What to look for when choosing a cartopper tinnie

The fishing and boating opportunity’s across Australia are endless and if you are one of the lucky ones planning a caravan trip around Australia you might want to consider taking a small boat with you. From the quiet rivers of the NSW coast, across the freshwater lakes of the Snowy Mountains, down to the whiting hot spots of South Australia, Ningaloo reef, The Kimberly’s, The Great Top End and across to the spectacular Queensland coast the fishing and boating opportunities are endless.

So what type of boat should you choose?

The first thing to consider is the weight of the boat that you need to carry on the roof of your vehicle. A tinnie in the 3.5m to 3.8m range will weigh between 60kg to 85kg and will be ideal and well suited to a 15hp outboard motor. Any bigger than this and you will need a bigger, and heavier, outboard motor. Any smaller and you will be restricted in where you can go once you get north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Don’t worry about how the size of the boat will effect the wind drag on your rig. Carrtopper boats travel exceptionally well on the roof of a car and after the first 50km’s you will forget it is even there. Given the aerodynamic shape of a boat they are not subject to uplift forces like a kayak or surfboard is, and many caravanners actually report a slight improvement in their fuel consumption when they have a boat on the vehicle roof.

The next thing to look at is the shape of the boat, either dory style or flat bottomed style.

Flat bottomed boats are great for creek fishing and crabbing as they are very stable, easy to get in and out of and have a very shallow draft however they are not so good on open water so crossing a large estuary with a bit of wind chop can result in a wet and uncomfortable trip.

Dory style tinnies will suit a much bigger range of water conditions and will allow you to cover greater distances safely but the down side is they are not as stable at rest. Some boat manufactures build a hybrid boat, like Makocraft, that combines the best features of both designs or you can try one of the plastic / composite boats like Finn boats, Cross Country boats or explore the option of a folding boat. It all comes down to the type of boating you intend to do and the location / conditions in which you intend to use your boat.

A word of warning. Inflatable boats make great yacht tenders and diving boats but they are not suited to cartopping. They don’t work well with any boat loading system and are difficult to tie down as they are only inflated to about 5 psi. They can also be easily holed on sharp rocks, coral and floating timber in the river systems.