Stacer’s very successful half-cab and hard-top range of Ranger hulls has recently been given the centre console treatment and will appeal to the diehard fishermen. The Sea Ranger centre console models are available in two sizes, the 619 and the 679. I recently travelled up to the Gold Coast to test the all-new 679. The day of testing was uncharacteristically Queensland with a stiff 20-knot wind, grey clouds and a lot of rain. While maybe not the prettiest conditions, they did provide some nice slop for us to test how this boat fared.
Fortunately, someone has put a lot of thought into the layout and design of the Sea Ranger and it presents very well. Down at the stern you’ll find the live well in the starboard corner. This is the only feature I didn’t like about the Sea Ranger’s interior. The live well sits quite low, which means you’re bending over a fair way to reach it. For anyone fishing live baits a lot you’ll get slightly annoyed with this. It does sit there for a reason, though, and that is to allow an entry and exit point to the boarding ladder. I suppose this is a fair compromise as buyers that are often swimming, diving and skiing off their boat will appreciate the access to the ladder; however, it would have suited fishing diehards if this was an option.
The rest of the rear transom is curtained-off with the curtain displaying the Ranger logo. Behind this is an off-the-floor shelf for the batteries, and the plumbing and isolator switch. Everything is neat and tucked away nicely, which looks great but also provides quick and easy access. A large alloy bait board sits atop the transom with a shelf for storing tools and used lures and on top of this are five rod-holders.
There is around 800mm of room between the leaning post-style bench seat and the transom. While this isn’t a heap of room I believe it’s enough for fishing styles you’ll be doing at the stern, such as bottom bouncing and trolling. I think it’s been positioned well to allow for maximum room forward of the console.
The console itself is an intelligent and simple design that allows huge amounts of storage, with room to flush-mount large sounders, and I was thrilled to see it perfectly flat on top to allow additional bracket mounting of electronics. Every good fisherman knows you can never have enough screens or room to mount various electronics. An optional extra that the test boat was fitted with was a large T-Top above the console. Again, this is a great design that provides a lot of shelter and storage in the rocket launchers. It’s finished in a chunky 50mm alloy, which looks great, and makes for a solid rattle free T-Top. While it does bolt into the floor and therefore come down around the exterior of the console, there is still plenty of room to walk past the console on both port and starboard sides.
Forward of the console and under it is a recess that allows for a slide-out Icey-Tek 85L icebox. This is a great feature as on top of the icebox is a cushion so it doubles as a seat. This seat sits around midship, so it’s actually comfortable while you’re under way rather than feeling like you’re about to be bounced out.
A kill tank is just forward of the console and accessible when the icebox is stowed away. Ahead of this there is an enormous casting platform that measures 1.78 metres long and is 1.83 metres wide (at its widest point). There is enough room here for two blokes to easily cast poppers and stickbaits and four could jig without worry. The casting platform has two storage lockers so there is more than enough room for all your gear.
This is a great interior layout that any angler will appreciate. It’s been designed with fishermen in mind and the addition of a 215-litre fuel tank (and an optional extra 80-litre fuel tank) should see most anglers with enough range to get where they need to go and back again.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Sea Ranger is a big plate boat with 5mm bottoms and 4mm sides. The hull weight is just over one tonne and can be powered with a 130 through to a 225. The test boat was fitted with Evinrude’s new E-TEC G2. With its maximum horsepower fitted, the Sea Ranger is an absolute beast reaching a top speed of 80km/h. Hole shot is outstanding and the 225 provided more than enough power and torque across the whole rev range. Weighing 240kg, the G2 is light, quiet (when compared with a two-stroke) and extremely powerful. It is a very impressive unit.
The 19 degree deadrise provided a smooth and exceptionally quiet ride for an alloy boat. The hull could handle the power of the big 225 and the reverse chines provided excellent stability both at rest and while under way. The wind and chop gave a good indication that the Sea Ranger provides a dry ride so that’s another big tick for this boat.
The conditions in which I tested the boat were a good illustration of its performance in a short, sharp chop, but I was unable to take it offshore and test its ability in an open sea. I do believe, though, that this hull would perform very well. There wasn’t anything about its performance that made me feel it was unpredictable.
TAKE IT FOR A RUN
This is an excellent boat that any fisherman who’s a fan of plate boats will love. It’s got an excellent layout with smart storage – and a lot of it. There are a lot of options you can add or take off to suit your budget and you’ll be looking at somewhere between $58,000 and $83,000 dollars, depending on what features and engines you choose.
Importantly, this is a fun boat to drive; while not everyone will need – or can afford – the Evinrude G2 225, if you can, I highly recommend it. If you’re in the market for a big plate centre console I highly recommend taking one of these out for a test drive.
Length overall: 7.12m
Hull length: 6.84m
Deadrise: 19 degrees
Hull weight: 1,010kg
Flotation standard: Basic
Towing weight: Approx 1,900kg
Length on trailer: 8.19m
Bottom & transom alloy: 5.0mm
Topsides alloy: 4.0mm
Minimum power: 130hp
Maximum power: 225hp
Maximum engine weight: 295kg
Fuel capacity: 215 litres (optional 80 litres)
Maximum persons: Seven