Marco 480 boat review

Marco 480 boat review

Because of the early complexities of refining it, aluminium was considered more rare and precious than gold or silver for most of the 19th Century. For example, Napoleon III, the first president of the French Republic, had meals placed on aluminium plates served to the top table at his state dinners, while his rank-and-file guests had to make do with dishes made with mere gold or silver.

These days, with modern electrical-generation capacities, aluminium is so cheap we can build inexpensive boats out of it. This metal has many advantages as a boat-building material, being light, strong, corrosion-resistant, and able to be easily bent, cut and welded. With no need for new moulds, making alterations or customising aluminium boats is easier, cheaper and less time consuming than for fibreglass boats.

Aluminium boat-building pioneer Graham Ransom (who was present at the birth of both the Fyran and Ramco companies) founded Morrinsville-based Marco Boats, mostly producing entry-level tinnies for fishing, a market position that he maintained until he retired and sold the company in 2003 to the Horne family – Dayne and his parents Helen and Bryan.

Marco now produces some well-regarded, upmarket boats, but Dayne Horne has not forgotten the company’s roots and, using the latest in design and construction technology, Marco also produces a good range of four- to five-metre ‘tinnies’ that are popular with fishermen. Well-priced, relatively cheap to run, and towable with an average family car, they get a lot of people out on the water each year.

The nuts and bolts

The 480 hull (4.8 metres or a ’16-footer’ in old-speak) is available in a range of configurations: the Tiller Dory, the Centre Console, the Thresher Dory and the Angler Dory.

It was the 480 Angler Dory that I travelled up to Warkworth, an hour or so north of Auckland, to try out. My host was genial Murray Rowe, owner of local Marco agent Rodney Marine, while well-known boatie Ian Miller launched his own craft to provide a camera platform.

It is a well-used saying that all boats are compromises – alter one design aspect to get a particular result and it will impact on other elements, changing them. It is up to the buyer to decide what their priorities are when looking for a boat.

In the 480 I believe the weighting is on stability and space. There is certainly a heap of cockpit space and, for its size and weight, the hull has a decent level of stability. To provide this space, the helm position is reasonably well forward, while the stability is provided by bluff shoulders, a decent beam (2.1m), and a modest deadrise of only 14 degrees.

The transom has a reversed counter – useful for turning back any swells that strike the stern (such as might be encountered when the boat is sitting on a beach while the trailer is being retrieved).

Under the deck is a substantial frame with four full-length bearers, two bulkheads and eight cross braces. The rig has about 250kg of buoyancy over and above the rig weight.

On the water, on the road

We headed across Omaha Bay in the direction of Little Barrier Island with a 10-12 knot SE wind across a threequarter- metre swell, lifting a chop on top. Later the wind dropped out, leaving just the swell.

Sometimes having a relatively flat bottom will make a boat pound a bit in a head sea, while a short bow and shoulders will push up the spray. There was a bit of this going on until I got a feel for the hull. By keeping the speed to about 30-33kph and the bow trimmed fairly high, a comfortable, reasonably dry ride was achieved, and with plenty of wetted surface provided by the 14 degree deadrise, the boat sat happily on plane at lower speeds with no tendency to ‘fall in the hole’.

The canopy on the boat was robustly made, with plenty of headheight. A clear section allowing forward visibility would allow travel to be done with the canopy zipped down, keeping spray at bay.

Performance figures are shown in the table on the previous page. The quiet, smooth-running Yamaha 60hp four-stroke is bracket-mounted and has ample power; a 50hp outboard would probably do the job fine, too.

With a modest tow weight of 690kg, the rig is towable by a midsized family car. The trailer supplied is a DMW single-axle model with leaf-spring suspension. It is fitted with a dual-ratio manual winch, wind-down jockey wheel, submersible LED trailer lights, and five sets of wobble rollers.

From stem to stern

Access to the bow for anchoring is achieved by opening the centre (side-hinged) section of the polycarbonate ‘screen, then the large hatch in the foredeck. This allows the bowman to get right to the forward bulkhead within easy reach of the anchor-well on the port side, the bollard, a storage locker to the starboard side (accessed through a hatchway), and two protected storage shelves.

Further stowage is provided at the helm position, courtesy of two dash trays, two side shelves and a hatched glovebox.

A Lowrance Elite Ti is mounted on the helm-side dash, along with Yamaha engine gauges flush-mounted on the console. The cable steering was quite adequate for the job.

Pipe footrests serve double duty by also restraining gear stowed forward from sliding back when the boat is underway. Two rotationally-moulded bucket seats are mounted on aluminium box units. They have internal stowage accessed through hinged tops. Latches on the tops would be a good idea, and could be easily added.

Side shelving runs the full length of the cockpit (about three metres). The flat faces on the shelves and gunwales above them, added to the reasonable toe-room available, make leaning on the sides while fishing quite comfortable. Likewise, the flat gunwale tops make good fishing perches.

As mentioned, the cockpit is large for the length of the boat, offering plenty of fishing room as well as good footing. The sealed tread-plate decking drains to a sump under the engine well, where a 1500gph bilge pump removes any water over the side.

The central outboard well also houses the battery box above deck level on a shelf, along with the isolation switch and filter. Removable transom bench seats to each side have spaces beneath for two 25-litre tote tanks (on test day we filled them with one fuel tank and a small chilly bin).

Grab rails are fitted at the stern, along with tread-plate boarding platforms. A boarding ladder is an option.

Fishing fittings

A basic, removable bait-station is fitted over the engine well; a deluxe version with rod holders on the back is an option, as is a ski pole.

Four plastic, through-gunwale rod-holders are fitted and there is room for plenty more if required. The long side pockets would also take rigged rods – a soft lining, such as marine carpet, could be added to stop them getting knocked around. An overhead rocket launcher is another item on the options list. Bait and catch stowage is best accommodated in an after-market ice box.

Murray Rowe from Rodney Marine and I had a couple of drifts off Leigh to see what the Angler Dory is like to fish from. In depths of 30-40 metres with a bit of wind and no drogue, we initially struggled to fish our soft-baits along the bottom efficiently, but as the wind dropped we started to get a few hook-ups and put a couple of reasonable snapper in the bin.

We had no trouble keeping our footing in a bit of slop, and there was plenty of fishing space to enjoy. With two of us on one side when netting fish, the list wasn’t excessive. This rig could fish up to four anglers without too many problems.


The test boat was a bit of a blank canvas when we tested it – after all, it doesn’t pay to carry the fit-up too far until you know a buyer’s requirements. However, the basics of a decent all-round fishing boat for coastal and lake work are all there, the price is fair, and the options list is long. So, if in the market for an affordable coastal fishing boat, the 480 Angler Dory is well worth checking out.


Yamaha 60hp four-stroke Prop 12” pitch 

RPM Speed (kph) Fuel (l/hr)
1000  5 1.3 
2000 11 3.5   
3000  16 6.9  
4000(cruise) 31 8.8 
5000 45 14.9 
5800 (max) 54  25.4 


Hull-only length: 4.40m

LOA: 4.90m

Beam: 2.10m

Deadrise: 14°

Gunwale height: 0.70m

Bottom: 4mm

Sides: 3mm

Transom: 4mm

Hull-only weight: 380kg

Tow weight: 690kg

Trailer: DMW single-axle

Recommended power: 40-70hp

Test engine: Yamaha 60hp four-stroke

Prop: 12” pitch

Basic key turn rig: $29,795 (Yamaha 50 two-stroke)

As tested: $34,495

Test boat courtesy Rodney Marine, Warkworth

Camera boat courtesy of Ian Miller.

   This article is reproduced with permission of   
New Zealand Fishing News

June 2017 - Sam Mossman
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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