While the Australian aluminium trailerboat market seems to have been dominated by overseas manufacturers in recent years, locals like the Sea Cruiser SC7000 are fighting back, says John Willis.
BOAT TEST – SEA CRUISER SC7000
Upon seeing Victoria’s treacherous Shipwreck Coast, which stretches around 130km from Moonlight Head to Cape Otway, famed explorer Mathew Flinders said (at least according to Wikipedia), “I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline”.
Having spent many of my youthful years surfing Victoria’s west coast, I have no hesitation in agreeing with the Mr Flinders. The Shipwreck Coast haunts and taunts with tales of huge seas, difficult navigation and horrendous carnage.
However, in recent years one species has made a very welcome return to these waters: the southern bluefin tuna (SBT). The recovery of the SBT fishery has pumped millions of dollars through west-coast spots like Warrnambool, Portland, Port Fairy and Port MacDonnell, with trailer-mounted vessels arriving like bees at the honey pot. This has seen a real growth of large trailerboats capable of the long ocean trek to the continental shelf, some 50km offshore.
And this development is what spawned the all-new Sea Cruiser SC7000, a 7m plate aluminium hardtop from Richardson Marine in Warrnambool.
Edward Richardson has a background in boat building as well as in professional and recreational fishing, and he knows what he wants in a boat. He teamed up with his friend Wayne Howell to produce a craft that combines all of the desired elements in a tough and extremely seaworthy craft. And she’s a beauty.
We tested the boat, just the second from the production line, off of Warrnambool in a 1.5m swell with 5-10kts winds. I had also had a ride in RM’s first presentation, a 7m twin outboard-powered hardtop prototype, and was most impressed.
Local Victorian dairy farmer Paul Dumesny had also seen the potential in the hull and commissioned Edward to build his new dream machine, but for this one he wanted diesel power. It was back to the drawing board to perfect the overall design, which meant raising both the sheer line and the dash height, and changing some ergonomics and fittings. But the basis of the package remained virtually the same.
A Yanmar 6BY2-260 six-cylinder, turbo-charged, water-cooled, common-rail in-line diesel, with Yanmar’s ZT370 duo-prop stern drive, was selected as the engine of preference, and I must say it’s a far more pleasant package to drive than its major rival, particularly in terms of noise levels and harmonics. There is very little induction noise, but rather a comforting diesel hum.
The six-cylinder Yanmar gives exceptionally satisfying power out of the hole, with virtually no lag in torque throughout the range. At a realistic offshore travelling speed of 21.5kts (40kmh), the package returns sensational economy of around 18L/hr at 2650rpm, as well as smooth gearshifting and great slow-speed manoeuvrability. Its torque easily holds the big tinny on the back of a swell and there’s even distribution of power right through the rev range.
It proved a little hard to get a confirmed WOT reading in the swell, but I believe it to be around 32kts (59.2kmh) at 4100rpm, where it returns a thrifty 51L per hour. At fast trolling speeds for bibless lures and skirts you can expect a low 3L per hour, and Paul Dumesny told me he used 107L during a 201km journey at sea.
The ride is so soft and predictable that I was surprised to hear it was a 5mm hull, rather than 6mm, and the 4mm sides and structure are all built like a tank. In fact, after scrambling onto the roof of the hardtop I think it may just be the most solid structure available.
With no crash or bang in the chop, she rides with a lovely attitude and there is great all-round vision through the 8mm toughened-glass windscreen.
The boat sits up on a solid keel, a pair of full-length strakes and reverse chines on the shoulders reducing to hard chines at the stern. She is responsive to trim and only needs tabs to balance side windage or an uneven load.
Power transmission through the Yanmar duo-prop leg is very positive in forward and reverse. To put it simply, the SC7000 fills you with confidence.
On noticing the SC7000’s lack of opening side windows, I asked Edward about their absence. He assured me they were an option, before explaining there would probably be two days a year when you would use them in his hunting grounds – I had just happened to arrive on one of them. Regardless, I prefer side access in populated areas when travelling at night, with regard to salt crystallising on the screen and reducing vision.
Edward’s time in commercial boats reflects in the Sea Cruiser’s design. There are grab holds wherever you need them, while the dash height and layout is comfortable and affords good all-round vision. There is a stainless steering wheel with a fast-action knob for easy manoeuvrability and the overhead radio console is within easy reach. The rear of the hardtop sensibly has a baffle and drain to stop spray running off the back and into the cockpit.
The helm is comfortable whether sitting or standing, and instrument selection – Garmin GPSMAP 4008, Garmin GPSMAP 5008 touchscreen for the plotter, Yanmar I5600 integrated NMEA digital displays, binnacle control, Garmin GHP10 auto-pilot and twin six-gang waterproof switch panels – shows practical taste and function without being over the top. The binnacle control has electronic throttle with mechanical shift, and they are smooth and instantaneous.
The passenger has a solid grab bar and plenty of shelf storage on the dash and side pockets. The upholstered shell-style seats have gas strut suspension and are mounted to aluminium boxes with tackle trays. There are also unique cradles for two large iceboxes with padded lids.
The deep, fully lined cabin is home to a standard vee-berth with storage, side pockets and a survey-quality hatch, but no toilet.
Back outside, you can walk around the cabin quite comfortably with plenty of foot room and grab holds. The bow rail is also survey-standard and made from nicely curved 32mm alloy tube.
Sea Cruiser even makes its own cotton-reel-style winch. It’s a powerful beast with 150m of 6mm blue Dyneema rope, 8m of 10mm chain and a Sarca No 2 used for anchoring in 100m of water when chasing harpuka, blue eye and trumpeter on the edge of the shelf.
The fishability of the cockpit is excellent. Sea Cruiser has done a wonderful job of enclosing the compact engine in a functional box that takes up minimal cockpit room.
Many fishos just look for huge open deck areas but, in reality, there is something to be said for being able to lock yourself into the corners with support and grab holds.
The excellence of the layout further shines with a plumbed livebait tank with inspection window, along with a large cutting board with knife shelf and three rod holders, all of which are incorporated into the box construction. Batteries, plumbing and switchgear are locked away in rear hatches out of harm’s way, and the deck scuppers are big, simple hinged flaps that work very well.
The rubber-lined non-skid deck will easily house four anglers and is surrounded by side pockets, rod holders and full-length grab rails, and there are twin flooding kill tanks big enough for a small tuna or two underfoot.
The stern features a pair of platforms, a fin-friendly dive / access ladder and a manual diaphragm bilge pump for survey conditions. There is an interesting curved bar protecting the duo-prop leg that also stops that nasty fishing line from destroying the prop seals.
And to finish off a quality presentation, the name of Paul’s home base of Port Fairy has been laser-cut as part of the engine box ventilation. Nice touch, boys.
You would have to be a bit careful backing into a sea with the transom construction, but I generally find that most game fishing in trailerboats is done by chasing a fish in forward gear.
At the end of a long day it’s really nice to lock yourself into the hardtop and cruise home through the rough safely, comfortably and economically, with
that added confidence of a big, reliable diesel engine.
Diesels do add considerably to the initial purchase price, but with a realistic outlay of around $170,000 (as tested), including the custom alloy trailer (see breakout on page 66), the Sea Cruiser SC7000 should provide many years of economical and reliable service in long-range recreational or commercial applications. This is a serious boat for a serious fisherman.
ON THE PLANE…
· Big, tough and strong
· Seakeeping ability
· Built for serious offshore fishing
· Looks great – even without paint
· Low noise for large diesel
DRAGGING THE CHAIN…
· No sliding side windows
· We didn’t get to go fishing
Aluminium trailers seem to be all the rage at the moment. We are constantly striving to tow bigger and bigger boats with less weight, and while aluminium is lighter than steel, it is generally not as strong and it can lead to disaster if not manufactured properly. While aluminium has the advantage of rust resistance, there are other issues of concern such as fatigue and electrolysis.
Aluminium reacts badly when in contact with most other metals, which means fittings, bolts and assembly require special care. Aluminium must also have thicker sections, more frame and extra gusseting on welded sections because of the greater flex in the metal that causes premature weakening, commonly called fatigue.
However, the good news is that an aluminium trailer can withstand the life of the boat if made correctly, and the custom Sea Cruiser trailer from Richardson Marine is a good example of a well-made trailer. This trailer features heavy gauge “C” and “I” section beams throughout, so there is no water retained in box sections. The main channels are rolled to shape and framed using seven fully welded and gusseted
A complete sliding carriage supports two Al-Ko independent rubber torsion suspension axles. You can easily slide the carriage backward and forward to adjust the correct drawbar weight for safe towing. Any steel sections are isolated or insulated.
In my opinion, roller trailers were dinosaurs 20 years ago, particularly for plate aluminium boats. A simple vee cradle with Teflon (actually high-density polyethylene) skids is much more efficient, easier to drive on and off and requires very little maintenance.
Thankfully, Sea Cruiser trailers have a very good Teflon-coated entry point and a strong winch post.
Sea Cruiser, and a small number of other manufacturers, should be congratulated for doing it right.
6.8kts (12.6kmh) @1500rpm
14kts (25.9kmh) @ 2400rpm
16.5kts (30.5kmh) @ 2650rpm
23.5kts (43.5kmh) @ 3200rpm
27kts (50kmh) @ 3600rpm
32kts (59.2kmh) @ 4100rpm (WOT) (approximate figures in sea trial conditions)
Specifications: SEA CRUISER SC7000
Price as tested: $170,000
Options fitted: Yanmar Diesel and duo prop sterndrive; Garmin 5008 and 4008; Garmin GHP 10 auto pilot; under-gunwale LED lighting; Fusion RA50 stereo; Garmin VHF100i; GME 27MHz radio; Volvo QL trim system; Sea Cruiser drum winch; extension rod holders; windscreen wipers.
Priced from: $115,000
Type: Plate aluminium
Material: Plate aluminium
Weight BMT: 2850kg
Rec. HP: 250
Max. HP: 300
Every boats is custom built.
Make/model: Yanmar 6BY2-260 with ZT370 duo-prop sterndrive
Type: In-line, four-stroke, six-cylinder, water-cooled, common-rail, direct-injection, waste-gated, turbo-charged, inter-cooled diesel
Weight: Engine 315kg, sterndrive 112kg (with Yanmar propellers)
Gear ratio: 1.97
Propeller: 2 x 22in Yanmar stainless steel counter-rotating
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
1056-1058 Raglan Parade
Tel: (03) 5562 6373
Originally published in TrailerBoat #292