Reviews

Formosa 5.2 Sea-Rod Review

The first time I stepped on board a Formosa some years back, the company was still finding its feet in a highly competitive boat market. It’s pleasing to see that Formosa has found its feet in a big way, firstly with the Classic series, which saw this Queensland-based boat builder move away from the pressed alloy designs to a tough plate hull, and then to the very popular Tomahawk series. Both the Classic and Tomahawk were bred from customer feedback and market research into exactly what Formosa’s target market was looking for in a boat. Breathing a little more fire into these designs, the new Sea-Rod has managed to raise the bar again.

The design

The Sea-Rod build is hard to fault. It features 4mm bottom and 3mm sides high tensile 5083 plate aluminium, which I have to say is nothing new these days. What separates the Sea-Rod is a series of longitudinal stringers welded directly to the 4mm bottom, providing a very rigid frame that will deal with any load and weather thrown at it. If you want any more strength, there’s the option of a 5mm bottom. The hull is designed with a 17 degree deadrise, large reverse chine and multi-chamber ballast system for stability at rest. One of the issues early Formosas had was  the steep deadrise running from bow to transom which, while cutting a smooth slice in offshore waters, impeded on stability at rest. Formosa can now provide the stability needed with its new ballast system, all without compromising the ride. The ballast system catches water inside the keel at rest to create an additional level of stability. Once under way the ballast water drains out. The extra metal involved in providing the ballast system also adds another degree of structural strength, arguably making the Sea-Rod one of the toughest builds in its class. 

The 2.45m beam with the aluminium floor and stringer system has the hull weighing in at 660kgs empty. Add to this the fully welded gunwales and alloy floor and you get a very stable platform which just adds to its excellent quality.
The building process in the Formosa was not the tidiest I’ve ever seen, but the quality in the welds was excellent. Overall, a very solid build in which I’d have no hesitation in owning for myself.

On the Water

We managed to test the hull in a steep chop whipped up from a stiff south easterly. While the hull was intended for offshore purposes, a wind blown Moreton Bay was a reasonable substitute. The hull was modestly powered with a 90hp carby two-stroke  Yamaha, which suited the budget fit-out. At first I thought that the hull may struggle out of the hole, but with just one on board and no added equipment to weigh it down, it had no issues. Where I did notice the smaller engine struggling was at the top end of the rev range. I achieved 35 knots when winding it out to 5000 RPM, but giving the two-stroke Yammie all she had gave me only 37 knots for another 600 RPM. If I was paying the fuel bill, I’d cruise on 4500 RPM which pushed her along at just under 30 knots. That would cut around 15 per cent off my top end speed but save me more than 30 per cent in fuel. The tank gives anglers 115 litres to play with and a larger tank is an option for those needing more range.

Performance wise, it was well set up, tracked very nicely and responded quickly to adjustments at the helm. The hull pitched just enough to give it some bite into a tight corner but again, the she was not loaded so I’m only left to assume it behaves almost as well with full tanks and extra people on board. Reversing up in the chop didn’t want to sink the transom, which can sometimes happen in hulls with ballast tanks. The well-designed pod seemed to deal with the extra weight while backing up.

Fishability

The Sea-Rod’s fishability was ideal for offshore anglers. The sides are a generous height that allows for the knees to dig in under the gunwale for balance. The deck self drains so backing up onto big fish in a sloppy sea can be done without too much trouble. There’s four rod holders positioned along the gunwale to allow both skipper and crew to watch trolled lines. The optional bait board, berley bucket, plumbed kill tank and livebait tank makes the Sea-Rod a handy boat for the serious fisho. Add to the list the fuel tank upgrade and an optional targa top and it becomes a very versatile set-up. Whether you fish the rivers, bays or the deep, the Sea-Rod can be fitted to suit.

Fit-Out

The fit-out is your standard side console configuration with all the fishing friendly features you’d expect from a genuine fishing vessel. A fully carpeted self-draining deck with high bow rails around an elevated casting deck on the bow and rails around the aft deck provides anglers with plenty of room to fight fish in safety.

The side console was well positioned and the control box was within comfortable reach from the helm. The Teleflex sports steering wheel with Formosa’s hydraulic steering kept it all neat and easy to operate. Instrumentation was all standard Yamaha gear.

The dash featured with room for most sounder/GPS systems although. The test boat was fitted with marine radio and a Garmin 440 fish finder.

Anchor well, bowsprit, cleats and side pockets are all standard. The seats can be repositioned with two additional seat bases on the casting deck. The transom has storage and a ladder on a swim platform which would be ideal for family weekends away or just pulling into a cove for a dip.

All up, the Formosa Sea-Rod is a very neat and great looking plate alloy fishing package.

Mark Ward

 

Fact Box

Formosa 5.2 Sea-Rod
Length (LOA): 5.33m
Beam: 2.4m
Weight: (Hull only) 560 kg
DEADRISE: 17 degrees
MAX Power: 115hp; 90hp as tested
Price: As reviewed $33,990.
CONTACTS: formosamarineboats.com.au;

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