This 1986 Quintrex Fishmaster project boat is named Balancing Act. Appropriate, given restorer Simon

Project Boats | 1986 Quintrex Fishmaster Cuddy

It’s what every fishing family man desires – one boat that does it all. But as many mariners have discovered, this is a big ask – a boat that can get you offshore in confidence, but one which can also tow the kids around the estuary the following afternoon…

They are out there however, and the trusty ol’ Quintrex is a good place to start, if for no other reason than they’ve been building tough Aussie boats for many decades.

Simon Hall had such a scenario in mind when he began his search for an all-rounder project boat.

Based at Pelican Point, South Australia, Simon has a wealth of boating options at his doorstep – bluewater trips out of Port Macdonnell, local inshore fishing, and a great ski destination just across the Victorian border at Nelson River.

“It’s hard to get an all-rounder boat to suit a family, ocean, river, fishing, diving, skiing, but I was determined,” Simon told us.

Incredibly, he travelled all the way to Dubbo to find the boat of his dreams, a 5m Quintrex Fishmaster – the same boat dragged across reef, rocks and mud flats by the legendary Malcolm Douglas.


Young Connor looking pretty pleased with dad’s new purchase: a 1986 Quintrex Fishmater cuddy.

After looking over his “diamond in the rough.” Simon towed it home and booked her into the local mechanic, but still encountered ongoing engine troubles (including a hastily aborted first trip out), before handing the Quinny and its ageing Suzuki to local specialist Daniel James who soon had it purring.

Along with adding features such as handrails, bowsprit, shelves, toe rails and a dive ladder, Simon also went to work (literally) for Loundes Abrasive Blasting at Mt Gambier to help pay for his new paint job. Now that’s dedication…

Next came the accessories: underfloor fuel tanks, perspex screen, twin aerials, bimini and storm covers, EPIRB, electronics and even a hookah system (for chasing crays).


The old interior was pretty scruffy before the refit.

Of course, any decent resto job needs a proper name. too. “I’d been working on a name for the boat during the rebuild,” Simon said.

“With a very patient wife Annie, plus myself doing shiftwork at a local mill and three great kids, the name Balancing Act came into play, because that’s what life is.” With the help of Graham Alm, new vinyl and lettering were applied to the Quinny by Brumby’s Signs and the job was done.

Simon was also keen to thank the following people: “my very patient wife Annie and my great kids Georgia, Connor and Layla; Macsheet Metal; Loundes Abrasive Blasting; Paxford Canvas; Swampy’s of Naracoorte; Graham Alm and also the guys at Mt Gambier Hydraulics.”


Primed up and ready for a fresh topcoat.

Fresh paint and a new bimini brightened her up.


Rebuilt engine bay and rear steps with rails for diving.


Simon loves his diving so a hookah system takes pride of place between the helm seats.


The timeless Quintrex Fishmaster profile – plenty of protection behind that screen. 


Skiboat one day, tuna chaser the next.




ENGINE 1998 Suzuki two-stroke outboard

TRAILER 1999 Dunbier


TOTAL COST $18,000



From Simon

1. Don’t be an upgrader, be a perfectionist.

2. A good engine mechanic is worth his weight in gold.

3. Test the engine thoroughly when buying – not just with outboard muffs.

4. Old boats can be good boats.

5. Use local specialists where you can.

6. Have a supportive family!