SEAFARER

words - Mark Bracks
Seafarer's new Victory 6.0 is an awesome-looking rig. Yeah, we know, first impressions aren't always accurate... but it's pretty damn satisfying when they are, writes Mark Bracks
A company is doing something right if it's been going for nearly 50 years. A case in point is Queensland boatbuilder Seafarer.

Besides being one of Australia's most respected boatbuilders, Seafarer is family owned. Current principal owner Lindsay Fry is the son of founder Doug; and as you'd expect, he's been into fishing and boating most of his life.

Lindsay knows each part of the manufacturing process intimately. It's a pretty safe bet to assume he's seen more blueprints than those boffins at NASA - and, for that matter, probably manufactures a better-finished craft!

From an initial gander, any Seafarer is a class act in its attention to detail, design, finish and practicality; and the new Victory 6.0 is definitely no exception. If anything, it will further enhance the company's well-established reputation, and prove yet again that you don't have to look outside the "circle" of Australia to find a world-class craft.

BLESSED VERSION
The Victory Mark III is another version of a successful model initially released in 1992 as a 5.9m model before adding the extra 10cm in 1997.

Originally, the Victory was unashamedly aimed at the serious fisho and quickly became a craft of choice. But a few subtle options can add versatility to an already adaptable craft.

That's not to say that fishermen have been ignored, however, as in my opinion hardcore fishing is still in the Victory's design brief - an option of up to 18 rodholders is proof! But it can also be used as a pleasure craft whenever the time comes to take the other half and the tin lids out for a day of fun and frivolity.

Thirteen years on, the cuddy maintains the status quo; and while there have been no major structural changes, the top deck and bulkhead have been redesigned to provide even more strength for an already safe boat.

HACKING COUGH
We sampled the craft at Port Hacking, south of Sydney, which provided closed waters as well as being close to the deep blue to taste its swell-riding capabilities.

The basis for Seafarer's reputation starts with the fibreglass hull, which features reverse double-lift chines right through to the transom. Seafarer claims this offers more lift, thereby enabling easier planing and better handling while not pushing as much water.

Seafarer also claims extra strength, with a longitudinal and transverse stringer system with a double coating so the craft will not lose structural strength. The company also offers through-hull sounder transducers as standard.

The 2005 model further fine-tunes an already successful design, and with the high resale value of a Seafarer, the Victory is a pretty wise investment.

 COMFORTABLY NUMB
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the Victory 6.0 a very well-designed craft. From the outset, it's one of those craft that you know would be very easy to become comfortable with.

Starting from the bow, a generous access hatch reveals an anchor well that can also hold a windlass. Some folk may disagree with a hatch at the front due to sealing in heavy going, but it is a firm fit, yet is easy to open. My preference is a hatch, as it negates the need for an opening screen.

The cabin isn't the largest I've ever seen, but it is well utilised. It has plenty of storage and enough room to bed down with the missus and the young tackers. A few of the lads could even have a kip on a night's fishing without too much drama.

There's also an option for a Porta-Potti head - hidden under the bed - with a privacy curtain.

On the craft we tested, the comms and stereo gear (UHF/VHF 28meg radio and separate CD player) were also in the cuddy, but these can be flush-mounted in the dash for easier reach if you so desire. However, having them hidden in the cuddy does keep them out of the elements.

Speaking of the elements, the wraparound screen with optional clears is right up there in the protection stakes. It's only a really big spray that folk sitting astern will have to worry about.

EASY TO READ, EASY TO REACH
The cockpit and helm are what you would expect of Seafarer: easy to read and easy to reach. The dash features all the usual array of instruments, with black figures on white backgrounds with stainless-steel bevel surrounds.

This particular Victory featured a Furuno GP1850WP that tells you everything except next week's lotto numbers. There is enough room to fit up to a 10in screen without sacrificing any instrumentation, and there's also a handy glovebox.

The pilot's seat is adjustable fore and aft, so body size is not an issue. The seat also offers plenty of height for vision, both cruising and docking, and features extra storage bins for tackleboxes and the like.

The deck is spacious and would welcome a few mates to hog a corner while still having room to move about. There's four rodholders in the hull and extra ones for storage in the spacious gunwale compartments, as well as the optional burley muncher and oars. The gunwale compartments also have stainless footrails as standard to assist disembarking.

Other options for the deck include six rocket launchers on the targa, plus the four that come with the optional removable baitboard (with stainless-steel drawer).

 FEATURE PACKED
The Victory now has an optional removable circular table at the stern, with handy drinkholders for your coldies. This table complements the folding stern seat, which features extended support that wraps around the gunwales, allowing passengers to stretch out in comfort while you motor to your destination.

There's also plenty of grabrails around the cabin to hang onto when the going gets rough, while tucked away underneath is a 180lt fuel tank. Pop-out carpet is an option, as it can be glued; although for the fisho, the non-slip floor is a bonus.

Another welcome option that's becoming increasingly common is a washdown hose. This particular one is serviced by an optional 60lt freshwater tank.

Powering the lot is the latest marine technology, with the new-generation 225hp E-Tec Evinrude hanging off the stern. That stern, incidentally, includes two boarding steps an optional boarding ladder, and two livebait tanks (one plumbed). Little is lost with the pod - a feature Seafarer has improved upon.

Yet another improvement for security and peace of mind is the new Data Dot identification, which also comes standard.

PRAISE YOU
So after my tour of the craft, off we headed with a few folk from Bombardier to have a ride. It's hard not to sound like blurb from a brochure, because the Victory really is one almighty craft.

Obviously with a 225hp V6 Evinrude hanging off the stern, performance is not an issue (see side panel on the previous page). The boat's get-up-and-go fully complements its outstanding finish.

It can reach a top speed of just over 100kmh in a flash, and the Victory gives one of the better rides in a fibreglass hull that I've encountered. Maybe that's because of Seafarer's fibreglass matting system. Riding the swell out to the open waters of Port Hacking, I was bracing myself for the jolt that comes after having the entire kit and caboodle out of the water; but the craft negotiates the rough stuff with hardly a whimper.

Handling is exceptional, and no matter how much power is applied through the throttle, steering is precise. It holds a line well when turned as hard as you're game. It maintains the input without any protest - in fact, it loves being pushed hard!

There's no vagueness whatsoever in its handling - wherever you point the Victory, it heads with confidence. All of this instils confidence in an owner; and, more importantly, his passengers.

ALL SEASONS
If you're an all-out offshore fisho, this craft is the one for you. But if dangling a line is only part of the job description for your wave-tamer, then this is the boat for all bars. It converts from a skiboat to a fishboat or a leisure craft in an instant.

I've ridden in a few Seafarers over the years, but it's been quite a while between drinks. It only took a small taste of a Victory to reinforce my opinion of what a fantastic Australian design they are.

The $80,000 pricetag for an optioned-up craft with 225hp may be out of the range of some. If so, the $60,000 for the basic model will be more attractive. If there was one boat you could possess till you head to Davy Jones' den, you'd be hard pressed to go with anything else.



HIGHS

  • Immaculate finish and attention to detail
  • Superb ride in swell and chop
  • Weather protection
  • Resale value
  • Excellent versatility to convert between fishing and leisure craft
LOWS

  • Price will be a deterrent to those on limited budgets
  • Placement of radios close by in helm would be better


Evinrude E-Tec 225hp
Anyone who thought the two-stroke engine was dead will surely be suffering from much "burley on face", as the often-maligned combustion engine has undergone a rebirth that will ensure its survival well into the 21st century.

Performance in the new direct-injection (DI) systems is leagues ahead of traditional two-strokes, offering better low-down response than carby and fuel-injected two-strokes of equivalent size.

The physics are supported by Bombardier's claims for the quicker injection time over Direct Injection engines using a computer-based electronic engine management system for precise fuel quantities delivered via a revised injector. This fuel is injected at a pressure of 600psi - over 40 per cent more than some DIs.

Some may be put off by the extra price of an E-Tec, but over the years the extra bucks will return fuel savings, less maintenance and better performance. For instance, in 35 hours of use, the demo 225hp E-Tec used just 3.8lt of oil at roughly a litre per 10 hours. So it'll be a while between topping up the 10lt tank.

As for fuel economy, the fuel-flow meter on the Seafarer Victory claims that at full noise at 6000rpm (over 100kmh), 76.4lt would be chewed in an hour. But for average boating you'd expect to burn anywhere between 17 and 30lt/h.

BRP is so trusting of the reliability of its engines that it offers a three-year non-declining warranty, and boasts a service interval of three years or 300 hours for sparkplug replacement, timing adjustments, and oil and filter changes. There's no running-in required either.

In the event of a flat battery, the E-Tec can still be started via its magneto electronics.

It pushes the hull onto the plane in an instant, and from then on at full throttle it's a case of hanging on tight. But that's only part of it. The midrange power of the 225 is remarkable - and that's where the engine spends most of its rev life. Throttle response is smooth and immediate.

There aren't many two-strokes where a conversation at the helm without shouting is possible, especially in the upper rev range. This aspect of the E-Tec is yet another bonus. Also, the smell of oil at idle is nowhere near as invasive as other two-stokes.

Two-strokes have less moving parts, which means there is less metal to attract salt corrosion - and that's gotta be good!

Sales figures reflect the interest as the new generation DI two-stroke engines are included in the "Clean Engine" category along with four-strokes. In recent times, the segment has grown approximately 30 per cent over the previous year, with just a 10 per cent increase over four-strokes.




SEAFARER VICTORY 6.0
Price as tested: $79,990
Options fitted:
225hp Evinrude E-Tec, windlass, 60lt freshwater tank, folding targa and rocket launchers, clip-in carpet, lining in sidepockets, Porta-Potti and curtain, VHF radio, CD player, Furuno colour sounder, berley bucket and muncher, re-boarding ladder, deluxe baitboard with drawer, extra rocket launchers and drainage, wrap deluxe stern lounge, seat boxes, removable cockpit table, twin batteries, electric sensor brake trailer
 
Priced from: $60,000 w/ 175hp Johnson two-stroke, standard bimini, sounder and radio, and Seafarer MT 190 classic trailer
 
GENERAL
Material: Fibreglass
Length (overall): 6.45m
Beam: 2.4m
Deadrise: 21º
Weight: 1050kg
 
CAPACITIES
Rec/max hp: 175/225
Fuel: 140lt
Water: 60lt (optional)
Passengers: Seven adults
 
ENGINE
Make/model: Evinrude E-Tec 225
Type: DI injected V6 two-stroke
Rated hp: 225
Displacement: 3279cc
Weight: 240kg
Drive (make/ratio): Outboard 2:1
Props: 17in stainless
 
SUPPLIED BY Coast Marine, 27 Gateway Drive, Labrador, Gold Coast, tel (07) 5563 8833; or Seafarer, tel (07) 5531 6939, email: info@seafarerboats.com or visit www.seafarerboats.com





Published : Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. boatsales.com.au makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.

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