Boat Review Date: September 2014
Author: Mike Brown
The average size of trailer boat appears to be reducing; perhaps a temporary thing at a time of financial nervousness, but certainly manufacturers are paying a lot of attention to the smaller end of their ranges. The review boat from Bluefin, at 4.38 metres the smallest in its Mangrove Jack series, is a thoroughly thought out and executed design.
Its layout is side console, which most people prefer to centre console in small boats. Instead of two dead areas amidships, the whole of one side and two thirds or more of the other are available for fishing. And fishing is unquestionably this boat’s role in life.
The Bluefin is a thoroughly constructed small vessel, without the cheapening elements of some boats built to a price. All the welds in the gunwales and side decks are full length rather than intermittent; ribs are spaced closely at around 350mm centres. Not a structural item but an important one: the rubbing strakes are actually suited to the rubbing role by being left paintless.
This is a two or more person boat – a good thing because solo boating is a poor idea from a safety as well as a social point of view. To maximise useable space the driving position is set well aft, which does not give ideal trim one-up. Two-up, setting the passenger’s seat in the midships socket slightly ahead of the console fixes this. It does it so well that scientific calculations were probably involved in locating this position.
The 425 is equipped with carpeted bow and stern platforms. Whether or not anyone will actually want to stand on them is less important than the huge volumes of storage space they provide. Part of the rear platform’s capacity is used to house the portable fuel tanks. A built in tank is an option but why bother when a pair of 20 litre portables will outlast the longest day and are outright simple?
Just one seat other than the driver’s is provided, with sockets in three positions for it. One is in the bow platform and this will be keenly fought for. The driver’s own seat is well placed and is about as rudimentary as it could be: a cushion and back mounted on the leading edge of the rear platform. It makes up for its baseness by being very comfortable. The whole driving position works well, giving a good relationship to the soft grip wheel, the basic instruments and the throttle. The small windscreen is topped by a grab rail and available to any adjacent passenger.
Rails are also present and correct at the platforms; these are essential items on a small craft liable to quick motions.
The 425, as well as being immensely practical is fun. It’s an easily driven hull and responsive to the controls. The driving position is snug, making the driver one with the boat. Also, being a long way aft it gives a softer ride.
The builder recommends maximum power of 50hp, and that is what was mounted in the form of a Honda four stroke. Performance was spirited and welcome, but in the interest of the bank account considerable economies can be made by varying the choice of motor. The price of the review boat, including the top of the wozza motor and fripperies like paint, is AUD $24,850. Delete the decorative and substitute a 40hp two-stroke and the price drops to a very friendly AUD $18,850.
The smaller and cheaper the boat the more it gets used: an old and absolute truth. Winch it onto the trailer one handed and effortlessly; get it to the beach launching spot by dragging it over the sand; maintain it mainly by occasionally hitting it with a fire hose. You get the idea: enjoyable boating is effortless boating.
Price from AUD $18,850
Price as reviewed AUD $24,850
Maximum power 50hp
Motor fitted 50hp Honda four stroke