Issue: April 2003
Bluefin Boats uses basic moderate deadrise aluminium hulls, to produce a boat at a price well below other supposed state-of-the-art fishing machines. Even so, these, coupled with some of the best layouts in the business, ensure them a place in the hearts of fisho’s.
But there’s no denying a moderate deadrise aluminium hull is just that, a moderate deadrise aluminium hull. There’s no way it is ever going to be a soft riding, dry boat across rough, windy water. But as the Modern Boating team found, when driven sensibly within its limits the Bluefin hull is safe and predictable as you could ever want. OK, so there’s nothing surprising about that, let’s face it, moderate deadrise aluminium boats qualify as true Aussie icons these days.
At 4.75m, the Bluefin centre console is well suited to bay and estuary fishing. Even an odd stint offshore is within its capabilities given reasonable weather. So why did the Modern Boating team fall in love with this boat Among other things it probably has something to do with the number of fish the likes of Macrae and Steptoe have caught from boats just like it over the years.
This test was conducted on the Brisbane River, because at the time there was a howling 20-knot northerly chopping up Moreton Bay. Given the limitations of a 4.75m centre console ‘tinnie,’ staying in the relative shelter of the river was prudent.
Even so, given the wind waves facing us coming back to the ramp, the Bluefin showed she could handle a bit of rough stuff. It’s able to do this because the hull planes below 10 knots ‘ 8.6 to be precise. The Bluefin 4.75m could be slowed right down and she still stayed cleanly on the plane, coping with the wind waves we encountered during the rough trip home. It was one of the things that won the Modern Boating team over.
The other was the Bluefin’s layout. Centre consoles aren’t an easy design to get right. Too many of them fall down by restricting the 360-degree around the boat access the console is supposed to provide. The Bluefin has wide side decks and toes-in-under leg support around its entire periphery. This includes a ‘suspended’ anchor well in the foredeck, a full height engine well and fill-in decks completes the circle.
OK, it’s not perfect, but it’s bloody close. There’s some compromise in the bow where your toes touch the sides of the boat, but it’s not too bad. And those fill-ins between the engine well and the side deck could be a tad wider to make leg support better.
The test boat did have its battery mounted on the deck in the aft starboard corner and that certainly did stuff up an otherwise beautifully uncluttered floor space. Of course it would cost more for the extra cabling to locate the battery in the bottom of the console, but isn’t 360 degree around the boat hands-free, leg support worth the extra dollars’ Isn’t that why people like to fish from centre consoles’
Storage is always at a premium in a centre console. The Bluefin had a shelf inside the console, plus a glove box in the upper section behind the instrumentation. Those deep side pockets along each gunwale ‘ the team is not fond of, but everyone else apparently loves ‘ were also fitted. And there was more storage inside the padded seating behind the console itself.
Mick Theorodou from Brisbane’s Wondall Road Marine who kindly set the boat up for our test told us that a lot of people move the standard helm seat/storage in front of the console, then use an ice box with an upholstered lid as helm seating.
It’s a great idea, albeit another one involving extra cost. Standing behind the Bluefin’s console the wheel is well positioned for comfortable driving. The upper section of the console also folds down to lower the boat’s profile ‘ a feature sure to be appreciated by those with low garages. Plus, there’s a good grab bar on each side of the console.
Typical of boats this size, the Bluefin 4.75m rides better when travelling with either one or three people aboard, because with only two, the passenger must stand to one side of the console, which causes the boat to lean over. Unless the passenger learns to stand on the side raised by propeller torque, to minimize the effect.
The windscreen frame’s supports also serves as grab bars. That’s about the only purpose a windscreen serves in a centre console, although it does provide a bit of shelter from winter slipstream for the person at the helm. Our previous experiences with centre consoles has shown that spray still comes aboard beside any ‘screen anyway. The best protection from spray and wind in any centre console is a good spray jacket. And we only say that after half a collective century’s experience with centre consoles.
The test boat had a moulded plastic bait board/rigging station mounted over the engine well. The team thought this was too low. It needs to be lifted so you don’t have to bend over when using it, although if it was raised any further it would get in the way when fishing around the transom.
The 60lt underfloor fuel tank also restricts this boat to estuary and bay work. Generally speaking, the boat’s fishing, handling and running characteristics were excellent and well above average; which describes this great little boat perfectly ‘ well above average.
The test boat was fitted with a few fancy bits in addition to a big motor (a 75hp Mercury two-stroke), which jacked the asking price up to $19,500. Mick told us that most Bluefin 4.75s they sell go out with either a 50 or 60hp outboard on the transom. He said that they regularly see basic packages with a 50 going out the door for around $16,000 and that upgrading to a 60hp adds about $500 to this price.
Going back to the you only get what you pay for’ sentiment, this is an awesome fishing boat for the asking price. If top value for money is what you’re looking for in a new boat look no further here it is.
One of the prime advantages of moderate deadrise aluminium hulls is that they don’t need a herd of horses to perform well. The team thought the test boat was overpowered running a 75hp Mercury two-stroke. That’s the maximum power rating for the hull and frankly, with a rarely attainable top speed of 33.6 knots, call it 60km/hr, it doesn’t need it. You rarely need to go that fast in a boat like this. The team agreed we’d probably opt for a 60hp donk over a 50hp and hang the extra $500 that it costs, because a motor doing it easy is more economical in the long term than one working hard. Although having said that, if you’re not spending much time on open water and habitually travel lightly loaded, a 50 should be fine.
Story & Photos by Warren Steptoe