Manufacturer: Streaker Boats
If there was ever a purpose-built boat with the handling characteristics, layout and fishermen-friendly features to take on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bays fickle conditions and come out trumps; the latest Streaker 4.58m Cuddy Series III is it. It’s a compact, easy to tow, launch and handle, craft that doubles as a fully-‘ edged gun fishing machine and a small all weather family cruiser. Some readers may question my remark about a 4.58m, or 15’ on the old scale, boat being capable of fulfilling the roll as an all-weather vessel. However, for a family of four, two adults and a couple of children, if the weather was to turn bad after a day out on Port Phillip Bay as it often does, the Streaker 4.58m Cuddy Series III, driven sanely, will get you home safely.
How do I know ? Because I’ve been out in a Streaker 4.58m on The Bay when conditions went from dead calm to a wind driven maelstrom in a matter of 30 minutes. And what better time for it to happen than during the boat test of the said craft. The Modern Boating team travelled to Melbourne to test a variety of boats from various Victorian-based manufacturers. And while we all laughed about it at the time, we really did experience Melbourne’s four seasons in one day syndrome; every day, for the four days we were there. To cut a long story short, the calm conditions on the first morning made the early photo shoot of this 4.58m Cuddy and its sister ship, the excellent Streaker 5.85m Tournament a breeze.
We also managed to get the 5.85’s test in the can, even if it was in relatively calm conditions. We had to be content with jumping other boat and container ship’s wake out in the channel to identify her rough water handling capabilities. And she passed with flying colours I might add. But heading back in across the Patterson River’s normally safe bar a sou’ westerly breeze ruffled the hair on the back of my neck. Ello, ello, what’s this then ?? After a quick bite to eat, we boarded the 4.58 Cuddy and headed back down river towards the bar. Overhead the wind was now blowing at more than 20 knots with some gusts going well above that figure.
Normally, we would have turned around then and there, but we didn’t need to be outside for too long to access the boat’s handling and the conditions would truly test this already impressive boat. At the mouth 2m swells rolled in across the bar, but after sitting inside and watching the swells for a couple of minutes I gunned the 70hp Yamaha two stroke and powered the boat effortlessly out between the swells into open water. Once outside we found ourselves in a washing machine-like maelstrom of white water. Initially, we ploughed head-on into the sou’ wester just holding on the plane.
There was a certain amount of hull slap as the boat hit the waves head-on, but under the conditions the same thing would have happened in any vessel. However, the boat’s sharp entry and heavily flared bow succeeded in throwing the waves and spray down and away from the hull. Even so, heading into the sea with the wind blowing hard over the starboard bow, there was no way of stopping some spray being blown inboard. Knowing when to duck was definitely the best way of keeping dry. The test boat was not fitted with the optional set of clears, which would have negated the problem of spray, but to be honest, in these rough conditions not having clears fitted was a blessing.
Why ? Well in a blow, clears tend to act like a sail and dramatically affect a small boat’s trim, ability to track straight and quick response to the helm. On bigger boats trim tabs are normally used to counteract this effect, but remember we are only talking about a 15-footer here. Turning to the sou’ east and angling across the face of the swells, we were able to maintain a steady 19 knots. With the waves hitting the stern at 45 degrees from the sou’ west, as long as we kept an evil eye out for the large holes that regularly appeared behind some swells, the ride was dry and almost comfortable.
But there was still no way we would have been able to gather speed-to-rpm readings on the day. Swinging around to the nor’ west and heading back towards the mouth of the Patterson River, we slowed to around 16 knots as the boat took the waves on the port bow. Again we were confronted with a certain amount of spray, but there were no bangs as the swells swept under the hull. The short run back across the bar was relatively easy. Jump on the back of a wave, keep the revs up so we stayed there and we were in.
The hull tracked straight, showed no signs of trying to broach and didn?t try to bury the nose when we finally crested the wave and ran down the face into the calm waters of the river proper. All in all it was an impressive performance from this so-called small boat and I stand by my statement that this boat would make an excellent all-weather mini family cruiser. But if you’re a true blue Port Phillip Bay snapper fisho, this boat has more standard features going for it than most run of the mill cuddy cabins on offer. Rocket-launcher style rod racks keep fi9shing rods up and out of the way. A bimini top shades the helm area and a beautiful bait station graces the middle of the transom.
There are rod holders mounted in the top of each gunwale and on each side of the transom. Plus, there’s another two in the middle of the transom that can be used when the bait preparation station is not in use. Many snapper anglers will probably remove this bait table and fit one of those multi-rod holder racks, which slot into existing single rod holder tubes. But only after they have prepared their baits that is. Still at the transom, while many boat builders have opted to mount the outboard on full-width platforms, or pods across the transom, Streaker has retained an engine well set-up on the 4.58. Why ? Because the guys that build Streaker boats are also fishos and they know what makes a good fishing boat.
On this boat when the aft quarter seats are removed, the engine well set-up allows the angler to stand beside the outboard giving them direct access to the water at the stern. On boats with outboards mounted on a full-width transom board, the angler has no direct access to the water over the stern. They have to hold their rod out over the swim platform, or full-width pod, which isn’t much good when a fish dives at the back of the boat. There were also deep, wide side pockets, with rod racks, along each side of the cockpit that could accommodate plenty of gear.
And yes, they are raised up off the floor, so you can get your toes in under to brace against the coamings when fighting a fish. There’s even an in-built step on each side pocket to aid alighting over the gunwales. The cockpit floor was carpeted and uncluttered and there was deep kill tank between the drivers and navigator’s seat. These were the wrap-around bucket type mounted on pedestals. The dash area in front of the helm is well protected by the wrap-around windscreen and adequate. But there was little room directly above the wheel to mount a good colour sounder and GPS tracker unit side by side without changing the position of the Yamaha engine management system.
The sounder on this test boat was mounted on a – at section of the dash in the middle of the boat, so it was not in the direct line of sight of the driver. Streaker 4.58’s cuddy cabin is just that, a cuddy cabin. And its cabin is designed more for holding gear and providing seating for four people to shelter from the elements, than as a place to sleep. However, having said that, the kids will no doubt still curl up in there to grab 40 winks during a long day on the water. The cabin was also carpeted, which helps minimise noise as the hull passes through the water. It also had shelves down each side that were big enough to be useful.
Looking at this boat from a mini family cruiser perspective, the only thing that’s missing was a toilet. But a small portable unit could be fitted in the space between the bunks at a pinch. The only problem this could create would arise when anchoring, because this is done through the large hatch in the cabin roof. You wouldn’t want to put your foot in it if you know what I mean. And speaking of anchoring the split bowrail and deep anchor locker coupled with the security of anchoring from the cabin, make this task easy on this Streaker.
The Modern Boating team was impressed with the Streaker 4.58 Cuddy. Its standard features point it squarely toward fishos, but leave the aft quarter seats in place, remove the bait preparation station and add a mini portable toilet and you’re left with an extremely seaworthy mini family cruiser, that is capable of getting you home in a blow. So, how much will it cost to park one of these on your front lawn ? Around $25,990 and that’s pretty good value for money.
Words and Photos by Ian Macrae