Stacer’s Ocean Ranger line of offshore boats takes in models from 5.89-7.39m in length, with the 679 and 739 now available as hardtop models. This well-turned out pair of ocean-going craft are aimed at a lot of existing plate rigs that are flavour of the month with many bluewater anglers.
Built as tough as old boots, these all-plate Ocean Rangers feature 5mm bottom sheeting linked to a strong internal sub-frame of both cross and longitudinal ribs that provide great strength while reinforcing Stacer’s EVO Advance Hull. Topsides are 4mm plate, so there’s no shortage of muscle there either.
The Stacer EVO Advance Hull is a medium V design, around the 20° mark, with large reversed outer chines to both compliment ride and reinforce stability at rest. The new Ocean Ranger is more than just a soft-riding offshore rig with a lot of fishing room though; besides being Stacer’s first hardtop, it comes with enough kit, plus options, to make it virtually a complete driveaway fishing rig. Features like a glass-fronted live bait tank aft, an underfloor floodable compartment for the catch, bait station with 5 rod holders and cutting board, Lowrance sounder and XDR skimmer, concealed cockpit lighting, berley bucket and other items are there to tempt the buyer.
Up front aft of the big bowsprit and roller, the Ocean Ranger’s open anchor well — no lid unfortunately — features a mounting plate for a winch. Although it’s not hard to reach the anchor from the cabin hatch, or to walk around beside the cabin while making use of the handholds provided, the winch plate is still an important feature.
The glass window-equipped hardtop (with windscreen wiper and washer), is a very well designed unit — high enough to be comfortable for those sheltering within it, yet still maintaining the craft’s easy-on-the-eye lines. The hardtop’s features start with the drain cum handhold along each outer edge up top. There are also aft-facing lights at the rear, along with a set of 6 flip-down style rod holders designed to make rod selection quick and easy. Outrigger mounting plates were also fitted to the cabin sides.
The 2m-long bunks offered both a place to rest or handy storage space underneath, and with an overhead shelf forming a decent back support, I found the cabin’s head and leg room ideal for time out of the weather.
The floor is checkerplate, the same as the rest of the craft. A floodable underfloor kill tank was located between the rear of the cabin entry and the box-mounted seats for skipper and mate. These seats, incidentally, were as robust and comfortable as any I’ve ever sat in. Mounted on rigid stainless frames atop the tackle tray-equipped storage units (also set up with recesses for an EPIRB and a fire extinguisher), the high-backed and quite wide seats offered slide adjustment and were deeply padded to offer the best ride when things get bumpy.
I found the skipper’s seat offered a virtually unlimited view all round, and coupled with the hard top’s sliding window, was one of the better helm setups I’ve experienced in a large alloy craft.
At the starboard side of the cabin entry area, the dash layout was dominated by a flush-mounted Lowrance HDS12 unit, and with the engine’s I-Command gauges configured within the HDS12, running the boat was a pleasure. The dash area, incidentally, still had plenty of room for other gauges or items as required.
To starboard of the three spoke wheel were the Volvo trim tab controls, to port the windscreen wiper controls, with rocker switches for various functions lower again. Currently the rig’s marine radio is to starboard on the side panel, but I’m advised that future models will have it mounted high overhead at the front of the hardtop, where it’s still within easy reach, but out of the way somewhat.
Storage was also a feature: the first mate having 2 levels of shelving by the left elbow and a glove box directly in front of the seat, while the skipper has a shelf for personal items also by the side.
Prominent features within the wide cockpit were well-formed side pockets, which to port is fitted a raw water deck wash unit. Three cast and welded rod holders adorned metre-high cockpit gunwales, bringing the total number of rod holders to 17!
At the transom area, a glass-fronted live bait tank doubled as a step, with the Ranger’s boarding ladder being directly aft. A berley bucket was also fitted to the transom.
A large bait rigging station with 5 rod holders and a cutting board was central, while a drop-down lounge seat (padding being an option) with a fish measure was also prominent. The seat, to my mind, would be best kept up out of the way when fishing, but easily set-up for travelling. Importantly, the boat’s paired engine batteries are secured within an above-floor transom shelf.
Interestingly, the Ocean Ranger does not have an external scupper system to drain the cockpit floor, so any water aboard is collected within an underfloor sump and automatically pumped overboard.
With its 1133kg hull weight and massive beam of 2.4m, the big Stacer could hardly be expected to ride other way than very well, and be steady as a rock at rest. Stacer have been building boats for a long time now, and their extensive R & D has fine-tuned the EVO Advance Hull to its current high level of performance.
Admittedly, the test runs offshore were in millpond-like conditions at first, but things kicked up nicely while we were out after a fish. On the return run to the Seaway the hull rode very sweetly, carving cleanly into chop at speed and pushing any displaced water well away. The hardtop’s advantage would, of course, really shine in adverse conditions when it would combine with the cuddy cab to keep breeze away and occupants as dry and as comfortable as possible.
Performance from the 150 Evinrude E-TEC HO (High Output) — in a brand new chrome toning — was sparkling. Rated for engines from 115-200hp, 150 proved ample power for the 7 person rig. The craft planed at 2400rpm at 10.6 knots, cruised very quietly at 3000rpm at 18.5 knots, and with a modest fuel use of 20.8l/hr it was obviously a very good rev/speed combination for ocean cruising. At 4000rpm we saw 26.3 knots on the GPS, 5000 delivered a feisty 33.6 knots and 5300 topped out at 36.3. What also impressed me was the sheer grunt of the direct injection 2-stroke E-TEC. Pushing the throttle forward saw instant response throughout the rev range, and yet the engine was remarkably quiet.
Stacer have got a lot of things just right with the 679 Ocean Ranger. It’s roomy, stable, well-finished off, with some of the neatest welding I’ve seen, and its impressive wrap certainly looked the part on a serious fishing rig. The performance from the E-TEC 150 HO was everything one might want, and I saw no need for further power.
On a Stacer dedicated trailer with options of LED cockpit and cabin lighting, paint, vinyl wrap, the Lowrance HDS12 and transducer, VHF radio, rear ladder, deck wash, tackle tray boxes, and all registration and safety gear, the rig, as supplied by White Water Marine would come home in standard package boat, motor and trailer form for $73,488. With all the extras as outlined, it would be $77,498. Ocean Rangers have a Stacer factory 3 year limited warranty.
White Water Marine can be contacted on (07) 5532 4402 or on the net at www.whitewatermarine.com.au
Height on trailer: 3.88m
Hull construction: 5mm plate bottom, 4 mm plate topsides
Engine rating: 115-200hp
Engine fitted: 150 E-TEC HO
Towing: Family six wagon, or 4x4 ute or wagon.
Calm conditions such as these pose no challenge to the Ocean Ranger’s EVO Advance Hull, which will do just as good a job in rougher conditions.
A stylish vinyl wrap compliments the Ocean Ranger’s very smooth lines.
The Evo Advance Hull is shown doing its job of providing a smooth entry, kicking displaced water well away from the main body of the hull.
In its element: the Ocean Ranger 679 Hard Top in trolling mode.
The 150 Evinrude E-TEC HO was ample power for the Ocean Ranger 679 Hard Top.
Fun in the sun. A bit of wide open throttle offshore saw 36 knots on the Lowrance HDS 12.
Bunks are meant for seating and storage rather than sleepovers, and there’s nothing wrong with that in a serious offshore rig.
A floodable kill tank is standard within the Stacer Ocean Ranger series.
Strongly made and very comfortable seating for skipper and mate was a useful feature in a craft intended for long ocean runs.
Padding is an option for the Ocean Ranger’s rear seat, which comes complete with a fish measure, plus total portability to get it out of the way when fishing. Note the live bait tank and side pockets.
A deck wash is virtually mandatory in an offshore fishing rig these days.
With the big Lowrance HDS12 as a central feature, the Ocean Ranger’s dash layout was very tidy and well thought out.
In calm conditions, it would be no issue at all to go forward on the Ocean Ranger’s non-skid decks to tend the anchor.
A well made Stacer drive-on trailer is part of the 679 Ocean Ranger package.
A deep V hull mated to wide reversed chines gives the Ocean Ranger’s hull both stability at rest and ride quality under way.Reads: 3355