Published: 3 March 2017, by David Lockwood. Photos by Rene Mitchell-Pitman
Read the full review at Boatsales.com.au: Seafarer Vagabond 6.2 X-series: Fishing Boat Review
Seafarer needs no introduction, although the brand’s relative new home at the Haines Marine Group since 2007 marks a big change for the brand harking back to 1957. Take, for example, this new two-boat Seafarer X-Series using beefed-up, overbuilt versions of the famous 6.00m Victory and 6.20m Vagabond hulls. Of these two boats tested side by side, the Vagabond rated as the knockout heavyweight with twin 140hp Suzuki outboards and a boosted 270lt fuel supply.
- Muscle your way offshore
Victorian abalone divers have driven the development of a lot of hot deep-vee fibreglass fishing boats today. Yet most of these rigs are based on beefed-up versions of original Haines Hunters intended for pleasure boat use. The moulds found their way south and the boats were built to commercial spec. Thanks to cashed-up fishos heading into southern waters and shading big fish and the ultimate rough-water ride, there’s now a strong market for these overbuilt, heavyweight, deep-vee boats in the trailerable 6.0-7.0m class.
Enter John Haines Junior — now the proud owner of Haines Signature, Seafarer and Suzuki Marine — who decided to offer something to this intensely tribal trailerboat market. The resulting Seafarer X-Series features almost 100kg of extra glass in the layup so you can pretty much bulldoze your way offshore or, rather, fly from crest to crest with the props revving.
We tested the Victory 600 X-Series (review) and this Vagabond 6.2 X-Series side-by-side on a rough wet track on Port Phillip Bay. The boats were really well set-up by JV Marine, with some extra kit for chasing bluefin or blue marlin from Portland to Port Stephens and just about anywhere in between.
Dressed in black and on matching Mackay tandem trailers, the two new ‘bad boys’ of the Seafarer range commanded serious attention as they arrived at the Patterson Lakes ramp and prepared to get wet.
"We created the X-series for the customer looking for something much more resilient and rigid than anything on the market currently," John Haines said prior to our test drive.
"These boats bring together a blend of toughness and high performance to deliver a boating experience like no other for deep-sea fishing enthusiasts who really want to test out their vessel in the toughest of conditions."
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
- Loaded for serious fishing and with twin 140hp Suzuki outboards
Kudos to JV Marine for rigging this Vagabond 6.2 X-Series as a fully loaded boat with everything you need to head wide and get wild with some seriously big fish.
The Vagabond 6.2 X-Series rig prices start at $89,990 'on water' with a single 225hp Suzuki 4-Stroke. The next Vagabond on order, which we’re told was due to be displayed at the 2017 Melbourne boat show, will have a single outboard.
Out test boat was a top-end twin rig that cost $124,990 drive away with 140hp Suzuki 4-Stroke outboards, Mackay Tandem Trailer with electric brakes, and a boatload of options for serious fishing.
Key features include side hull or dive door, triple batteries and a VSR System, Viper Pro anchor winch, bimini and front and side clears, LED lights off the heavy-duty 32mm rocket launcher and under the gunwales, Viper Pro Bait Board with snapper racks racks, folding outrigger bases and 5.5m carbon poles, shotgun rigger, twin live-bait or slimy tubes in the splash well, vertical coaming rod racks, and rear transom skirt.
Our boat had $20k-plus of serious fish-finding electronics from Furuno including a FCV 295 sounder with Airmar SS175H-20 1KW transducer, Furuno DRS 4KW radar, Furuno TZ12in Touch MFD with Aust Charts, and ICOM VHF radio, Plastimo offshore compass, GME MT600 EPIRB and twin Suzuki digital gauges. The installation and wiring was neat and tidy behind a cover in the cabin on the flipside of the dash.
With a launch-and-retrieval latch on the custom Mackay tandem trailer with mag wheels and electric brakes, registration and safety equipment, the big Vagabond 6.2 X-Series is one serious rig. On-road weight on the alloy trailer was around 2800kg. That’s no lightweight for the a 6.20m boat, yet the 2.40m beam negates the need for a towing permit.
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
- A traditional cuddy cabin with uncluttered fishy cockpit
A traditional cuddy cabin, the Vagabond 6.2 has been around and doesn’t really break the mould. If anything, this X-Series is a case of less is more, with a pared back flow-coated interior finish and loads of uncluttered floor space to get seriously fishy.
The fishing room was boosted by omitting the passenger helm seat, with just the driver’s side bucket on a moulded base with tackle trays. The hull side door aids access and dragging a trophy fish aboard, with padded coamings something to consider to boost side fishing comfort.
Once aboard, you find a full-length side pocket for storage to port, a centre cutting board at the transom with a snapper rack, a decent rear toe rail for fighting fish along the transom. There were two vertical internal rod racks and the rocket launcher.
The live bait tank was plumbed but it was too small for Bermagui baits and slimies. You will need to rig something decent yourself in this regard. Livie tubes were part of the kit but you will need more than two kicking 'candies'. There is no decent fish storage either, so pack some zip-up bags for your barrels and a serious icebox for the snapper.
Compared with the low-profile Victory we had alongside, the Vagabond has a higher and more accessible cabin. Padded sidepockets provide handy backrests when seated inside and there is room the stretch out and kip.
With a portapotti between the vee ‘bunks’, this boat would be a winner for families with dads who want to fish. But by and large it’s an uncluttered fishy machine with few frills and a strong build and back.
HULL AND ENGINEERING
- Beefed-up build and twin outboards for added safety
The beefed-up X-Series hull has a 21-degree deep-vee with a half-pod and planing plank. It weighs about 1300kg, some 100kg more than the standard boat, and is foam filled around the glass-encapsulated ply stringers.
The heavy-duty hardware includes 32mm bow rails, rocket launcher and through-bolted cleats, stainless rod holders in the right positions, and other tough fittings.
With the beefed up cuddy sides, strengthened rigger mounting areas, rigid transom and hull, you get a stiff boat that doesn’t shudder.
The armour-plate safety-glass windscreen, stainless steel canopy clips and clears seated on rubber bedding to prevent leaks all add to the integrity of this X-Series, especially when you are going hard through broken water as we did.
The boat wears its lightweight four-cylinder DOHC 140hp Suzuki engines like a boss, too. The transom height is 20in for the twins, versus 25in for a single, but the powerheads were well clear of the water during testing.
The DF140s were propped with 20in three-bladers for the mid-range punch you want when riding the throttle and driving hard through bars and big waves. It’s no good using big props for top end if you are doughy down low. You want revs at hand in a performance fishing boat.
Just as importantly, given the call of duty, the boat has a high-volume 270lt fuel tank leading to an all-day four-stroke-outboard offshore-fishing range without worrying about fuel.
Access to the triple batteries, bilge and pump, and importantly the fuel filter and primer, were nice and direct behind the vinyl curtain at the transom. Self-tapers hold in the floor panel over the fuel tank and long-term maintenance looks easy with this boat.
ON THE WATER
- Mid-range stability is the strength
The clean and uncluttered helm station with central Furuno 12in MFD and Suzuki engine gauges make for easy command. The DF140s have cable shifts, which means nothing much can go wrong there, and with Lenco trim tabs you can run this boat as flat or free as you dare.
There was tight standing room at the helm, which was welcome when pushing things on your feet, with a stainless steel wheel adding to the secure command, plenty of grab rails around the helm and cockpit, plus storage for personal effects.
The flowcoat floor is simple but when it’s wet it's a tad slippery for our liking. We noted straight away that we’d add SeaDek foam to the floor of our X-Series boats. That said, the stability and weight combine to create surefooted fishing platforms.
Hole shot was great and mid-rage cruising and stability was the highlight. Buttoned down and pushed hard, the Vagabond hull runs true without any vices. It’s none too wet, either, and we conquered the short 15-20 knot conditions without smashing ourselves. You need to get on the tabs and trim and to run that vee into the swell. If it’s long and loping offshore or in Bass Strait, then trim out and launch at speed.
At the economical setting, we were cruising around 24-25 knots without issue and with the lean-burn DF140s were purring. We’d expect to burn around 25-30lt/hr per side at this cruise speed. That’s 60lt to The Shelf in one hour. Top speed is around 42 knots or almost 50mph. But it's the mid-range that counts. Oh, if you get stuck you can plane on a single 140hp.
As the cabin is largely unlined, the sound does reverberate somewhat. Unsecure cabin hatches without soft bedding can add to the clanging sound, too. But this Vagabond hull is a good one, with a predictable motion and plenty of freeboard and safety for serious long-range sportfishing and game-fish trolling.
- Robust, purposeful, serviceable and Australian-made
There’s a true-blue Australian robustness to the Vagabond 6.2 X-Series. The boat has an almost industrial feel about it. There’s nothing to get in the way of serious fishing, easy maintenance, getting down and dirty, and fishing hard. It’s also hard to imagine breaking anything on this heavyweight.
In the 6.0-7.0m trailerboat category, the competition is fierce. Ironically, it’s greatest from a lot of those derivations of Haines Hunter hulls created by the late dad of the Seafarer owner today, that is, John Haines. But where the Vagabond 6.2 X Series wins out is with that extra weight in the build and the badge. If it’s a Seafarer it’s got a great reputation well beyond that of a backyard build.
Overall rating: 4.62/5.00
Packaging and practicality: 4.8/5.0
On the water performance: 4.8/5.0
Value for money: 4.0/5.0
>> Great offshore performance
>> Beefed-up muscle craft build with extended fuel capacity
>> Oodles of flat uncluttered floor space and fishing features
>> Looks hot as an on-road rig set up by JV Marine
>> Famous Seafarer badge and resale value
NOT SO MUCH
>> No underfloor fish box due to extra fuel and full foam filling
>> We’d add SeaDek foam flooring for better footing
>> Big ticket for a 6.0m trailerboat
Specifications: Seafarer Vagabond 6.2 X-Series
Price as tested: $124,990 with twin 140hp Suzuki four-stroke outboards on Mackay tandem alloy trailer with electric brakes and a big spread of options including triple batteries with a VSR system, digital Suzuki gauges, electric drum-style anchor winch, 32mm bow rails and stainless steel rocket launcher, bimini top and clears, bait board and snapper rack, impressive folding outrigger bases with 5.5m carbon-fibre poles, vertical rod racks x 2, LED side pocket strip lighting, $20k of Furuno kit including TZ12 MFD with Australian charts and 1kW transducer plus radar, offshore compass, VHF radio, EPIRB, launch and retrieve latch, spare wheel and bracket, and more.
Priced From: $89,990 'on water' with a single 225hp Suzuki 4-Stroke and Mackay tandem alloy trailer.
Length: 6.50m overall with bow sprit
Hull Length: 6.20m without bow sprit
Hull weight: 1300kg
Towing Weight: About 2800kg (dry)
Deadrise: 21 degrees
Recommended Outboard Power: 150-250hp or twin 90-140hp
Engine as tested: Twin Suzuki DF140 four-stroke outboard, 2.0L DOHC, 20in shaft
Fuel: 270 litres
Length on trailer: Approx. 7.40m
Height on trailer: Approx. 2.40m
Maximum Persons: Seven/630kg
Builder: The Haines Group.
JV Marine World
878 Springvale Road
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