C-Ski 444 Boat Review
We have received a number of requests for boat reviews to appear in the mag. Especially since the requirements that make a boat a good spearfishing boat are very different to those of normal skiboat fishing. So with this in mind we now have a new Boat Review section, specifically taking into account the needs of spearfishermen.
First off is the C-Ski 444. If you live in Natal and do any amount of spearfishing off a boat, you would have at some stage been on or at least seen a C-Ski in the water. The C-Ski has been very popular with spearfishermen for more than 10 years, and has been specifically designed with the spearfisherman in mind.
The basic requirements for a surf launching spearo is to have an easily manageable boat on the beach that will get you through the surf to where you want to be quickly, efficiently and without breaking your back. This normally means that you will be looking at a smaller boat than most skiboaters, who tend to want bigger, drier boats with place for their fishing tackle and space to fish off.
I called Steve Ellis from Fibretech to let him know that we wanted to do a review on his C-Ski 444 and was hoping he had a boat on hand that we could use for the test. Luckily he had 3 boats all with different motor configurations, waiting to be delivered to their new owners the following week.
I am very familiar with the C-ski 440 and 444 but have only been on boats with single 40hp and a 50hp 4 stroke. Now we were going to test boats with 2 x 30hp Yamaha motors, 1 x 60hp Suzuki four stroke and 2 x 20hp Honda four stroke motors respectively. A very interesting set of scenarios, as many spearos have been looking for a small boat which can take 2 outboards, but the previous 440 model was too narrow and did not have the buoyancy to handle dual motors.
Our first stop for the maiden runs of the 3 boats was the Zinkazi lagoon, where Steve wanted to check and fine tune the motor setups. Rob Allen from the Dive Factory and Pieter de Villiers, the owner of one of the new boats, also joined us as it would be good to get their opinions.
I jumped on the boat with the 60 Suzuki and initially expected the large motor to push the transom down into the water, but this was not the case. The 444's extra buoyancy meant that 2 of us could stand at the transom with little effect at all. On starting the motor, it was suprisingly quiet, but it came to life when I put it in gear and gave it some juice. Gee, I had to hold on, seriously hold on. C-skis are generally light and have a good plaining area, so much so, that at sea you almost never put the hammer down with a single 40hp 2 stroke. Now with 60hp of modern 4 stroke torque the boat is like a missile. I needed no more convincing so went over to Pieter’s C-Ski with the 2 x 30hp Yamaha motors.
Two 30hp Yammies! This got me really excited, as in my mind it would be the ultimate spearfishing boat for Mozambique. Absolute peace of mind with 2 motors and to top it off these Yamaha 2 strokes have a reputation for being bullet proof. I had no doubt that these 2 motors would push the boat, but I was interested to see what the turning circle would be and if there would be any cavitation in a hard turn. The boat was quick off the mark. Not as fast the 60hp 4 stroke, but it felt quicker than a single 40hp 2 stroke. The boat got to 48km/h really fast and I am sure once the motors are run in and the hammers are down it will easily go past 50km/h. That said, if you are doing 35km/h on the open sea, you are really moving. Next we put the boat through some turns and were pleased to find no cavitation at all. Warranted, we were not in the sea, but we really pushed it and if there were going to be any issues, there would have been some sign. The two motors actually turned the boat in an amazingly tight arc, the flatter profile of the stern also keeps the boat fairly flat even in a very tight turn which is a massive improvement on the old 440 model. The next test was to see if we could get the boat onto the plane with only one motor. It was no surprise that this was achieved with little effort.
Next up was the 444 with 2 x 20hp Honda 4 strokes. This was the boat that appealed to me the most. The 4 stokes offer extreme fuel economy and the 2 motors give you the peace of mind to go anywhere. The proof, however, was going to be seen in how they pushed a fully loaded boat. The motors are trim and tilt and are so quiet I had to turn around and look at the tell tale water spray to see if the second motor was running. I put the motors into gear and pulled off, maybe the quietness of the motors was misleading but it felt like the boat took off way faster than the two 30’s. We did it again and the boat got to 20km/h very quickly, and up to 45km/h at almost full throttle. It seems like the torque curve on these little motors gives quite a bit of grunt low down, so I wanted to see how they would fair on one motor. With 3 up and a fully loaded boat, we eventually got on the plane but it would have been too slow to go though surf. That said, one motor will still get you home and if your crew swim through the surf you will get in safely without any problem. Again the two motors did very well in the turns and was no different to the two 30s - tight and fast ...everything you want out of a boat in the surf.
I really enjoyed testing the 2 x 20hp Honda boat, and informed Steve that this was the one we would use for the sea portion of the testing. The south westerly was pumping at over 30 knots so we drove down to Durban and launched at DUC. With only one of the fuel cans half full, we let some water into the main hatch to simulate a boat with full fuel tanks and gear. We headed out past the piers into the face of the weather. The 444 kept up the legacy of the 440 and was amazing in the big sea. Sure, we got wet, but I can’t think of many boats you are going to stay dry on in those conditions.
Now, test time! We wanted to see if we could get the motors to cavitate. We found an area near south pier where the backwash was making the sea extremely rough, Steve and I held on white knuckled while Rob did some crazy tight turns. The outside motor landed up cavitating on some of the turns, but with the motor on the inside still powering away, we were still moving and all it took was straightening out a bit to stop the cavitation. Steve reckons that this could possibly be solved by dropping the motors slightly as they had been installed higher than normal.
I am not concerned about the cavitation as it occured under extreme conditions, even in strong surf you wouldn’t be driving like we did. I really like the idea of two motors and the fuel economy of the 4 strokes is very attractive. All the boats handled the weight of the motors very well and the boat did not feel unstable at all, even when Rob and I stood at the transom in the rough sea.
The C-Ski 444 has evolved with spearfishermen in mind. The main hatch is so big that you can actually get into it to clean it when you want to. Put it this way, if you one day manage to fill the hatch with fish, you would have have broken multiple world records! The new boat has large below deck storage and a drop in hatch below the seat behind the driver’s console. The console also has two additional easy access storage areas.
The front fuel hatch holds 2 x 25 liter fuel cans which means that with a single 40hp 2 stroke, you have a range of over 100km! So, unless you are doing some extreme trip, there is little need to ever carry spare fuel.
The layout and finish of the boat is basic, but the workmanship is superb. There are purposefully no fancy wood trims or upholstered seat covers as the boat is designed to require minimal maintenance. Steve calls it a 'work boat designed to do the job', and I guess that is what the guys want as most C-ski owners seemed to have stayed with the stock finish and design.
The C-ski 444 is without a doubt worth considering if you want a practical and functional boat for spearfishing. The boat requires very little maintenance and is hassle free. It is ideal for 2-3 spearos, but you could squeeze a 4th if you needed to. Like most small boats, you are going to get wet in a strong cross wind, but this fades into insignificance when one considers the way the hull rides and handles a rough sea.
(Prices are subject to change due to market fluctuations and material price increases.- as of mid 2011)
C-Ski 444 with standard fittings and finishes:
Boat: R48 500
Trailer: R14 000
Outboard Motor Pricing:
1 x 40Hp Enduro Yamaha: ± R40 000 (87kg)
1 x 40Hp Sail Out Board: ± R31 000 (Electric Start) (83kg)
2 x 30Hp Yammie (2 cylinder, non electric): R60 000 (108kg)
2 x 20Hp Honda (4 stroke, power tilt, electric start): R62 000 (108kg)
1 x 60Hp Suzuki (4 stroke, power trim, electric start): R76 000 (106kg)
Length: 4.46 m
Width: 1.93 m
Weight w/out motor: 200kg
Capacity: 3 - 4 persons
4 Hatches: Anchor hatch situated in the bow.
Fuel hatch that carries 2 x 25lt containers.
Large fish hatch: easy to clean
Dry Hatch in the rear of the boat.
Console: Fits directly onto fish hatch, has separate place for battery, separate shelf with access from a black screw in hatch on the left side. Top electronics cover to protect instruments.
Construction: Constructed of fibreglass with a chassis configuration bulkheads.
Prior to bonding the deck to the bulkheads, the moulded chassis bulkhead is filled with marine specification polyurethane foam.
Deck: Self-draining, non-slip deck with scuppers in the stern.
Transom: Nidacore Honeycomb composite transom.
For more info vist : Fibretech