Ideal western Warrior
What’s lightweight, extra tough and a breeze to handle? Throw in a soft ride and the odd tropical thunderstorm and if you’re keen, you can carry a soldering iron in your boot too. BARRY WISEMAN takes up the story.
I KNOW a bloke in the Top End who survived being hit by lightning.
You too might know Steve Compain, the man behind Arafura Bluewater Charters out of Cullen Bay in Darwin.
He and son Shane also run a tackle store at Coolalinga, near Palmerston south of the CBD.
Years ago, Steve related to me how he was standing near farm machinery on a property in Darwin’s rural area when he was zapped during a tropical storm.
He was severely burned but survived.
Being a keen fisher, it turned him off going on the water in a steel or aluminium boat, especially during the wet season.
So much so he became an agent for Polycraft Boats, built in Bundaberg, Queensland.
When Greg Collett from the Sportsmarine Boat Centre at Bunbury called me to come and have a look at one of the latest vessels from Polycraft, I hot-footed it down for a demo ride.
As the proverb goes, the best-laid plans of mice or men often go awry.
Well, a strong north-easterly wind came up during our drive from Perth on the day, so sadly we could not get out on the ocean.
Seeking calmer water, it was a good opportunity to check out the latest offering that is well suited to chasing species in northern waters, offshore and up mangrove creeks.
The Polycraft 530 Warrior Centre Console has heaps of walk-around deck space with loads of storage under the deck, particularly up front under the casting platform.
Meeting the skipper, Troy Repacholi, at the ramp, the first thing I noticed with this model is the acute spray chine fitted to the bow.
Like the rest of the vessel, it is made from polyethylene and is welded to the front of the boat at the waterline, its aim to deflect any spray away from the boat.
The rail runs back to approximately a third of the hull’s length, finishing just forward of the console on the review boat.
Everyone who has ridden in a centre console knows the crew can cop the spray coming over the front.
How many people can hide behind the console windscreen?
“The spray chine is an option from Polycraft and because it is so effective, every boat we order now comes over to the West with that feature. When that south-westerly or stiff easterly blows, we want to make sure those on board stay dry,” explained Troy.
The rail protrudes progressively as it nears the bow, where it is a good 100mm wide.
Even though we were only travelling just above planing speed, I noted the spray chine was doing an excellent job.
The next feature I noticed was the hefty stainless steel bar work around the console.
Later while being buffeted by that strong wind, the rail was ideal to grab instantly and almost instinctively when reaching out to hang on while the holding the camera with the other hand.
The sturdy stainless is as much at the front of the console as it is at the sides.
So while you are heading around the vessel playing that hookup, you have the rod slung under one arm while holding onto the rail with the other.
I have often seen consoles with small hand grab rails port and starboard, but this vessel has a good handle on that safety feature.
The console is a beefy structure and boarding from the jetty, the railing is there to grasp hold of while standing on the gunwale and into the craft – good thinking Polycraft.
Boarding and alighting from this CC is easy, plus the anti-skid decking is everywhere, including the gunwales, foredeck, transom and marlin boards.
Marine carpet fills in the gaps, on the hard flooring plus the hatch covers in the bow section.
If you have never ridden in a Polycraft it is worth doing.
The manufacturing process involves making two skins, an outer and inner hull, and the air trapped between adds to the vessel’s buoyancy.
The inner and outer walls also mean if you do happen to hole the outer hull the vessel remains afloat.
Also, the tough poly material has a certain amount of flex, so it absorbs much of the impact from the water, plus it is marine grade UV stabilised polyethylene designed for exterior use.
It’s tough and requires little maintenance, plus it won’t rot.
That’s why many commercial operators use them for tenders in the charter boat industry, plus marine training establishments as they can take a beating from the inexperienced skipper.
A holed boat can be fixed using a hot iron to heat up the poly and weld the damaged area.
Adding extra deck fittings is simple too as areas of the frame are reinforced, and I have seen technicians simply drill and screw in quick fashion.
The console dash is large and on the review boat was left clear, awaiting the customer’s choice of electronics.
The remote throttle control and engine gauges for the Yamaha 130hp motor on the transom occupied the right side of the dash, with a GME marine radio mounted on the left, leaving enough room to flush-mount a couple of monitors.
There is a storage area under the dash for your tackle box, ice box or twin batteries.
The bench seat behind the windscreen has a reverse back – backwards for normal motoring and forwards for sitting back facing the rear cockpit when dangling a line or lazing in a bay watching the sunset on a summer eve.
Lifting the lid of the bench seat revealed a huge, insulated ice box.
There’s more seating along the rear in the form of a fold-down upholstered bench.
When that collapses, fishers can stand hard against the padded transom wall to access the twin plumbed tanks port and starboard.
The refuelling point on the Polycraft is found just off centre to port on the transom to make it accessible from either side at the petrol pump.
While the marlin boards are not overly large, there’s ample room to fit the optional ladder, plus there’s good, solid stainless grab rails on the swallow tails to match those on the console.
The Yamaha 130hp has heaps of power to push this Polycraft along and its agility made it wholesome fun to drive.
We could not make full speed due to inner-water restrictions, however the Polycraft 530 CC performed well, and the pronounced bow spray rail did its job.
The vessel is rated to take a 150hp motor, however the 130 Yammy is a good combination, with the engine mounted on a reinforced aluminium motor well bracket that is bolted to the transom.
Under the floor there is a 130-litre fuel tank.
Weight-wise, the boat is rated to carry up to seven people.
The bilge is fitted with twin automatic pumps to clear any water that may come aboard.
The advantage of the Polycraft compared to an aluminium CC is the quiet running when it comes to water slapping against the hull.
As well as having that slight flex, the polyethylene is far quieter than aluminium, so these boats have that advantage particularly when fishing for barra up a creek in the tropics or when chasing bream in the south.
The port bow has plenty of room to fit an electric motor for that added stealth factor.
Of course, there is also the towing factor and polyethylene is a tough material but also lightweight.
The Warrior 530 CC hull weighs 760kg.
However, with their popularity and the fact owners are prepared to travel long distances to their fishing destinations, the Polycraft comes on a tandem galvanised drive-on trailer especially designed to fit the vessel’s square-shaped keel.
The vessel’s beefed-up backbone gives the boat added strength, plus the ability to be driven up onto the beach.
Soapy water and a scrubber are all that’s needed to keep clean.
The demo boat was white but several colours are available.
And remember, if you’re fishing the tropics you’re less likely to be struck by lightning while dangling a line from a Polycraft during the wet season than if you are in a tinnie!
NUTS & BOLTS
MODEL: Polycraft Warrior 530 Centre Console
LIVE BAIT TANKS: Two
POWER: Yamaha 130 four-stroke (150hp max)
FUEL: 130 litres
HULL WEIGHT: 760kg
MANUFACTURER: Polycraft; Bundaberg, Queensland, firstname.lastname@example.org
PRICE: $60,997 as tested
PROS & CONS
- Lightweight but tough and has a four-year hull warranty.
- Easy to keep clean.
- No corrosion issues. Repairs can be welded.
- Easy to tow.
- Drill and screwdriver to fix fittings.
- Lots of storage space.
- Drive-on tandem trailer.
- You would have to be pretty fussy to find fault with the Polycraft 530 Warrior Centre Console vessel, unless of course you don’t like the idea of polyethylene. They are well built and stylish. Polycraft make all configurations, the largest being the 599 Frontier, a cabin version. For fishing and family boating, they are excellent value for money.