FORMOSA 520 TOMAHAWK
Formosa 520 Tomahawk
I had long looked at the Formosa boats from around 2009 onwards - thinking that one day, I'd love to own one. After owning the Yalta 535 for only 6 months, I wanted to get 'the right' boat that would last me for years without regret. This meant big enough to take the family, get to some reasonable spots, but easy enough to manage at the ramp solo. I was looking at new boats - specifically the Sea Jay Ranger centre console model. It had the aluminium floor which was a big plus.
After plenty of research and getting quotes (of which included new Formosa 480 classic models) it just so happens that on the way to work, I pass a boat dealership every day. Now it isn't a coincidence that I notice an awesome looking Formosa in their yard (Mercury/Quintrex yard). Days go by, even a week or so. Eventually, I go in for a look - more or less to erase it from my list as I think it's too big to handle solo. As I walk around it, it looks quite big. The 115 etec looked substantial and in good condition, as did the hull and trailer.
Soon enough, Scott (owner) strolls out and starts his sales pitch - the boat is on consignment as the seller has already bought another boat. I relayed my concern of it being too big. "Let's take it for a run," he says. Ten minutes later we're launching this fine boat out of Urangan Harbour. I take control - the tacho, electronic gauges aren't working. Out of the harbour I open it up as we head for the yellow marker, 40, 45, 50km/hr and it didn't sound like it was maxing out just yet. Felt good. Upon return, Scott demonstrated how to drive the boat on the trailer - he let me have a couple of goes - not too difficult I thought, but still not confident.
Within a week, I had my deposit down and had secured the 2010 Formosa 520 Tomahawk CC with 115 etec. The Tomahawk model is the Formosa up-spec'd model which has a sealed aluminium deck. Some of the extras that came were: Lowrance HDS7 Gen 1, brand new GME VHF, under gunnel LED lighting, live bait tank, bait board, rod holders along pockets, deck wash, dual batteries and isolator, a dodgy MP3 system, live bait tank, large front storage, large dive board and ladder, etc. The engine read 285 hours on the electronic display, however I got a diagnostic over it at the local etec dealer, and it read 130 hours - nothing major had been replaced to explain the discrepancy - they put it down to the previous owner leaving the key 'on'.
The day I picked this awesome boat up (freshly serviced) I went straight to pick Cal up from daycare. He was stoked to see it on the way out. We parked it in the driveway and took photos and let him get used to it. The deep sides (freeboard) are brilliant.
In the first year of ownership, we've had some great family trips, great fishing trips - both solo and with a few different blokes, and overall I'm very pleased with it. I still walk up the driveway as I get ready to wash it after a trip, and think 'That is one sexy boat!'
The handling in smooth water is obviously great, as with any boat. In oncoming chop it definitely requires trim down - the extra wide front makes it jump more than other boats I've owned. But once trimmed down and driven to the conditions, it definitely feels safe. I much prefer the centre console feel, where I am standing and in the middle of the boat a lot more than the half cab feel of being seated, forward and to one side. In my opinion, I prefer the Formosa's ride over the Yalta's.
Adding the bimini was a fairly cheap addition which definitely helps on those hot summer days. It's really quick to put up and to store away if not wanted. Coming additions in 2016 are hopefully, Motorguide Xi5 bow mount electric motor - to basically replace the anchor and depending on funds a HDS sounder/gps to link with the Xi5. Down the track (5+ years), I'll hopefully upgrade the engine to a 140hp - this will require rebadging. The 115 is adequate, but a 140 would be better!
My initial concerns of the etec from what I'd read on the internet were quickly brought into perspective. I phoned the coastguard to ask if they saw any particular models fail more than others, particularly etecs. They replied "They're all much the same. None, more than others." They also went on to say pretty much all modern engines were mostly reliable, and most recoveries were from people not taking enough fuel, flat batteries, etc. I also frequented the ramp and noticed quite the fair share of etecs - even sparking a conversation with a few. They were all happy. One bloke on a forum PM'd me and warned me not to buy one from his experience - but from the diagnostic, the coastguard, the convos with boaties and the number of happy users online, and the price of the package - I bought it. So far, so good. Touchwood!