Published: 14 March 2017
Read the full review online at The Captain's website: Seafarer Vagabond X-series
Six-metre twin outboard rigs are The Captain’s kryptonite. So when we heard Mark Stav from JV Marine had bought himself a Seafarer Vagabond with twin 140 Suzukis, we almost lost our superpowers. Bluefin tuna fishing was the goal – and The Captain’s crew tried various bribes to get aboard – tuna steaks, tuna carpaccio, even tuna nicoise salad! But all Mark wanted was an honest comparison to other commercial-grade 6m rigs we’ve tested. Deal done!
In the halcyon days of Australian boat building, Seafarer stood among the giants of the industry. They earned a reputation for a high-quality factory finish and superb ride – and today, second-hand Seafarers fetch impressive prices. They don’t have the fanatical fan base that old-school Haines Hunters have, but that doesn’t seem to bother Seafarer owners. They don’t seek the limelight. They’d rather wash down their rig and pop it in the garage than pop it on Facebook.
COMMERCIAL VS PRODUCTION
Now built in the Haines factory at Wacol in Brisbane, the latest 6.2m Vagabond straddles the gap between tough-as-nails commercial boat and production boat. The first thing we noticed was the single seat, just to remind us the rig is heading into commercial country. Second, we noticed the weight – this beast literally pulled the transfer case out of The Captain’s Landy! We thought the trailer brakes were locked on, but then checked the spec sheet and noticed the hull came in at 1,300kg. This model is the X-series, featuring an extra 100kg of glass. That’s heavier than anything else we’ve tested in the 6m commercial class. The hull carries a 270L fuel tank – more generous than most. It was early days, but the numbers on the Vagabond were looking solid. We topped her up with fuel, ready for a day-long bluefin mission on Victoria’s south coast.
Stepping through the pull-out dive door, she feels very solid under foot. Below the foam-filled deck, things feel more commercial than production. The only thing missing in this department was a kill tank. The deck area is an absolute dance floor – you could comfortably fish four blokes around the gunwales in snapper season. The generous deck is due to the cabin being set well forward – and it’s a decent hike from the bait board to the helm. The stainless handrails, initially dismissed as “not-so-tough”, came in handy when riding the southern swells. The side storage pockets were generous, if a little high. They’d make a nice toe rail if they were lower. The batteries sat low on the floor, protected by a zip-up canvas cover. We note the commercial guys mount batteries higher in concealed shelves, keeping the salty slop out. It’s a better option for Bass Strait bashing.
AT THE HELM
The obvious thing that smacks you at the helm is the huge Furuno. It’s bigger than Grandma’s old washing machine; somewhat daunting at first, but actually very easy to operate. We marked solid barrels under birds and bait, but they never seemed to come on the bite. Of the 50 or so boats out, we heard of two hook ups and one barrel landed. On the ergonomic front, the horizontal dash section angles down – and pretty much everything left there (and not in the glove box) ended on the deck. The helm area features contoured sections for gauges – a throwback to analogue days when more was merrier. We’d love to see this rig with a modern dash fit-out, with more flat space to mount electronics and store gear on the dash in the open – with a lip to hold things in.
There were no complaints about the cabin, though. It was easy to access, offered plenty of headroom, comfortable padding and wide storage in the side pockets. It was a big plus against other 6m rigs that feature gloomier cabins, with no soft finishes. Admittedly, they’re fitted for fish boxes, not family and friends. On the water she throws her weight around barging anything below a metre out of the way with her 21-degree transom at the rear. The attitude is nose-down, with a flat ride. With some trim adjustment we had her moving comfortably across the sloppy 2-3m sea without much fuss. On the transom, the twin 140HP Suzukis are great for blasting around Bass Strait at over 70kmph, but they can also finesse the big rig around bait schools and at the jetty.
THE WASH UP
Overall, there were plenty of big ticks for the Seafarer Vagabond. She turned heads on and off the water with black sides, twin black donks and soft touches in all the right places. The huge deck was very solid under foot; every bit commercial quality. The stability at rest was inspiring and we imagined snapper slaying sessions would be five star. What’s more, the Vagabond has a long list of little creature comforts that come in handy on long days dragging skirts. With a bit of commercial-style refinement and better dash configuration, she’ll comfortably match it with the big bad boys.
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