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Ribs to burn
  |  First Published: July 2004



THE STESSCO Longboat 530, supplied by Quay Marine in Cairns, is a base model that can be customized to suit each buyer’s needs. There is also a more basic model, but the test boat had a full-height transom and pod. There are numerous factory-fitted options available, as well as more customized features. The incredible numbers of ribs and the 3mm bottom and sides makes for a very solid frame upon which to build a great boat.

The Stessco Longboat has eleven full height ribs, with a spacer rib between each that runs from the keel to the chine, which makes for a super solid hull. Factory options include side pockets, live bait tank, rear boarding ladder, kill pen, auxiliary motor bracket and raised bait board. Quay Marine offers further dealer built/fitted options such as raised forward casting platform, built in ice box/seat, canopy, customized anchor well and rod lockers.

LAYOUT

The Longboat tested came with a full round pod, though, as already mentioned, there is a cutaway transom, unpainted, bare hull version also available. Because of its size and obvious offshore capabilities, the pod and full-height transom seems to be the logical option to me.

The transom top is very wide and will comfortably hold a livebait tank either side of the motor. The top of the pod is checkerplate for good grip and there are twin transducer brackets fitted to maintain hull integrity. There is a full-width, off-the-floor shelf for the battery, and storing gear, under the transom.

The centre console is large but low profile to be out of the way when casting. The low profile screen has an alloy frame for protection and the corner bracing brackets double as hand grips for passengers standing beside the console. A small grab rail fitted beside the console would be the ideal addition to offer a really secure standing position for passengers, either side of the console.

The shelf and carpeted floor under the console provide plenty of storage space, and the huge dash has a heap of room for electronics. The test boat came fitted with standard Mercury instrumentation of speedo, hour meter and tacho, along with a four-switch panel for nav lights and bilge pump, which were already fitted. The 120-litre under floor fuel tank has a small filler hatch on the floor in front of the console.

The anchoring system is basic and, although I would prefer a self-draining well, I did like the split bowsprit. It has the roller centrally mounted at the front rather than the usual add-on fitting. The design has the aesthetics of a bowsprit while being very functional and strong. The anchor and ground tackle on the base model are stored inside the low-profile forward casting platform, which is only about 12cm above the main floor. The anchor rope is tied off on a cross bollard situated at the rear of the bowsprit.

The Longboat is painted to the chine on the outside and to the carpeted floor inside. No pedestal seats were fitted to the test boat, which gives the customer plenty of scope to customise. The only seat fitted is a large alloy box with a padded hinged lid, behind the console. This can be used as a storage box or converted into an insulated esky if desired.

As a base model layout, the Stessco Longboat lacks storage options but this can easily be remedied with a couple of additions. A full-height forward casting platform with self-draining anchor well in the front would be my pick if I could afford only one addition. This would create a heap more storage space. Side pockets are also relatively inexpensive and are great for holding bits and pieces.

RIDE AND HANDLING

The test boat was fitted with a 90ph Saltwater Series Mercury two-stroke, which certainly got the Longboat up and flying. At 3500rpm it produced 32km/h (20mph, 17kts), at 4000rpm it produced 37km/h (23mph, 20kts), at 4500rpm it produced 43km/h (27mph, 23kts), at 5000rpm it produced 50km/h (31mph, 27kts), at 5500rpm it produced 55km/h (34mph, 30kts), and it topped out doing 6000rpm at 63km/h (39mph, 34kts).

We headed out of Trinity Inlet, in Cairns, into a 20-knot southeaster and a confused sea. The Stessco Longboat handled the conditions easily but, as expected, there was a bit of spray on the beam quarter. Although the ride was a bit stiff going straight into the sea it certainly behaved itself, with no tendency to dart or weave. It came down over a swell very nicely when running with the sea and didn’t bury its nose or pull to the side. The test boat was fitted with cable steering but that is going to be changed to hydraulic steering before sale, to offer a lighter helm.

All up, the Longboat took the tough conditions in its stride, with a ride fairly typical of an alloy boat.

The Stessco Longboat is aimed at the inshore, island and offshore market and offers plenty of length and overall size for the dollars, with a stack of options available to keep improving the layout as the money allows.

For further information contact Quay Marine in Cairns on (07) 4041 3166.

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model - Stessco Longboat 530

Length - 5250mm

Beam - 2250mm

Depth - 1100mm

Weight - approx. 480kg

Rec hp - 70

Max hp - 90

Max transom weight - 140kg

Max people - 5

Bottom - 3mm

Sides - 3mm

Package price - $__________ as tested

[CAPTIONS]

1) The Stessco Longboat 530 looks great on the fly.

2) A look from above. The extra wide transom top will easily hold twin live bait tanks.

3) The helm seat can hold a heap of gear or easily be converted into an insulated ice box.

4) There is a stack of uncluttered floor space in front of the console.

5) The console seat looking forward. Note the huge number of full height ribs.

6) In the base model Longboat the front hatch would be used for storing the ground tackle.

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