A name that epitomises the very heritage aluminium boat building in New Zealand is coming back. Barry Thompson checks out one of the smallest models in the all-new range.
A few years ago I was reintroduced to Ramco, a brand that I have seen develop through highs and lows since its inception 27 years ago. In its heyday, Ramco was one of the most successful and better known brands of alloy trailer boats in the country. The Ramco range was extensive, from open, tiller-steer dinghies to some of this country’s earliest hardtops.
However, once the business was sold on by founder, Bill Mackrell, it spent many years foundering and losing its way, with a succession of owners who never really had Mackrell’s passion for the buisness and didn’t seem to understand what the Ramco brand was all about. But then a few years ago along came South Islander and avid boater, Gary Tomes, who picked up the pieces that were left and set about giving it a whole new lease of life.
From what many saw as a defunct brand, destined for the big metal scrap heap, Tomes has set about building the brand back to its former glory. However, whilst the quality, design and finish are certainly very apparent, the extensive dealer network is not. During the 1990’s there were dozens of Ramco dealers throughout the country and production ran to more than 500 boats a year. When Tomes took over the buisness there were virtually no dealers and sales were minimal.
“We have never wanted to get back to those heady days when there seemed to be a Ramco dealer on every corner, but rather appoint a select few around the country that will do the brand proud and have a passion for it, as I and my staff do”, says Tomes.
One of the first things that he did was to make some drastic changes to the range. Enter talented Christchurch-based designer Scott Robson, who was given the task of redesigning the entire range. His eye for the aesthics has always been one of his strengths, especially in the larger 10m plus powercats and monohulls, where he has carved out a highly respected reputation. His interest in designing and in the early years building offshore and marathon racing powerboats has also been transposed into his ability to get the best out of the performance and handling of the boats he now designs. The Ramco range has benefited from his experience in both areas.
The Ramco 4750 is one of 12 models in the new Ramco range and the smallest of three cabin boats that carry the Prelude branding. The others are the 5050 and the 5450 Preludes, which essentially are just larger versions of the 4750.
The 4750 Ramco prelude is an entry level aluminium boat that is unashamedly pitched to the fishing market, although it is equally well suited as a crossover boat for family boating. The construction is aluminium alloy, with 3mm sides and a 4mm hull bottom. The hull is all CAD designed and the plates are pre-cut before arriving at the Rangiora factory, so the precision fit of all components is spot-on.
The 4750 weighs in at around 360kg for the hull only and has a trailerable weight of approx. 600kg. It is light enough to be towed behind a standard passenger car and also the single axle trailer doesn’t require the extra expense of brakes.
The layout is very much typical small cuddy cabin with an open area under the fordeck with a generously sized anchor locker in the forepeak. Nice to see that the traditional plastic moulded Ramco anchor hatch `has been retained. A forward hatch – which will be increased in size on future models – allows easy access for anchoring duties. Less than 1m headroom means there’s not even enough sitting headroom, but a full width squab is available if you want to cover the chequer plate cuddy cabin sole.
The sole carries on through to the transom and as this is an area that is going to be mostly used to toss dry gear, I feel it needs a rear upstand/footrest that would stop anything working its way back into the cockpit. Soft tube matting was used in the test boat which I love as it takes away that cold alloy feel under bare feet, especially when winter fishing.
Seating is twin swivel bucket seats on fixed pedestals and there is the option of single or twin back-to-backs. This will, however, encroach into the fishing space in the cockpit. If you want extra seating, the best deal is a large, removable cooler/fish bin with a squab, that can be left behind when not required.
Across the transom is a wide and deep tray which houses the battery and provides more storage space. Twin tote tanks can be stowed under. Rods can be secured in full-length side shelves or in any of the four coaming rod holders that come standard with the 4750. Keys, cellphones and sunnies have their own dedicated space either side of the twin bucket seats. There’s no storage under the sole, with the space providing airtight buoyancy compartments.
The style and type of canopy you have on the Ramco 4750 is your choice, but I have to admit that I really liked the purpose built bimini from Auto Upholstery & Canvas that was on the test boat. This provided shelter from the sun, but was also high enough to stand under. Often canopies that slope down and button onto the screen are too low on a boat this size and get in the way. Add some clears to the bimini and you have all the protection you’d ever need. Best thing is it can all be rolled up and hidden inside a sock cover and folded down out of the way.
Tight & Dry
I got to run the 4750 in calm to choppy waters off Gulf Harbour, Auckland and I can’t say I was at all surprised as to how well it ran. Robson Design has a reputation for soft riding performance-based hull designs and the Ramco 4750 Prelude is no exception. The 17 deg deadrise hull carves through the short chop and apart from some wind induced spray we remainded totally dry no matter what direction I ran the boat.
For a boat under 5m you’d be hard pressed to find anything that would ride better. It feels firm and doesn’t have any of those aweful ‘tinnie’ sounds or rattles. This is a small boat with big boat attributes.
The Mercury 50 gave the boat a top speed of 32mph @ 5500 rpm, running a 15” pitch 3-blade alloy Mercury propeller. I found a nice cruise speed of 25-27mph @ 4750-5000 rpm.
The Ramco 4750 is rated for outboards 40-60hp, with our boat presented for the test with a Mercury 50hp 2-stroke. This has proven a popular option for the 4750 and although larger engines and 4-strokes would be suitable, the 2-stroke certainly helps hold the package price below $NZ30,000.
Auckland Marine Centre package the boat with the 40hp Mercury 2-stroke, a single-axle DMW trailer, bimini, fish finder and a load of extras for $NZ29,990. Yes, that’s under $NZ30,000!
The Ramco 4750 Prelude is an exceptional entry level cuddy that is more than suited to sheltered water fishing, towing water toys or cruising to a quiet bay with the family. Finish, presentation, style and performance are all first class.