FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #176, Feb 2004
On its trailer, the Seatrek SF 8.7 looks like a B-double on steroids. It’s huge, displaying muscle with its sexy painted-alloy curves and dwarfing the Landcruiser (or equivalent) you’ll need to tow it.
Yep, this monster is a trailerboat. Yet it is almost 31ft long bowsprit to outboard props (oh, okay, 9.4488m) and weighs, on its heavyweight Mackay dual-axle trailer, around 3.2 tonnes. Its beam of 2.5m allows it to be towed without the “big-rig” plate.
But big it is, not only off the water but on it as well. The Seatrek is the latest creation from the Applied Group of Bayswater, Victoria, which is better known in the marine industry for its aluminium yachts.
The test boat, designed to 2C Survey and USC code by naval architect Sean Owen, was built by Tony Mudge and his team. The bottom hull and transom is 5mm plate, chines 6mm and topsides 4mm. That’s solid.
PHONE A FRIEND
My first question of Tony was why so big? Without doubt, this is the biggest trailerboat I’ve ever seen. His company’s market research revealed a demand in commercial and recreational fishing as well as diving for such a boat, so they went ahead and built it. And built it well.
The Seatrek is a good looker with its aluminium plate bent at some very curvaceous angles. In fact it’s extremely difficult to find any of those sharp joins and corners one normally associates with welded aluminium.
For example, the huge 10mm two-piece laminated glass windscreen curves beautifully from a central pillar to give excellent vision — equal to the best I’ve seen. It is mounted on a raised foredeck that rises beautifully from the bowsprit.
Such was the “moulding” of the foredeck that I wondered, at first sighting, whether it was GRP. No, it wasn’t — the only ’glass on the boat was the hardtop. The alloy bowsprit has stainless-steel wear-plates or sleeves to protect it from anchor-chain wear. It carries the anchor, which is fed by an electric winch. A low, short bowrail adds to the boat’s lines.
While the cockpit is quite huge, it is not at the expense of the cabin, which is spartan — but then this is no luxury liner. It is fully lined, though, in that grey acrylic fluffy stuff so beloved by boatbuilders.
The vinyl-cushioned vee-berth is large enough, with a sink at the foot of the port side and a head opposite. Both these fittings are fitted into marine ply, teak and maple cupboards, which are quite functional but a little on the agricultural side. There is a light above the sink and a swing-up table sits over the head.
There’s heaps of storage space under the bunks, but access to the bow through the forward hatch is awkward. The hatch is too small and too far forward. You would be better to go outside and use the wide gunwales and spacious foredeck.
LOST IN SPACE
Fire extinguishers are mounted in both the cabin and on the side of the skipper’s seat pedestal. A switch panel is also mounted inside the cabin bulkhead.
Wide parcel shelves topped with a teak rail are very functional and look good, but maybe a padded backrest would make things more comfortable.
From the cabin you take two teak steps up to the pilot station through a three-panel timber door, which goes up and over the dash. The skipper is on a fully-adjustable bucket seat with padded armrests mounted on a pedestal, which has a side-opening storage door.
The dash is matt black with gauges for both motors — Honda 130s — mounted directly in front and either side of the centrally-mounted compass. A switch panel is left of the stainless helm, with a marine radio and tape player on the right.
Twin throttles on this boat were mounted on the dash and were okay — but when pushed forward to the maximum, the lever for the port motor pushed right down on to the face of the radio beneath it. The next boat will have the throttles mounted on the coaming, which ought to solve the problem.
Overall, the driving position on the boat was excellent, and the vision exceptional. Very strong stainless footrails, which incorporated a non-slip strip, kept you in your seat in the rough stuff.
While there are no side windows, clears can be fitted to the hardtop, which bolted straight to the windscreen at the leading edge and was fixed at the trailing edge to a massive 5cm stainless-steel tube targa. You could swing 10 blokes off that and it wouldn’t move.
And head clearance under the hardtop was excellent.
The navigator has an identical seat setup with a parcel shelf and grabrail in front — but there is no reinforcing bar around the screen. Indeed, one wonders whether it’s needed, except that when standing in a heavy sea you require something to put your hands on.
Sidepockets run the full length of the cockpit and pilot station, split only where the two areas meet by a reinforcing coaming buttress. They are teak-rail topped and carpet lined.
The thigh-high gunwales are wide and rolled on top like a ’glass boat. Non-slip sections are there for boarding from jetties. Four rodholders were fitted, and rear quarters had solid stainless cleats.
As mentioned before, the self-draining cockpit is huge — and with no gear onboard to clutter it up, it certainly seemed wider than 2.5m. The sole is etched alloy, not chequerplate, and is probably a better non-slip surface. Centrally mounted beneath is a 400lt fuel tank and a 70lt head waste tank.
A little further aft there is a huge 70lt kill bin if you’re powered by outboards — otherwise it’s an engine well for the optional diesel sterndrives, single or twin. Actually, there are a number of power options, from single big-block outboards through twins, single sterndrives to twins.
The transom features three doors — one either side for access to fuel filters, and the central panel giving access to batteries and oil bottles. What it did lack, though, was a livebait tank and an access door. On a boat this size, I would think these two items would be essential.
The twin Honda 130s were mounted on the platform on the cutaway stern of the boat, while a stainless fold-up ladder
on the port side provided access from the water.
REST IN PEACE
Stability at rest was very good. The boat has an 18° deadrise at the stern and wide inverted chines. No water ingressed through the scuppers when we backed down hard. So many boats lose steerage during this exercise, but the Seatrek held its line well.
Performance on a flat sea was impressive and had me wishing for more. I would have loved to have put this boat through a 1.5m slop to really test the measure of its “metal” (so to speak).
Wide Open Throttle at 5800rpm gave us 64kmh and the boat cruised comfortably at 42kmh at 4000rpm. High-speed turns were accomplished without drama, and try as we might we couldn’t get a big bang for love nor money. It was simply smooth riding all the way.
The Seatrek SF 8.7 is one hell of an impressive machine, but our test boat was a prototype and does need refining and “polishing”. Yes, it can be custom fitted-out to customer requirements, but its bareboat presentation is just a little too stark, I would think, for an offshore fisherman. A few more “goodies”, please, on the standard fitting list rather than the options.
Price as tested: $148,000
Options fitted: Engine upgrade, sound system, marine radio, antenna, anchor, chain, rope, safety equipment, two fenders, boathook, two fire extinguishers, plow anchor, first-aid kit
Priced from: $136,000
Material: 4mm plate topsides, 5mm plate running surfaces
Length (overall): 9.45m
Rec/max hp: 2 x 225 outboards; diesel: 260hp Volvo Penta sterndrive, Duoprop drive
Weight on trailer: 3.2 tonnes
Make/model: 2 x Honda BF130
Type: Four-stroke SOHC four-cylinder
Rated hp (ea): 130
Displacement (ea): 2254cc
Weight (ea): 225kg
Props: Three-blade 17 x 15in alloy
Seatrek Marine, Bayswater, Vic, tel (03) 9729 9555 or email email@example.com
Lovely lines and curves for an aluminium boat
Huge cockpit that doesn’t compromise cabin space
Very stable and a treat to drive
Not enough standard features for offshore fishing
Access to the bow is difficult through forward hatch
No reinforcing bar around windscreen to grab hold of in rough seas
Cabin interior finish could be better
Story: Bernard Clancy Photos: Ellen Dewar
First published in TrailerBoat #176
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