BOAT TEST: BASS STRAIT OFFSHORE 24

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Trailerboat owners constantly challenge the boundaries of offshore exploration with custom-fitouts, big horsepower, and commercial-strength hulls — like the Bass Strait Offshore 24.

BOAT TEST: BASS STRAIT OFFSHORE 24
BASS STRAIT OFFSHORE 24

BASS STRAIT OFFSHORE 24

TrailerBoat had a lot of fun testing this Bass Strait Offshore 24, against the beautiful, yet rugged backdrop of Victoria's Cape Woolamai. The boat is a beautiful custom-fitted runabout built to commercial Survey, and its name - Longevity - is apt in many ways. It conjures images of strength, stability, safety and prosperity, all of which are reflected in the Offshore 24. I never wanted to live for ever, but if this is what "longevity" is all about, then maybe I do.

We cheekily named the owner of Longevity "Poppy" on account of the fact that all who meet him wish they were his adopted sons. Poppy is one of those characters who has attained a pinnacle in life through his obvious devotion to perfection. He's a highly skilled, old-style tradesmen who uses his hands to produce beautifully engineered jobs in a variety of mediums, and he quickly recognises a quality product when he sees one.

He wanted a boat that was large enough for extended coastal cruising, particularly in the unpredictable waters of Bass Strait. He also demanded a safe and seaworthy boat that could deliver a soft ride, low noise levels, and miserly fuel economy.

For inspiration, Poppy investigated a number of "custom" boat packages. He travelled across Victoria, liaising with professionals like abalone fishermen and rescue services to find his perfect hull, until he came across Bass Strait Boats.

This builder's list of impressive clientele included the Victoria Police, the Coast Guard, and numerous commercial operators, and after careful scrutiny the Offshore 24 model came up trumps on his critical checklist. In fact, Longevity was built to a commercial Survey standard, but has only ever been used for pleasure.



 

MR MUSCLE

Poppy knew he would be adding considerable weight to the base package, so his decision to upgrade the motors to twin-Yamaha 225hp counter-rotating four-strokes would provide enormous torque, and some real "Yee-ha" power. In fact, the cry "Yee-ha" would shortly be echoed all over Phillip Island, as we launched the big boat off the top of wave after wave, with the photographer's helicopter in hot pursuit.

As the boat rolled into the pre-dawn light at Hastings boat ramp it came with an awe-inspiring presence that whet the lips of our intrepid crew, who were eagerly awaiting a big day offshore from Phillip Island. It didn't take long to realise that this is no ordinary boat, nor does it have ordinary owner.

Longevity is one big, impressive trailerable package that is custom-fitted as a liveaboard. It has an enormous 500lt fuel capacity, and Poppy has installed everything your heart could desire, including the kitchen sink. However, it's not just a dedicated fishing boat. The family loves diving and other watersports, so a "hookah" unit is on the transom for further exploration into the abyss.

As we set off, the big trailerboat rolled off the Easytow Teflon/roller combination trailer with ease. Its houselights and navigation beacons illuminated the entire work area, and upon boarding it took us several moments to fathom all the boat's many components. It's a big and heavy boat, but its deep-vee is an excellent match, giving great stability at rest.

 



BAD TEMPERED?

The run down Western Port in some slight chop revealed just how quiet this boat is on the water. Its hull design, weight and integrity of construction give it a very comfortable ride. We did, however, have a few issues with the trim tabs. They don't have dashboard indicators, so we never really knew just how well they were working. This is where we gained an insight into one of the Offshore 24's quirks. It didn't like being trimmed in too hard, lest you risk it falling over on its side, but it loved to run in a straight line without sharp turns. However, all was well once we understood this and knew how to work with it.

As the sun broke over the horizon we departed via Western Port's eastern exit. The half-light revealed the raw beauty of the Cape Woolamai headland, along with the harsh reality that this a strong falling tide meeting shallow water and Antarctic swells. This piece of water can be really treacherous at times, because the elements create a washing machine that challenges many lesser craft. The big boat met the conditions with all the comfort of a recliner lounge, and displayed royal dignity as it made its way through the chop. There simply wasn't anything uncomfortable about this boat.

The further we pushed out and around Cape Woolamai headland, the larger the swell grew. While it probably hit a maximum of 2m, the opposing wind-chop and strong westerly current churned the ocean into some terrific test conditions, which exposed the sublime seakeeping ability of the big hull for all to see.

I just wanted to keep going and going, far out into the Southern Ocean, but unfortunately we had to get back for the photo shoot. Throughout these conditions she felt strong, capable and comfortable.

Having said that, the boat doesn't like sharp turns. The big vee leans right over in a turn just as some of the big Scarab, Jenks, Mustang, Fjord and Cigarette hulls did, and I found some water actually sprayed into the boat through the dive door when we turned too sharply. It's no skiboat, but an offshore-styled hull that is tremendously comfortable in a sea as long as turns are moderate, and trim is kept to a nose-high attitude.

 



IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE?

Back around the leeward corner we found a more even swell, where we attempted to see just how much air we could get under the hull for the cameras. The twin-Yammies quickly punched the boat up onto the plane and gave full acceleration right through the rev range. As we lined up for some massive leaps, the throttle response was terrific and had us rocketing out of the water on the face of the swell. The really impressive part, however, was the soft, even landing. Obviously this sort of behaviour isn't recommended, but it sure was fun!

Poppy took all of these shenanigans in his stride, showing full confidence in the construction quality of his pride and joy. He has done a magnificent job with the fitout, while also adding some highly personalised accessories.

The bow is surrounded by a 32mm stainless rail, and its strength is reflected in the many grabrails placed throughout the package. No matter where you look for something to hold onto, you'll find something. Poppy also chose a Muir anchorwinch with dashboard and deck control, as well as a Sarca anchor and matching bowsprit.

The forward deck has a nice big anchorwell to ensure that the chain drops without snagging. A transparent, Survey-quality hatch allows access to the bow from the cabin.

This leads to a high safety-glass windscreen, as well as a bimini with front and sideclears on a fully-framed, stainless support with rocket launcher. The overhead framework is strong enough for me to do chin-ups, which is really saying something for those who know my size. And yet, the whole stainless steel structure folds down below windscreen height to lessen wind resistance during towing. A full set of camper covers enclose the rear deck for extended voyages.

 



MULTI-FUNCTION FITOUT

Bass Strait boats believes in supplying big and flat dashboards, and on this one there's room for all the gear, including a JRC FF50 colour-sounder and Seiwa Oyster colour-GPS/plotter combo. The helm feels a little cluttered but it's still a nice layout, especially considering the number of instruments and controls. They include twin-binnacles, twin-Yamaha multi-function gauges, engine waterflow gauges, automatic bilgepump switching, anchorwinch controls, TMQ Auto Pilot, a big Ritchie compass, trim tab controls, and GME 27MHz and VHF marine radios.

Poppy even installed a handy stainless grabrail around the top of the dash, while the timber trim around the cabin hatch leads us into a comfortable V-berth with plenty of storage and a Porta Potti.

The cabin also contains the GME sound system and a full electrical circuitboard, complete with BEP circuitbreakers for every accessory. The electrical board also has a voltmeter that can check the individual condition of all three batteries, while solar panels ensure the house batteries are continually charged. The bow has a 120lt freshwater tank, and the bunk cavities are filled with foam floatation.

Back in the cockpit, the creature comforts abound. Poppy's design and construction skills have produced a pair of versatile component modules that house the sink, fridge and freezer on the port side, as well as a twin-burner stove, recessed four-drawer tacklebox, plenty of storage (including provision for three fishbins), three fenders, a foldout table, and, to starboard, a large vented gas bottle.

The combination units also provide a solid mounting point for the gas strut pedestal seats with adjustable seat slides. Footholds and kneepads enhance operator comfort on the bulkhead, as do deluxe upholstered shell seats. As mentioned, Poppy and his family and friends love diving, and he built a terrific ladder for this activity that works with the dive door.

Batteries and isolator switches are positioned in high compartments on the transom, along with the mid-mounted livebait tank. The work area is finished with a strong baitboard, stainless rodholders, combing racks, and Reelax outriggers for gamefishing. Catches can be stored in a massive 500lt underfloor tank, and there are sidepockets and compartments for all those accessories.

 



BREAKING NEW GROUND

Shortly after our test we heard that another Offshore 24 had carried some adventurous fishermen deep into eastern Bass Strait, where they fought striped marlin and a myriad of other gamefish. These adventures are what the Offshore 24 is designed for.

These big, seaworthy trailerboats are the result of an evolving recreational fishing industry. Recent developments in fuel efficient power mean keen anglers can travel further and further offshore in search of their prey. The Bass Strait Offshore 24 is a fine example of the type of hand-built custom-package that was designed for commercial operators, but which is now very popular with serious amateurs.

Poppy's boat Longevity is a tribute to a man, his dream, a garage, and three years of hard work. I love meeting people like Poppy - they really are an inspiration. It took a while to conquer some of the hull's idiosyncrasies, but once I worked it out, I had a ball in his Bass Strait Offshore 24.







ON THE PLANE

Looks great

Seaworthy

Soft ride

Functional layout

Big fuel capacity

Large deck

Premium quality construction



SANK LIKE A BRICK

Tends to lie over when trimmed in too far

Doesn't like to turn

 

 





Specifications: Bass Strait Boats Offshore 24

 



HOW MUCH?

Priced from: $45,000 plus GST (hull only)

Options fitted: Fully customised fitout

Price (currently for sale): $140,000



GENERAL

Type: Deep-vee monohull

Material: GRP

Length (overall): 7.47m

Beam: 2.46m

Hull weight: Approx. 1400kg (dry)

Deadrise: 25° variable



CAPACITIES

Water: 120lt

Fuel: Approx. 500lt

Rec. min. HP: 250

Max. HP: 2 x 225 (four-stroke)



ENGINE

Model: 2 x Yamaha F225A four-stroke EFI

Type: Four-stroke, 24-valve, DOHC VCT, direct-action, 60° V6

Rated HP: 225 (each)

Displacement: 3352cc (each)

Weight: 272kg (each)

Gearbox ratio: 2.00:1

Propeller: 21 Mirage S/S



MANUFACTURED BY

Bass Strait Boats

19 Radford Place,

Bairnsdale, Victoria, 3875

Phone: (03) 5153 1790

Email: gregsalmond@hotmail.com



SUPPLIED BY

Poppy!

Phone: 0427 007 123

 

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat 257


 

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