Top of the line motor vehicles are built from the ground up by a small and dedicated team. They are masterpieces lovingly assembled by craftsmen dedicated to their task. And so it is with the Sea Dragon range of boats built in Caloundra, surely one of the boating capitals of Australia.
The Sea Dragon Leisure Craft range is built by a family team dedicated to a quality finish in every aspect of every boat that leaves the factory. Head honcho Nigel Melbourne took some time off recently and showed me around his impressive boat building facility. The factory isn’t gargantuan in size and this reflects the nature of their company: small and dedicated to delivering superior products.
“We are happy to continue with the business in this way for the time being. There is no rush to expand and we can deliver excellent products with a small team. Our growth has been steady, and while our primary focus is to continue with our theme of excellence in quality control, it is very likely that our business will expand in terms of staff numbers over the next year or so,” commented Nigel Melbourne.
With a small but dedicated team, Nigel has control over every factor that goes into building a boat. The staff are enthusiastic and happy: an excellent formula for any business.
“With total involvement and many varied tasks in their list of duties our boat builders are kept busy and keen. They also get to use our products regularly, which we see as important so they can enjoy the result of their labour,” Nigel observed.
The two main players in the factory are Jeff Clay and Adam Hudgell, experienced boat builders in their own right. In fact, these guys have well over 20 years experience between them with manufacturers such as Kevlacat and Riviera. They run a factory that is clean and orderly and this epitomizes their goals.
The boats are fibreglass, and exceptional care is taken to ensure the finished product is durable and extremely strong. Combined with sleek lines, excellent performance and sensible pricing, these boats are going to be winners. The only timber used in the structure of the boat is in the transom. This is independently glassed, and then glassed into the boat, ensuring maximum strength and thorough waterproofing. The hull is entirely fibreglass, with sealed foam-filled flotation cells underfloor, along each side. I seriously doubt that it would be possible to sink one of these boats!
The glass is applied in four layers over a gel coat and finished with a flow coat sealer over the top. This results in a very strong and durable finish. The moulded cabin and helm areas are also put together onsite, and they too are streamlined and functional. Just about the only components sub-contracted out are the bimini, upholstery and stainless work.
The test boat was the 535 Xtra. This is the core product among a small but impressive list of vessels currently under production at this factory and it is in the half cabin format. Fitted with a few of the optional extras, this is a roomy, functional and stable boat that could be used as a small and easily trailerable family cruiser, a ski boat or a dedicated offshore fishing machine.
With its sleek lines and eye catching but not over-the-top decals and stripes, we turned a few heads on arrival at the boat ramp. The boat is delivered sitting nicely on a multi roller Oceanic Trailer, complete with alloy wheels, and of course, a spare.
With three on board, we cruised the river towards the ocean proper, and then had quite a ride tossing the boat around in the slop and having some fun in the wake of a much larger vessel returning from offshore. The performance was exceptional! The test rig had a 90hp Suzuki 4-Stroke fitted, and this comes complete with speedometer, trim indicator, tachometer and fuel gauge on the package deals.
The 90hp motor pushed this boat along beautifully – no more horses were required. However, due to the strength of construction, this boat is rated to carry motors of up to 140hp. We pushed past 40 knots with ease, and with 150L of fuel under the floor you could comfortably do that all day in this rig.
The boat was stable, achieved tight turns at speed without any hint of slip or cavitation and was simply a joy to be in. On the test day, conditions were pretty good, however there was enough slop and wake from other boats to test the hull adequately. I am in the habit of looking for faults in boats, but I didn’t find any this day!
The deck layout on this boat was most impressive. With a length of 5.35m and a beam of 2.10m, there is a fair bit of boat to play with. The half cabin format allows for a large V berth with an inbuilt well to allow for comfortable seating. A bunk infill (optional extra) converts the area to a roomy double berth over 1.8m in length. This allows plenty of room for a couple to comfortably sleep the night, or a small group to get cosy while a squall passes. The optional extras list includes a porta-potti that would fit in the well and provide convenience when required. A large overhead hatch forward allows simple access to the anchor well.
The helm area was very nicely appointed. Plenty of instruments, a compass, marine radio and a CD player provided more than the average skipper would ever need, and the layout was very neat and easy to see. The curved acrylic windscreen and clear drops on the bimini allowed for excellent vision in every direction from the helm – another important aspect not overlooked by the boat builders. Two comfortable upholstered bucket seats on pedestals and a storage pocket on the port side complete the helm area.
Aft the vessel was roomy enough for four anglers to fish the bottom in comfort. Plenty of rod/gaff storage would keep any fisho happy, and two livebait tanks over the transom would keep a party of four in bait for quite a session! The bait tank lids have been cleverly made from Teflon so they can be used as cutting boards. A dedicated bait preparation board with another shallow well is also available as an optional extra and fits neatly between the two tanks. Nice high gunnels provide plenty of security for both kids and adults, and very convenient recessed grab rails on both sides of the boat make for a safe and enjoyable ride.
Four stainless rod holders allow for easy trolling or rod storage whilst in transit. Plenty of storage aft allows room for batteries, jackets, tackle boxes and the like. Another handy storage area sits between the pedestal seats, under a hatch. This could be used as a kill tank, esky or simply a good dry storage area. Very convenient rear pods allow for easy access onto the boat, and would be handy for those who enjoy snorkelling or diving.
If you’re looking for a family friendly vessel that will keep Mum and the kids happy, and also allow for serious bluewater fishing expeditions and other water sports, the Sea Dragon 535 Xtra is worth a look! The attention to detail, classy finish and quality workmanship is clearly visible in these impressive boats.
For further enquiries, feel free to talk to Nigel Melbourne on (07) 5499 7292 or 0417 733 051. The full range of Sea Dragons can be viewed at www.seadragonleisurecraft.com.au.
Hull - 5.35m
Beam - 2.10m
Hull weight - 600kg
Cabin height - 1.04m
Bunk length - 1.84m
Power plant - 90-140hp (200kg max)
Transom height - 25”
Fuel capacity - 150L
Standard package price - $34,390
As tested price - $38,000