The Seascape Viper is an interesting craft. Manufactured at Ernest, on the Gold Coast, this well finished alloy craft is a member of the pointy punt genre, so beloved by the sport fishing fraternity these days.
The Seascape Viper is manufactured in three sizes; the 4, 4.2 and 4.5m. I have spent time aboard the 4.20 Viper before, so I was pretty keen to see how the 4.50 would perform with the feisty new Honda BF 60hp on the transom.
I was certainly not disappointed; the three cylinder 998cc EFI four-stroke, which was released earlier this year, was very powerful yet remarkably quiet in the best Honda tradition.
The Seascape 4.50 Viper has a long, well raked bow, ample beam at 1.95m and a four person carrying capacity.
The Viper is cleverly marketed as a rig that can be used for sport fishing or as a general family fishing rig. After spending some time aboard the rig I believe this well put together craft could serve either purpose, as it combines practicality with performance.
For those wishing to use the rig for sport fishing, the 4.50 Viper has many advantages. Around one third of the boat is devoted to a large forward carpeted casting deck. On the deck there are four hatch-covered compartments, with the anchor well under the hatch closest to the bow. The two hatches on each side and directly aft of the anchor well feature flat bases to cater for setting up batteries and spare fuel tanks. The 65L live well with optional plumbing is set up in a fore/aft position amidships.
Other forward features include a seat base just aft of the anchor well plus a mounting pad, to port, for an electric motor and paired grab rails to make life easy around the ramp or trailer.
About 30cm down into the carpeted cockpit there are three more seat bases on hand, two aft to seat the skipper and mate, with the third forward of the side console on the port side to allow for even weight distribution.
The side console is a neat set up with a grab rail and an array of switches for various functions with the standard Honda gauges uppermost. The forward controls for the engine are mounted onto the side of the deck adjacent to the skipper's seat. While the skipper’s seat is not adjustable it is within easy reach of the steering wheel, is well padded, and set up to suit the majority of drivers. Below the console there is also a generous amount of legroom.
Aft of the front seats are paired stern compartments, which house the engine battery and tote fuel tank. With strong covers on the compartments, this area could be used as a stern casting platform if required.
Other features in the main cockpit area include a 2m long side pocket to port, paired side grab handles on the extruded decks plus a drained engine well.
A boarding platform and grab rail to port, as well as a transducer bracket are also standard fittings.
The Honda 60 is the maximum engine for the rig, which is rated for outboards between 25-60hp.
With a contented purr at idle the smooth Honda 60 lifted the 265kg hull of the 4.50 Seascape Viper onto the plane in a couple of boat lengths thanks to the EFI engine's BLAST (Boosted Low Speed Torque) system which advances the ignition spark to provide enhanced engine performance. The BLAST technology is a big feature of modern Honda outboards and it certainly makes for improved performance.
The Viper has a pretty slippery hull overall, with its 15º forward Vee and 6º transom Vee. But the craft was impressively responsive when the throttle lever was pushed forward hard at intermediate revs, between 3500-5000rpm.
Not every throttle application will require maximum or even a rapid increase in power and the Honda 60 was just as happy to quietly ease the craft along under gentle driver input. In fact an adjustable trolling speed system is part of the package and engine revs can be increased in 50rpm increments from 7500-1000rpm at the touch of a button.
Speed readings from the handheld GPS unit showed a speed of 23.4km/h at 3000rpm, 31.6km/h at 4000rpm, 46.3km/h at 5000rpm and 56.6km/h at 6000rpm. I was very impressed with the lack of noise from the Honda during these speed runs particularly when cruising at an average speed of 39km/h at 4,500rpm.
Seascape have done some pretty smart work to make the ride and handling of the 4.50 Viper as smooth and predictable as possible. The craft features a large degree of rake in the bow coupled with a 15º forward Vee to reduce wave impact so the hull won't bang or bash to any great extent.
While I did notice some impact as we crossed our wash and wash from other craft, when cruising at 45km/h I was never inclined to reduce speed. In fact I was more inclined to crack on a bit more pace to see just how good the hull could ride, which is indicative of the ride of the Viper.
Handling was very good thanks to the Seascape's well formed keel and the series of under hull pressings that maintained balance and clean tracking of the hull. Hard turns under power caused no prop cavitations or hull slip, just lots of G force, which was pretty impressive for a punt-style craft.
In my opinion the Seascape 4.50 Viper and Honda 60 four-stroke were a great combination. While not always a fan of top power on small craft I gave this outfit the thumbs up simply because of the great balance of the rig plus the smooth capability of the hull.
The finish of the Seascape was very good in all departments thanks to nicely smoothed welds, a good paint job with eye catching decals, plus over all style and presentation. The stability of the hull is brilliant, in the tried and proven punt style.
The test Seascape comes home for around $27,700 mark and was provided by Logan River Marine. For more information phone (07) 3287 4888.
|Deadrise||15 degrees bow, 6 degrees transom|
|Power fitted||60hp Honda four-stroke|
|Fuel Tote tank||25L|
|Towing||Family four or six sedan|