Benguela 1450 — by Natal Caravans & Marine

Tested by Heinrich Kleyn (SKI-BOAT September/October 2012)

Length — 4.55m
Beam — 2.00m
Dry weight — 395kg
Min hp — 40-70hp, or 2x15hp to 2x30hp 
Max hp — 2x30hp 
Buoyancy — High Density Foam
Power as tested — 40hp Yamaha 2-stroke

WHILE my family and I were viewing all the exhibits at the recent Durban National Boat Show, we were hijacked by Bill Harrison from Natal Caravans and Marine. He asked if I’d seen the new Benguela 1450, and when I said I hadn’t, he insisted that I immediately take the family for a cruise on the bay in this new craft. I had no option, as my two boys were now just as excited as Bill …

“This boat is just a fraction bigger than my jetski at home!” were my first thoughts. That was closely followed by calculations of how I was going to fit four people on her — and she was only powered by a single 40hp Yamaha. Despite any misgivings I might have had, I settled my wife at the back and the two boys in the front, and off we went for a quick spin around the bay.
It turned out there was more than enough space, especially because when I tested her this clean and tidy little entry-level boat was still bare, with just the engine steering and throttle mounted.

After that brief joyride at the boat show I set a date to put the little Benguela 1450 through her paces out at sea.

On the day of the test we were due to launch from Durban Ski-Boat Club at 6.30am, but first had to fight our way past security guards. Eventually we got onto the water at 7.10am, with the sun just peeping over the horizon.

There wasn’t a breath of wind as we launched into very calm seas, with a pod of dolphins coming to greet us at the mouth of the bay. It was really too calm for a good test, but that just made me more determined to push her harder to see what she was capable of.

The Benguela 1450 is very small and light, so it’s very simple to handle her on the road, in the traffic and on the beach — even if you have to do this alone. On the day of the test the Natal Caravans’ crew had dropped her off in the small wavelets, and there she lay waiting for me. It was a cinch for us to turn her around and jump aboard.

The engine had been fitted with trim-and-tilt, so it was easy to motor slowly in the shallow water until we reached deeper water where we could let the engine down totally.

No beach kit had yet been fitted, though, so when we returned we had to come in slowly and lift the engine. Then when the water was shallow enough we jumped off and pulled her up on to the sand. Beaching was thus very straight forward and loading her onto the trailer was also easy with the hand-winch.

This test boat had been fitted with a single 40hp Yamaha two-stroke engine with sidemount controls. Because she only has one engine, the controls felt very soft when I put her into gear and back into neutral. 
For the test there were three of us aboard, each weighing around 80kg, and I was very impressed with the way this little motor pulled away with this load. Her turning circle was also impressive — she would easily manage a beach launch through the surf.

The Benguela 1450 would also suit someone who wanted to use her on a dam or bay. She can be termed a “beginner’s boat”, but I would also classify her as an all-rounder.

Her stability is what you would expect of a fishing boat — and better. Running with the swell, turning first to starboard and then to port, I didn’t get any impression that she wanted to broach or cavitate. The speed with which the Benguela got out of the hole and onto the plane was very good, considering there were three of us aboard.

Moving the weight around slightly and running into the swell did nothing to affect her very soft ride, and we experienced no pounding at all. Indeed, she glided over the water, belying her size and small motor.

From a slow troll speed up to full throttle she was very stable and comfortable. Taking into consideration that she was running on a single 40hp two-stroke Yamaha engine, the power surprised me.

As I mentioned before, this is an entry-level boat that was still bare — nothing had been fitted except for the engine, controls and the stainless-steel rails. On the deck there was just the centre console, a seat and a fuel hatch behind that.

Of course, you can fit lots of extras if you want them, including a trolling bar at the stern, rod holders on the side and at the stern, a fishfinder on the centre console and a 29meg radio as well. There are loads of possibilities once you start imagining how you would want to rig out your first boat.

If you want a bit more power, twin 30hp motors would be a perfect fit.

The Benguela 1450 is the ideal boat for someone who doesn’t have a lot of cash, who doesn’t mind starting small and could build up his boat up over the years. Indeed, she is the ideal all-rounder for a beginner.
I would recommend this craft to anyone who lives upcountry and has access to dams, but who also wants to go to the coast or even Moçambique once in a while. The Benguela 1450 is light to tow and can carry up to four people at a time.

Once again Don Jarratt from Angler Boats has produced a craft which, though small, can compete with the best. The finish on this boat is top class, as with all craft built by Angler Boats. So if you’re looking for something to start off with that is not going to cost you an arm and a leg, take the Benguela 1450 for a test.

For further details phone Bill Harrison and his team at Natal Caravans and Marine in Pinetown. I’m sure that this little boat with a big heart will surprise you.

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