by Dave Moran

Hey mate, it’s not the end of the world, just hook up the dozer and pull the bastard out’.

The South Island west coaster continued in his slow, steady as she goes drawl. ‘Then all we’ll need to do is dig out the sand, chuck a few buckets of water over her, bang on a new donk and we’ll be back out pulling Blue Cod before you can down a dozen Speights!’

Yes, it did happen a few years ago. A 5.7 Mac Boat was rolled on a wild South Island west coast harbour bar. The anchor fell out, and doing what anchors do best, held the boat fast till it finally filled with sand and became part of the marinescape. Next day at low tide, a line was hooked onto the bow, and out she popped. Fair dinkum mate, this is a true story.

Any other boat made from conventional boating materials would have been splattered from the Black Stump to Timbucktoo in no time at all.

The big difference between Mac Boats and other dinghies and runabouts is that they are made from top quality, virgin polyethylene thermoplastic. Polyethylene is the same material that thousands of kids try to trash daily in playgrounds around the world. Motorists also reshape their cars on it while rearranging those bright orange traffic cones and roadwork barriers.

Even calm placid boaties have their destructive moments as they tie up to floating landings, also manufactured from polyethylene. This material can take an amazing amount of punishment it has up to five times the impact strength of fibreglass.

The average boatie finds it hard to get his head around accepting a relatively new boating material, even though it has been used in the manufacturing of boats in New Zealand for the past 14 years.

Besides its inherent strength, this amazing material can virtually eliminate a boatie’s continuous headache and cheque writing for boat maintenance. If you want to get out of the garage and spend more time out on the water, Mac Boats give you a big NO to rot, rust, corrosion, osmosis, mould, electrolysis, paint or gel coat maintenance. You can leave it to bake in the sun without suffering any damaging effects. The finished appearance of the hull is not as eye pleasing as that of fibreglass as it can have a few minor highs and lows throughout the length of the boat’s hull.

Polyethylene is a buoyant material, which makes the hull virtually unsinkable. If the integrity of the double skinned pontoon hull and the air spaces within are maintained, you could take on board a greenie and still not be up the creek without a paddle, but an on board bucket or bilge pump would be an advantage!

The hull thickness average is 10mm which is made up of 2x5mm skins which at key structural points meet to provide the hull with its overall integral strength. Flooring is 17mm thick marine grade ply which provides a solid surface underfoot while also adding substantial structural strength to the main floor bearers.

Let’s go boating

The Hauraki Gulf was relatively calm with its characteristic short chop rippling across the surface. With two on board the very quiet 50 HP four stroke Mercury (Model ELPT) had us scooting across the waves at around 38 mph. At approximately 400 kg, this baby had wings! At this speed, the first thing you notice is that there is none of the usual banging and associated noise that you have in an ali boat when driving hard into a short chop seaway. The associated sea spray is absolutely flung away from the boat due to the configuration of how the V planing hull meets the pontoon side section of the hull (see picture). A very dry ride.

The Mac 420 was first built six years ago. Since that time its hull and handling characteristics have steadily been refined in the continuous process of boat development. At the New Zealand Boat Show 2001 the standard 4.2 cuddy cabin was shown with the added feature of high side extensions being added. They provide added security when in a heavy sea.

The Morse cable steerage was excellent, in fact, for a moment I thought it was hydraulic. Manoeuvrability and steerage response is superb, she could do a 360 degree turn in virtually its own length and at a reasonable speed.

As a diver you know how frustrating it is getting geared up for a dive when the boat lurches port and starboard with your every footstep. For stability at rest pontoon boats are unbeatable and this baby is no exception. I am sure two fully kitted up divers both sitting on the same gunwale, would hardly cause a tilt in their direction.

Diver exit and entry is very simple, a backward roll over the rounded gunnel is very soft on your bum and coming back on board over the extended portofino stern would be a breeze, especially after handing up your tank and weightbelt. A well placed stern handrail (available as an accessory) would also be of assistance.

One of the surprising qualities of this small boat is the amount of room you have to move around it. Some pontoon boat designs compromise the beam width, this baby provides a spacious 1.7m internal beam and the floor length from the base of the cuddy cabin entrance to the transom is 2.2m that gives you 3.74m2 to play around in. Now that is impressive for a 4.2 m overall length boat!

Why buy a Mac Boat?

The biggest advantage these boats have over their competitors is the amount of abuse and neglect they can take. Plus the lack of maintenance the hull requires and the ease at which they can be repaired if required. Your local panelbeater would most likely be able to repair any damage, using their plastic heat welding gun.

Because of their robustness you see these boats hard at work as tenders for various commercial diving and fishing operations. Dive resorts and dive schools quickly learnt they needed a boat that could take the treatment dished out by scuba divers humping heavy cylinders around. Many New Zealand divers and those holidaying in the Pacific have dived from a Mac Boat. Businesses see Mac boats as their best choice for operating a boat that can handle the treatment dished out by people and the sea. Their answer to the never-ending cost of boat hull maintenance.

Galloway International are so confident of their product that they offer a five year warranty on the overall hull.

If you’re looking for a boat that gives you more time in the water and less time writing out maintenance cheques, you owe it to yourself and your bank manager to check out the full range of Mac boats.

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