Review: Morningstar 460 Sports Cuddy & 460 Bay Rover

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford


Morningstar Boats 460 10 Morningstar Boats 460 10
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Chinese boats manufacturer Morningstar Boats continues to roll out its revolutionary aluminium trailer boats. The Morningstar 460 Sports Cuddy and 460 Bay Rover prove that a Chinese boat is as good as the rest of them.

Tell someone your tinnie is in fact a Chinese boat and what comes to mind? Budget boats, built to a price, right? While that thinking may have been true a decade ago, Chinese boats today are now more than capable of competing against the best of them. Morningstar Boats is a case in point.

Morningstar Boat has completed its range with two new models: the 460 Sports Cuddy and 460 Bay Rover. Both of the aluminium boats offer buyers even more choice, and as with our previous boat reviews, the ride and aluminium hull construction is phenomenal.

 


CMLOGO

This boat was rated one of the best of the year. It has been nominated to participate at Australia’s Greatest Boats 2016.


 

MORNINGSTAR BOATS

Morningstar Boats 460

Some years ago Ian Wang set out on a quest to build a better boat after failing to find one he liked. To get the perfect aluminium boat, he first convinced his friend William Fan, who runs a giant business making panels for cars, to get involved.

With the production side sorted Ian enlisted Australian marine architect Troy Munnery to draw up plans for the revolutionary new craft, which were modified to suit the production process over many months of research and development.

When Trade-a-Boat published its Morningstar 460 Angler SC review last year we found an extraordinary example of an aluminium hull with the characteristics almost indistinguishable from a fibreglass boat.

One year on, will the new Morningstar 460 Sports Cuddy and 460 Bay Rover maintain that quality?

 


Morningstar Boats Hydro hull How does Morningstar Boats make its aluminium hulls? Find out here.

 

MORNINGSTAR 460 CUDDY

Morningstar Boats 460 Cuddy

Prominent, rounded chines and smooth, perfectly-shaped gunwales set the Morningstar style apart from other aluminium boats and tinnies, but it’s the hydrodynamic shape of the hull, providing the soft ride and sporty handling that surprised us when we tested the original boat.

A sharp entry gives a soft ride and there is plenty of flare to disperse water. A 4mm cover plate over the forefoot adds protection when beaching or over rocky obstacles. The bottom has lifting strakes towards the stern and the smooth shape runs back to an 18° deadrise.

The three-piece polycarbonate screen is high enough to shield seated passengers and low enough for unimpeded vision when standing. The cuddy is open to the rear and is accessed to port of the helm but while it’s great for storage, occupants would need to sit on the floor. The checkerplate floor is raised slightly higher than the cockpit, which sensibly keeps it drier from any water slopping around.

An overhead hatch gives easy access to the bow where the deep anchor locker has a hinged cover. A low bowrail runs along the sides and there’s a simple roller and single stainless steel cleat. It’s worth noting that all the stainless steel fittings use a high-quality Australian structural sealant to prevent electrolysis through any contact with the alloy.

Sliding and swivelling vinyl seats are set on alloy boxes, each with a five-tray tackle box held in by bungy cords. The bases are screwed to the floor and through to the underfloor grid and with typical understatement Ian assured me the fitting method had been properly tested for strength.

A panel in the floor accesses the fuel-level sender for the 60lt alloy tank that has two baffles and twin breathers to prevent surge when topping up with petrol, while the filler itself is centrally located at the transom.

Also at the transom is a folding full-width seat. Interestingly it is removable and its floatation foam filling is rated to support the weight of two people in the water.

The central aluminium bait table looks strong and is at a sensible height. It comes with two rodholders to complement two more on the sidedecks. There’s a usefully-sized plumbed bait tank to port but strangely, the starboardside misses out on a storage hold, although there’s a decent-sized killtank in the floor.

Out the back the engine well is surrounded by narrow platforms with a boarding step and rails to assist boarding.

I found the seating position comfortable and it would good for longer trips but it seemed more natural to stand when driving, even though the wheel is set quite low.  Instruments are set into a simple, flat panel with room for a dash-mounted screen up to 10in on top.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Morningstar Boats 460 C

Power rating for the Morningstar 460 Cuddy is 40 to 90hp. Therefore, the 60hp Honda outboard motor on the back was in the middle of the range and got the efficient aluminium hull seamlessly onto the plane at just over 10kts. Midrange cruise at 4000rpm was 17kts. Acceleration is energetic up to 5500rpm and we topped out at 29kts at the Honda’s 6000rpm limit.

Handling and ride are exemplary, being very soft through chop and over swell and turning predictably at all speeds. The Teleflex non-feedback steering felt light and responsive when trim was set correctly although I noticed a bit of prop torque to starboard at some speeds. Trimmed well down, the boat is fairly flat through turns and showed no sign of cavitating even with full power.

 

MORNINGSTAR 460 BAY ROVER

Morningstar Boats 460 Bay Rover

The runabout configuration has been with us for generations and some would say it gives maximum versatility as a family-friendly cruiser and fishing platform. The punchy 90hp Honda outboard motor injects excitement and a toy-towing ability into the Bay Rover version.

From the seats back, the layout repeats the theme of the cuddy version but without the bait table on the test boat – it’s available as an option. Up front is the familiar anchoring arrangement of the cuddy, but the acrylic windscreen is set farther forward and access is through a central opening in the five-section screen. A central step will assist leaning out to the anchor or getting onto the foredeck. A very sturdy and very neatly finished grabrail on brackets is riveted inside the window frame and two stainless steel bars support the screen back to the flat dash top.

Pedestal-mounted bucket seats are more substantial and comfortable than on the cuddy and have bolsters to make it easier to drive when standing. That said, the positioning of the controls and seats makes sitting when driving a more natural proposition. It also gives the boat a sportier feel that is enhanced by the 30 extra ponies in the 90hp Honda outboard motor.

The helm station was comfortable and most drivers will be able to get comfortable through sliding and height-adjustable seat positions and the long footwell forward. Our test runabout was fitted with a marine-ply floor covered in a grey waterproof carpet that lent a more family-friendly feel to the boat than the industrial-look checkerplate floor in the cuddy.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Morningstar Boats 460 BR

Planting the throttle on the Bay Rover was a much more rewarding experience than the lesser-powered cuddy. The little Morningstar revels in the extra power out of the hole and through the rev range. No tacho was fitted so I can’t give full performance figures, but let’s say it was impressive with a WOT speed of 37kts and enough power to tow the kids on biscuits or wakeboards.

Handling feels great. Through corners there was lots of power to drive us out of bends, with the added bonus of the sweet sounding, grunty Honda outboard motor behind. Full-lock turns at maximum noise had us in a nice flat stance without deviation from the desired course, no cavitation nor wallowing.

 

THE TRADE-A-BOAT VERDICT

Morningstar Boat

Together with the original Morningstar 460 Angler Side Console and a new centre console, Morningstar Boats has completed the range with these two aluminium boats to offer buyers a wider choice. The cuddy will be a wise pick for those heading offshore and the Rover will give families hours of fun for fishing and just mucking around.

Price is competitive at $33,950 for the Morningstar cuddy with checkerplate floor and 60hp engine, and $34,490 for the Morningstar runabout with upgraded Honda. Both are easily towed behind smaller cars, easily launched and small enough for storage in most garages.

 

HIGHS

• Beautifully formed alloy hull and deck

• Soft, predictable handling

• Well priced

 

LOWS

• Underfloor floatation could be neater

 

MORNINGSTAR 460 SEA TRIALS

Morningstar 460 Sports Cuddy with 60hp Honda BF60 outboard motor with 15in propeller.

RPM

SPEED (KTS)

1000

2

1500

4

2000

5

2500

7

3000

10

3500 (on the plane)

14

4000

17

4500

21

5000

23

5500

26

6000 (WOT)

29

* Sea-trial data supplied by author.

 

MORNINGSTAR BOATS SPECIFICATIONS

MORNINGSTAR 460 BAY ROVER SPECS

Morningstar 460 Bay Rover price: $34,490 (price as tested)

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Outboard motor upgrade

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL 5083 aluminium alloy

TYPE Monohull runabout

LENGTH 4.65m 

BEAM 2m

WEIGHT 388kg hull

DEADRISE 18°

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 5

REC. HP RANGE 40 to 90               

FUEL 60lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Honda BF90 outboard motor

TYPE Four-cylinder four-stroke outboard petrol outboard motor

RATED HP 90

DISPLACEMENT 1496cc

WEIGHT 163kg  

GEAR RATIO 2.33:1

PROPELLER 16in

 

MORNINGSTAR 460 SPORTS CUDDY

Morningstar 460 Sports Cuddy price: $33,490 (price as tested)

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Checkerplate floor

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL 5083 aluminium

TYPE Monohull cuddy cabin

LENGTH 4.65m

BEAM 2m

WEIGHT 405kg

DEADRISE 18°

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 5

REC. HP RANGE 40 to 90               

FUEL 60lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Honda BF60 outboard motor

TYPE Three-cylinder four-stroke outboard motor

RATED HP 60

WEIGHT 119kg  

DISPLACEMENT 998cc

GEAR RATIO 2.08:1

PROPELLER 15in

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Cadcam Marine

Taiwan

 

SUPPLIED BY

Enterprise Marine

8/77 Bassett Street,

Mona Vale, NSW, 2103

Phone (02) 9999 5558

Web enterprisemarine.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #463, March / April 2015. Why not subscribe today?

 


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