A Test Report published in the January 2011 issue of
Trailerboat Fisherman magazine

Testing The pace may be slow but the Deltacraft Islander is lifting the pulse rate of many boaties who want a very comfortable cruiser

The boat that typifies the trend is the 6.2m Deltacraft Islander. Or should we say the 'new' Deltacraft Islander because it's really a re-make of an older design that dates back to the late 1970s and earlier concerns about a fuel crisis.

The previous Deltacraft Islander was a very successful production craft because it gave boaters a comfortable and economical way to enjoy the waterways. The new model promises to deliver the same benefits but with a number of modern improvements.

One of the biggest changes is the option of a four-stroke outboard in lieu of the craft's normal power of choice - a 20hp inboard diesel.

There's also an open or 'party boat' version alongside a half cabin cruiser to give buyers a broad range of choice.

Recently, we had the pleasure of taking the open, or party version for a spin on the serene Pittwater. This craft has been built for self-drive hire on Lake Macquarie. However, we can see it being superbly suited to private use gliding about the waterways on a lazy summer's day. And you can have up to nine friends aboard.

With a 25hp Honda four-stroke on the transom the craft seems hugely spacious when you step aboard. You enter via the stern cockpit door so it's all very civilised, especially when stepping from a marina dock.

The fibreglass hull still retains the same heavy-displacement form that made the original Deltacraft such an easy, soft ride. It still does a relaxed six to seven knots but it's even more stable due to a new, deeper and computer-designed keel.

There are lots of other reasons why so many boaties have been getting rather excited about this new Deltacraft Islander. Firstly, the hull is quite heavy so it absorbs the wave energy rather than your body. At the end of the day you feel less tired than you would if you had been bouncing along in a modern, fast boat.

Despite its rather heavy (1600kg) displacement the Deltacraft slips along surprisingly easily with very little horsepower. This is due to the smooth flow of the hull lines and the lack of drag at these slow speeds. This is why the Deltacraft can happily get by with either a 20hp diesel or 25hp Honda outboard.

While the diesel version is yet to hit the water, we were very impressed with the four-stroke outboard version. This is not a combination you would normally see on our waters but it makes a whole lot of sense in today's rising costs of living. And what's more, these outboards are actually quieter and cleaner than the diesel.

Aboard you find a rear set of lounge seats with insulated icebox under one side. Moving to amidships there's a galley and side console steering station. And up front there's a large U-shaped dinette that easily could seat five to six people for meals, or drinks.

The Deltacraft Open also has a compartment for a toilet (starboard side) though the toilet is an optional extra. Meanwhile, a moulded overhead fibreglass hardtop keeps most of the cockpit protected from the sun or rain.

Admittedly, the open layout leaves passengers more exposed on cool, windy days, however, on those occasions you could fit optional side clears.

Deltacraft's builders use some 400kg of blue metal ballast within the keel cavity to achieve maximum stability. However, the trailer version utilises self-draining water ballast tanks. These tanks automatically fill up with water within seconds of the craft coming off its trailer. From then on the Deltacraft has the equivalent stability of 400kg of ballast - where it counts.

Water ballast is not an idea exclusive to Deltacraft, however, it's an idea that works really well with this type of craft and should be a winner with trailer boat buyers.

You must remember that water ballast becomes a permanent addition to stability while the boat is afloat and ensures it stay almost rock-steady in the water. With the water discharged the Deltacraft is lighter to trail, which is one of the key attributes you want.

Builder, Steve Leonard, says most buyers so far have expressed interest in the trailer version.

Leonard says the advent of modern, four-stroke motors has certainly created a whole new market and made the displacement boat more affordable. He said this version will suit a lot of people who just don't want to be shelling out a lot of money on fuel, or in service fees.

Certainly we enjoyed our day on the water. With the pleasant company of Steve, his delightful girlfriend and a bottle of Robert Oatley chardonnay we were in no hurry to return to the office.

Our speed of just over seven knots actually didn't seem particularly slow. You still seem to cover quite a bit of ground in a waterway the size of Pittwater. Also given the number of different speed zones we encountered we didn't lose that much time.

Most mainstream buyers aren't quite yet ready for the 'slow' revolution, but judging by Steve's order books there are plenty of people who figure it's the smart way to go.

The four-stroke is quite modest in its fuel consumption so the end result is running costs that are kind on the family finances.

The only difference in terms of handling is a slightly bigger turning circle than you'd experience in most trailer boats. However, the craft handles very easily, and tracks beautifully to the compass course.

It's not hard to image a full-blown fishing version of this boat and that's another version we hope to see later in the year.

We will look forward to testing other versions of the Deltacraft when they are built; including the half-cabin model that has complete overnight accommodation features.