Stessco Amberjack 520 with Yamaha F90hp

A little bit of chop didn’t worry the Amberjack out on Pumicestone Passage.

by Bob Thornton •

I was recently told that South East Queensland is the largest boating market in Australia, and Brisbane-based boat manufacturer Stessco definitely take advantage of that. This may not sound very important or interesting to you, but to me it means that by buying a Stessco you’re buying a boat that’s made for people who love boating! That’s exactly how I would describe the Amberjack 520.

The 520 represents a line of high-quality boats, and is the middle size of three models, the others being the 490 and 550. The Amberjack is one of Stessco’s ‘premium’ runabouts, and is perfect for a more experienced boater who likes mixing fishing, water sports and time with friends and family.

TRAILER
A premium boat needs a premium trailer, and if the buyer chooses to sit the boat on one of the propose-built Stessco trailers (built by Dunbier) there’s a structural warranty of five years. The 520 sits on a single-axle braked trailer, meaning despite it’s large size it could still be fairly easily manoeuvred in a garage for storage. It also makes sense to sit a boat on a trailer that is built specifically for that boat, as this will contribute to the boat’s longevity.

ALL-ROUND SPECIALIST
All-round specialist is the only way I can describe the boat’s intended purpose, with everything to accommodate the skier, fisher, camper, crabber, or someone who just like to lounge around on other peoples’ boats.

The bow is kept clean and simple, with a tidy anchor well and grab rails either side to guide the boat in shallow water. The windscreen door means quick and safe access to the anchor well, and also allows people to enter from the bow.

Behind the windscreen, the cockpit is laid out logically, and also provides relative comfort for the skipper and mate. Stessco’s Bolster seats are incredibly comfortable, and will be hugely appreciated on slightly longer trips. Flush-mounted gadgets are always going to be much easier to look after, and it means you don’t have to worry about brackets and other annoying protrusions. The 520 will flush-mount a sounder up to nine inches, which is perfect if you want to download maps of your chosen hunting ground. There’s also a dry lockable glove box on the passenger side for phones, wallets, maps, watches and so on, and storage for larger items, such as camping gear, under the bow.

The bimini is an excellent addition, especially in sunny states where sun protection is a priority. The bimini covers the skipper and mate comfortably, while leaving the work area open.

The Softride hull ensured that anyone aboard would be comfortable when underway and at rest.
The Yamaha F90hp delivered excellent speed and economy, and the quietness at idle will be appreciated on those fun ‘non-fishing’ trips.
Stessco trailers (built by Dunbier) come in both aluminium and galvanised steel models.
Although capable of taking up to 115hp, the F90hp seems adequate for the craft’s intended use.
Flush-mounted electronics means that there’s no annoying protruding brackets that often just get in the way.
The cockpit was simple yet comfortable, and the uncomplicated finish means there’s far less to go wrong.
Driving this craft on and off was a breeze, and could easily be done solo if need be.
Sitting a boat on a trailer designed specially for it makes sense, and extends the structural warranty to 5 years, or 60 months.
The underfloor kill box is a great alternative to an external esky or icebox, which usually only gets in the way.
A drained anchor well up front, accessible by the door in the windscreen, makes parking up and enjoying the sunshine much easier.
The cranking battery sits out of the way but not out of sight, meaning any field work can be done quickly and easily.
Boats of this size will tend to need a braked trailer, but that’s not to say the Amberjack 520 is difficult to trail.
Rear seating is not only comfortable, it also doubles as extra storage for anything you may want to keep dry.
Padded rear seating will be appreciated by those relegated to the back of the craft on longer journeys.

The work area behind the cockpit is left open deliberately to allow room for extra passengers, gear and somewhere to enjoy being out on the water. If you want to keep smaller items out of the way, the side pockets are a handy addition, and the only under floor storage – the kill box – means there’s no need to bring extra ice boxes or eskies on board.

There is a padded block for two to sit comfortably, which opens up for extra dry storage, and the added back rest makes the ride comfortable for passengers. The block can be tilted forward to expose two hatches built into the stern.

The high sides, transom and splash well means that passengers in the rear will stay very dry, even in choppy conditions, and the positioning of the seating at the very back of the work area ensures that the already very soft ride is even softer.

The transom offers access to the craft via a small ladder and door, and the shallow draft of this boat allows a user to spin it around easily and climb in without difficulty.

YAMAHA F90HP
Powering this craft was a Yamaha F90hp. These engines are known for their quietness, reliability and fuel economy, and on the day, in around 10-15 knots of breeze on SEQ’s Pumicestone Passage, the engine lived up to that reputation.

Full tilt into the breeze got us up to 65km/h, and a fuel economy of 1.7L/km, and this is a fair clip for a family boat. To conserve fuel but also get where you need to on time, the best cruising speed was around that 3500rpm, which delivered 3.4L/km /h at 33km.

Of course, the ride was comfortable for skipper, mate and rear passengers in the les than ideal conditions, and everyone stayed dry… until it rained while I was in the rear.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This tough contender offers everything you need for a general-purpose boat. The ease of use and logical layout makes it perfect for those who just love being on the water, without going all out on a more expensive fibreglass boat. With the simple layout comes the ease of maintenance, and you certainly don’t want your prized craft spending more time in the shop than out on the water.

Although perfectly capable of heading offshore, weather permitting, these boats are designed for bays, lakes and rivers, and Stessco have other boats in the range that better suit offshore work.

Coming in at around the $40,000 mark (as tested) this is very reasonable considering the top quality gadgets and design, and will no doubt last you many years of enjoyable boating, with added peace of mind when you have a 5-year structural warranty.

For more info about any boats in the Stessco range, visit www.stessco.com.au, or  find them on Facebook  or Instagram at ‘Stessco’.

SPECIFICATIONS
Length (mm)………………………………….. 5420
Beam (mm)…………………………………….. 2290
Depth (mm)…………………………………….. 1210
Bottom sides (mm)…………………………. 4
Top sides (mm)……………………………….. 3
Max hp…………………………………………….. 115
Max Transom weight (kg)……………… 270
Transom height (“)…………………………. 20
Max people……………………………………… 5
Base boat hull weight (kg)…………… 485

PERFORMANCE
RPM.. Speed (km/h)……. Economy (km/L)
1000…………………. 7……………………….. 3.9
1500…………………. 9……………………….. 3.1
2000………………… 12……………………….. 2.8
2500………………… 13……………………….. 2.1
3000………………… 26……………………….. 3.2
3500………………… 33……………………….. 3.4
4000………………… 39……………………….. 3.3
4500………………… 47……………………….. 3.1
5000………………… 53……………………….. 2.8
5500………………… 60……………………….. 2.2
5900………………… 65……………………….  1.7