Perennial favourites, Quintrex’s Top Enders continue to evolve and the 2008 version of their 470 model carries on a fine tradition of the line in being one of the most versatile fishing boats you can get your hands on. Up a creek or off the coast this boat is equally at home, and it wouldn’t be half bad a family social boat either. What else could a keen fisho want? Not much.
Comparing this boat to competitors gets confusing when, although it’s designated the 470, Quintrex specify its hull length at 5.08 metres with an overall length of 5.16 metres. Which I expect includes the bowsprit and boarding platforms each side of the transom while the 5.08 is bow to where the outboard bolts on.I don’t want to re-open debate about how boats should be measured because in this case the confusion is associated with Quintrex’s unique transom design — which is a good getting on towards great thing. However when comparing this boat to competitors it’s clearly more of a 5 metre boat than comparative 4.7s.
Where it counts then, out on the water, you’re looking at a boat big enough to handle coastal fishing; if not quite offshore as it relates to blue water. Also, the 470 Top Ender remains small enough to be quite agile up creeks; if not quite up the creek where little tinnies and canoes reign.
We’ll start at the blunt end then where Quintrex’s latest development in a transom style (which began with the Maxi Transom some years ago) is now called M3. As I said before, it’s a good thing, incorporating a full height bulkhead and engine well with a fairly wide covering board across the top. A shelf worked into the inside has room for a pair of battery boxes, and our test boat also had a battery isolator switch and a water separator mounted there. All of which is semi hidden away from sight below the covering board and neatly tucked away so you don’t bang a leg against it when standing at the back of the boat.
Extended boarding platforms used in the M3 are now wide enough to be of genuine assistance when boarding over the back. A telescopic boarding ladder is standard as is a live bait tank set into the portside. There’s also a central socket for (an optional) bait board or tow pole.
The helm seat sits close to the transom, so that side of the back of the boat isn’t available without relocating the helm seat elsewhere. That’s easy enough to do when settling down for a lengthy bait fishing session. Alternately, with the passenger bucket seat moved into its forward socket there’s enough space aft for comfortable trolling and pleasingly, enough room for small to medium size people anyway to still be able to get around the seat to the foredeck.
Up front the bow casting deck is really only big enough for one; two people would have to be pretty friendly to share it. It’s raised 25cm or so above a main deck that extends flat all the way aft to the transom to form a deep cockpit.
All in all the interior is a quite workable fishing space given that there are limits on how much room you can have inside a boat of any particular size. At 170cm tall I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the side console’s ergonomics. If it was my boat I’d fit a seat slide and tilt adjustable steering wheel. This will of course cost, but then I ask, if you’re running any distance, as keen fishos do in many parts of Australia, and especially on the big rivers of the Top End, what price do you put on comfort?
The problem for boat manufacturers here is that we’re all different sizes so no matter what helm ergonomics they serve up only a few people will be comfortable with them. I’m damned if I can understand why more people don’t set up their personal boats to be comfortable at the wheel, and I must criticise dealers for not making their customers aware that it’s not too difficult to adjust things so they’re comfortable!
Side consoles are side consoles, and are one of the better configurations provided you and your fishing mates are about the same weight. Oherwise the boat runs along laying over on one side — not good for ride quality and fuel consumption. As side consoles go then, the one in the 470 Top Ender isn’t bad. Its supports are kept to a possible minimum, freeing deck space for stowing a tackle or ice box. The grab bar is substantial as indeed it need be, and a chill winter morning during our test showed I could hide from much of the slipstream behind the high screen.
Belowdecks Quintrex have made good use of their plastic rotomoulder to provide lined compartments at the at back end of the bow casting deck, and another down in the main deck just behind it. An anchor well in the foredeck too is lined. Forward of the lined compartment in the casting deck there’s another capacious stowage compartment that’s not lined. The deck itself has bungs draining overboard to clear stuff when washing down. But it is not sealed from the bilge, so don’t make the mistake of spotting the bungs and thinking the Top Ender is self draining.
Sealed away down there too is a 70 litre fuel tank which should provide ample range with the 60 hp motors the hull is rated for. A second 42 litre fuel tank will be of interest to people fishing well away from ramps or for a day or two at a time, it’s on the options list.
Out on the water the 470 Top Ender handles way better than most. Quintrex’s Millennium hulls are established leaders amongst their peers, and in fact, when it comes down to a rough trip home they have no peers; in aluminium anyway.
I have only one negative comment and that’s all about a complete lack of secure rod storage in the 470 Top Ender. 4 rod holders in the side decks are not the place to stow expensive rods. What a glaring omission in an otherwise excellent fishing boat!