BOAT TEST: SEA JAY 6.8M PREDA-KING CENTRE CONSOLE


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Sea Jay Boats of Bundaberg are the quiet achievers of the industry. Its latest foray into building plate aluminium boats has been welcomed with open arms by those who appreciate the Sea Jay philosophy of a solid boat for a demanding job. Darren Shiel reports

BOAT TEST: SEA JAY 6.8M PREDA-KING CENTRE CONSOLE
Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King

With no intentions of trying to cover all bases with a boat full of compromises, the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King is all fishing. A big, open centre console maintaining a maximum beam of 2.49m, the Preda-King incorporates a high bow with flare, flowing sheer line to the stern, solid keel and no-nonsense transom workstation.

With a hull boasting a 5mm aluminium plate bottom and 4mm sheeting for the sides, the Preda-King is one solid boat. The hull incorporates a solid, fully-welded aluminium self-draining deck, foam floatation, air chambers and a separate chamber for the fuel tank, which all add up to safety offshore.

Maintaining their excellent reputation, Sea Jay has provided a very high-standard of finish. These are noticeable in the welds, fittings, and in the excellent paint work.

The design has been well thought out. In particular, the twin batteries are accessed with minimal fuss in the above-floor locker, while the battery isolator switch and Racor fuel filter protect the engine and systems from harm. In such, Sea Jay provides a high standard for others to maintain.

 

 

HELM CONTROLS


In keeping with solid offshore fishing credentials, the Sea jay 6.8m Preda-King incorporates a large two-person centre console that is simple and uncluttered.

The layout incorporates a large open space with Yamaha's three gauges mounted above the steering wheel, with a six-gang switch panel and engine ignition switch panel mounted on the starboard side of the wheel. To port, the single engine binnacle control falls easily to hand and oodles of space is provided to through-mount the biggest of electronic units on the two tiered dashboard.

Two storage shelves are mounted underneath the console to hold necessary items out of the weather, and this would also double as a good place to mount a VHF radio or similar for weather protection.

The helmsman and passenger are provided with a large 200lt icebox/storage seat. This is mounted to provide the skipper with a comfortable seat or leaning post when standing to drive.

The console has a short and tinted windscreen, which didn't provide much protection to the skipper and passenger in the breezy conditions we encountered. Personally, I would like to see a much larger clear windscreen for at least some protection in such a big open boat, but I'm sure this is something the factory is addressing and could change to suit the individual customer.

The large T-top, on the other hand, does a good job in providing shelter from the hot sun for the two seats behind the helm, and is placed well out of the way to keep deck space clear. The hardtop also has extra handrails, light mounts and the all-important rod storage up high and out of the way.

 

 

SILKY SMOOTH


Powered by the silky smooth 225hp Yamaha fuel injected four-stroke outboard, the 6.8m Preda-King is certainly no slouch. The F225 provides ample power to push this rig along with ease, and the quietness of the Yamaha today is second to none.

The F225 was released in 2001 and has proven to be a very reliable engine in the field, with many commercial operators noting thousands of hour's worth of reliable service with only simple routine maintenance.

Current F225s come standard with an excellent engine management system utilising three gauges for delivering information on everything from rpm, speed, trim, fuel flow, fuel capacity, economy and more.

With a recommended engine rating of 175hp, and a maximum of 235hp, the F225 fits right at the top of the horsepower scale for the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King. As a result, the suitability of this engine to this hull is excellent.

The F225 pushes the hull effortlessly to plane at 3000rpm, has a cruising speed of 22.9kts at 4000rpm (using 29.6lt/h), and pulls out to a maximum of 41.6kts at 6100rpm. Interestingly, according to the comprehensive data Yamaha has provided with this package, the boats most economical cruise speed is at 3000rpm, providing a speed of 16kts and returning economy of 1.68km/lt.

With approximately 180 litres of fuel aboard, three adults and minimal gear, the fitted 19in stainless steel Yamaha propeller proved to be an ideal match. Once the boat is more heavily loaded with fishing gear and full fuel and with the engine run in, this will still be the perfect setup.

The SeaStar hydraulic steering on the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King made the power of the F225 easy to handle, particularly when effortlessly throwing the boat around like a sportscar.

 

 

HANDLING AND RIDE


With the start of the Queensland winter (23?C!) appearing in the days leading up to our test, the 15 to 20-knot chilly wind coming from the east, along with the big swell rolling offshore were the right ingredients to chop up the bay enough for this hull to show it's pedigree.

Although it was too rough to head offshore, the 6.8m Preda-King felt as solid as a rock in the choppy, wind-swept bay and handled the wakes from large cruisers with ease, even when pushed hard. Any spray thrown up by the wind was soon pushed away by the high bow and we remained totally dry behind the helm. The 6.8m Preda-King is the type of boat that fills you with confidence the moment you push down on the throttles.

 

 

FISHABILITY


The one simple aim of the designers of this Sea Jay rig is to provide a very useful fishing boat, and they've done a great job. The 2.49m beam provides great stability at rest or trolling, and the deep self-draining cockpit allows great freeboard for a very safe fishing cockpit.

The transom workstation is very well set up, with a centrally mounted aluminium bait table, 40lt plumbed livebait tank mounted off to the port, and a rear deck door with diver's ladder mounted in the port corner.

The wide sidedecks are also flanked by a deep sidepockets, which run up to and stop parallel with the centre console.

Ample rod storage is provided in a number of places, including four holders across the rear of the standard aluminium bait table, three down either side of the super-wide gunnels, and another six across the top of the hardtop.

Movement to the bow is unobstructed for all-round fishing access. The raised bow platform also provides a large storage tank, which can be built as a killtank, and there is another storage cupboard close by.

Anchoring is made easy by the centre console configuration, with the split bowrail servicing a big self-draining anchorwell.

 

 

TOW TEST


This is one big package on the trailer. The high flared bow means the boat has a lot of windage and the length on trailer of 8.5m will need a big yard or shed for storage.

The towing weight is approximately 2.25-tonne, which means it can still be towed by a mid-sized 4WD ute such as a Nissan Navara or Holden Colorado, let alone a bigger Nissan Patrol or similar. The Dunbier multi-roller trailer allowed easy launch and retrieval, and even in high-wind conditions, the 6.8m Preda-King will come on square each time.

If it's a big, roomy centre console you're after for heading wide offshore chasing tuna or marlin, then the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King could be exactly what you're looking for. Using power such as Yamaha's 225hp four-stroke, and with an option of a twin-engine transom and a fantastic fuel capacity, I can see this boat being used in remote locations such as Fraser Island and Broome, and bringing home its owner safely and with a bag full of fish.

 

 

 

Specifications - Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $86,990
Priced from: $77,750

 

 

GENERAL


Type: Monohull
Material: Plate aluminium: 5mm bottom; 4mm sides
Length: 6.8m; 8.5m (on trailer)
Beam: 2.49m
Deadrise: N/A
Weight: 2.25 tonne (BMT)
Rec. HP: 175 to 235

 

 

CAPACITES


Fuel: 360lt (underfloor)
Rec. min. HP: 175
Rec. max. HP: 235

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Yamaha F225
Type: V6 four-stroke outboard
Rated HP: 225
Weight: 284kg
Shaft length: 25in
Propeller: 19in stainless steel
Warranty: Four years

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Stones Corner Marine,
117 Old Cleveland Road,
Stones Corner, Qld, 4120
Phone: (07) 3397 9766
Fax: 07 3397 2456
Email: info@stonescornermarine.com.au
Web: www.stonescornermarine.com.au;
            www.seajayboats.com.au

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat 245.

 

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