Monday, September 25, 2017
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Ground Breaking Stabicraft

Iconic pontoons back with ground-breaking little hardtop


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Stabi-craft are back in town and the first of the new generation designs has hit the waters off Tauranga.

The latest is the smallest of the hard tops, the 1850, and the new agent Mastertech Marine has set it up with a Suzuki 115hp.

Stabi-craft have been notably absent from the Western Bay for a number of years, but with Mastertech taking on the franchise, they are gearing up for a busy time as agents for the leading pontoon brand.

Waterline took to the harbour for the afternoon for the 1850’s first outing and found out first-hand the benefits of this amazing little hardtop. We took along the SunLive cameraman too, so you can see the live action online at: www.sunlive.co.nz

The new 1850 is a stunning small hardtop. It aims to provide all the benefits a solid top with a windscreen providing protection from the elements, packed into an affordable and manageable smaller craft.

It retains the easy-towing and handling, and cheap-running of a runabout, while also achieving great protection from sun, wind and rain.

The only model in the range on a single axle trailer means it can be easily manoeuvred in the driveway, and towed with a moderate size vehicle.

Provided you don’t plan to do a lot of overnighting, the small cabin is perfect for most families, whose boating is predominantly day-tripping, fishing and a spot of water toy action.

The cabin won’t sleep adults, but is big enough for young crew to take a nap, for dry stowage of gear and enough shade to protect those in the cabin. The design maximises cockpit space for fishing.

The one-piece curved glass windscreen is a great feature. It provides total vision without the intrusion of pillars or posts.

This model includes a windlass anchor winch, in clear view for the skipper, so all anchoring can be done at the flick of the switch from the helm position.

The cabin is set up with a couple of luxurious bolster seats, with the swing-up bolster providing excellent support for your back, when the sea gets up and standing is a preferred option.

Wide gunwales provide perfect fishing stations and the large areas of non-skid make entry and exit safe and easy. Fold-up rear seats mean fishing room is maximised when they’re not in use.

Between them is a real bloke’s bait tank. Not a piddly little fish bowl, a massive glass fronted set-up with a swing-up bait board atop. The batteries are housed in a closed locker below.

The “gamechaser” transom is a great development by Stabi-craft and features a wide boarding area around the outboard. An industrial strength, swing down boarding ladder completes the picture.

For the diver, this Stabi-craft ticks all the boxes for access and stability.

Stabi-craft has refined the pontoon shape in this series, aiming for a softer ride and it seems to have paid off. The hull is more responsive to trim than many pontoon boats we’ve driven.

The 115 Suzuki liked a bit of trim and it was easy to find the “groove” where the hull and engine were working sweetly.

Making boating more affordable is one of the aims of the new little hardtop, and the combination with the Suzuki hits the mark. The new ‘lean burn’ fuel control system of the A series engine pushed the rig along at a cruising speed of 23 mph, using just 0.6 litres per mile. At about 14 litres an hour, a 20L tank would give a 31 mile range.

That’s pretty cheap running for a safe and capable hard top.

Stabi-craft’s safety record speaks for itself. These tough boats, made in Invercargill, can handle the worst of conditions. They suit Bay of Plenty and Coromandel conditions very well. With a “life ring” of flotation built right around the boat, there’s inherent safety bred into every model.

It’s a great feat to have engineered the ultimate in stability and safety into essentially an 18 foot package.

For many boaties, budgeting within the confines of a single axle is the sticking point. Go any bigger and you end up with handling issues, more tow weight, a bigger tow vehicle – and consequently more hassle and more cost.

This little hardtop offers most of the best of big boat features, but in a compact and lean-running package, on a single axle Mudgeway.

The vessel, as tested with all the gear including windlass and Garmin instruments ,is $69,000.

Karl Rastrick and the team at Mastertech at The Lakes in Tauriko have a range of demo models in store, so you can try them out for yourselves.

As well as the 1850 supercab, they have a range of the smaller Stabicraft including both versions of the new model 1410, the fisher and the centre console frontier.

“The centre console is getting popular as time goes by,” says Karl.

“Then we have the range up to the hard top as well so we have quite a good range in stock.”

As part of reintroducing the Stabicraft range to Tauranga, Master Tech Marine is doing packages with the 1410 for under $20,000.

“That’s affordable and very safe boating,” says Karl. “It’s a pontoon craft, so if you want to fish in the entrance or fish by yourself, you are in a boat that you are not going to fall out of.”

Stabicraft Marine pioneered the first rigid hulled aluminium pontoon boat in Invercargill, in 1987.

As well as the 1850 supercab, Mastertech have a range of the smaller Stabicraft including both versions of the new model 1410, the fisher and the centre console frontier.

“The centre console is getting popular as time goes by,” says Karl. “Then we have the range up to the hard top as well so we have quite a good range in stock.”

As part of reintroducing the Stabicraft range to Tauranga Master Tech Marine is doing packages with the 1410 for under $20,000.

“That’s affordable and very safe boating,” says Karl. “It’s a pontoon craft, so if you want to fish in the entrance or fish by yourself, you are in a boat that you are not going to fall out of.”

The original design was a compilation of a wish list of local paua divers, who wanted an evolution of the traditional Rigid Hulled Inflatable boat – one that retained the RIB’s superior buoyancy, stability on the water and ease of handling. But, with a sturdier construction framework to make it even safer in rough waters.


 
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