Hi Rodney sorry this has taken so long, I have enclosed a photo - not the best but I don't have many. Feel free to correct any typo's
In mid 2005 we decided that 6 years had been to long without a boat. My attention had been diverted towards aviation over the past years, and I had imported a high performance microlight from Canada to use as transport in and out of my favourite hunting and fishing spots throughout Fiordland and the Southern Alps. The plane only had two seats and as we had a new addition to the family the toy stable needed to be reassessed. I syndicated my plane, retained a share and quickly set about the task of finding something that would allow the whole family some enjoyment.
Our criteria for choosing a boat was relatively simple, we wanted a boat that performed well, and a manufacturer that had a good reputation that could ensure a quality product and good future value. The majority of the time our new boat would be used for day trips out to sea fishing, Although I wanted to keep the options open as far as being able to sleep on board and have a reasonable overnighter for hunting trips around the southern lakes and Fiordland.
My wife and I went to many boat shows and water tested many hull types. We had decided to go with a positive buoyancy boat and make the small sacrifice of deck space for the peace of mind that comes with owning one of these great boats. Many pontoon boats seem to have developed a reputation for a hard ride, and to a certain degree I was happy to accept the fact until I got a chance to go for a ride in a Kiwikraft. My initial thoughts were that I would be quite happy to travel out for a days fishing 5kph slower for 40 mins then have a stable platform to fish off for 6 hours until it was time for the return trip. Now with a Kiwikraft it appears I could do both. After trialing most of the other manufacturers of pontoon boats the final decision was made to purchase a Kiwikraft after catching up with Rodney at the Christchurch boat show. After having a chance to discuss various options and gain his recommendations it was clear that Rodney’s product was the best available. This point is proven simply by the fact that there are very few second hand Kiwikraft boats available, especially in the larger hard top versions.
We ordered a 660HT open hard top and received delivery in October 2005. Having spent most of my recently gained wealth on the hull and trailer combo I made the initial decision to go with a good tidy second hand motor instead of a new option and purchased a 1999 200hp Johnson with 212 hours. By March 2006 we had completed 150hrs boating and were starting to regret our motor decision. With fuel prices increasing and a basic 2 stroke carburetted motor we were using 45-55 litres/hr ($90+/hr plus oil). A more suitable option was needed and quickly. We are now running a New Johnson (Suzuki based) 200hp 4 stroke at 25-30 litres/hr ($45/hr) with no need for 2 stroke oil. The combination is great, the motor is slightly heavier than a 2 stroke but the pontoon configuration carries it well, and I have no need for a auxiliary for trolling purposes.
Our decision to go with the 660HT open hard top was a very easy one, as explained the majority of use is sea fishing day trips including a lot of river bar work. The 660HT is large enough to handle a big sea but nimble enough to still allow beach launchings with the right crew. We have clear covers fitted to close off the hard top in winter that can be fitted in minutes. They are also useful for overnighting and coupled with some 'lift in' boxes that clip onto the rod pockets containing a chemical toilet on one side, gas water heater on the other, and a small gas bottle fitted in place of the old motor oil reservoir, form a easily fitted overnight configuration for extended trips for either our family or myself and a hunting companion. We chose this option over carrying around the extra weight of permanent fixtures and the associated larger hull for equivalent deck space. Saving the extra weight when we would only use it 10% of the time gives us benefits in fuel economy. The 660HT is also easily towed behind our ford courier with no need to upgrade to a larger landcruiser or equivalent.
Many of our old fishing companions who have been staunch mono hull advocates have been for a trip on our boat and all are pleasantly surprised by the softness of the ride, stability and overall performance. The quality of the build is impeccable. Very few welds are ground off which is more than most manufacturers can say, and as an engineer I appreciate the fact that Rodney and his team display the quality of there workmanship in this way.
Thanks Rodney for a great product. We are absolutely wrapped with our boat and you can be sure that we'll be back for our next boat.
Kelvin and Janine Wright
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