Jared and Bevan Mills got hold of an older boat to fit with an array of new products from their company, Hamilton-based Hi Tech Plastics, and also took the opporunity to showcase other marine companies’ services. Sam Mossman investigates the finished product.
Hamilton plastic manufacturing company Hi Tech Plastics make a wide range of items, but are best known to Kiwi boaties for their range of boat seating, livebait tanks, tuna tubes, fish bins, bait boards, berley pots, dive bottle racks, anchor wells and other boating and fishing items. These fittings are used by many New Zealand boat manufacturers and are popular after-market additions to existing craft.
The Mills brothers went looking for a pre-loved boat they could refurbish as a showcase for some of their new aftermarket products, and for the products and services of other allied companies. It took a while to find the right boat. It needed to be able to fish at least four people, have a small cabin for the kids, be able to handle a range of fishing tasks but still be light enough to easily trailer to remote fishing spots – and have water-skiing capability.
A suitable second-hand rig was finally found at Bay Marine’s Sulphur Point base in Tauranga. It was a 1999 Lazercraft Dive Master 560 with aluminium hull and fibreglass cabin top, powered by a 1999 Yamaha 115hp two stroke. Ordinarily you would have some doubts about buying a twenty-year-old rig, but Jared and Bevan were happy with the purchase when the experienced Bay Marine team certified it as being safe and reliable.
A second-hand 1999 Lazercraft Dive Master 560 rig was finally found at Bay Marine in Tauranga.
The first order of business was the trailer. After all, a trailer boat is not much use without a decent trailer. The old one had had its day and a new 550 Premier trailer was ordered from DMW trailers. The team at DMW measured the boat and fitted the trailer to it, making sure the rollers were in the right spots and the boat was sitting low on the trailer for ease of launch, retrieve, and stability under tow. They even fitted attractive factory-standard mag wheels.
DMW fitted the trailer to the boat, making sure the rollers were in the right spots and the boat was sitting low on the trailer for ease of launching.
After 20 years, the paint was well worn and the finish was the next job on the list. It took 30 hours of sanding to get the entire hull back to raw aluminium, then the boys contacted Marine Protection Solutions (MPSNZ), a company with over 14 years’ experience wrapping boats with high grade vinyl. They are mobile and can come and do the job where the boat is. A ‘stealth’ matte black finish was added to the hull and gunwale tops. Next, wanting more safety and comfort, UDek panels from Ultralon were added to the duckboards, gunwales and the custom storage box that Hi Tech made to fit under the transom.
A custom made storage box fits under the transom.
Then came the upholstery. The boat was put in the capable hands of the team at Auto Marine Trim World in Hamilton, specialists in marine, auto and residential upholstery. The cabin squabs, road cover and bimini top were replaced and marine carpet was added to the floor and side stowage shelves. This should keep the feet warmer in winter, reduce the noise and protect the rods and gear in the side shelves.
When it came time to do the electronic fit-out, Jared and Bevan contacted Electronic Navigation Limited (ENL) at Westhaven in Auckland. Having had great service from a Furuno DB7 unit they had owned previously, an obvious choice was the slightly larger DB9 fish finder/GPS combo. After a bit of DIY installation with guidance from the team at ENL, the fun part arrived – the fishing fittings.
The electronics choice was the Furuno DB9 fish finder/GPS combo.
NZ company Railblaza have a wide range of interchangeable products that can be mounted on Starport bases, making for considerable versatility. The Mills brothers also incorporated Trac Rails, adjustable rod holders on the stern, storage pods, a USB phone charger base and even a tablet mount in the cabin to entertain the kids if they get sick of fishing but the adults aren’t ready to go home yet. Using the pipe clamp mounts, a rodholder and bait board have been mounted on the bow rail to create another fishing position, and two sets of RodRak Pole Holders are fitted along one side. Hi Tech have even incorporated the Railblaza system into their new (yet to be fitted) removable tuna tube system.
A Railblaza rod holder and bait board have been mounted on the bow rail to create another fishing position.
Originally, the stainless-steel frame for the bimini top and rocket launcher had been bolted to the inside faces of the cuddy but this restricted the space so they took the boat to local engineering company Waikato Stainless Steel to make some adjustments to the frame and mounts. This gained more space for the next addition – the seating.
Hi Tech Plastics opted for a Softrider pedestal on the captain’s side, complete with a swivelling slider base. Atop, an Elite Bolster Seat adds comfort when driving, and the roll-back bolster is pleasant to stand and lean on. On the passenger side is a narrow King and Queen seat. It has internal storage space, is fully carpeted with tackle box installed, and completed with the Elite Bolster seat and a swivel slider function. For ski days on the lakes, a removable, fully upholstered rear seat can be added, which also doubles as an insulated catch storage bin.
A removable, fully upholstered rear seat also doubles as an insulated catch storage bin.
The final addition was the newly designed Hi Tech Plastics aluminium Ultimate Live Bait Tank. A newly-available product in Hi Tech’s range of livebait tanks, these can be purchased as a full combo with pump and all plumbing, or tank only. Fitted centrally on the transom, it has a 30-litre capacity, window, UV stabilised bait board with hinged lid and knife catcher, and bolt-on twin rod holders. The one on the project boat was customised with a black powder-coated finish and is removable, leaving a mount for a ski pole.
The final addition was the newly designed Hi Tech Plastics aluminium Ultimate Live Bait Tank.
The Mills boys are considering adding a few more items, including tuna tubes, a stereo system, more lights and outriggers. They wish to thank all of the other great NZ companies that have supported this project boat: Bay Marine, DMW Trailers, Marine Protection Solutions, UDek/Ultralon, ENL/Furuno, Railblaza, Waikato Stainless Steel and Auto Marine Trim World.
I arranged to meet Jared and Bevan Mills at the Waikawau ramp, north of Thames in the Firth, to try out the rig. We soon had the Lazercraft in the water and headed out to one of the many mussel farms in the region which act as habitat for snapper, making the area popular for recreational fishing. I have always been impressed with the ride that Lazercraft hulls deliver, their wedge-shaped hulls and fine entry cutting through the water like a knife. Despite its age, the 1999 Yamaha outboard also performed flawlessly. It being mid-winter, the new set of clears clipped to the bimini were welcome, cutting the wind-chill as we travelled.
Auto Marine Trim World in Hamilton replaced the bimini top and added clears.
Eventually we clipped on to the end of a mussel line with a device that looks a bit like a shepherds’ crook, deployed some berley and cast out some lightly weighted baits. The snapper were a bit on the shy side – it wasn’t the red-hot fishing you can sometimes get when fishing near a harvesting mussel barge, but despite the cold water and a huge full moon, we still hooked enough fish to accumulate a reasonable feed of fat 35-45cm snapper. Light leaders, minimal lead and detecting subtle takes was the key.
The fishing systems worked flawlessly. There was plenty of rod stowage and practical fishing positions. The three of us never had a tangle all day and the bait station/livebait tank and ice box were well placed for good work-flow. I could also appreciate the benefits of the marine carpet lining and new seating in helping to keep us comfortable in winter. With shy fish in just over 10m of water, the carpet also played its part in keeping the sounds transmitted through the hull to a minimum.
Overall, this rig looks smart with its refinished cosmetics, and has been brought right up to date with the latest in fishing fittings and electronics. Fittingly, it has been named Phoenix for the mythological bird that is born again by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The Lazercraft lives again!
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