Boat Review Date: August 2016
Author: Mike Brown
The New Zealand-built SmartWave SW4200 is that most durable of small vessels: a roto-moulded, double skinned boat with foam between the skins, skins that have colour all the way through them. Since the “Titanic” builders have hesitated to use the word unsinkable, but this comes close. Short of powdering it by explosives or gunfire it will stay afloat. If still in one piece but flooded, it will float upright with 300 kilos of people or load on board. Credentials like these are always worth a closer look.
It performs even better without water in it. 4.3 by 1.93 metres is a modest sized boat, yet it has the stability to list only 13 degrees with 500 kilos at one rail. This would be easily understandable with a punt shaped hull, but this one has the creditable deadrise of 12 degrees. It also has the hugely complex underwater shape that is routine with roto-moulding but impossible with aluminium.
The review 4200 was an open, tiller steered model, although there is a centre console variant. If you tire of tiller steering, conversion to this is straightforward: buy a console, bolt it to ready-prepared sockets and fit the remote control kit to the Honda. Most buyers, though, opt for the open boat and stay with it. The usual tasks they put it to are more or less sheltered waters fishing, crabbing and general stooging about, although more than one has mentioned that it would make a great beach launching boat.
The key features for that are light weight and near immunity to superficial damage. Not only is the medium density polyethylene skin material self coloured (in a choice of eight colours) but it is extremely slippery, especially when wet. Dragging over rocks or alongside mussel coated jetties does not cause the degree of gouging fibreglass or aluminium would take. It bends to impacts and is effectively fatigue-free. Terminally inept owners might pierce the outer skin on some sharp object, but the boat would remain water tight and could be fixed by a simple plastic weld.
The 4200 is rated for five people and has seats for that many: one in each corner and one mid boat that also serves as esky. The corner seats too cover storage spots totalling a useful capacity, although the understorey of one quarter seat is consumed by a battery. While the 40hp Honda is tiller steered most other functions are electrified, including starting and trim and tilt. The controls for these plus gear and throttle are all mounted on a long tiller. Anyone whose experience of tiller steered outboards dates from 20-odd years ago should prepare for an epiphany when meeting this arrangement. With the motor properly set up control is split hair accurate and as effortless as a conventional wheel.
The boat is rated for up to 50hp, but so far no customer has opted for more than 40. With the 4200’s usual complement of two the smaller motor delivers more speed than most people care to use. Not that this to say anything against the ride, which is far superior to the typical tinnie of similar size. Part of the perception of ride quality is due to the hull material. The thickness of foam and poly plastic deadens sound, and its flexibility absorbs the minor tremors caused by forward progress. This is a restful boat.
With the fishing role in mind the builders fitted the bow to take an electric troll motor. They also built in impressive stability: on controlled test, 500 kilos at one rail caused only a 13 degree list. Hauling cray pots should be a breeze.
All the things a boat of this class ought to have are here: bow roller, grab rails for each corner seat, carpet, and a pair of boarding platforms at near water level that remove the need for ladders. Basic boating perhaps, but attractive, especially with a price of under $16,000.
Price as reviewed $15,743.50
Hull weight 220kg
Motor fitted 40hp Honda