Around a year ago, I looked at a range of Southern Star boats – a company derived from the popular Southwind range and manufactured on the Central Coast of NSW. But in that lineup, there wasn’t the largest boat in their range – the massive Offshore 770 – so when I heard that a local boat shop was setting one up for one of their customers, Jeff Holmes, we just had to jump in for a ride.
Jeff’s plans for the boat include deep-sea fishing offshore. He was a fan of the Southwind boats when they were in production and when Southern Star’s Ben Hipkins found a second-hand one for sale that he loved the look of, he decided to take the plunge and order one made to his own specifications.
At the time of testing, the fit-up still wasn’t complete – there was a flash new T-Top to add as well as some other finishing touches, but being operational and loaded with gas, we took an extended run to get a real feel for how she performed.
The Offshore 770 is about as big as you can legally trailer, measuring in at 8.07m overall with a 2.47m beam. At first impressions, it does carry the South-Pacific lines of the traditional longboats, but with more freeboard and a transom designed to accommodate a range of power plants.
It retains a lot of the features of the smaller longboats – plenty of fishing room, a centre console that’s easy to walk around and that has plenty of dry storage area underneath and an inherent seaworthiness that allows you to travel safely in atrocious seas. The 770, however, does have a lot more freeboard than its smaller siblings. It keeps the ride a little drier.
In fact, the half-metre chop on the test day was barely noticeable in the 770 – until I jumped in the smaller camera boat (a 6 metre-plus rig), where we bounced around at wide open throttle. The 770 handled the chop equally well from any quarter.
From the transom, the test boat was fitted with a 225HP V6 Evinrude E-Tec, which behaved like any other E-Tec – easy starting, smoke free and reasonably quiet. The 770, though, is capable of accepting twin-rigged motors, with a pair of 115HP four stroke Yamahas being a popular choice.
There’s a boarding ladder on the port side of the transom, which is necessary. I’d hate to climb inboard over the high gunwales. The two transom boxes are base to a workstation with rod holders – an ideal place to rig lines and localise the mess that fresh bait can make. There are a couple of rod holders located here, but there were none in the gunwales. Jeff said the he’d play around with the rig for a while before deciding the best locations for these. Smart move.
There’s a huge box that doubles as a helm seat with a backrest that flip-flops according to the way you’re pointing. Flip it one way and use it for driving. Flip it the other and you’ve got somewhere to sit while waiting for a bite. If this were my boat, I’d insulate this box and turn it into the world’s biggest ice-box. It’s plenty big enough for a couple of days offshore.
Fishing-wise, there is plenty of room to fish four or five anglers from this boat. Casting from the elevated front platform wasn’t impossible and it gives you more height to see surface activity than nearly any other boat I’ve been in.
For a big boat, the 770 had no problems handling like a boat half her dimensions and she cruised comfortably at 4,000 rpm. The 770 was quite responsive to the trim tabs fitted and adjusting the attitide took a couple of seconds and the press of a button.
Likewise, loading the boat back onto the trailer was an easy, two-person job, with the big E-Tec pushing the big girl up easily while your mate secures the bow.
Fact Box 1.
|38.5kts @ 60litres per hour
Length overall – 8.07m
Deck length – 7.73m
Waterline length – 6.30m
Beam – 2.47m
Draft – 0.44m
Deadrise amidships – 20°
Deadrise at transom – 18.5°
Single horsepower – to 250hp
Dual horsepower – to 260hp
Max engine wt – 342kg
Fuel – 265L underfloor
Hull wt – 1000kg (approx)
Length on trailer – 9.12m
Price - from $75,000