Mercury FourStroke spends 2300 hours with crocs

IT’S a daunting environment – tropical heat, mud and about 150 crocodiles.

Every day Whitsunday Crocodile Safari takes tourists into the mud-filled mangrove estuaries along the Proserpine River in Queensland’s tropical north where they get up close with some of our most formidable wildlife. And for the past two years a 60hp Mercury FourStroke has had the job of getting everyone out there and back, racking up 2300 hours of trouble-free operation.

The average boatie might notch up 100 hours in the same time. Steve Watson has been running Whitsunday Crocodile Safari as an eco-tourism attraction for the past 15 years.

“I’m very happy with the engine,” Steve said. “We’ve had Mercurys for most of the past 15 years except for the engine this one replaced.

“That one was the biggest lemon! But since we moved back to Mercury we’ve had no problems really.”

The boat tour, which takes two hours or more, involves a specialised aluminium viewing vessel that can take up to 31 people and tips the scales at 4.5 tonnes all up. Along with the crocs, guests explore the mangrove ecosystem and observe other inhabitants including birds, fish and crustaceans including the Queensland mud crab.

“The FourStroke is nice and quiet, which is what we want, and its reliability has been great,” Steve said. “Most of the time we operate from idle to mid-range, but we need that top-end power when we have to make sure everyone gets back to the landing in time.”

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Mark McNally from Whitsunday Outboard Centre is the man who installed the engine. “The hours are pretty impressive when you consider the mud, heat and the fact there’s still plenty of salt in the water,” he said. “I looked at the numbers and it would take the average fisher more than 30 years to hit 2300 hours, which puts it in perspective.

“Put it this way: I’m impressed but not surprised. Mercury builds good engines.”

For more information, contact Whitsunday Crocodile Safari (www.crocodilesafari.com.au), Whitsunday Outboard Centre (www.whitsundayoutboardcentre.com.au) or Mercury Marine (www.mercurymarine.com.au)

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