Stabi-Craft 430 Boat Test
Having operated a Stabi-Craft 430 for almost a year, I feel qualified to make an appraisal of this brilliant little craft.
The Stabi-Craft 430 is quite a small boat At 4.3 metres in length (14’1″), an external beam of 1:915m, and internal beam of 1.120m, there’s not a lot of space to play with. However, I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone who owns a boat wishes they had a bigger one!
With a dry hull weight of just 190kg, and an approximate towing weight a slight 490kg, you can pull the Stabi-Craft 430 with a small two-litre car without much difficulty.
I used mine almost exclusively for lake fishing usually a mixture of trolling and drifting and casting.
I fish all around the South Island: from exposed, windswept, Canterbury high country lakes; to enclosed isolated inland water on the West Coast. The latter often having dense native bush to the waterline. There is only occasionally a proper concrete ramp at these places, and so beach launching with the four-wheel-drive is the norm. In this situation the Stabi-Craft’s lightweight, exceptional stability, and ease of handling are a huge bonus, permitting access that would otherwise be very difficult in a bigger craft.
I can poke the 430 in almost anywhere I can find a gap between the trees. It is also light enough to manoeuvre single-handed in certain situations almost as you would a dinghy. Hauling up on to a ‘deserted beach on the shore of a West Coast lake is a delightful experience that is difficult to explain without experiencing it for yourself. It would be hard to design a boat more suited to this purpose!
This ease of portability and handling is not achieved at the expense of safety and stability on the water, indeed the very opposite` is the case
Stabi-Craft 430 have engineered this pontoon design with five separate watertight compartments; two in each pontoon and one under the floor. Even if the cockpit is filled to the top with water it still won’t sink. Now that’s about as safe as you can get!
The 430 is also a very tough and rugged little boat. Stabi-Craft Marine Limited, down in Invercargill at the very bottom of the South Island, has a long pedigree of boat building. Paul Adams and the crew originally began building fishing and diving vessels for commercial operators in the extreme conditions off the southern coast. Any craft working out off Bluff Harbour had to have plenty of buoyancy, and seagoing capability in reserve. Stabi-Craft have certainly passed these qualities of safety and stability on into their recreational boat designs.
Construction is from marine grade aluminium alloy. The hull being 3.Omm thick, and the pontoons 2.5mm. The seams are fully tig-welded to a very high standard and are totally water tight. You would need an angle grinder or a blow torch to have any hope of making it sink!
With an 18 degree deadrise, it also behaves well on the water at speed. Our boat is powered by a super dependable 40 horse Johnson. This motor is cheap to run and yet still gets along at a rapid 25 odd knots. Stabi-Craft recommends an engine in the 35-40hp range.
A word of warning: the boat/motor combination is very lively. Flatout the 430 sits at a steep angle and it is well to remind the crew to hold-on before you `plant boot’ if you don’t want them flying back over the transom.
Performance is a little more subdued with four adults on board. It then takes the little 430 a bit longer to get up on the plane. Yet perhaps surprisingly four big men can drift and cast from the little 430 with ease. The pontoons provide so much extra buoyancy that even if they all stood on one side it won’t tip over!
Anglers and boaties not used to this type of design with its low transom and pontoons can be a bit worried at first, particularly if you hit reverse and a bit of water splashes in. Self-draining valves soon take care of the water but it seems a bit strange at first.
Raised side gunnels provide a greater sense of security, especially if you have the kids with you. The raised gunnels also make a useful extra seat when fishing, and also feature extra storage underneath.
Storage is always a bit of a problem in a boat this size. With no underfloor tanks, all your fuel must be carried in tote tanks. These, in turn, take up valuable floor space. I also run a 6hp Johnson auxiliary motor for trolling and added safety. This takes pre-mixed two-stroke fuel, while the 40 runs on straight petrol and gets its oil from a separate “oil-on-demand” tank. If you carry a spare 20-litre tote tank, as I do, that makes three tote tanks taking up space. On the other hand, I have the added safety of two totally separate motors, each with its own electrics and separate fuel supply. I guess you can’t have it both ways!
Fuel economy from the 6hp Johnson is amazing. I can troll on the lakes for hours and burn very little fuel. I highly recommend the combination of both motors. You can use the forty to get somewhere in a hurry, and then use the smaller motor for trolling when you arrive. On bigger lakes, where road access is a problem, this is a big advantage.
You gain access to the anchor locker by walking around the wide treadplate side decks. These also stop the spray on rough water and keep the bow from pushing under. At rest, the bow sits low enough so that you can push off from a beach and climb on without difficulty.
It isn’t really a cuddy cabin. The space is too small to sit or lie down but makes a great place to pack all my extra fishing gear, lunch, torch, raincoat, and so on.
There is also: a watertight flare compartment in one of the pontoons, twin helm swivel seats with storage, transom handrail and ski pole, two rear cleats, an outboard bracket; and rear steps in the pontoons.
Stabi-Craft can provide you with a wide range of optional extras including canopy, live bait well, rods holders, oar locks, oar storage, navigation lights, extra storage and seating options.
One optional extra that I haven’t mentioned, that’s well worth considering, is painting. What a difference paint makes to the otherwise harsh, bare aluminium surface. The paint has adhered very well. The only scratches have come from the kids climbing over it with stones embedded in the soles of their shoes!
Our 430 came ready fitted with a Humminbird Wide 128 which we later upgraded to a tri-beam Wide Optic. It is always good to know how deep the water is under the keel. Essential when trolling so that you can follow the lake edge while maintaining the same water depth. It is also reassuring to see fish on the sounder even if you can’t catch one of them!
The battery sits neatly out of the way under the transom along with one of the tote tanks and the oil tank.
The galvanised trailer was made by Mudgway Trailers in Christchurch. It features submersible lights and multiple rollers that support the keel. It is unbraked but very light and easy to tow.
If you are looking for a new boat that you can use for fishing on our lakes that doesn’t compromise on safety and stability, is easy to tow and launch, is lightweight and yet strong and rugged, that you can use to fish inshore coastal waters, launch straight of the beach, but won’t break the bank, then the Stabi-Craft 430 is hard to beat!
The whole setup and construction of the 430 can’t be faulted. Hundreds of this particular model have been built and sold over the years providing testimony to the enduring qualities of this outstanding little Stabi-Craft design.
Stabi-Craft 430 $6,585
40hp Johnson $8,010 (check current pricing)
Mudgway Trailer $2,165
Built by Stabi-Craft Marine Ltd,
345 Bluff Road, Invercargill
Ph: +64 3 211 1828