Small is beautiful in fibreglass
Here is something unusual: a small fibreglass boat made in Australia. The Vantage 4.85 is a product of the Haines group, which gives it a sound pedigree.
Its construction uses the good techniques which developed when fibreglass shed its earlier chopper gun mentality: the key feature being vacuum bag resin injection.
This gives a lower resin content and hence greater strength.
The choice of side console layout is logical: putting it in the centre would effectively lose useable length.
So in the interests of saving space it is about as small as it could be.
There is still room left in it for motor monitors, fishing electronics and a little storage.
There are just the two, very good removable swivel seats (seats generally are now far better than just a few years ago).
There is casual perching on the bow platform but deck space always trumps seats in small general-purpose boats.
There’s an abundance of deck space and places to put things to keep it clear: three transom lockers, one suitable for bait, a wet and a dry store under the platform, and another wet store under the main deck.
Touches of quality include good hardware and a lidded anchor well, somewhat unusual in an open boat.
The off-mould finish of almost every part of the construction is not just easy on the eye — it also makes for an easily cleaned interior.
This is a versatile vessel. Clearly, the bow fitting to take a Minn Kota indicates fishing is expected, and equally the ski hooks suggest something completely different.
The Vantage would be just as at home crabbing, pulling pots or simply being a ferry to the likes of Carnac Island.
A boat of this size can expect a future that includes being dragged on to beaches; a prospective buyer might worry about abraded gelcoat.
Cease worrying: the Vantage has a replaceable keel protector.
The Vantage is rated for up to 100hp — that’s serious power for a 320kg hull.
The 80hp Honda on ours gave blistering performance; I could live without the extra 20. On the ocean the boat could use abundant horses better than most in its size range.
The Haines heritage is evident in a shapely underbody featuring a 21-degree deadrise at the transom.
This boat is well capable of coping with, say, a vigorous sea breeze.
As always, the hydraulic steering made life easy for me and would make it easy for a crab fisherman.
Despite the sharp hull, stability is very respectable.
A poor trailer can ruin a good day on the water; this trailer, a beauty in super-roller style, won’t.
Driving on is about as easy as it gets, the rollers fit to the bottom guiding the boat nearly as well as a catamaran’s specialised trailer guides the twin hulls.
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