Garry Quinn, a self-confessed, mad fisherman from Darwin started G.S. Marine as a hobby in 1998. He had split his 4.6-metre tinny right up the middle, so badly, that the bilge pump could not keep up. After limping home defying the odds - and after some serious head scratching - he decided that pressed aluminum boats were as weak as, well at least this one was. Not the sort of bloke to sit around when there are fish to catch, so he says; "No worries, I'll build me own boat".
So off he goes and finds some plate aluminum and being a fitter and machinist by trade, he sets up in the carport at home and starts banging, welding and grinding on a new career. This, I'm sure would have impressed the neighbours normally, but on a five acre block in Humpty Doo, I don't think anyone noticed - except maybe his wife - but she is keen on fishing too (some women you just can't get away from!) so it's on.
Meanwhile, the fishing mates are down at the boat ramp on Sat'dy morn saying where's Gary? Someone said, "he's building a boat from the gunwales down". "Yeah, what's he gone troppo (or something more colourful)?" was the reply. But sure enough Garry turns up at Shady Camp with a brand spanker, no paint, no rails, but a serious fishing boat of his own design, ready to go, from scratch, in only five days. Garry has a motto - fishing is not a matter of life and death - it's much more serious than that!
The boat went well, so well in fact, that after only its second wetting, with some regret and some serious money, he parted with his first creation. Knowing he could build a better one and now being boatless he did just that. This time he finished it before putting it in the water, with all the bits and pieces he wanted. Things like built in kill tank, bait tank, under deck fuel tank, I think he even had a built in esky. Same story, put it in the water and someone buys it. This happened three times, each time a few more refinements, each time someone wants to buy it. By now Garry thinks he's onto something, so he sets up in the shed to do some more boat building. By the time he has finished his eighth boat in the shed, he realises that this is getting too much for one bloke, the orders are still coming in, he talks to the missus and the accountant and they decide to form a company and G.S.Marine is born.
Now with seven employees, Garry, and she who must be obeyed, the art of building fishing boats by fishermen for fishermen is well under way. There are plenty of tradesmen who don't fish, there are plenty of fishermen who can't build boats, somehow G.S. Marine manage to find good tradesmen who love to fish; herein I think lies the secret of success. Not only do these people build boats but they get to test them as well.
When you go out on a company fishing trip to Melville Island- across the Arafura sea- you want to make sure that everyone has done their job properly. The penalty for making the boss swim is death! Or worse still, surviving and having to come to work on Monday. Garry says that you have to take the crew fishing as much as possible; this keeps happy workers who put their hearts into every boat they build and also helps with the flow of fresh ideas.
The current shed at Humpty Doo is 450 square metres, give or take a mil, now building four boats at a time, with 10 confirmed orders and 30 quotes given the shed is getting too small. By the time this goes to print the factory will be 1000 square meters and I'm wondering if this will be enough.
So! You reckon that if Garry can do it then so can you?
Well, this is what you have to do.
First you have to call CAPRAL to deliver some serious marine grade plate, some bracing and some tube, mark out ya patterns and cut them out, if you can count to 300 number them! Spread all the bits out on the carport floor, start welding the hull and sides together, tack in some stringers, add some bracing - don't forget to allow for extra tanks and plumbing. Bend up a console and work out where it's going to live, tack up some gunwales, casting deck, bait tank, fuel tank, make sure you leave room for these when your putting in your braces!
Next! Call TALULAKRAKATINNY @Humpty Doo chicks.com. And tell her to bring a carton. When she arrives, crack the carton, throw one down and ask her to turn the boat over. Try to show some sympathy when she realises that this is no ordinary tinny and pops a blood vessel. Give her a six pack and say thanks. Then weld up the keel, sides, chines and transom, tack on the winch cleat, sponsons, some half-round on the keel and anything else you can think of while it's upside-down.
If you do the job properly this will be the last time you see ya boat in this position. Call TALULA and have her right the boat, then finish it off with shiny bits. Nothing to it, eh! On the other hand you can look at the workmanship that goes into these boats and give them a call.
Here is an idea of what you get
6.35-metre walk-around cab.
Start with a 5mm plate hull, 4mm plate sides, cut to your height requirements and 4mm plate deck, 6mm structural members (frames, stringers etc) walk-around cab/helm station, 240 litre fuel tank (under deck) 100 litre freshwater tank (under deck), front anchor well, storage lockers, live-bait tank, kill tank (self draining) filleting/bait board (removable), bow rails to your specs, hard top with rocket launcher, upholstery and carpet, two-Pak paint, graphics and logos. Throw in a three-year structural warranty and hull ID.
Of course you will want some accessories
|• Full stainless steel hardware fit-out (bollards, hinges, cleats, bow roller and five holders).
• Six and four gang switch panels.
• Bilge pump.
• Bait tank pump.
• Battery isolator.
• Six x fluro lights under gunwales.
• Cabin light.
• Docking/night fishing lights.
• Batteries x two.
• Battery boxes x two.
• Mini galley pump and tap (plumbed to fresh water tank).
• Deck wash pump and fittings.
• Anchors, reef and sand.
|• 100m x 10mm anchor rope.
• Tackle box storage lockers.
• Storage lockers, beneath helm seat.
• Bucket seats x four.
• Recessed seat on front of cab.
• Horizontal rod racks, port and starboard.
• Stainless steel latches for deck hatches.
• Fuel filter.
• Navigation lights.
• Inspection ports.
• Scuppers x two (to prevent backwash into boat).
• Fuel tank breathers.
• Sports steering wheel of your choice.
|• Hydraulic steering (bullhorn).
• Safety kit including: Paddles x two, life jackets x four, flare kit and container, EPIRB, V sheet, fire extinguisher.
• Heavy-duty tandem trailer with centre ladder bar support.
• 130hp Yamaha two-stroke. Extras not included in price that can be fitted at your request.
• Canopy (extended to transom).
• GPS, Sounder/fishfinder.
• Fuel monitoring system.
• Esky (standard or built in).
• VHF or 27 MHz radios.
Naturally, if you want anything different or want a little more input into the construction of your boat then all you have to do is ask. If you want a different size or design just ask. If you want some fishing tips? Then ask someone else 'cause they won't tell ya, I tried.
And now the serious stuff
Knowing the history of a boat builder and how the boats are built can be satisfying as well as giving you peace of mind. When you consider why the boats are built in the first place and what was available, how they are built and the purpose they are built for, you must have respect for this keen fisherman who was disappointed with a mass production boat. He was so frustrated with the amount of money needed to buy a boat that would suit the needs of serious fishermen, he decided to build his own. With the approach of firstly, putting into a boat what fishermen want, building it properly and giving value for money.
Having spent many hours in the workshop with Gary Quinn and his hand-picked staff, I have found them to be people of genuine integrity and commitment to their work, which shows in every boat they build. Having a sense of humour made my job easier and more enjoyable. When you start looking for a boat, you look for one that has your purpose in mind, has the ability to serve that purpose with comfort and confidence as well as affordable. Fishing is supposed to be a pleasurable pastime - in many cases a passion. You and your family want to know that when you go out you are going to come home, especially if they are with you. You don't want to be caught in a storm with rods, eskies, fuel tanks, lines, ropes, anchors, life jackets and all the other stuff you need for a day, spread out all over the deck, so you can't even bail the boat out if you have to.
G.S. Marine builds a range of boats from a 4.30-metre punt for the hobbyist through to the 7.25-metre profish for the professional. But, at the time of writing, a 7.25-metre cuddy cab and a 9.00-metre pleasure craft were on the drawing board. All these boats are of sturdy construction, made of quality materials, with safety and reliability being of the highest priority.
Add to this a professional finish and a common sense approach to storage, accessories, options and serving the purpose they are built for. Each model comes as a standard or with variations to suit the individual - providing the hull remains the same - personal input is not only recommend-ed, it is encouraged. Two boats were available on the day for testing.
The 635 centre console and the latest edition AQUA RAT 570 Tournament Classic punt. The 635 centre console (named MUNDI-ITIS) is Garry's personal boat. He actually managed to keep one, which has become somewhat of a flagship.
Sitting on the trailer it looked - SOLID - well finished with no paint below the chines, nothing to hide here. The shape is pleasing but a little different, it has tapered pods, running from just forward of amidships to the stern. A substantial wave-cutting bow that flattens out dramatically towards the stern to create a shallow draught. The rear is angled with steps and rails, the transom is substantial and buoyant allowing for 115-200hp power plants.
A peek over the gunwales reveals an excellent finish, marine carpet, flush-mount catches to all compartments eg; under deck fuel tank(s) water tank(s) bait tank, kill tank and so on. Stainless-steel fittings, hinges, bollards and electrical connectors for spot lights or other items. A decent size esky serves as a wide skipper's seat with room for two if you wish. The console has all the switches, lights and buzzers you want with room for extras. The console is positioned slightly rear of centre with plenty of room to walk around, fish from the rear, with big mobs of room up front.
Anchors, ropes, and safety gear are all stowed away in their own hatches; there is even room for your tackle. Rocket launcher, rod holders and canopy are positioned to give maximum room for moving of bodies and flicking of rods. This boat appears to be well thought out with attention to detail and the fisherman in mind. Power plant options and general layout and design would allow for several fishermen or a day out with the family, you could go skiing without any problems. At the time of writing G.S. Marine started building their own trailers, just to finish off the package. The trailers are built to suit the hull, so there is little or no adjustments necessary. Powder coated or galvanized, drive-on design with low centre of gravity, for ease of towing, ample rollers for ease of loading or unloading boats in minimum water. Disc brakes, stainless steel fittings, sealed lights - that don't go into the water anyway - easy maintenance design, with bearing buddies on axles. Ladder bar trailers send all weight to the keel-bar where it should be.
Towing the boats with a six-cylinder Falcon ute was easy and felt good with no noticeable annoyances. Weight distribution, cornering, tracking braking were all very good. Dropping the boats into the water was simple, put the back of the trailer in, release the cable and the boat rolls off. Make sure that you have a bowline attached.
The 635 centre console
Sitting in the water, it sits surprisingly flat, almost level. With a 200hp motor and a load of well-positioned goodies, the extra flotation of the pods and the buoyancy of the transom allow for even weight distribution and greater payloads as well as aiding a low draught posture. Having three blokes on board shows no visible difference. Pods are precisely placed according to boat length.
Acceleration is impressive, getting out of the hole very quickly. The boat levelled out with a different feeling, instead of the nose dropping, the stern seemed to lift - something I haven't felt in a power boat before. Instead of the boat pushing water and having to climb over it, the pods seem to channel water directly to the motor and push it up, using less power and fuel to get on the plane and stay there.
The ride of this boat was somewhat unexpected, feeling more like a 6.5-metre glass boat with no nasty wack or rattles that usually come with lightweight metal boats. The hydraulic steering is very smooth and direct with no locking points, engine fall over or roll pitch when cornering sharply. Cutting across another boats wake was virtually unnoticeable. Designed for blue water fishing, I would have no hesitation taking the boat to the Perrens or even to Bathurst Island. These new design hulls are paving pathways in construction and performance while delivering fuel economy, safety and confidence.
The AQUA RAT 570 Tournament Classic punt
Make no mistake this boat named Sum-Punt is a purpose-built vessel. Its purpose is to compete successfully in bass and barramundi fishing competitions. Looking more like a weapon than a fishing boat, this punt looks set to revolutionise the way serious competition fisherman go out to play. From its bullet shaped bow, with counter sunk spotlights that put light over the water in front of the boat with minimal glare, through to it's almost completely flat stern, this boat has everything you could want in a comp boat. Built in fuel tank, bait tank, self-draining kill tank, fresh water tank, esky, rod lockers, automatic aerator and boat wash-pump. None of these are visible. Sat-nav, course plotter, sounder, gauges, switch gear, polling platform above the motor - the list goes on.
Although not shown in photos, a 24-volt Minn-Kota genesis electric motor is mounted on the bow, with foot controls and seat for total control, four deep-cycle batteries are mounted under deck. Everything is built in; even the stainless steel retractable bollards are flush with the gunwales. The only thing on the deck is your feet and maybe a landing net. The presentation and attention to detail of this boat has to be seen to be believed. Sitting on the water Sum-Punt was level; moving from side-to-side across the spacious deck caused almost no movement, very stable at anchor. The 200hp High Pressure Direct Injection Yamaha didn't alter the level of the boat - it looked like it was on the plane just standing still. From a dead stop, push the throttle to halfway and the boat is out of the hole in less than 10 metres, the acceleration of this thing is incredible.
On the plane there is little more than a metre of hull on the water, creating little wake, which doesn't seem to spread. Doing 60km/h at 3500rpm the engine will easily take larger than a standard prop. This alters the boat's top speed to something close to low-level flight. With so little hull on the water the steering is surprisingly direct, with no cavitation or over steer in a sharp turn. Crossing another boats wake either parallel or a direct cross cut did little to the stability of the craft. Dropping the throttle back to neutral at speed did not lift the stern as it just slid to a stop.
Sum-Punt is an excellent fishing platform for rivers, lakes or even a bay where a short, sharp chop would not be a problem. However, this is a specific purpose craft designed for declared sheltered waters. As such it is extremely well designed and constructed for this purpose, with a great deal of forethought and common sense directed at competition fishing. I think you will go a long way to find anything that comes together like this package.
G.S. Marine has come from a frustrated fisherman, building his own boat, to a serious contender in the boat building industry, with ground breaking design and innovation in less than three years. Expansion beyond expectation, over whelming requests for personalised boats, and an enthusiasm for challenge has brought Garry and Sue Quinn and their crew to national recognition of the Territory way - hard work and common sense.
G.S. MARINE Pty Ltd Contact Garry Quinn, 30 Spencely Road;
Humpty Doo, NT. Tel: (08) 8988 9389. Fax: (08) 8988 9387.
PO Box 1066, Howard Springs, NT 0835.
Steve Timmons is Club Marine's new Top End correspondent. He originally comes from Melbourne but catching flathead off Mordialloc didn't appeal to him much so he headed up the track to Darwin. But we'll let him tell his own story - he tells it better than we can.
I'm Stephen Timmons.
I am 46-and-a-half-years of age, medium build (except for my belly) and I stand five foot six with two pairs of socks on. Born and bred in Melbourne at the tail end of the baby boom, I've had more jobs than birthdays. I've tried many occupations from abalone sheller to deck hand, farm hand, truck driver, operations manager and a few I don't talk about. Dad used to take me fishing as a kid and that was good, but somehow catching flathead off Mordialloc didn't quite do it. I have also had a long-standing fascination with the bush. I don't know why, I just do.
Being frustrated with life as I knew it, I decided to alter my future, so off I went to visit a mate, Harry Bowman, who owns a safari tour business (Hunter Safaris), which mostly does Kakadu and stuff around Darwin. This was a real eye opener; I didn't know that this type of thing was only a week's drive away within this great land. Being from down south, the excitement and adventure of the Top End was like a whole new world without the need of a passport. Totally captivated by the Top End and its people, I gave serious thought to running away from home to start a new life in the Territory.
While considering the what ifs, all the if onlys, and all the how to explains, I nearly stepped on an olive python (snake - large!) I jumped sideways, because he certainly wasn't going to, and smacked my head on a Pandanas (type of tree). This sat me on my bum and made the stars jump around in my brain. During this brief moment, the spinning gigabytes of my neural pathways, came to a complete stop and out popped a 'philosophy' that I try to live by whenever I wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life.
All the I'm sorrys, all the if onlys, and all the why didn't Is of yesterday are past, and the past cannot be altered. However, I do have the ability to alter my future by the decisions I make today. To alter the future is a gift, today is a gift, that is why it is called the present. So I opened my present to see what's outside, the Adelaide River, mud crabs, foot-prawns and barramundi that have to feed three people before you can keep them legally. Okay! Sounds good to me.
I went back to Melbourne, tied up some loose ends, packed a bag, threw my camera in the car and headed north. Being the sort of bloke who is more excited about getting there than planning, I got half-way to Adelaide before I realised that I had nowhere to live. I eventually found an old bus that had been converted to a home (a 1962 GM Clipper), sold my car on a hand-shake to a friend of a friend, threw my bag and camera on board and drove to Darwin. Harry said that I could camp on his block at Middle Point, situated between a barramundi farm and the Harrison Dam hunting reserve, three miles across the flood plain to 10 acres of Adelaide River front.
If I couldn't catch or shoot a feed, I could always sneak one from next door! If this is a mid-life crisis, then bring it on. Yeah! This was home for the first year; the middle of a flood plain. In typical bloke fashion, I went about learning, don't ask for help, just keep going till you find out, usually the hard way. My first boat, for example, I borrowed a 12-foot aluminium punt with a 15hp outboard. I had only been in the water for half- an-hour, when I met a salt-water crocodile that was bigger than the boat - I went home! I've got a bigger boat now, a 5.25 Stacer with a 90hp Johnson, I still see big crocs but they don't scare me as much now. But probably the most important encounter I had was one night when I was relocating some snakes (the native rats were getting into everything, so I thought I would bring in a few extras).
The native rats as well as the snakes are protected, but so am I, so I thought I would help the balance of nature on my block. Anyway, I was struggling with this six-foot python, which was wrapped firmly around my arm, while I was attempting to put it into a bag, when a torch-light came over my shoulder. "What are you doing?" said a voice, "Oh nothing," said I, as I continued trying to shove the python in my bag. The voice belonged to Denise Goodfellow, ornithologist, author, biologist and greenie, who was out doing nocturnal bird watching with two American tourists. Neither she nor the American's believed my story about the rats so they followed me home across the flood plain to make sure I wasn't going to eat the snake. Well we have since become friends, and that particular snake ate one rat and went to sleep for two weeks! So that didn't work. Denise rang me one day and asked if I could take her and some bird watchers upstream for a couple of days, 50km upstream there is a small island, deep in the wetlands, in pristine wilderness, excellent for bird watching and really good for fishing.
The island has four air-conditioned rooms, toilet, showers, kitchen, BBQ, generator and spectacular sunsets. I tracked down the owners one night at the Humpty-Doo pub to ask them if I could rent the rooms for a tour, they said, "Why don't you lease the island?" Is this my lucky day or what? So I moved the bus (sorry it's a coach and I'm her captain, yelled a retired driver) to Humpty Doo where it serves as an office and handy stop over if I stay at the pub too long. So now I'm off to start a new life fishing, taking photos and the odd tour for the few who know about me. The island is situated about 110ks up stream from the mouth, 30ks by boat from the nearest road, (Arnhem Highway) 131deg 33min east, by 12 deg 45 min south. About 30 acres, or just over 12 hectares in the dry season, in the wet it varies, sometimes nothing.
The locals call the place Goat Island, which I find strange, the only goats that ever stayed here didn't live long enough to mate, crocs love kids. Local fishos stay overnight. Barramundi is the favoured catch, using lures or live bait, such as cherebin (fresh-water prawns), mullet or tarpon if you know how to catch them. Fly-fishing is becoming popular in the river for catching live bait and also, with some heavier gear, the elusive barramundi. Creeks, run-offs, snags and rock-bars plus a serious tide make for great fishing, the river with it's bamboo-lined banks, variety of trees and wild life, as diverse as St Kilda on Saturday night, makes spectacular viewing.
A long way from home and travelling
alone, yet feeling a long way from
Seeing new places, making new
friends, a well being I had dreams of
The deep blue sea the wide brown
lands, a lot less people yet more
Long summer days and no winter
nights, knock'em down winds and
Long desert highways, pandanas and
palms and the sun every day browning
It's nice to know that I'm welcome
here, with the spirit of adventure that I
love so dear.
So I packed up my things and in
Darwin I be, there's a new life waiting
for my camera and me.
Steve's company Wetland Photography and Fishing Safari's can be contacted by calling 0407 958 531.