Boat Review Date: July 2009
Author: Mike Brown
Wherever Coraline catch a glimpse of an unfilled market niche it seems they immediately fill it. The latest of their products I tried has to be the only self-draining plate aluminium dinghy on the market: the 480 Wahoo. On the other hand it is about as big as a dinghy gets before a builder thinks of a different name for it, and it has a construction as complex and heavy duty as many much larger boats.
It reminds me more than a little of a pearl farm dump dinghy. The Wahoo is smaller but still makes a big footprint in the water: a hull length of 4.8m and a beam of 2.0m. It is certainly every bit as tough, with a 4mm bottom and a lot of metalwork bracing everything. The anchor well is an example of the rigid structure. Where small aluminium craft usually have something like a washbowl let into the foredeck – often enough in plastic – this one has a compartment made by welding in a collision bulkhead.
As well as a small foredeck, the Wahoo has full-length narrow side decks and structural side pockets to add to rigidity.
Our motor was a basic technology Yamaha two-stroke, with manual tilt and starting, and pre-mix lubrication. But it had the all-important electronic ignition, and starting was an easy two-pull affair. In the same simplified spirit, we carried our fuel in a portable tank. With pre-mix fuel, which does not age well, there is a lot to be said for small, easily cleaned tanks. But for the bigger fuel user the Wahoo has the option of an 80L built-in tank.
There was a time when 40hp was a respectable motor on a runabout, and an unheard-of quantity of power for tiller steering. Yet it is at the bottom of the suggested power range for the Wahoo, with 60 at the top. The length of the tiller is what makes it controllable nowadays. The old stumpy steering sticks made for violent manoeuvring.
Two-up, 40hp provided all the performance we would ever be likely to use on the ocean; those with a taste for speed could use the extra 20hp on Peel or the southern inlets. I am an advocate of not going out solo in dinghies (it’s not a brilliant idea in any sort of boat), but that said the Wahoo has the mass and shape to cope far better than most with all the live weight right aft.
Larger dinghies are often fitted with add-on boarding platforms, but they usually need some athletic ability to actually use them. The Wahoo’s has a two-rung ladder, and a grab rail that is a continuation of the side rail. Except for a small midships section the rails are continuous end to end. This places them handy for where people sit – and in this size and style of boat you can often need them – and will be useful for handling the boat during beach launching and recovery.
If ocean beach launches are in your boat’s future, aluminium is the only way to go. Safe recovery relies on returning the boat to the trailer on dry land; so towing the boat astern of the trailer for some distance over sand is inevitable.
The seating is in the ends, leaving an open area for gear and for clear space between anglers. Forward is a carpeted raised platform, with bulk storage below, and aft a similar platform-seat spans the full beam. Below this is space for a couple of portable fuel containers.
The self-draining deck means a limited coaming height, but on the other hand this is not a boat where you would spend a lot of time on your feet. Moving around though is not a precarious process. The two of us could move to different positions, or even the same position, without causing any significant twitch in the boat.
The price as reviewed is AUD $19,685, although it is one you can lift substantially with options. If you want a bait tank and rod locker, for instance, add AUD $1,715. In the extremely unlikely event that you want the boat painted, you will have to find another AUD $2,350 – although that mostly illustrates the savings you could make by deleting paint from aluminium boats.
Probably for most buyers, though, the Wahoo already has everything built in that they need. They are left with a rugged no-nonsense boat at an attractive price.
Price as reviewed AUD $19,685
Length overall 5.1m
Hull length 4.8m
Motor fitted 40hp Yamaha 2-stroke