Stable with toughness
SmartWave has the credentials to make it worth a closer look
The New Zealand-built Smartwave SW4200 is the most durable of small vessels: a roto-moulded, double-skinned boat with foam between the skins – skins with colour all the way through them.
Since the Titanic, boat builders have hesitated to use the word “unsinkable”, but this comes close: short of powdering it by explosives or gunfire to make sure it will stay afloat. If still in one piece but flooded, it will float upright with 300kg of people or load on board.
Credentials like these are always worth a closer look.
It performs better without water in it. It’s a modest-sized 4.3m x 1.93m, yet it has the stability to list only 13 degrees with 500kg at one rail. This would be easily understandable with a punt-shaped hull, but this one has the creditable deadrise of 12 degrees.
It also has the hugely complex underwater shape routine with roto-moulding, but impossible with aluminium.
The review 4300 was an open, tiller-steered model although there is a centre console variant. If you tire of tiller steering, conversion to this is straight forward: buy a console, bolt it to ready-prepared sockets and fit the remote-control kit to the Honda.
Most buyers, though, opt for the open boat and stay with it.
The usual tasks they put it to are more or less sheltered waters fishing, crabbing, and general stooging about, although more than one has mentioned it would make a great beach-launching boat.
The key features are the 4200 is light weight and near immune to superficial damage. Not only is the medium-density polyethylene skin material self-colored (in a choice of eight colours) but it is extremely slippery, especially when wet.
Dragging over rocks or alongside mussel-coated jetties does not cause the degree of gouging fibreglass or aluminium would take. It bends to impacts and is effectively fatigue-free.
Terminally inept owners might pierce the outer skin on some sharp object, but the boat would remain water tight and could be fixed by a simple plastic weld.
The 4200 is rated for five people and has seats for them all: one in each corner and one mid boat that also serves as an esky. The corner seats cover storage spots totaling a useful capacity, although the understorey of one quarter seat is consumed by a battery.
While the 40hp Honda is tiller steering most other functions are electrified, including starting and trim and tilt. The controls for these plus gear and throttle are all mounted on a long tiller.
Anyone whose experience of tiller-steered outboards dates from 20-odd years ago should prepare for an epiphany when meeting this arrangement.
With the motor properly setup, control is split-hair accurate and as effortless as a conventional wheel.
The boat is rated for up to 50hp, but so far no customer has opted for more than 40.
With the 4200’s usual complement of two, the smaller motor delivers more speed than most people care to use.
With the fishing role in mind the builders fitted the bow to take an electric troll motor. They also built in impressive stability: hauling cray pots should be a breeze.
All the things a boat of this class ought to have are here: bow roller, grab rails for each corner seat, carpet, and a pair of boarding platforms at near water level that remove the need for ladders.