Dilemma: Dad wants a pure sport-fishing machine but Mum wants something with a bit of comfort that will also accommodate the kids.
The search goes on for this hybrid floating platform that probably has not been invented yet. Or has it? Recently I tested a Stacer 4.75-metre Easy Rider that sported the popular bow-rider configuration. By inserting a fill over the front seating, this bow-rider transforms into a very practical fishing platform. Now Dad has his dedicated fishing machine yet the kids can still enjoy the spray on their faces by sitting up front when the boat is under way.
I have to say that the seats up front are probably the most uncomfortable in the house as they are subject to all of the elements head-on but this is something that seemingly bullet-proof kids tend to love. Adults can enjoy the seating amidships, where there is less rocking and rolling while under way, and can hunt the kids back into the cockpit once the fishing starts.
Jet 1 Marine, a dealer who used to be very big in jet skis (until they were banned on Sydney Harbour) supplied the boat for the test. Based in Parramatta, Sancho Kalcev, Michael Buttigieg and Todd Boaer are the principals of a dealership specialising in Stacer aluminium boats, Seafarer fibreglass boats and Bombardier (Johnson and Evinrude) outboards. It was only a recent decision to get into boats to compliment the jet skis.
My companion for the day was Todd. The Easy Rider has been very popular for those with young families. We launched the boat at West Ryde on an overcast, flat sort of day. I pushed the throttle forward and the 60hp four-stroke Johnson hummed into action.
I was instantly taken with the quality of the Johnson four-strokes, whose quietness and acceleration were impressive. The downside of this new machine was a lack of engine-management gauges for such a refined power plant – just a tacho and a tilt meter. However, the specs of the new Johnnos read well: dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, hydraulic timing chain tensioner, freshwater flushing port, 40-amp charging and a two-year limited warranty.
We swept away from the ramp at West Ryde and headed upstream on the Parramatta River. Spinning a 17” prop, the 60hp Johnno performed seamlessly, getting the light hull on the plane with hardly a rise in engine note. The throttle was responsive but the donk needed plenty of down trim on acceleration to stop the nose pointing skyward.
The new EVO design of the Stacer makes the hull stick to water like glue and tight turns were child’s play to this thoroughbred. Having the heavy engine out on a fully floating pod did make it sit a bit bum-down but having a boarding platforms and getting the engine away from the transom more than compensates.
The steering was light and the boat had good entry (part of the EVO design) that pushed it through the chop effortlessly. On a good day, I would have no qualms about taking this rig close offshore. The boat coped well with two of us hanging over the one side, with no feeling the gunwales were going to get swamped. In hard reverse, the pod dips towards the water and the stern tends to squat but, once again, not to any dangerous level.
With the fill in the front seats, the casting platform gives good all-round fishability for the lure and fly enthusiast and there was plenty of room inside for two adults to fish without getting in each other’s way.
The test boat was optioned up for maximum comfort. As well as the standard tacho, fuel and trim gauges, there was also speedo, hour meter, Eagle sounder, 27mHz radio and switch panel for total engine and navigational management. The other extra was a full rear lounge. There was enough room to add a GPS on the starboard side of the dash.
The standard package is quite comprehensive and includes an 85-litre under-floor cruise tank with two breathers for ease of splash-free filling, a bimini which folded back to a neat targa, two pedestal seats with reversing backs, a lockable glove compartment, rear boarding ladder, full marine carpets, automatic bilge pump with manual override, full-width transom board, battery isolating switch, two rod holders and navigation lights. Also thrown in is a basic safety pack to enable you to be on water as soon as you take delivery.
The Easy Rider was all in balance and the outfit, complete with attractive decals, looked pretty racy on the water. The split windscreen gave easy access to the small self-draining anchor well and upholstered front seating. Split bow rails with a fairly sturdy bow roller aided anchoring and rope could be secured by the strong split cleats above the well.
The windscreen was solid and I liked the added inside grab rails which ran the full width of the screen for driver and passenger. The large windscreen door opened outwards for entry to the bow area and there was a rubber strip to stop it damaging the sill when open.
The aft quarter grab rails were firm enough to use for mooring and the boarding ladder and full-width transom board helped those, like me, with a bad back, to board and disembark with great ease. For those who are looking at a boat that can be towed by a four-cylinder car, is comfortable enough for a family of four and can be fished outside on calm days – the new will more than fit the bill.
Stacer 475 Easy Rider Sports
Boat Height on trailer2.00m
Weight (boat only)402kg
Boat/trailer package as tested$28,900.00 inc GST
Boat supplied by Jet 1 Marine, 245-253 Parramatta Road, Granville 2142 phone (02) 9637 5775 fax (02) 9637 4701 or visit www.jet1.com.au