Their company, Marco Boats, is based in the Waikato town of Morrinsville, employs nine staff, and builds 50-60 boats per year. Having recently taken on an upholsterer, they now offer fully-finished boats, including engines and electronics, out of the factory.
Marco Boats is represented nationwide by a network of dealers (for details see www.marcoboats.co.nz). The Morrinsville factory covers sales in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty/King Country area.
The newest addition to Marco’s Angler range is also the smallest at 4.40m. It was designed in response to requests for a beamy, stable, high-sided work boat for use in inshore areas and estuaries for netting, longlining, scallop dredging and the like, but also has strong application to line fishing, especially where the ability to stand up and cast (such as when soft-plastic fishing, slow-jigging or fly-casting) in sheltered waters and lakes is a requirement.
The 440 Angler made its debut at this year’s Hutchwilco Auckland Boat Show, where its large amount of internal space grabbed the eye of many practically-minded fishermen. Given this boat’s design brief, an ideal place to test it was the Kaipara Harbour, north of Auckland on the west coast, where, by good fortune, the scallop season had just opened…
Design and construction
With the idea of keeping construction costs down and, hence, the price, the 440 was designed to keep the build as simple as possible and to take maximum advantage of the size of existing aluminium sheets. The 4mm bottom, for example, is made from a single sheet, with no weld required along the keel line. The foredeck and transom are also 4mm aluminium sheet, while the sides and treadplate decking are 3mm.
The hull is supported length-wise by four full-length bearers, while lateral framing is at 500mm centres, with the central section at 300mm centres. At 2.05m wide, this is a beamy craft for its length (LOA is 4.40m – more or less an old-fashioned 14-footer). This beam, added to a modest 14° deadrise, gives the boat its considerable stability. The beam is carried well forward too, making for a relatively blunt bow, but wasting little space in bow curves and maximising cockpit space.
High sides are another feature of this hull. Initially this was done to allow nets to be pulled over the sides without crouching down, but it has other benefits as well.
The sealed deck drains to a sump under the engine well, from where any water is removed with a 500gph bilge pump. There is around 80 litres (80kg) of reserve buoyancy in the hull.
A reversed counter on the stern allows removable stern seats to be fitted without eating into the cockpit space and also functions as a practical barrier to any waves taken on the stern – when the boat is on the beach, for example.
Power and performance
Rated from 40 to 60 horsepower, the test boat was fitted with a 40hp Evinrude E-Tec spinning a 17-inch pitch Viper stainless prop. Fuel is carried in tote tanks. Given the wide beam and extensive wetted area of the hull, this craft was never going to be a dynamic performer, but speed is not its point. Full throttle in flat water, the vessel turned out 45kph (25 knots) at 5600rpm, right in the middle of the recommended top end rev range for this engine. Cutting back the revs to a reasonable 4200rpm, we achieved 33kph (18 knots). Given that the E-Tec 60hp is built on the same head as the 40hp, so there is no weight penalty, I would be tempted to step up to the more powerful engine to achieve a little more speed.
With the hull design oriented towards stability and working space (a wide beam and shallow deadrise is the vehicle for this), the trade-off is always going to be in rough water performance. I think it is fair to assume that in a decent chop you would probably take a bit of a beating. Horses for courses – this hull is not intended for rough water.
On one of the first days of five-knot variables we’d had for a long time, the Kaipara was pretty much flat. Sheltered inshore waters are what this boat is designed for, and it relished the conditions. The throttle/shift was good to use, and while the cable steering was a bit sticky, it was nothing that a bit of light lubrication wouldn’t fix.
An anchor-well is built into the foredeck, and in the case of this layout (with forward steering and a protective cuddy), the well is reached by opening a wide hatch. The snub-nose design makes placing the anchor on the fairlead a not-too-difficult reach and low bow rails help guide the warp into the slot. A bollard is welded to the foredeck under the hatch for tie-off duty.
The cuddy, with a turnback on top, did a reasonable job of cutting the wind. A locker set in the forward bulkhead gives access to dry storage and there is also a sheltered tray up under the cuddy for keys, cellphones etc.
Basic switching, engine instrumentation, a Garmin 400C sounder and Uniden Solara VHF were flush-mounted in a drop-console. The test boat was not fitted with a GPS, so to navigate the channels and mud banks of the Kaipara I took my Magellan Triton 400 handheld GPS along. A fire extinguisher is mounted on the passenger side at the helm position.
Seats in the test boat were swivelling bucket types mounted on aluminium box pedestals with some internal stowage – an optional upgrade. Long side pockets (2.3m) in the cockpit offer enough length for rods, poles, gaffs, paddles, etc.; wide gunwale tops are an alternative to the bucket seats as a perch when fishing. Bench seats provide additional seating in the stern corners and are removable if you want to get right to the transom. Tote tanks are a good fit under these seats. Grab rails in the stern corners double as tow points.
The battery is protected in a battery box sited on a shelf above deck level under the engine well. This central positioning keeps the boat balanced and gives a reasonable amount of protection from swamping, without lifting the centre of gravity of the hull too much, preserving its stability.
Over the stern are two boarding platforms – a boarding ladder is an optional extra. A transducer mounting plate on the stern removes the need to drill into the hull.
A tiller-steer dory version of this hull, without the cuddy cabin, is available.
As already mentioned, the 440 Angler was designed for use as a work and fishing boat for inshore areas and estuaries, with netting, longlining, scallop dredging and the like in mind. This is reflected in the boat’s wide beam and relatively flat bottom, which afford stability and a shallow draft suited to inshore work. The stability of this craft also allows anglers to stand up and cast (such as when soft-plastic fishing, slow-jigging or fly-fishing) in sheltered waters and lakes. The high sides make it easier to pull lines and nets without hunching over, while also adding a safety barrier for children and providing something to lean on.
There are not many monohulls of this length where the crew can stand up and walk around safely. Pontoon designs are an exception of course, but you pay a penalty there with reduced internal space. With the 440 the opposite is true: the extra beam increases the work space.
In practice the boat fulfilled its design brief. We made a successful drag for scallops and when Dayne Horne had to come to the gunwale alongside me to help lift an extra-heavy dredge load (and neither of us are Tinkerbells), only a modest list resulted.
We managed an hour or so of line fishing and found the boat just as good for this. Plenty of space and the stability meant you didn’t have to worry about where your buddy was before you moved around. The beam and high sides allowed for toe room under the side pocket and allowed us to get up to the sides with good mid-thigh support when fishing. The stability should also allow safe boarding by divers with the optional boarding ladder fitted.
Four through-gunwale rod holders were fitted, but there is room for plenty more if you want them. The removable bait-station was mounted to make use of the space taken up by the engine-well and doubles as a fitting for a ski pole. The rig, as tested, didn’t have the grunt for water skiing, but would probably pull a water toy like a sea biscuit.
The Kaipara, in early spring, was starting to fill up with little bait-stealing snapper, but a short fishing session, even in shallow water in the heat of the day, produced a few reasonable pannie snapper, several gurnard, kahawai and a range of shark species. Dayne got to practice his shark-wrestling technique on a sevengiller before we got the hooks out and sent it home.
Marco boats are supplied on Voyager Trailers, in this case a cradle A-frame, single-axle model with leaf-spring suspension. The boat is carried on two pairs of wobble rollers and three keel rollers, and proved easy to launch and retrieve. It was fitted with a jockey wheel, manual winch and submersible lights. Approximate tow weight for the rig is a modest 680kg.
All in all
The Marco Angler 440 certainly succeeds in its design brief as an inshore, lake and estuarine fishing boat. Its wide beam and shallow deadrise give it excellent stability and considerable work space for its length. Its modest price and ease of towing should see it appeal to many who fish in sheltered waters.