Most boaties will be familiar with Galloway International’s Mac Boats by now. Sam Mossman tries out the latest model, the Mac 470.
Various models of Mac’s rotationally-moulded polyethylene plastic hulls are a common sight all over the country (and overseas), popular for their robustness, low maintenance, soft ride and stability. The UV-resistant hulls are, literally, bullet-proof. At some of their early boat-show appearances they showed a section of 10mm-thick hull (about standard thickness) that had been blasted with a 12-gauge shotgun. The pellets had not managed to penetrate through it.
Since the early days, the Mac range has been greatly expanded and further improved. The material that these hulls are made of, polyethylene, is inherently buoyant, but Mac Boats takes the safety aspect further by filling internal cavities with expanding polyurethane foam, giving a massive reserve buoyancy (510kg) that is not affected by any hull breach, as well as making Macs notably quiet-riding hulls.
Material thickness averages 7mm in these boats (which are double skinned, making 14mm combined) and they are ultrasound tested at 40 strategic places in the hull to keep an eye on this. Mac boats meet MSA (New Zealand), CE Certification (Europe), US Coastguard, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ECO Smart standards.
The 470 is a new addition to Mac’s range of pontoon-style hulls, a forward-steer model that, as the name suggests, is 4.7m in length (15.4 feet). The recommended power range is between 40 and 70hp.
When I met Mac’s Sales and Marketing Manager Mike Wilson at Half Moon Bay Marina (only a handful of miles from their South Auckland factory), it was nice to see the test boat, a gunmetal grey, was colour-coordinated with the grey-cowling of its Honda BF60hp and the canopy top. It’s nice to have a smart-looking rig.
As well as a cool colour match for this particular hull (a wide range of colours are available), the Honda 60hp was a good power match for the 470. Although the test boat had not been fitted with electronics yet, Honda supplied the performance figures (below) for the first of the 470 models they fitted out. We had an identical fuel load and two adults aboard, so these figures should be pretty close to the test boat’s.
Our window for the boat test was a small one, with a weather front expected to bring 40 knots from the southwest by midday. One hangover from the old America’s Cup days in the Hauraki Gulf is that the marine forecasting is pretty accurate these days, so when the winds started to hike up from the west exactly as predicted, we knew what the score was. We had been scooting around in the flat-calm and got about as far as Waiheke Island before it became obvious that it was about time to get off the water.
We headed back into a short, steep chop ranging from half a metre to a metre in areas, thanks to strong currents and windagainst-tide situations. These sorts of conditions are common in shallow areas with decent currents, and normally make for a wet, uncomfortable trip, especially in a head sea. This was not the case with the 470, however. The polyethylene material has a bit of flex and the double-skin construction offers more cushioning. There is none of the drumming that tends to occur in many aluminium boats and, as mentioned, the polyurethane foam filling also helps these hulls to travel relatively quietly, as does the four-stroke Honda 60.
A notable feature on the boat is a tall canopy from Eastern Cover Centre. Mike Wilson looks to be well over six feet tall, and he had plenty of seated headroom under the canopy. The sides and front are clears, so all-round visibility is not compromised. A panel in the front zips down and can be rolled up out the way. The canopy kept us snug, dry and comfortable on the trip back, and a low plane speed meant we could take it easy without ‘falling in the hole’. The Honda cable throttle/shift is smooth and positive, as is the cable steering, making the 470 pleasant to drive.
Performance: Mac 470
|Hull thickness:||approx. 7mm, double skinned|
|Hull only weight:||350kg|
|Test engine:||Honda BF 60hp|
|Fuel capacity:||2X 25-litre tote tanks|
|Tow weight:||approx. 600kg|
|Key turn packages from:||$31,995.00|
|Price as tested:||$33,995.00|
A Maxwell anchor winch is fitted on the foredeck and feeds through the deck into an anchor well in the bow. It is helm controlled, with an overload switch back by the battery box in the stern. A Max Set 4 plough anchor (also a Maxwell product) is permanently mounted on the fairlead, constrained by a locking pin when not in use. A tieoff cleat and riding-light mount are also fitted.
The polycarbonate ‘screen shelters a modest dash, but big enough to mount a sounder/GPS with a four- or five-inch screen. The electronics had not been fitted to this boat, as the new owner wished to do this, but a power take-off with USB plug, anchor capstan control, tacho, engine-tilt indicator and switching were there.
Behind a hatch in the forward bulkhead is stowage space (and also access to the anchor well), supplemented by a hatched glovebox and internal stowage space in the seat pedestals. The seats are reasonably comfortable upholstered bucket types with a swivelling base.
Nautilex decking makes for decent footing, and a central hatch gives access to an under-deck stowage hold. The deck drains to the bilges, from where any water may be pumped overboard by a 600gph bilge pump fitted under the battery box. The sides are reasonably high, coming in just above the knees.
Handles fitted on top of the pontoons at the stern are an aid to controlling the boat in the surf and double as tie-off points. The stern bench seat is divided in two by an aluminium unit that combines the engine bracket, transom bracing and battery box container, with isolation switching built in. Platforms are fitted over the stern, each side of the engine.
The stability of the pontoon configuration, added to the Nautilex decking and reasonably high sides, make for a decent fishing platform for a boat of this size. Mike and I stopped for a quick softbait fish and had no problems standing and walking around the cockpit while casting
Four rod holders had been fitted: two plastic ones through the stern seats, along with two chromed metal models on the transom. The latter were in a nicely protected spot for storing the rods while travelling, while the plastic ones, on the outside, are more separated and angled, so better for holding a bait rod while at anchor or dragging a bait or lure. Of course, there are a wide range of aftermarket rod holders that could be fitted as well.
The catch could be stored in the under-deck hold or aftermarket ice box. A bait-board could be made to fit over the top of the battery compartment. This is a basic fishing fit-out, but is all that is needed for a lot of day fishing or inshore diving applications (a boarding ladder could be a useful addition for the second scenario).
Upon first sighting the boat, my immediate thought was that it would be a great trout-trolling boat for the lakes. The polyethylene material doesn’t suck the heat out of you as alloy does in the winter, and the canopy provides lots of shelter – ideal for stooging around the lake, harling or trolling, with a warming drink to ward off the colder weather. It would be good for jigging or fly casting, too.
However, I believe the new owner intends to use this boat for fishing Tauranga Harbour – another well-suited role, with Mac Boats being great for shallow water stealth fishing due to their quietness (I owned a Mac 360 for over 10 years and found it to be excellent in the ‘skinny water’).
The Mac 470 is carried on a Roadking trailer, a single-axle cradle A-frame design with zinc-protected leaf-spring suspension. It does not have rollers, using four benches with polyethylene skids instead. It is fitted with submersible LED lights, a wind-down jockey wheel, and a dual-ratio manual winch. Tow weight for the rig is around 600kg.
Polyethylene, as a boat-building material, is pretty useful. It is very robust, UV resistant, colour-fast right through, quiet in the water, easily repaired, low maintenance, and inherently buoyant – even before taking the foam fill into account. The 470 certainly makes the most of these qualities, and overall is a decent size for freshwater and inshore coastal fishing and diving, but still cheap to run and easy to power. With its pontoon configuration it is stable, safe and sea-kindly – a great boat.
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