BOAT TEST: SOUTHERN STAR OFFSHORE 770

By: Rick Huckstepp


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The series consisted of twenty-eight hulls from the Japanese manufacturer and ostensibly, they have remained unchanged during that ‘changing of the guard’ with the exception of some cosmetics. I have no doubt that one of the clichés running through the minds of the management of Southern Star, especially when reviewing the Offshore 770, was, “if it aint broke, why fix it?”

BOAT TEST: SOUTHERN STAR OFFSHORE 770
SOUTHERN STAR OFFSHORE 770

 

SOUTHERN STAR OFFSHORE 770


One would have to be illiterate not to know of the transition some time back of the Southwind series of boats over to Southern Star. There was no shortage of press covering the event at the time. If that is the case, your not reading this but at least we at TB are comfortable in the fact that you are enjoying all the on water actions shots!
The series consisted of twenty-eight hulls from the Japanese manufacturer and ostensibly, they have remained unchanged during that 'changing of the guard' with the exception of some cosmetics. I have no doubt that one of the clichés running through the minds of the management of Southern Star, especially when reviewing the Offshore 770, was, "if it aint broke, why fix it?" 
Two years ago I took one of these hulls that was then under the banner of Southwind on a three day trek out of Darwin, offshore and down the coast, basing myself at Dundee Beach and day trekking to reefs and fishing bays and creeks. It was the same configuration as the current Offshore 770, console wise with a hard top and a pair of 115 4-stroke Yamahas. While the seas were glassy calm, the upshot of it all was that these rigs are ample in proportions and easily fished five anglers with plenty of room left over. Back to reality…… The test boat on the day was fitted with an Evinrude 225hp E-Tec engine whose quietness belied its power below the cowling. Leaving the Horizon Shores Marina behind us, at full throttle with a skipper at the helm and standing behind the helm seat back rest I made a comment to some one standing next to me that 'five years ago, we would not have been able to talk like this!" Such is the quietness now exhibited by these big engines. 
With full throttle realising 5,200rpm, the hand held GPS exhibited 74kmh. Whilst that RPM does not seem high in comparison with other engine manufactures maximum rev range; it is within the range recommended by Evinrude for this engine. With so much hull in the water it was difficult to detect when this boat got out of the hole and on the plane. It was more of a flat attitude all the way from dead in the water to full speed. That LOA did make this rig a comfortable one, especially in short chop as witnessed in Moreton Bay. At over half a metre in height and pushing against a breeze you could not have asked for a more gently ride. Seastar hydraulic steering was fitted and provided effortless handling at the helm. Hard turns at speed did cause some minor ventilation at the prop which was not detrimental to the overall handling of the boat and might be the result of a high set engine but also could be the legacy of aggressive down turned chines at the stern that create turbulence during hard turns. Either way, one could live with it.
The Offshore 770 when compared with many other open boats is dry, with much less spray coming aboard even with wind over a quarter. This could be attributed to those aggressive down turned chines that run well forward to the forequarter before being swept up to the bowsprit. The fore section is very 'banana boat' style, sweeping up, which is one feature that makes this and other long boats of different persuasions extremely seaworthy in adverse conditions. The aft end of this boat is also slightly swept up giving it a boxy appearance but adding to worthiness when being bore down on by a following sea.
A Maxwell Freedom electric winch was fitted to the bow and it fed into a cavity below that fed into a larger hatch with twin lids. The winch was not set up with rope and chain to test the 'feed' of the ground tackle between these two compartments.
Stepping down, another hatched compartment offered more dry stowage. The lids of hatches, tops of coamings and the cockpit deck were all nonslip with a texture profile out of the gelcoat mould. This makes for safe traversing around the boat on wet surfaces and should carpet inlays be installed, will retard them from slipping also. The console is large to say the least and a large door at its aft end allowed entry into an area that at a squeeze could fit two adults on the mattresses therein. Some ventilation in the sides of the console would be required for comfort but in the mean time this was a great lock up area for tackle if sleeping off the boat.
The front of the console offered a padded seat that when lifted made an aperture into the console that would provide some ventilation.
Such an expansive console offered a ton of room for electronics and the new owner of this rig had installed large Furuno GPS and sounder units, which took up very little space by ratio. A small Perspex screen was well forward on the console and provided adequate wind protection for those behind it but the supporting stainless steel frame which would have made an ideal grab rail was too far forward to be useful as such, one having to reach well forward to hang on. Some extra grab rails more aft would be the go.
The helm seat was a huge box assembly that sat on short posts making deck washing easy. While providing a great stowage area, should it be insulated and lined it would make a fantastic box capable of holding many large mackerel. A padded top and rocking backrest finished off this section.
At the aft end of the cockpit two large boxes were moulded into the top liner. That on the starboard side held the engine oil bottle and a pair of batteries and that on the right was ready to be plumbed as a live bait tank. The gap between was about 200mm wide and became the scupper with a swinging vertical flap on the outside leading into the engine well. This size aperture would exit a lot of water quickly should you take a greenie over the top. A hatched compartment under the feet of the skipper was wet to the bilge and would be handy for placing a small esky or other wet gear. It drained via the bilge to the transom bung when the boat was out of the water.
This boat is not high in the gunwales, typifying its long boat heritage but the knees of an average height person will contact the cockpit liner while standing and fishing. It does feature high, heavy-duty grab and bow rails around most of its coamings that offer plenty of security.
A serviceable drop down stainless steel ladder fixed to the portside transom made for easy access but was in need of a clip of tie to retain it, preventing it from dropping down in the water when underway.
This rig has all the hallmarks of a day charter, work or serious offshore game fishing boat. In my mind, its seaworthiness has never and never will be in doubt. If you are not looking for spacious cabins, creature comforts and feel there is many more fish way over the horizon, you could do worse than take one of these big rigs for a test run.

 

 

LIKES


Smooth and soft riding in the chop.
Big boat but effortless at the helm.
Dry of spray for an open boat.
Raised hatches had gutters preventing water intrusion.

 

 

DISLIKES


Would have liked to test the anchor winch, as rope and chain feed can be an issue in some set-ups.
A manufactured retainer clip required for the transom-boarding ladder.
Grab rails installed closer to the aft of the console.

 

 

 


Specifications: Southern Star Platinum Offshore 770

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested:   $95,000
Options fitted:   Furuno GPS and depth sounder, bimini hardtop, anchor winch, boarding platform and ladder, bow rails, cockpit  lights, console deck lights, flush mount horn, stainless steel in survey fuel tanks, colour trim, forward seat cushions, stern rails, twin batteries, extra foam for survey, binnacle control, baitboard, extra instrumentation and radio.
Priced from:   $75,000 with 200 hp 4-stroke Johnson outboard

 


 
GENERAL


Material:   Fibreglass
Length (overall)  8.07m
Deck length:   7.73m
Water line length:  6.30m
Beam:    2.47m
Deadrise:   Midships 20-degrees
Transom 18.5-degrees
Weight:   1,000kg hull and console only

 


 
CAPACITIES


Fuel:    265l

 


 
ENGINE


Make/model:   Evinrude E-Tec.
Type:    Fuel injected two-stroke
Rated hp:   225
Displacement:   3,279cc
Weight:   234kg
Gearbox ratio:   1.85:1
Propeller:   19-inch SST

 


 
SUPPLIED BY


Logan River Marine
1 Christensen Road Yatala, Qld 4207
Telephone (07) 3287 4888
Facsimile (07) 3807 0715
Website www.loganrivermarine.com.au

 


 
Originally published in TrailerBoat #194

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