts (9kmh) @ 2000rpm 

8kts(15kmh) @ 300rpm

13kts (24kmh) @ 3100rpm — on the plane

16kts (29kmh) @ 3500rpm 

19kts (35kmh) @ 4000rpm 

23kts (42kmh) @ 4500rpm 

26kts (48kmh) @ 5000rpm 

29kts (53kmh) @ 5500rpm 

32kts (59kmh) @ 6000rpm — wide open throttle

 

ON THE PLANE...

  • Breakthrough construction method
  • Looks stylish and modern
  • Good handling and performance

 

DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

  • Everything I had concerns about is being addressed

 

 

MORNINGSTAR 460 ANGLER SC SPECIFICATIONS

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $29,500

Options fitted: Engine upgrade

Priced from: $25,900 with 40hp

 

GENERAL

Type: Monohull side console

Material: Aluminium

Length: 4.6m

Beam: 2.00m

Weight: 360kg

Deadrise: 18°

 

CAPACITIES

People: 5

Rec. HP: 40-60hp

Max. HP: 60hp

Fuel: 60lt

 

ENGINE

Make/model: Honda BF60

Type: Three-cylinder, 12-valve four-stroke

Weight: 119kg

Displacement: 998cc

Gear ratio: 2.08:1

Propeller: 11 1/8in x 14in three-blade

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Cadcam Marine, Taiwan

 

SUPPLIED BY

Enterprise Marine

8/77-79 Bassett Street

Mona Vale, NSW, 2103

Tel: (02) 9999 5558

www.enterprisemarine.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #301, November / December 2013

Find Morningstar boats for sale.

 


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