Chinese-built aluminium boats have had mixed press. According to current wisdom this is at least partly due to a history of little experience wit both aluminium and boats.
The two Searano dinghies reviews here, thought, clearly incorporate a lot of Australian know-how. To start with, the weld quality shows real experience with the material and the trueness of the hulls demonstrates correctness of the weld scheduling.
The layouts also have an Australian feel to them. The Ali 3.35m has a semi-punt hull, maximising stability and carrying capacity within its dimensions.
They are certainly modest dimensions including a length of 11 feet overall in old money. Coupled with construction in 1.6mm sheet this gives a hull weight of only 78kg.
Although the package includes a trailer, the Ali 3.35m is well able to be carried on a roof rack – valuable if the tow ball is taken up by a caravan.
Internally there are box thwarts fore and aft with matching grab handles on the gunwales. These thwarts are foam filled and look able to deliver level flotation although the builder’s plate claims only basic.
Certainly the seating is adequate for the maximum of three people. Unlike many small dinghies this one has a flat deck, in ply covered by carpet.
The foredeck adds bracing to the hull as well as providing a small sheltered stowage spot. At its forward end it mounts a cruciform bollard backed by a thickening piece.
At the 3.35m, other end is something unusual. At the bottom of the transom a pair of beefy eyes is welded on, presumably to use in securing to the trailer. This is good stuff. Sterns are seldom secured but light boats are prone to move about, especially over bumps.
Stability is good, as is drivability.
The driving force was a new-generation 6hp Honda (maximum allowed is 8hp) that has some useful features.
Starting is about as easy as could be, with decompression kicking in as the cord is pulled. Any vibration is kept under control by rubber mounts and stopping is achieved by a one-touch switch.
In layout, the Ali 4m is a bigger sister to the 3.35m with added goodies. Its conventional dinghy hull has side decks with coamings and, below them, side pockets.
The rubbing strip is unusually deep, adding structural strength as well as bump protection.
The foredeck has an anchor well sunk into it and a bow rail surrounding it. Shared features incude the thwarts, bollared, carpeted deck, a pair of rod holders and those stern tie-down points.
The extra 650mm of length, 250mm of beam and 57kg of hull weight has a disproportionate effect on stability, internal room and carrying capacity (four pepole).
Also on the feel of the boat, the 4m has a much stronger presence on the water. Where the 3.35m is a sheltered waters craft, this one could be at home inside the coastal reefs. It might be the boat to park outside a beach shack.
It has far greater power potential of 40hp which would really make it move. It was plenty vigorous with the 30hp Honda fitted.
Probably this would be most buyers choice of power, being able to cope with a full load – although it would be best as a two-person fisher.