by Bob Thornton •
Stessco have always been a dominant name in the boating scene in Australia, and it’s easy to see why. Their range of hulls alone makes them stand out from the pack, and their application-specific designs really endear them to anglers.
What tends to be forgotten about is the fantastic range of runabouts for general boating and fishing that Stessco also produces, and when powered by a reliable engine and sat on a trailer from a trusted brand, they’re perfect for entry-level boaters.
On this blustery autumn day in South East Queensland, we met up with The team from Stessco and Will Lee from Yamaha to test out a few boats, and here we will examine the 449 Skipper, powered by a Yamaha F50hp.
The 449 is the second largest of the four boats in the Skipper series, and being a ‘standard’ or ‘entry-level’ boat within the Stessco range, it comes with a 12 month structural warranty. If the buyer chooses to sit it on one of the Stessco trailers built by Dunbier, the warranty is extended to two years. Obviously, the Stessco guys recommend sitting these boats on these purpose-built trailers, and anyone who’s owned a boat for a long time will preach the benefits of having a trailer that’s actually built for the vessel it supports.
Before we dropped this rig in the water and pounded it through some Pumicestone Passage chop, I did the usual preliminary walkthrough to see what we were looking at. Even though I am someone who fishes very specifically, this general boating and fishing rig really impressed me with little pieces of convenience that would add up to a more comfortable day on the water.
The transom was an open design, meaning access to tanks, fuel filters and batteries would be very easy, but despite being open it stayed very dry, even in the lumpy conditions we experienced later on.
The enormous splash well also helped to keep everything dry and comfortable for those sitting at the back of the boat.
There was a mountain of workspace behind the cockpit, which would be perfect for restless kids (or adults) waiting for their next bite, and a drop-in style bench seat in the rear of the work space is a great piece of ingenuity. A user can go from seating two people to four people comfortabley by just dropping this apparatus in; of course without it there is even more storage space behind the cockpit!
The high windscreen ensured the ride was incredibly dry, and neatly mounted electronics kept everything simple and clean.
The soft top bimini is just another way to make it more comfortable for those on-board, without complicating the design in any way, and definitely a plus when relaxing on a boat in the skin cancer capital of the world!
ON THE WATER
Climbing into the boat was easy, and users of all ages and abilities will appreciate having the luxury to enter this boat from both the rear by the platform via a ladder on the transom or by the split windscreen over the front.
On the water this boat performed exactly as promised: a dry and comfortable ride, with the smooth purr of a 4-stroke at the rear. Even in 10-15 knot southeasterly winds the ride never got uncomfortable, even with four adults aboard, three of whom were holding expensive camera gear!
As the performance statistics show, the economy you can get from the Yamaha’s F50hp is nothing short of exceptional, but as with most boats, WOT isn’t the best way to save on fuel. The sweet spot of 4,500rpm delivered great economy at 3.9km/L, and a comfortable speed of 37km/h, which would get you across any dam or bay in no time.
Needless to say, this rig could get offshore on the right day if fitted out correctly, however this boat is much more at home in sheltered waters like dams, bays, rivers and creeks. There are better boats for offshore fishing in the Stessco range.
As I mentioned before, I look for boats designed for a specific purpose, but despite this bias, I really appreciated how simple and easy to use everything in this boat was. Any entry-level boater would be looking for a boat/motor/trailer package that is simple, comfortable and user-friendly, and the Skipper 449 ticks all these boxes.
With a price around the mid-$20K mark, this is another reason why the Skipper is the perfect way to get into boating.
For mor info about any boats in the Stessco range, visit www.stessco.com.au, or find them on Facebook or Instagram at ‘Stessco’.
Length – 4620mm
Beam – 2100mm
Depth – 925mm
Bottom Sides – 3mm
Top Sides – 3mm
Max hp – 50
Max transom weight – 165kg
Transom Height – 20”
Max people – 4
Base boat hull weight – 308kg