An exhilarating day boat that can handle just about anything Sydney Harbour can throw at it at speeds that'll blow you away.
Issue: December 2003
Here's a new recipe for the Aussie boating scene. Take Lindsay Fry's tried and true 5.9m Seafarer hull, finished in either bright yellow or red gelcoat ; give it a runabout layout with a low profile double bed cabin; and strap 200hp of Evinrude grunt on its transom and what do you get ? An exhilarating day boat that can handle just about anything Sydney Harbour can throw at it at speeds that'll blow you away.
And don't be mislead into thinking Sydney Harbour is just a sheltered waterway. Have you ever seen the amazing television pictures of Sydney ferries battling 5m swells inside the harbour ? It can get pretty rough out there. Seafarer's 5.9m hull is a true deep-vee bluewater hull and she performs as such, it's only this boat's internal layout that makes her different from her offshore brothers.
She has an overall length of 6.45m (21' 2") including the swim platform, a beam of 2.4m (7' 9"); has a hull weight of 900kg; and an extremely sharp deadrise at the transom of 21 degrees. With a fine entry she cuts through swells and chop, while her large down-turned chines ensure she tracks straight when underway and is stable at rest. Out on the water this boat is a real hoon machine. It's a hoot to drive, has power to burn and has the ride and smooth water handling of a performance ski boat, but this Seafarer has another ace up her sleeve ? she can also deliver high speed performance and handling in rough and choppy water.
In fact, as the Modern Boating team found out during this test, the best way to drive this hull in choppy water is hard. She literally sliced through the swells without and delivered a surprisingly smooth and dry ride. Because the hull is designed in a runabout configuration and the low forward cabin sits under the foredeck, the boat retains a low profile making it extremely aerodynamic. The curved and raked one-piece windscreen allows for an even better airflow over the cockpit, which reduced drag even further. The first part of this test was conducted on a windless morning on the upper reaches of the Parramatta River, where the water was glassy smooth.
In those conditions we were able to run the boat flat strap with complete safety. With the hull trimmed right out, so the boat was running with only the transom in the water, the Vermont hit 49.6 knots at 5500rpm. She was literally dancing on her chines. And that was only the test boat. The camera boat was the same hull fitted with a 250hp Evinrude and she was to be honest, a little twitchy, in a fun kind of way. The team agreed the 250hp engine might be a bit of an overkill, especially when you consider the hull has a maximum power rating of 225hp. Other speed-to-rpm readings were: 7.2 knots at 2000rpm; 8.9 knots at 2500rpm; 15.5 knots at 3000rpm; 28.5 knots at 3500rpm; 34.5 knots at 4000rpm; 39.9 knots at 4500rpm, and 49.6 knots at 5500rpm.
That was in calm water, but later that day in choppy water out on Sydney Harbour the boat performed equally well. The harder we pushed her through the chop the better she liked it and the better the ride. The boat handled tight turns at speed, in both choppy and smooth water easily, without tail slippage or the steering feeling heavy during recovery. High gunwales give the skipper and passengers a sense of security during high-speed cornering, while the wrap-around windscreen forced the airstream up and over the cockpit, so even those on the rear lounge don't get ruffled. From a personal perspective, I wasn't overly rapt in the colour of the two hulls, but the boat's top performance more than compensated for any problems I might have with colours.
As far as layout goes, I have already mentioned there are double bunks with infill cushions that convert them into a double bed in the low forward cabin. You have to bob down to get in, but it isn't all that cramped once you're in. There are no portholes, but there is a large hatch for ventilation and access to the ground tackle and a shelf down each side. The low slung cabin has full bulkheads with a bi-fold aluminium/Perspex door and removable companionway hatch.
Moving out to the helm station, the driver's seat is an adjustable bucket on a pedestal. The observer's is also a bucket, but it is adjustable and it does swivel, but not 360 degrees. The helm features full engine instrumentation mounted on a classy carbon fibre dash, but there was no sounder or GPS fitted to the test boat. Across the top of the windscreen is a stainless steel grab rail, there's a lockable glove box in front of the observer's seat and two drink holders. The stereo is mounted inside the glove box. The cockpit is fully carpeted; there is underfloor cockpit storage and a 180lt underfloor fuel tank.
Across the transom is a removable lounge, which conceals the battery and oil bottle. Speaking of the battery, the Vermont's is mounted on the cockpit floor. If possible I would like to see this raised to keep it high and dry. There is also a self-draining rear storage transom well to port and an insulated icebox with hatch for the drinks to starboard. Forward of the engine well is a stainless steel ski pole and there is a swim platform on either side of the outboard.
The swim platform bracing struts also act as grab rails when boarding from the water. All deck fittings are stainless steel or brass, there is a non-skid pattern finish on the foredeck and side coamings and heavy rubber has been used to protect the gunwales. The boat comes mounted on a fully rollered, galvanised tandem Tinka drive-on trailer, which features fibreglass mudguards and submersible lights. Submersible lights; that would be the first thing I would rectify. No matter what the manufacturers claim, submersible lights eventually fail, a removable light board is definitely the go.
To sum up the Seafarer 5.9m Vermont, she's a high speed, high performance runabout that's just as much at home in the roll of a social ski boat as she is as a harbour day boat. She's also a top sea boat well capable of long runs along the coast or island hopping. Driven hard, she gives a head snapping, tight turning, exhilarating ride, but this boat never loses that surefooted ride that Seafarer hulls are renowned for. So how much will it cost to park one of these great performance machines in your driveway ? Around $64,750.
Words: Ian Macrae.
Tags: Seafarer Vermont 5.9