Stessl Edge V wins over Top End ranger – by Andrew Dundas Boat tests on smaller boats in the three to lower four metre size ranges are fairly hard to find in much of the printed media – as I have recently found out. Perhaps that is because many anglers now use larger vessels, especially for barra and bass fishing. Or is it just because the larger models are more appealing to test than the basic dinghy.
It is a fact that the 12ft punt with 15hp outboard that was the standard rig with barra fishers 15 or 20 years ago has now been largely replaced by trailered 4-5m vessels.
Often these are beautifully decked out with every available option, and pushed along by seriously powered engines, with a 30hp being very much at the lower end of the range.
Nevertheless, smaller boats still remain popular with huge numbers of anglers, and this fact shouldn’t be forgotten. Let’s face it, some of us just don’t have the dollars or perhaps the justification or need to purchase a bigger vessel. And as many people have found out, the performance and suitability of some of the better designed current model dinghies is actually far greater than what they expected.
For around 10 years, the Lyon family had three vessels decorating the yard. One is a fibreglass Canadian canoe that has provided some great paddling adventures along a 55km stretch of the upper Normandy river (which is free of crocodiles). A painted 3.4m Savage Gull fitted with a Johnson 8hp has seen a huge amount of country from the tip of the Cape to the Cooktown area, and has had some great fish caught from it’s fairly seaworthy but less than stable hull.
Being light, this dinghy is an ideal car topper for taking into remote country, but realistically it is fairly limited space wise. The other boat, a Stessl Cuddy Cab has served for many years as our reef and coastal boat. This has been an excellent vessel – seaworthy and roomy, and the cuddy cab provided useful shelter from the elements for the kids when they were younger.
In recent years however, the “Nautilass” received less and less use, partly because of Cooktown’s frequent windy weather, and partly because of me being away due to work commitments. Eventually the tough decision was made to sell the cuddy cab, and buy something that would be more of an all-round boat. Something I could use up rivers and creeks, and also around the coast and inner reefs on good days, which are frequent here in the far northern tropics during summer.