By: Bernard Clancy

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Tinnies are an ideal first step into boating for fishing or recreation and despite being basic craft Bernard Clancy finds some nice improvements in Stacer’s 350 Seasprite




As I looked down at the Stacer 350 Seasprite bobbing around off the boat ramp at the Geelong Ski Club's home on the Barwon River, fond memories flooded back. Here was the basic tinny, shiny-new and sparkling, with a little Mercury perched expectantly on the transom.
It took me back many years, to when my boys were in their pre-teens, mad-keen fishermen and crazy about boats. As a boating writer I'd never owned a boat because I always had someone else's to play with. But they wanted their own, and saved to buy it.
We got it through a paper ad, a pre-loved unit in really good knick with a 15hp Mercury, hand-made floor, rodholders and a couple of seats. It was a class above the rest, we reckoned. One of the boys had procured a Mercedes Benz bonnet badge somewhere (no, I never asked) and they proudly stuck it on the bow. We got a lot of laughs from passing traffic with that.
It had a cover, too, which proved very handy because we were camping in those days and the tinny became the camping trailer as well.
The kids just loved that boat. So did their mates. We used to camp at Mallacoota for about a month in January in those days and the only time my wife and I saw the boys was when they needed to be fed or the fuel tank needed refuelling. Actually, belay that. They used to fill the 20-litre tank themselves and book it up to me at the servo. From dawn to dusk they were out in the boat, either fishing or dragging their mates around on water toys.
However, as they grew the boat refused to grow with them, so they re-powered. Or, if I recall correctly, Mum bought the new 25hp Mercury which Shaun had found for a "bargain" at the old Boronia Marine where he worked after school and thus she became part-owner. It was a "partnership" which worked well for the boys because Mum rarely got to use it.
With a 25hp donk on the back the tinny was an absolute rocket. No problems towing the mates around now. Oh and one other thing which I didn't find out about until years later over Christmas dinner recollections and confessions. While I was offshore at Mallacoota in the big boat chasing bluefin tuna and all manner of things pelagic, they were mucking around with the tinny riding breaking waves in the entrance!  For me, that bit of water was bloody fearsome. For them, it was fun!
It's true you know there are some things a parent should never know about what their kids are up to! The plus side of that was that they learned how to handle a boat at a very young age and both developed superb boating skills and seamanship which they'll use for the rest of their lives.




So it was with some sweet memories that I revisited the past in doing this review of the Stacer 350 Seasprite. At 3.5 metres it was probably a fraction shorter than our tinny which, I think, was 3.7 or 3.8.  "Still the same old tinny though," I thought. After all, how do you update the most basic of all boats?
But on closer inspection there are subtle differences. I suspect there are more ribs in this boat than ours. The Seasprite has seven, which adds to rigidity. The two cross benches, still pop riveted, are wider to accommodate more foam underneath, a good safety feature, and the sides are higher, another plus to safety.
The welded front deck and the anchor tray underneath double as bow re-inforcement with a handle on the bow rather than a bow post to assist in lifting the boat. Two similar handles are on the stern quarters.  Remember, these boats are easily transportable and are often carried on the top of cars or camper trailers. 
The 350 weighs in at only 76kg. It's not only kids who enjoy tinnies. You'll see hundreds of them doing the round-Australia bit with their greypower owners equipped with the Pajero diesel and Jayco.
I don't recall our tinny having a spray rail on the chines but the Stacer does - from bow to stern. That would be a very popular feature. I always had to wear a spray jacket in our little boat.
The Stacer is equipped with welded on rowlock blocks amidships which also doubles as anchor points for an across-boat support bar for the cover.
The stern has a solid V-channel support for the engine with an additional brace to the floor. Further braces, incidentally, are amidships on the sides.
I was a little surprised by the stability in this little boat. Stacer have certainly improved that with this model. It used to be quite hairy, if my recollections serve me right. In our old boat you had to make sure you stepped into the centre before adjusting your position.
The 350 really flew with the 15hp motor, the maximum recommended horsepower. If you're a beginner, the 8hp is a good way to start. Take your time; get the feel of the boat and you'll have heaps of fun.
Stacer's warranty is three-year boat/motor/trailer (if you need the latter) but really, tinnies are pretty much indestructible. Even rocky banks or oyster leases will only leave harmless scratches on the surface. Over time the aluminium polish will tarnish but if you're a real fanatic, you can even arrest that! These sorts of boats rarely come on the pre-loved market because they never wear out.
Ah, nostalgia. As I left, I couldn't help thinking that the only thing missing from the Stacer 350 was the Mercedes badge on the bow.




Specifications: Stacer 350 Seasprite




Price as tested: $6101 (excludes dealer delivery, freight, boat and trailer registrations, and on water costs)
Priced from: $5198 w/ 8hp Mariner outboard and Stacer trailer (excludes dealer delivery, freight, boat and trailer registrations, and on water costs)




Material:   Aluminium (1.6mm bottom and top)
Type:    Runabout
Length overall):  3.55m
Beam:   1.45m
Rec. max. HP: 15hp
Weight:   76kg (hull); approx 271kg on trailer w/ two-stroke motor; approx 286kg on trailer w/ four-stroke




Make:   Mercury
Type:    Two-stroke 11.2 kW outboard
Rated HP:   15
Displacement:  262cc
Weight:   35kg




Moolap Marine,
250 Portarlington Rd,
Moolap, Vic, 3221
Phone: 03 5248 3772



Originally published in TrailerBoat #231

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