Mac 420 Fisherman

By: Norman Holtzhausen, Photography by: Norman Holtzhausen

Mac 420 Fisherman Despite shallow 11-degree deadrise, landing off severe chop was pretty comfortable. Wide beam offers stable ride Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Splash guard in place of windscreen channels spray away from seated occupants; clears available for protection while standing Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Layout maximises wide cockpit space. External beam of 2.2m (internal 1.7m) is widest for size on market. Small but useful boarding platforms; ladder can be fitted Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Yamaha F50HET 50hp four-stroke provides plenty of quiet, fuel-efficient grunt Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Cuddy cabin for dry storage; twin dive cylinder holder mounted against anchor well Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Designed with fishing in mind, it’s the little touches that count Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Storage cubby holes and grab handles in cockpit and cabin sides Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Double-skin polyethylene hull; space can be foam-filled (option) Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Aft bench seats bring total seating to five; tote storage; battery box intrudes, but is ideal spot for bait board Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Lowrance Elite-7 HDI chartplotter and fishfinder; Yamaha digital gauges. Space for VHF and other electronics. Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Indestructible: polyethylene is resistant to solvents, corrosion, rot and UV — plus it floats Mac 420 Fisherman
Mac 420 Fisherman Mac 420 Fisherman

The 420 is one of Mac Boats’ most popular models, providing a safe, stable fishing and diving platform. With a pontoon design and a 2.2m beam, plus indestructible polyethylene construction, this little gem will provide decades of economical fun.

Mac 420 Fisherman
A boat for life

Roto-moulded polyethylene must be just about the ideal construction material for runabouts. It's virtually indestructible, resistant to almost all known solvents and has absolutely no problems with corrosion, UV damage or rotting. Polyethylene floats, and when made into a pontoon design with sealed, foam-filled compartments, this is a boat that simply cannot sink.

All Mac boats have a double-skinned hull, and each skin has a thickness of 10mm. The plastic is almost bulletproof at this thickness, and can withstand even a major impact. A range of colours is available, and they'll never need repainting as the colour is impregnated right through the plastic.

Mac Boats has a number of models in its range, from the tiny 2.1m dinghy up to the Mac 600 Sports boat. The 420 is one of its most popular small runabouts, and comes in five different configurations. We were testing the Fisherman version, which has a layout intended to maximise the cockpit space.

The elements

In this model a cuddy cabin provides a dry storage area up front, with a splash guard along the top of the dash area rather than a full windscreen. Our review boat had the optional bimini top to provide shelter from sun and rain showers, and clears are available to provide additional wind protection. The bimini folds completely down for transport and storage.

In the cuddy cabin a small polycarbonate hatch opens to allow the anchor to be set by hand. A stainless fairlead keeps it in place over the bow, with a cleat inside the cabin for tying off. The anchor well is inside the cabin. The review boat came with a twin dive cylinder holder mounted up against the anchor well.

Standard plastic seats are mounted on a pod for the skipper and on a king/queen pedestal unit for the passenger. The skipper pod has some storage underneath, while the rear-facing queen seat on the passenger side lifts up to reveal a spacious dry storage area.

A Lowrance Elite-7 HDI high definition chartplotter and fishfinder was fitted, plus a pair of Yamaha digital gauges. There was no VHF radio installed but there is plenty of space for this and other electronics. A plug-in anchor pole light is stowed in clips inside the cabin.

Maximum fishing room

One of the most striking features of this boat is the width of the cockpit. The external beam of 2.2m in a boat that's only 4.2m long makes it easily the widest 14ft boat on the market. Even the internal beam width of 1.7m is wider than most non-pontoon boats. The floor is made of non-slip Nautolex, and a bilge pump hidden underneath takes care of any water that gets into the cockpit.

Hanging off the back was a F50HET Yamaha 50hp four-stroke engine. This is right in the middle of the recommended power range of 30hp to 60hp, and provides plenty of grunt in a quiet and fuel-efficient package. Bench seats are mounted across each of the rear corners, bringing the total seating on board up to five — there's also space for a standard tote-tank to be hidden under each seat. The battery box in the centre intrudes into the cockpit slightly, but this is the ideal position for locating a bait board. A small boarding platform either side of the motor provides surfaces for swimmers or divers to get back on board. No boarding ladder was fitted but there is space to do so.

Internally, the boat is very neat and clean, with the white plastic having a visually-pleasing dark fleck set into it. A number of storage cubby holes have been set into the hull sides, and grab handles have been fitted to the cockpit and cabin sides. The welds between the hull and cabin top are extremely neat, almost imperceptible from the original moulding.

Sea trial

It was a breezy day with a fair bit of chop when we slipped the Mac off its Roadking single-axle trailer. Although the trailer has skids rather than rollers, the boat slid off easily thanks to the low friction coefficient of the polyethylene. The Yamaha 50hp four-stroke burbled into life and we headed out.

One of the advantages of a plastic hull is the impact-absorbing and sound deadening qualities of the material, and the 420 showed this to full advantage. Despite being a very shallow 11-degree deadrise, landing off the severe chop was a lot more comfortable than would be expected. The conditions did throw us around a bit but the wide beam meant the boat was stable and comfortable.

The boat features a splash guard rather than a windscreen along the front edge of the cabin, and this works surprisingly well. Despite the wind throwing up a fair bit of spray, the skipper and passenger stay dry as the guard catches and channels it away. However, when standing at the helm position there is no such protection, and running at speed into the chop can result in the occasional splash, although clears are available to eliminate this issue.

The motor was brand new, having been installed just days before our test. The conditions weren't conducive to speed work, so we didn't push the throttle anywhere near the limit. However, we easily got to over 30mph, and the motor still had around 1000rpm to spare. The plastic transom provides a built-in sound dampener so there was no engine noise transmitted to the hull — not that the ultra-smooth Yamaha creates much noise or vibration.

Boat handling was good, with turns being tight and controlled. The short waterline length meant that we did get thrown around a bit in the gnarly conditions, where a longer boat would smooth out the chop somewhat. However, simply dropping the speed a notch made things somewhat more comfortable. At rest, the boat is supremely stable thanks to the pontoons and broad beam. This boat is rated for up to five occupants and, while the cockpit may be a bit crowded with that number on board, there is no question the stability is good enough.

Broad CV

Heading back to the boat ramp we found high- and low-speed handling equally good, and manoeuvring into the tight area of the ramp was no problem. The rubbing strip along the outer edges of the hull meant no worries about fenders when coming alongside the wharf, and we soon had the boat back on its trailer. With a hull weight of just 375kg this is a very easy tow with a normal family car.

This hull has plan approval to MSA NZ standards as well as US Coastguard and CE certification. The fact the internal voids are filled with foam as standard ensures no modifications are required for the boat to go into survey, and a number of these versatile craft are in regular commercial use around the country and overseas. They are also popular as tenders for larger vessels.

Overall, the Mac 420 is a great little boat, and should be a serious contender for anyone looking for something in the four- to five-metre range — a spacious, stable and maintenance-free craft. Mac Boats' tag line is 'Boats for Life' and this is no idle claim.

For more information contact Mac Boats on (09) 273 5666 or visit

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