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Seafarer’s Viper has venom and verve
  |  First Published: April 2005



Folks living in the Sutherland Shire in southern Sydney are blessed with a plethora of boat dealers. Competition is keen and there is a bargain or two to be had down that way.

Not phased one iota by all this rivalry, two enterprising boating addicts have just started a new dealership at Caringbah on Captain Cook Drive. Steve Andrews and Dennis Souvleris both had success in the building game and saw boating as another arm to their long-running business partnership. JD’s Boatshed Pty Ltd has been in operation only since June last year but is already making inroads into the wonderful world of boating.

Their secret is a gamut of watercraft to suit every whim and fancy from a small tinnie to large fibreglass cruisers and pontoon-style party boats. Sales manager Marty Gould gave me a guided tour of the huge premises, allowing me an insight into the large range on display that prospective buyers can look, touch and feel. It’s a lot better than trying to get an idea of a boat off a brochure.

After the tour co-proprietor Steve and I headed for the ramp to sample Seafarer’s latest offering to the boating public. JD’s are agents for Seafarer and also Cobalt luxury cruisers, Sugar Sand jet propulsion boats, Ally Craft aluminium boats, Aquapro inflatables and Parti Kraft pontoon boats. Evinrude and Johnson, Tohatsu, in fact every make and model of inboard or outboard is able to be worked on in the large service bays. As I said, whatever your dreams hold, JD’s will either have it or come very close.

It was an overcast day with rain threatening at all times although it never did. Humidity was high and I looked forward to the cooling breeze out on the water. Our boat was awaiting us and we had a short journey to a Cobalt cruiser on a mooring which was to be our camera boat. Con, a JD marine mechanic was the driver of the camera boat and it wasn’t long before the two boats headed up the Hacking River, through the narrow ‘gate’ and out to sea where we could put the big Seafarer through her paces.

Lindsey Fry, owner and designer of Seafarer in Queensland, has not made a bad boat yet and the Viper was no exception. Beautiful lines and a finish that a lot of other manufacturers would die for is inherent in all Seafarer boats.

A LIMOUSINE

From first impressions, I would describe the Viper as a limousine. With circular seating and a small table up forward and a comfy full-width transom lounge with padded back, this was luxury afloat. However, for those times when you want to fish, all this can be removed to leave a bare-bones fishing platform with heaps of room for at least four anglers.

All corners of the boat are accessible for fighting hard-running pelagics and the walk-through transom is a boon for getting out on the swim platforms and making sure your line doesn’t snag on the motors. The twin 175hp Evinrudes spinning 19” Viper props gave a helluva kick in the pants on acceleration. Twin 90s would do the job for those who like to conserve fuel.

A self-draining deck is always nice, especially for bar crossings, and the Viper had medium-sized scuppers for ejecting any water which might intrude on these occasions.

Standing at the controls gives a fantastic 360° view of what’s happening around you and the twin throttles were just at the right height. The slant on the quadrant takes a few minutes to get used to as neutral is way past where you think it should be.

Hydraulic steering makes it all too easy in tight turns as well as manoeuvring around moorings and marinas. Analogue dials are everywhere on the dash and with added sounder and GPS the cockpit would look similar to a Boeing 747’s.

Grab rails are all over the place so passengers can ‘strap-hang’ right around the boat. High (690mm) coamings keep you well inside the boat in case of unfriendly conditions.

Standard luxuries like a CD player, electric anchor winch, freshwater shower, padded seats and tables with drink holders added that special touch which makes a social day on the water so much more enjoyable. Fishing necessities such as a rocket launcher, plumbed live well, kill tank, 27MHz radio, deck wash, rod holders, cutting board, etc, are close at hand at all times so the two modes can be combined.

A couple of years ago I tested the Seafarer Victory and was impressed at how the hull handled our east coast chop. The newer, more refined Viper hull was even better with one of the softest, most forgiving fibreglass hulls I have been in.

Even going through waves at 75% power and breaking through the other side, the boat landed with a whoosh and no slam or jarring. Cornering is good for the size of boat, remembering she is a big craft and ain’t going to turn on a sixpence. Abeam a 20-knot nor’-easter, we took a little water in our face but in the main most of it was turned down and away from the occupants.

Full bore down a following sea (a bit frightening, but it has to be done!) and the Viper tracked straight and true with no inkling to veer or broaching. From a standing start under full power, there is just slight bow lift before she levels and slips on the plane.

OFF THE SPEEDO

Cruising at 3000rpm, we did a very comfortable 20 knots and it felt like the Viper could go like this all day.

At full blast we had the speedo off the dial. I couldn’t tell you how fast we were going ‘cos I was hanging on to the wheel for dear life and my eyes were riveted on the water as it flashed under the bow. Scary stuff for this old salt, but there was no inclination for the boat to twitch, roll or deviate.

Coming back through the ‘gate’ in the river into the eight-knot limit, more in my comfort zone, the boat purred like a sleepy lion. Seafarer has worked hard to get a configuration like this but it all comes out in the wash and this boat is right up there in safety as well as comfort.

Spending over $120,000 on a boat is a lot of money but for those who think of it as a weekender or a holiday house, it all falls into perspective if you like to spend time on the water.

Next time you are down south, call into JD’s Boatshed and have a look at their range on display. From the large Parti Kraft pontoon boats that shout ‘come aboard. party, party, party!’ to the unique Sugar Sand jet drives for getting to places that only a 20mm draft can, it will be a few hours well spent.

Dream as you remove your shoes and goggle at the inclusions on the sleek Cobalt Cruisers or maybe go for a water test on one of their Ally Craft tinnies. Everyone at JD’s is keen to give help and get you into a boat that suits your lifestyle and budget.

Specifications

Centreline Length6.8m (bow to pod)
Total length7.2m
Overall length on trailer (inc. motors)8.5m
Beam2.5m
Fuel capacity400 litres
Fresh water60 litres
Deadrise at transom22°
Hull weight1550 kg
Weight as tested (approx)1970kg
Power (as tested)2 x 175hp
Power options Single 225hp, 2 x 90hp

Standard Equipment

Single tone hull and deck; colour flash on deck side; moulded bow sprit; double folding bow roller and cross bollard; two-piece stainless split bow rail; four stainless steel rod holders; rear bait well with cutting board lid; live bait well with cutting board lid; moulded half pod; custom striping; three-piece moulded modular console with storage under bench and front seats; side pocket storage racks for four rods plus gaffs four recessed cockpit grab rails; self-draining anchor well with hatch; windscreen plus heavy-duty frame; stainless windscreen grab rail; recessed rear cleats; full-length cockpit side pockets plus short high pockets with upholstered fronts; 380-litre stainless fuel tank; 60-litre stainless water tank; Hydrive hydraulic steering; reversible helm seat with storage; three underfloor storage or kill tank compartments; 16" steering wheel; self-draining cockpit; Lowrance thru-hull transducer; deluxe removable bow lounge and backrest; two removable transom deluxe lounges and backrests; folding transom door; stainless targa and covered T-top; switch panel with 10 switches; navigation and cockpit lights; compass; 12-volt outlet; two transom boarding platforms; ice box under front console.

Optional equipment as tested: 2 batteries, 27MHz radio, fluoro light under Targa, electric anchor winch, EPIRB, berley bucket/muncher, front and back covers, shower unit.

Price as tested with trailer, all regos and on-water instruction: $124,464.

Boat supplied by JD’s Boatshed, 27-29 Captain Cook Drive, Caringbah, NSW 2229. Phone (02) 9525 3166. Fax (02) 9524 3801. Web address: www.jdsboatshed.com.au

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