Telwater, a giant alloy manufacturer, has created the Stacer SeaScape to capture a share of the market currently held by imported inboard craft. The Seascape has all of the traditional advantages of aluminium but is locally made.
The 549 Stacer Seascape is a purpose built stern drive with a Mercruiser 135hp mated to an Alpha 1 leg turning a 19” propeller. I did find it hard to imagine a Stacer without an outboard on the transom but after spending some time on the inboard rig I was impressed. The craft has compact installation, handles very well, and is very stable thanks to the lower centre of gravity of the inboard engine. And it’s quiet!
The 549 Seascape is a bow rider, which means anglers can fish up front on the comfy forward seating or from the cockpit area. There is a wide walkway between the two main areas and the hinged windscreen centre section (and door) keeps breezes off anyone seated aft. In summer there would probably be a scramble for the front seats, where two can sit comfortably. Bow riders are fun craft, after all.
There’s very easy anchor well access, storage under the seating and a bow rail for forward seat travellers or to help at the ramp. Both screen and walkway door open to port for easy access. A pair of quality pedestal bucket seats are set up for skipper and first mate behind each windscreen section with grab rail on top. Features include a large glove box, optional stereo/CD system and marine radio within the passenger’s module plus a large side storage shelf to the passenger’s left.
Over to starboard the skipper sits comfortably behind a very neat dash layout. A moulded housing covers the upper section, including the Navman Fish 4431 sounder. Gauges to monitor the Mercury inboard are located each side of the sounder and can be easily identified and monitored. The sports style wheel was lower on the dash unit, with switches and key ignition unit to starboard. The side mounting for the Mercruiser forward control unit was very sturdy and neat.
With plenty of leg room for the skipper and mate there’s also some extra storage down under each dash module with neat cargo nets keeping gear out of the way. Soft stuff such as PFDs and rain gear could be stored in this area.
A heavy duty bimini, complete with rear extension and tube racks (both options) for when the kids want some tow sports was part of the test craft’s package.
Storage is a big priority in the 549 Seascape and there are deep wells below the forward seating and on each side of the engine box astern. There was also a ski locker sized underfloor box between skipper and mate’s seats. This great storage asset will be appreciated when there are seven people aboard. Also handy was a Waeco 18L 12-volt refrigerator set up aft of the passenger’s pedestal seat. All floor areas within the craft are carpeted and there’s also padding along the thigh high cockpit sides where a pair of rod holders are installed.
Aft seating consists of a full width bench. The bench seat is a bit skinny in the centre of the engine box but there was decent backrest padding and ample room in each corner recess.
Rod holders, corner grab rails plus the multiple storage spaces were all stern features, along with padded sun lounge atop the engine. Engine access was as easy as lifting the cover on its struts and then components such as fuel and oil filters were easy to reach.
The Stacer 549 Seascape has a full width non-skid swim platform, telescopic rear ladder, plus side grab rails on the full height transom. It’s certainly a different stern to that of the equivalent outboard version (the 549 Easy Rider) but was still very attractive. Interestingly, the 549 Easy Rider is equipped with a 90hp Mariner 2-stroke so there’s a fair power upgrade with the Mercruiser 130hp stern drive. So, how did it go?
The 3L, four cylinder 135hp Mercruiser inboard linked to its Alpha 1 leg started first turn of key and hummed away happily in its sound proof engine box. Snicking the control lever forward saw the unit lifting gently onto the plane at a very low 13km/h with 2,200rpm on the tachometer. 3,000rpm saw 32.6km/h, 4,000rpm (an excellent cruising speed) 47.2km/h and 5,000rpm gave the Seascape 65.6km/h. I found the engine to be very responsive, particularly at mid range (3,000-4,000rpm) levels where power came on instantly. One could cruise, tow kids on tubes or skis (ski hooks are there) just as easily as using it for serious fishing pursuits.
Noise levels from the Mercruiser were very good, with only top speed runs causing the engine’s output to be intrusive; otherwise normal conversation was fine. Stacer have obviously taken sound proofing issues quite seriously.
The craft was a lot of fun. The soft feel wheel, linked to mechanical steering required little effort and was quite responsive. Stacer’s Evo II hull features a 15 Vee and deep pressings plus a keel. There’s also a quite fine bow entry, ensuring a gentle and dry ride. There was certainly no annoying pounding sometimes associated with alloy craft. The Seascape almost turned on it’s own length when asked to. Stable at rest, mild mannered under way, the 549 Seascape benefited greatly from the inboard’s low centre of gravity and two anglers leaning on one gunwale hardly causing it to lean. Fishing would be as easy as the outboard alternative, with the swim platform aft a place on which to hoist a really big fellow onto. Otherwise, the usual side approach to gaffing or netting fish would apply.
I was impressed with the stern drive set up. Yes, it’s different but there are advantages: stability, interior room and a stylish appearance. Make no mistake, this is still a great fishing boat and it would fish as well off shore as in the estuary or bay given the freeboard and ride attributes. The Stacer trailer was a beauty, the craft driving on and off with ease. With a 3 year warranty and for around the $34,035 mark the value is certainly there. Stacer can be contacted on (07) 5585 9898 or on the net at www.stacer.com.au to locate a dealer.
|Construction:||Bottom 4mm, sides 2.5mm|
|Power:||3L 135hp Mercruiser|
|Towing:||Family 6, larger 4 cylinder wagon or 4X4|