I covered the new Polyaspartic flooring in a previous article and I have to say that this alone has completely transformed my boat, however, lets' take a bit of a closer look at some of the other things that I have done to my current fishing platform, the Southern Star UB520.
To give you some background on all of this, after nine years in the NT, I took a year off from working, and fishing, in Arnhemland, and spent the majority of this time in Queensland, while my boat was stored at a mates place in the Northern Territory. During this 12 months, I started to look at a few options for my boat, so that I could enjoy the fishing even more, once I got back to Arnhemland. I had a lot of different ideas, but the most important one was the outboard motor. When I purchased this boat, back in 2013, as second hand, it was fitted with an outboard that, in my opinion, wasn't up to the task and I 'made do' with that configuration for far too many years. So, with this in mind, I had the difficult, but also exciting task of looking at all of the current options, and I spent a considerable amount of time reading, and talking to people on the 'pros and cons' of each brand of outboard out there. After many months, I finally decided on a Suzuki DF90A. This wasn't an easy choice as I've owned many brands before, but never a Suzuki. What brought me to this decision? Strangely enough, I was doing a boat review in Cairns with Edge Marine, who are a Suzuki dealer. I talked with the staff there about the outboards, and Racheal Shorter pretty well sold me on the motor. I then called the staff at Quality Marine in Darwin, as they are my local dealership, and after a few discussions with Mark Bailey, I was confident that a new DF90A was the best option for the transom of the UB520.
There were four main things that really stood out with my choice for a Suzuki. Firstly, the Lean Burn technology. In this day and age, having the best in fuel burn, and economy is a big plus, not just for fuel efficiency, but also for the bank balance. The second feature was the fact that Suzuki utilise a self-tensioning drive chain, and not a timing belt. Given my remote location, I wanted an outboard that had the least chance of any potential problems, and having a self-tensioning drive chain means there is no belt adjustment and no maintenance during the life of the engine. This will also reduce noise and improve durability for dependable and quiet operation. The hydraulic chain tensioner automatically adjusts the chain as required, meaning there is zero maintenance required on the chain, ever! Not only does this reduce the service costs over time, but it means there is less chance of failure. To put this into perspective for me. If I have a breakdown and have to return my boat to my nearest Suzuki dealer, I am looking at a return freight cost of $3500.00 minimum.
Having an off-set driveshaft was also a big bonus as this positions the crankshaft in front of the driveshaft which moves its centre of gravity forward for more even weight distribution to provide an increase in power, performance and balance, while also minimising vibration. Another big plus.
Lastly, the 2.59:1 gear reduction (the largest in its' class) delivers powerful torque for quick acceleration and great top-end speed. After now using the boat over the last few months, I can certainly say that the fuel economy and performance have been outstanding. In fact, I am getting far better fuel economy (and obviously performance) than I had with my previous outboard - a 4-stroke 60HP model. To say I am glad I made the decision to put the DF90A on my boat would be an understatement. Having this outboard on the UB520 hull is a match made in heaven, and if you ask me, Arnhemland is as close to heaven as I'm going to see.
Apart from the outboard, if my budget would allow, I was also looking at a new sounder/GPS system and a new bow mount electric motor. I had heard a fair bit about the "One Boat Network" with Minn Kota and Humminbird, and when both of these brands are already highly regarded as the best of the best, then why not look at having them both together. The fact that Quality Marine carried both of these brands just made the decision even easier to make, and, now after having the boat for a few months, I have to say that I'm glad I listened to the advice of fellow Fish and Boat writers, and the staff at Quality Marine as the Humminbird Solix is an extremely impressive unit, and the 80lb Minn Kota has changed the way I fish. The ability to Spot Lock the boat is something that I have used every time I go fishing, and the Auto Pilot is also very handy, particularly when I am casting a section of mangroves or reef ledges. I plan to begin to utilise the Tracking next time I am out on the water and I'm very excited about the potential. Keep in mind, I have only just began to scratch the surface on the full potential of both these units and I'll be sure to include more information in future articles.
Aside from now having a 'new' boat, the thing that really impressed me with the whole deal was that this was all arranged and done while I was still in Queensland and the staff at Quality Marine took delivery of my boat, stored it, did the total refit and arranged all the work for the flooring with AutoCare NT, and the fibre glassing on my behalf. You'd be hard pressed to find many businesses that will do that, and that's a huge thumbs up in my books.