Formosa & Minn Kota Ulterra: Tested – Dan Kaggelis March 2016

When it comes to plate aluminium trailer boats, Formosa boats are a true leader in their field. With foundation bench marks which include attention to detail, innovative build processes and most importantly strength and quality welding, there is little to wonder why Formosa boats have a reputation as being one of Australia’s best designed and best performing plate aluminium boats.

What separates Formosa from other plate aluminium boats you may ask?

Well to start with the build quality and plate construction bring a significant point of difference.

All boats less than 6 metres come standard 4mm with 6M+ boats upgrading to 5mm thickness and only 5083 high tensile aluminium is used in the Offshore series.

Yeah sure, this is pretty standard across most serious plate alloy hulls however it is the 4X 100mm wide long longitudinal stringers and the under floor sub frame grid zone construction which are all welded to the bottom sheets that give Formosa superior build quality and toughness.

This extra wide longitudinal structure and the close spacing of the welded rib structure ensure that this hull will stand up to any conditions and will stand the test of time.

Not only does this construction bring strength and durability but it also brings that added weight and most importantly a smooth soft ride.

The extra weight and construction takes nothing away from the performance of the Formosa Hulls with a deep dead rise, wide beams and generous freeboard.

These boats not only look the goods but perform amazingly in all conditions.

At rest they are also incredibly stable with a 120mm wide reverse chine which allows the hull to counter swell and wave action and take away that annoying roll which often creates sea sickness. All these performance features translate into a more comfortable ride, better tracking through the water and greater under feet stability when at rest which are all characteristics of a top shelf boat.

For me the big win for Formosa boats is the fact that they have been in the north of Queensland now for well over a decade and whilst other boats have come and gone, they are still here, still performing and most importantly standing up to the harsh and heavy wearing conditions the north has to offer.  

Whilst the build quality, size and stability and performance all get top marks, it’s the extra design features which come standard that really top it off.

To start with, the self draining decks with large drain channels in each corner of the transom quickly remove water from the floor and add to that extra underfoot stability.

Whilst no fishermen would complain about having a deck strewn with fish slime or fish blood from a red hot session, having the option to hose it and drain it all out through the self draining deck is a god send.  

Fully welded top and side decks and extra wide gunwale rails are also standard features and at 32mm, you would be hard pressed to find a plate boat with larger tubing.

This compliments the raised sheer line of Formosa boats and all this extra width, depth and height not only makes the boat look like a tank but also provides greater protection from large waves and swell.

Then there is the transom storage area which provides a huge amount of room to hold twin batteries, deck wash kits and ample extra off floor storage.

One of my favourite features of Formosa boats is the fast back transom with dive ladder.

The back of the boat is not wasted here and can be used as a dive platform with ease and also allows for easy access to the motor bay.

Being an avid diver, the rear of the boat is a crucial entry and exit point and the Formosa caters for this in spades.

It’s not hard to understand why Formosa has a reputation for building boats which not only look bigger, but perform like they are bigger.

This is certainly the case when you hop in one as the width and design layouts allow for an amazing amount of room inside the boat.

No need to worry about squeezing past the centre cab, fishing out of your mates pocket or packing into the console as there is ample room everywhere you look.

The boat featured is a prime example of what you can expect from the Formosa range. The 660 Centre Cab Tomahawk is an amazing craft and a real tribute to the quality of the Formosa brand.

With an overall length of 6.75 metres and a beam of 2.5 metres, this boat is an offshore weapon and would suit every type of offshore angler.

In fact this one has been kitted out with big marlin in mind and when armed with big outriggers, it looks magnificent.

This is not the first time I had been in a 660 Tomahawk and my last trip saw us pounding it out across a solid 15 to 20 knot paddock heading out of Lucinda.

I was expecting plenty of slap and to be thrown around the cab but I was to be put in my place as the hull pushed through the slop and swell with ease.

Today however was to be a very different story as we were blessed with a glorious day out off Mission Beach.

Joining me was Dean from the Tinnie Shack Mission Beach and boat owner Brian Martin and whilst we were here to put the 660 Tomahawk ‘Mind Trick’ through its paces, it was also sporting a very new and exciting feature which had me jumping out of my skin.

The 660 Tomahawk had been kitted out with Minn Kota’s brand new Ulterra 24V Bow Mount Electric Motor.  

I was quite excited to see how the extra long shaft and thrust would handle not only pushing the big 6.6 centre cab, but to see how effectively it would spot lock.

For years, many smaller offshore boats have had the upper hand in this department in terms of using bow mounts to anchor and now to see it finally making its way into the larger offshore boat scene was very promising to say the least.

The thrust capacity of the Ulterra manoeuvred the big centre cab with ease and the spot lock held it in position perfectly.

The latter was more important as the Ulterra on a large boat such as this is designed specifically for precision positioning, not travelling and this motor had this covered with ease.

Whilst the prospect of spot locking on a 6.6m boat was exciting, the auto deploy and stow feature had me jumping out of my skin.

That’s right, the Ulterra requires no hands to deploy or retrieve and even has an auto trim which means you can motor up to your spot and with the touch of a button on your wireless remote, you can deploy the electric without leaving your seat.

You can even raise or lower the shaft height and when you are finished, click the same button to automatically retrieve it.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, ‘Mind Trick’ also had another special trick up its sleeve which really took my breath away.

Fitted with the Ulterra was the ‘I-PILOT Link’ which is a GPS based system which takes command of your boat and can literally drive you to your fishing spot without you even touching the steering wheel or Ulterra remote control.

To say the I-PILOT Link is revolutionary is a massive understatement and when you see it in action, it is simply amazing.

Essentially and in a nutshell, the Ulterra Bowmount communicates directly with the Humminbird ONIX GPS in the boat and after the driver selects a waypoint or multiple way points or even a track, the bow mount will effectively automatically deploy and drive you to the spot and spot lock when in close proximity.

‘Mind Trick’ was also fitted with the Humminbird Auto Pilot feature which took control of the 225 Honda 4 Stroke.

This effectively meant that once programmed, the boat could literally drive itself to a waypoint using the 4 stroke and then when close enough, the I-PILOT link can cut in and then allow for the automatic deployment of the Ulterra to position you over the mark and then spot lock you.

Basically the boat can pilot itself and all you have to worry about is getting your line in the water and catching more fish.

Whilst many will say this is going a bit over the top, just think about how precious and limited your time is on the water.

Why not try and take the advantage and utilise it more effectively?

This system takes away the pain of driving and anchoring and replaces it with comfortable travel and precision anchoring and dynamic positioning.

When you think it can’t get any better, than wait for it because it does- The I-PILOT Link also has a new special feature called follow the contour.

Once again the Humminbird Ulterra communication links allows the electric motor to accurately follow a specific contour depth that is displayed on the sounder.

No more drifting or trolling a certain depth or drop off as the I-PILOT Link does it all for you and can position you right where you want to be. The combination of the Formosa’s excellence and the I-PILOT’s wizardry is a combination which can’t be beaten.

If you are interested in learning more about Formosa Boats and Ulterra installations and customisations and what it has to offer, give Dean or Carla a call at the Tinnie Shack Mission Beach on 4088 6125.

They are pretty much the first guys in Australia to have installed and customised this system and can customise a package to suit you.

Also if you are a little concerned that the 60 inch shaft won’t be long enough to suit your boat, then Dean can also customise brackets to ensure more shaft depth is achieved to complete the package.