Westport Marine 4 Boat Report

Specification:
Length 13ft 2ins (4.00m)
Beam 5' 11ins (1.82m)
Weight 290Kg (Boat only)
Engine 50hp
Max Passengers 5
CE Category C
Country of manufacture: Plymouth, UK

More details on full specification can be found by requesting a brochure from Westport. Web site Westport Marine

Report by Simon Everett courtesy of Boat Fishing Monthly

Easy To Launch
Westport Marine is run by Charles Broughton who is a Naval Architect from Norfolk originally and is now based in Crownhill Fort, Plymouth. Charles has penned this boat for his own use in and around The Sound and for going along the coast either side. The boat has been designed to be safe and welcoming to the whole family, hence the high internal freeboard for security with children.

The length has been deliberately chosen as being one of the less favoured sizes, there are few boats available in the under 15-foot bracket. This size is ideal for young families, or a couple of mates to go fishing and is easy to keep at home. Being small doesnít mean you canít go out of the harbour, the high bow gives her the ability to take on bigger waves than you would imagine a small boat like this could. The removable cuddy also does a great job of keeping the water out, even going through the Peveril Race on a strong ebb against a westerly we put her nose under a couple of times but the green water wasnít forced up under the seal.

Plenty Of Room
Despite being only just over 13ft in length there is a surprising amount of room in the cockpit. Stowage is kept simple with a large locker under the forepeak seat and another even bigger one under the stern bench, which houses the fuel tank and battery. The helm seat is a simple arch support with a cushion pad atop. It suffices and it is possible to steer while sat and see through the screen. The helm console is a simple affair, but provides a small area where a fishfinder and GPS could be mounted.
The vision through the screen is excellent as there are no supports to restrict your view because the screen doesnít open. Access to the foredeck for anchor or mooring work is through a large hatch in the cuddy roof, which does allow you to reach the cleat and although it seems incongruous it wasnít as restrictive as I thought it would be and it is much safer than going on deck, or having an opening hatch in the screen. Life could be made even easier by rigging a lazy line and working the anchor from the cockpit.
The aft bench locker is particularly large and between the two lockers there is room for a spare fuel tank, the camping cover, ropes, fenders, anchor and rope, and still leave plenty for foulies and even some food and drink in a coolbox.

Typical Weather
Taking the boat out from Poole there are some good spots to put her through her paces, both for speed and to see how she copes when a sea is running. The day was a typical one for going out and the little boat was quite at home, even in the overfalls off Old Harry. Peter Johnson the salesman out with me was a little apprehensive when I said I was going through it, but he soon relaxed as he saw how the Pilot 4 bobbed over each wave.
Once out the other side we could open her up and she spanked along at a steady 28mph with the needle on 4000rpm from the 50hp Honda. To be fair, although she is rated for 50hp, a 30hp motor would be more than adequate unless you were taking heavy loads on a regular basis. For two people and a bit of fishing gear 30hp would hardly make any difference to the overall performance as it is rare you use full throttle. The ride at higher speeds is a little harsh, the mild deadrise of 15 degrees makes it easy to get the boat on the plane without soaking up loads of power and makes the boat very stable, but canít give the softness of ride that a more angular V would.
We spent a while trolling at under two knots and the Pilot 4 was very comfortable at slow speed without wallowing. The very beamy nature of the boat gives added stability and room around your legs. The room in the self-draining cockpit for a boat of this size is very generous, and the non-slip moulding is pretty grippy. When we stopped to drop some lines down on the drift she lay quietly and rode the swell without slapping or chucking us about.

Excellent Choice
The Pilot 4 is a well thought out little boat that punches high above her weight. At 14 feet she is a real pocket boat but will permit access to coastal marks and given the weather I would be happy to take her out to within an hours sprint home. For anglers wanting a boat to fish the likes of her home waters, Plymouth Sound, Falmouth Roads, Poole Harbour and surrounding water, The Solent or the East Coast estuaries, this is a fine little boat that comes in at under the £10,000 budget. With her removable cuddy she can offer the best of both worlds, protection from the elements and bigger water capability, or as an open boat for inshore, sheltered waters. In this size bracket there is very little choice, the Pilot 4 brings something different to the table.

 


Westport Marine 4 Boat Report

Specification:
Length 13ft 2ins (4.00m)
Beam 5' 11ins (1.82m)
Weight 290Kg (Boat only)
Engine 50hp
Max Passengers 5
CE Category C
Country of manufacture: Plymouth, UK

More details on full specification can be found by requesting a brochure from Westport. Web site Westport Marine

Report by Rus Symonds and Dave Lewis courtesy of Sea Angler

I first clapped eyes on the Pilot 4 moored alongside the pontoons at Queen Anne's Battery Marina in Plymouth, says Russ Symons. Wow, I thought, this boat has got a wide beam for such a short length. You don't see many craft with 13ft x 6ft dimensions.
Then there was a 50hp four-stroke Honda hanging off the back. I don't know what I felt, was it scepticism combined with a little disbelief? This was going to be an interesting day out.
Charles Houghton, Charlie to his friends, is a Naval architect who happens to like building boats, especially if he can go fishing in them. The Pilot 4 is his first venture under his own steam. He designed it from scratch; he made the plug to make the moulds, hand-built the first few boats himself, with just a little help from his friends.
After spending two years at Falmouth College doing a practical boat building course, he spent the next three years at Southampton University getting the paperwork and design skills. He then worked for a while in a drawing office, which convinced him that he wanted to work for himself. The concept in his mind was that he wanted a small rugged, seaworthy boat, which could be slipped on and off a trailer single-handed, and it also had to benefit from modern design and boat building practice.
First impressions are that the Pilot 4 is nicely built and finished, but quite plain, seemingly nothing to excite the imagination. With three of us on board while the bits and bobs were explained, she didn't flop about, in fact she was quite stable. It was then that the errant thought occurred to me as I looked at the powerful 50hp Honda outboard: Have we got a wolf in sheep's clothing here? Motoring out through the Cattewater, the wash from the dockyard and warship steamers hardly troubled her, past the end of Mountbatten Breakwater, out of the slow speed zone.
Charlie fed the horses to the engine; she jumped over the hump and sat up on the plane like a little beauty. What a little cracker this boat is, a 13ft boat with a Category C plate, unbelievable!
She tracked around corners as if she was on rails, and I thought to myself that I would take this boat to the Eddystone on a good day, and I really would.
I have owned bigger boats than this that didn't feel as stable. When I asked Charlie about why this should be, he unpacked his laptop and showed me how the lines, the chines and the angles all worked together to give the exceptional performance.
Just goes to show what can be done when practical skills combine with a bit of nounce. At the same time I had a glance at the concept drawings for a 17ft boat, for which the plug is being made on a CNC mill, with its programming coming straight off the laptop. Now that is a proper use for an CNC machine!

RUSS TAKES THE TOUR
In the little dodger there is a steering console with enough room to take a small navigator and sounder, but this is one of those instances where I would buy a slightly larger combo chart plotter and sounder and hang that off the back of the console and put the compass up under the cabin roof well away from electrics and other lumps of metal.
When you are perched on the helm seat the steering wheel and throttle controls come easily to hand, it all worked like a charm just as you would expect with Honda units.
Forward, inside the dodger there is a seat locker, on which you can stand to get through the overhead hatch to access the forward cleat when anchoring. Aft there is another locker, which will swallow quite a lot of gear, and also providing a useful seat when fishing.
The non-slip flush deck is self-draining when underway or when left on a mooring without a cover.
There are optional extras, such as the stainless flush-mounted rod holders, seat upgrades and navigation lights, but the basic boat comes in at under Ā£5,000 without an outboard engine and trailer and that is good comparable value for a boat that will take you fishing as well as this one will. The dealers have some good deals on boat, engine and trailer packages, so go and visit them and have a ride. I am sure it will be as interesting for you as it was for me. Now a 17ft version will be tasty, mmm!

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
After spending several hours kicking about in this little cracker, Dave Lewis says: This is a basic, smart, simple yet beautifully functional little angling boat; I absolutely loved it.
I was delighted to find I would be reviewing a standard fishing boat, precisely the sort of craft that would be absolutely perfect for the overwhelming majority of British sea anglers - if only they realised it.
Like Russ has said, the boat only stretches to a diminutive four metres, and the bare hull weighs just 290kg; a tad small for sea angling some would say. Again, like Russ, I think the Pilot 4 is an ideal inshore boat and when the weather is settled, could be used for 'near offshore' fishing. The boat has a CE Category C rating that classes her for "voyages on coastal waters, large lakes, bays, estuaries or rivers where wind of up to Force 6 on the Beaufort Scale and significant wave heights of up to two metres may be experienced."
Rated for up to five persons as a maximum, this is clearly for solo angling or you plus a mate. The gunnels fall vertically to the deck and I noted a decent amount of inboard freeboard, a major consideration on such a compact craft. Closer inspection revealed cavernous stowage hatch fore and aft, and I was especially impressed with the fact that the manufacturer offers the installation of a full size 25-litre fuel tank, complete with twin fuel lines, in each hatch, as an optional extra. This would create more space and a less cluttered deck. You get a full set of quality deck hardware and a basic boarding ladder as standard.
The one feature that is almost unique is the cuddy can easily be lifted off. Release four quality stainless clasps, disconnect the electrics and off it comes, creating an open boat for summer lure and fly-fishing, excellent. The boatĀhull is reinforced by an internal girder system linking the hull and deck mouldings, producing a very strong and rigid structure, all GRP materials being Lloyds approved. The keel is double laid and the transom is reinforced with marine plywood and supported by the girder system to take the weight of the engine.
The Pilot 4 is rated to take engines to 50hp, which will produce a top speed of around 30 knots. I'd suggest a 20-30hp outboard would provide more than enough power, while obviously reducing both initial purchase and day-to-day running costs.

WHAT A GREAT LITTLE SEA BOAT
Boating conditions in and offshore were nigh on flat calm, yet with the speed restrictions in the harbour lifted during the winter, I was able to drive the Pilot 4 with enthusiasm.
I really enjoyed this boat, which had been supplied by Poole Marine Services, out of Salterns Marina. It is my sort of boat, easy to launch, easy to retrieve, easy and cost effective to maintain with enough performance to make me smile. As I applied the throttle the medium vee-hull rose sweetly up onto the plane and even when I ploughed her at speed through the chunky wake created by our much larger camera boat, she maintained lateral stability, cut the wake cleanly and crisply, and threw minimal spray.
I have seen a few much larger boats that have not produced such a comfortable and secure ride as the Pilot 4. But at the end of the day you have to remember that this is just a 13ft boat that should be used within the context for which it has been designed and built. Do that and you'll have yourself a superb little sea angling boat that will give many years of trouble free boat and angling pleasure.

 


Disclaimer: Everything written in these reports are based on personal experience and the individual's opinion only. I have tried my best to present the facts correctly, but I/we take no responsibility for any mistakes or omissions.

 

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