Boat Review Date: June 2016
Author: Mike Brown
The Blaze Ripper 4.5 from the Bluefin stable is the size and style of boat that many people start out with, and that probably just as many finish up with in retirement. The reasons are simple: price, simplicity, ease of launch and recovery, minimal maintenance, small space requirement at home, towable by almost anything with four wheels. You get the idea: it does the job and is painless.
Layout is the classic runabout that everybody had before they invented centre consoles. It has the welcome structural refinements of an opening windscreen, a mini bowsprit and handling rails around the foredeck – very useful in beach launches. There is no recess in the foredeck and nor is one needed due to the deck’s shortness.
Smallish runabouts, especially those with short foredecks, can show odd behaviour when both occupants are sitting in the forward seats. Make a vigorous turn and the boat can lie over on the greatly increased deadrise of the bow. Sensations range between disturbing and terrifying. The scientific spirit required us to test the Ripper’s susceptibility, which happily turned out to be nonexistent. It is actually an agile boat and good fun to drive.
Perhaps the biggest difference between runabouts in the heroic age and now is that in this size they are mostly powered by four-strokes. Even if economy dictated two strokes less it would still be a far cry from the smoking prima donnas of my youth. Our boat had a 40hp Honda – a four-stroke, naturally – that was smoothness from start to finish. The absolute certainty that turning the key would result in a start, and that from there on progress would be quiet and progressive, enhances a trip no end. To hell with nostalgia.
The long shaft motor is housed in a transom cutaway that does not have a splash well. This is a theoretical disadvantage, but here is where you balance theory with practicality. The absence of the well effectively enlarges the cockpit, especially giving more room for the battery and portable fuel tanks.
Matching the engine, the hull makes its contribution to overall quietness. It is a rigid structure – full seam welding of the side deck- top side joint being an example of thoroughness often not seen in pressed aluminium boats. Quality generally is easy to check out because paint covers no part of the boat. This, of course, is part of its easy care attraction. A simple but effective contributor to a quiet experience is the plastic rather than aluminium anchor well.
Driver and offsider get comfortable swivels with foot wells ahead of them. Standing in the wells leaves comfortable clearance below the Bimini that has been set unaesthetically high to achieve that. Clears above the windscreen are standard, and the dealer had fitted zips to accept side panels.
There is other seating on board in the form of a locker box with an upholstered top. Sensibly, this can be moved to various locations in the carpeted cockpit or even left at home. This locker holds a vast amount of stuff. There is more room, though not as much, under the fore deck; partial length side pockets handle the oddments.
The built in goodies of larger boats are absent and reasonably so. The Ripper’s standard outfit includes grab rails, navigation lights and a handful of rod holders. With owner supplied bait, fuel, ice and an esky you have a fully functioning inshore fishing boat.
Price as reviewed $27,300
Hull weight 210kg
Motor fitted 40hp Honda