By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Rick Huckstepp

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With a twin-outboard setup, the fibreglass Seafarer 6.8 Viper has proved itself a reliable performer in some of Australia’s remotest fishing hotspots, writes Rick Huckstepp


The recent acquisition of Seafarer by The Haines Group has seen a resurgence of interest in Seafarer models, boats which have been iconic in the trailerboat market for many years.

We took to the water in the 6.8 Viper to see what this boat has to offer those looking at the top end of the trailerboat market for a work platform in a centre console. This particular boat has been tricked up for an angler living in Far North Queensland who only fishes wide of the coast. In fact some 140nm offshore on a regular basis!
To facilitate this extreme-distance fishing the boat has been fitted with a pair of 175 Suzuki four-strokes with counter-rotating propellers.
When the waters out on the Great Barrier Reef are calm it is like a mill pond and high-speed travel can be undertaken in the smallest of boats.
This rig will chip away at the kilometres at a WOT of 86.9kmh which gives a travel time of under two hours to the fishing drop.




Operating on such remote waters where you would rarely see another human being, safety becomes paramount and the reason for twin engines is obvious. Should one cease operation for any reason, the Viper can get onto the plane with four adults aboard and travel at wide open throttle at more than 60kmh!
In this economic climate where one cringes each time they pull into the service station for refuelling, watching the bowser tick over the 600lt mark on the dial won't make it less uncomfortable. At the time of writing and at Brisbane prices, you will get little change out of a grand! Still, that is what disposable income is all about.
The underfloor tank is an option and should one go for the smaller tank of 300lt, the remaining space under the deck aft of the box seat is able to be converted into a second killtank.
The first killtank is located under the deck with its hatch forward of the console module and that is about 200lt in volume and extends aft under the console itself. A small hatch forward of the killtank opens to a hold for extra ground tackle if required and its hatch had difficulty closing correctly.
The anchor hatch in the Viper opens to reveal Stress Free's biggest drum winch neatly installed. Haines's own brand bowsprit roller assembly cradles a SARCA anchor and a locking pin prevents it from jumping out.
A standalone roller immediately in front of the well holds the chain off the fibreglass as it travels to and through the bowsprit roller. At this point there is a removable seat in the fore section that may be knelt on if manually handling ground tackle.




The padded backrest is permanently fixed to the cockpit liner and full-length cockpit liner sidepockets feature built-in racks for rods, gaffs or tag poles with elastic cords to keep them in place. Toward the aft end of the pockets, the top lip of the pocket has strips of ribbed alloy installed for non-slip foot treads to climb in and out of the boat.
In the forequarter gunwales an aperture each side leads into further stowage.
Across the beam of the inside of the transom bulkhead a couple of backrests are permanently fixed for the removable rear lounge. When standing here fishing, two livebait tanks are within easy reach in each aft corner.
Over the back, the Suzuki's each have a bullhorn-style Seastar Hydraulic ram and these are assisted by an electric-powered steering pump. Combined, they produce the smoothest steering imaginable. With the leg trimmed to any position you can steer this boat with one finger - literally at any speed and in full-lock turns.
The transom mount for the engines protrudes slightly from the hull proper and on each side of the engine mount is a small step with a stainless steel handle. They are big enough to use as a boarding step, but their other purpose is to overhang the trim tabs so their plates are not used as a step.




The console on this boat is part of a module, the base of which sits up about 50mm above the deck. It is about double the width of a standard console and the front of it slopes out to the front deck. A rebate in console's front has a padded seating position which could be used to park oneself if hauling anchors in rough weather. The seat base removes to expose an insulated icebox that is drainable to the outside deck.
The double-width seat box is also insulated and massive inside. It too is drainable to the outside deck and would be at least 200lt in volume. The seat's backrest rocks forward and aft so that one may sit and look astern when fishing at anchor. It also has a vertical position that locks it into a position that allows it to be leant against while the buttocks sit on the forward edge of the padded lid.
As you can see, the helm station is well decked out with a pair of Lowrance LCX37C units, and commercial and communication radios. This boat is built with a sealable hatch in the aft starboard side of the cockpit through which a 1kW transducer may be installed to shoot through the hull.
It also has plenty of dry stowage and shelving in which to put chattels.




One thing in plenty of supply on this boat is grabrails and they feature around the curved windscreen, on the console in front of the helm passenger, up the support frame for the canvas bimini and rocket launcher rodholder, across the top of the rocking backrest and rebated into the inside edge of the coamings in the aft end of the cockpit.
There is no shortage of lights either and the entire boat may be illuminated by LED lighting in the form of two adjustable decklights facing aft, two fixed facing down onto the helm seat from under the rocket launcher and a number of them rebated into the inside edge of the cockpit liner.
The 350hp on the transom produces breathtaking performance with holeshot and torque throughout the rev range. We have spoken of the performance at the extreme end of its range, but back to normality, it will cruise at 44kmh at 3800rpm. The Suzi's are quiet, even at WOT, and the odd noise you will hear at slow speeds is the ambient noise from the power steering pump which is odd rather than annoying or loud.
While all centre consoles are prone to taking spray into the cockpit when the wind is up and coming over the forequarters, the Viper seemed OK on the day with 15kmh prevailing winds.
We had pretty good weather for the test with a small swell running and no chop other than from other boat wakes. There are no issues with this hull's performance whatsoever and as the Viper has been around for six years, there shouldn't be either.




Power plus
Exemplary steering
Bulk icebox space




Hard-to-close hatch in the foredeck is a small blemish




Specifications: Seafarer 6.8 Viper




Price as tested:                         $145,000
Options fitted:                           Upgraded fuel tank, trim tabs, power assisted steering, Stress Free winch, radios, depthsounder, GPS, LED lights, dual batteries, float switched bilge pump, double bowroller, and ladder

Priced from:                             $86,750 w/ single DF200 Suzuki
                                                $93,300 w/ twin DF115 Suzukis




Material:                                   Fibreglass
Length overall:                          6.8m
Beam:                             2.5m
Deadrise:                                  22º
Weight:                                     1550kg (hull only)




Fuel:                                         600lt
People day:                               9
Rec. max. HP:                             350
Rec.min. HP:                              225
Rec. max. transom weight:         440kg




Make/model:                             Twin Suzuki DF175s
Type:                                       16-valve DOHC four-cylinder four-stroke
Rated HP:                                  175 (each)
Weight:                                     215kg (each)
Displacement:                           2867cc
Propeller:                                  23in




The Haines Group,
P.O. Box 820,
Mt Ommaney, Qld, 4074
Phone: (07) 3271 4400


Originally published in TrailerBoat #234

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