After fishing offshore for 40 years I’ve come to some definite conclusions about the style of all-round outside boat that appeal to me for trolling, bottom-bouncing and jigging.
It should have sound sea-keeping abilities, cruise around 20 knots in all but the roughest of seas and be stable on the plane and at rest to keep you focused on fishing or finding fish, not just hanging on for dear life. It should have a roomy cockpit, be fishable all around its perimeter without bulky outboards or sterndrive legs to obstruct the action. It should have a comfortable, sheltered cabin or wheelhouse so rain or spray isn’t a worry and it should have facilities to brew a hot cuppa or cook up a feed. And, especially in these times of giddy fuel prices, it should run on the smell of an oily rag.
Enter the Persuader 22, which amply fills these requirements and more, including legal trailerability. The brainchild of John Steber, who was a key part of the famous Steber boat-building family in its early years, the Persuader 22 is a skilful meld of classic, clinker-style fibreglass hull and 21st-Century topsides featuring a roomy cockpit and functional lock-up cabin.
I had a few hours aboard a shaft-driven diesel Persuader 22 off Coffs Harbour recently and came away loving it. It’s the perfect vessel for the Coffs area and, I suspect, a whole lot of other places where fishos require a comfortable and economical trip to the fishing grounds, plenty of space to fish three or four on the drift or at anchor, and facilities to make a day out with the mates or the family smooth sailing.
The Persuader 22 is very easy on the eye, the cockpit, wheelhouse and foredeck being well-proportioned and nicely balanced over the hull. The flowing lines of the topsides are in harmony with the traditional lapstrake hull. A very close look shows clever design, great attention to detail and excellent build quality, from the fibreglass mouldings to the finish and fittings. From stem to stern, it’s classy but always thoroughly functional.
A stainless anchor roller sits on a pulpit, at the other end is an anchor locker that can hold well over 200m of 12mm rope and a reef or sand pick. Anchor access is around the wide side decks or through a lock-open cabin hatch suitable for all but the bulkiest of deckhands.
The cabin has shortish V-berths with storage below but the average six footer could spread out once the standard cushioned infill was deployed. A chemical toilet resides under the cushion hard up against the starboard bulkhead. The available modesty screen is a nice option. Natural and artificial lighting is excellent.
An easy step up to the wheelhouse and you’re in the nerve centre, with storage below the upholstered helm and companion seats. The port seat locker has an insulated cooler and a single-burner spirit stove slides out of a hatch in the port cabin liner. The Yanmar instrument pack right in front of the skipper sits above the five-spoke stainless wheel. The single-lever gear/throttle lever on the starboard cabin liner falls easily to hand. A dozen illuminated and labelled rocker switches lie just forward of the throttle and the flush-mounted two-way radio is above yet another locker. Rear vision is excellent.
There’s plenty of room for electronics on either side of the companionway. Coffs Persuader agent Scott Amon is also Lowrance/Eagle national sales and marketing manager so navigation and sonar weren’t an issue. Nor was ventilation, with sliding side windows and a pop-up air scoop hatch above the helm. Owners further north might like a removable screen for the cabin hatch for cool, bug-free nights.
Open the lockable, tinted sliding door and voila! – a cockpit not much smaller than a Riviera 34’s, complete with transom door and heaps of below-deck storage. An insulated engine cover with removable cushion keeps the Yanmar 125hp four-cylinder diesel down to the workmanlike rumble that lets you know you’re on a little big boat, not a big little boat.
The optional fitted cockpit carpet is a nice touch but the standard moulded non-skid under it would be fine, too. While there’s no option for a teak deck, one certainly wouldn’t look out of place on this boat. At either side of the central transom door is a moulded swing-up seat that locks firmly in place when deployed while the full-width marlin board is just the right height and houses a large live-bait tank to port.
Deep moulded side pockets under the gunwales can stow plenty of gear, including a snapper-sized landing net.
Rod holders are fitted to the rails, rather than recessed into the gunwale caps, so you can mount as many as you like wherever you want. Scott chose the optional six-pot rocket launcher on the aft cabin top (even a stumpy fisho like me can reach the outfits) and a pair of floodlights to light up the deck. There are quality waterproof courtesy lights everywhere, from the moulded cockpit boarding steps through to the wheelhouse and cabin.
There’s a freshwater sink on the port cabin bulkhead and to starboard a pull-out shower handpiece mixes hot and cold water.
The Yanmar slips into gear very smoothly and low-speed manoeuvring is very good for a shaft-drive vessel. While a 125hp diesel won’t give a 2-tonne boat blistering bar starts, the Yanmar smoothly eased the Persuader onto the plane with no squat, fuss or smoke and before we knew it, the GPS showed an economical 17 knots and topped out around 22. The Persuader cut through about 1.5m of close northeast swells, the fine, deep bow doing its stuff. Scott cut the engine over a reef in eight fathoms and we got to work with soft plastics on a succession of sergeant bakers and red cod.
The snapper must have known about the approaching pre-frontal northwesterly which promptly blew through to create a nasty slop that kept trailer boats and pro vessels in port. Good conditions for boat testing but bad for most anglers!
The nor’-wester puffed up to 17 or 18 knots pretty smartly but the Persuader didn’t buck or slew as the cross chop built on top of the swell. We could still walk from the transom to the cabin without looking for hand holds. She slowly drifted beam-on to the wind, thanks to that deep bow and the full keel – exemplary behaviour in any offshore boat. I also was able to stand and hurl slugs into the wash coming off Pig Island without worrying about my balance.
When we headed up for another drift the breeze topped 20 knots and the odd sheet of spray blew across the windshield so we just turned on the wiper, slid the door shut and rolled along at a cosy 17 knots. The hull didn’t slam or jar but occasionally we felt the odd muffled thump. We could have pressed on up to the next reef and tried that but a photo session in the calm of the harbour and breakfast at the marina seemed the more logical option.
Adjustable hydraulic or electric trim tabs, rather than the fixed ones fitted would certainly enhance control of the Persuader’s fore-and-aft attitude, especially in a following sea. That deep, fine forefoot with wide flare above, along with plenty of human and other cargo in the cabin, gives a little bow steering when a lump of a swell rolls through from astern. Although there’s no tendency to broach – even with no hands on the wheel – the helm can wander a few degrees before the keel and rudder take over to maintain course.
Apart from that, this rig is hard to fault. Maybe a continuous rail all the way along the cabin top would save swapping hands when going forward. And the drain hole in the lipped engine cover could have been set a tad lower to reduce pooling of rain or washdown water. But when I’m reduced to being that picky, John Steber and Scott Amon are on a winner.
The price as tested was $87,000. For more information contact Dogtooth Fishing Traders Pty Ltd on 0417 442 487 or email --e-mail address hidden--
Would I have one? Sure would!
Length overall: 6.3m
Weight on trailer: under 2.5T
Power as tested: 125hp Yanmar turbo diesel , shaft drive.
Standard fittings: 12V switch panel, navigation lights, cockpit courtesy lights, cabin interior lights, battery isolation switch, dual batteries, manual/electric bilge pump, s/s 110L fuel tank, fuel gauge, 50L water bag, 22L hot water service, heavy-duty Teleflex steering, single-lever engine controls, engine instrument panel, compass, s/s wheel, s/s drink holders, trim tabs (fixed), safety glass wheelhouse windows, safety glass sliding door, windscreen wiper, self-draining anchor locker, bow roller, deck handrails, mooring bollard, forward hatch, rear s/s rails with rod holders, cabin top handrails, bow rail, transom door, large swim platform, pressurised hot/cold, cockpit shower, GRP bulkheads, lockable wheelhouse, storage shelves in front cabin, fabric-covered forward berths, v-berth insert, storage under v-berth, Sanniepottie toilet, upholstered sliding, helmsman seat, upholstered sliding, passenger seat, foldaway GRP transom seats, 4 underfloor storage compartments, cockpit sink with cold tap, cabin storage, slide-away 1-burner methylated spirit stove, large icebox cupboard.
OPTIONS: 3L MerCruiser Sterndrive Petrol, 120hp MerCruiser (Cummins) sterndrive diesel, 150hp Yanmar turbo diesel shaft drive, Navman 4150SX combo, CD/AM/FM sound system, live bait tank, VHF radio, cabin-top rod holders with floodlights. Custom trailer to suit vessel available.