BOAT TEST: SEA JAY 580 VENTURE CAB

By: John Ford


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Sea Jay has a great name in its home State of Queensland. We sent John Ford to Botany Bay to see if that reputation carried across the border.

BOAT TEST: SEA JAY 580 VENTURE CAB
SEA JAY 580 VENTURE CAB

TEST REVIEW: SEA JAY 580 VENTURE CAB


Sea Jay is a family run company that has been building aluminium boats at its Bundaberg factory since 1989. Boatie couple Col and Janelle Glass (oddly enough, with a surname like that they didn't get into fibreglass - Ed) along with son Todd make up a two-generation tradition that has become a familiar brand on the Queensland coast.

The range comprises 24 plate and pressed models ranging from 2.45m through to 7.6m, available in something like 70 different configurations. We wanted to test the Venture Cab range, comprising boats from Sea Jay's pressed line. Venture Cabs are available as four models from 5m to 6.1m so to accomplish this we were provided with a 580 model, courtesy of A&J Outboard and Boating Services in Sydney's west.

Jim Tsacalos is the dealer principal and he reckons the 580 suits fishos who want a boat that's easily handled but which is also suitable for family time. Sea Jay echoes this sentiment and calls the Venture Cab an offshore boat with long-range capability.

We were ready to put these claims to the test, starting in Botany Bay and then heading out for an offshore run. Conditions in the bay were flat, but thankfully there was enough swell outside to assess the hull's ocean-going capabilities.

 

 

LAYOUT AND DESIGN

 

The 580 may be a mid-range boat but it certainly looked impressive on the trailer with its slab sides and raised angular cabin sweeping back to a high windscreen. This was accentuated by the colour scheme on the hull and bimini - black with white topsides.

Our test model had the flat 3mm "Platinum" option but 2mm clinker-style is also available. The difference is in the way the flat panels look more aggressive and modern compared to the standard hull. An understated splash of colour decorates the sides and a Mercury OptiMax 150 sits on the extended transom.

Once you're aboard, this boat conveys a feeling of well-used space with a good balance of cabin and cockpit size. There's enough room in the cabin to stretch out on the vee-berths and enough space in the cockpit to allow a crew of three to fish in comfort.

Access to the bow is through a hatch or along the non-skid sidedeck. A big anchorwell is easily reached through the hatch although other than the bowrail, no grabrails were provided for the walkaround option.

In the cabin there is enough room for four people on comfortable, colour co-ordinated white / black vinyl clad cushions. Side windows and the open nature of the cabin make things light and airy while grey marine carpet on the cabin roof is a nice touch, both visually and for its sound-deadening effect.

Storage space is located under the bunks and in sidepockets. The wide cabin entry also has a rail to protect the metal edge of the bulkhead and it's well rounded at the corners to prevent injury in rough conditions.

 

 

AT THE HELM

 

The windscreen is a single-piece of Perspex with a useful and solid handrail along its upper edge. At the helm are snugly fitting optional clears and a bimini, which I might add looked very well made. Head height is a generous 1.9m, and the dash has a simple moulded section with room for basic instruments and space on the flat-top section for bracket-mounted screens. Both driver and passenger get recessed side-storage pockets and a plastic drinkholder. The bucket seats are fully rotating with 200mm of travel, making it easy to find a comfortable position, and while the seats are basic, they come with sturdy bases and practical aluminium storage bins.

At the stern is a fold-down lounge which can be easily removed for fishing. The transom has off-floor storage and space for the battery and oil bottle. To starboard is a livebait tank (plumbing optional) and to port is a transom door which then leads to an extended pod incorporating a swim platform with ladder. A sturdy aluminium baitboard sits tall in the centre. It has a plastic cuttingboard, handy storage and inbuilt drainage.

Sidedecks have corner bollards and low grabrails as well as the obligatory sidepockets for rod storage. The floor is marine ply covered in grey carpet and below deck is a 160lt fuel tank. It's placed along the keel line to improve stability by ensuring weight remains evenly distributed. Below the hull the floor is foam-filled for basic floatation. Sides are deep and give a good feeling of security and the sidedecks are wide and comfortable to sit on.

Everything in the construction looks well engineered and neatly finished. The welds are also tidy and consistent, always a reassuring sign in an aluminium boat.

 

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

 

With a hull weight of 690kg and a waterline length of 5.8m, the Venture Cab was going to be a lively performer, especially with a Mercury 150 OptiMax for power. Acceleration out of the hole was brisk and we quickly hit an impressive 43kts (80kmh) in the sheltered waters of Botany Bay. At around 3500rpm it went into a low cruise of around 23kts (43kmh), increasing to 34kts (63kmh) at 4500rpm. These are impressive figures which demonstrate the ease with which this hull is driven.

Along with the spirited performance, the Venture Cab's handling is equally inspiring. Sharp turns were taken at speed with confidence as the chines bit in and kept the boat in a flat attitude. In low-speed slow turns the hull leaned in and turned in a short space. Everything was predictable and smooth and it's a testament to skill of the A&J Outboard crew that the boat was set up in a way that showed it at its best.

Once we headed out to sea the Sea Jay continued to impress across a short chop and lazy swell. The hull was soft on landing over waves, with no banging through the chop. At rest the hull was a bit tippy but it was nonetheless easily fishable.

The driving position is good either sitting or standing. The view through the screen was unhindered and most drivers will find the helm works well, although I found the controls were set a bit high on the cabin side, and they took a bit of getting used to. Steering through the BayStar hydraulic system was effortless and smooth in all directions. The boat responded well to trim and drove easily in a following sea with a very safe and predictable feel. It would only be in heavy conditions that the light hull may find the going difficult.

 

 

THE WRAP

 

Sea Jay has earned its reputation as a reliable, honest performer, particularly in its home State of Queensland. The fact that this manufacturer has endured 22 years in a tough industry says a great deal about the quality of the product.

The Ventura Cab is well suited to bay and offshore fishing and its versatile layout leaves enough room to entertain the family. It will happily travel on a single-axle trailer and it's towable by a medium family car. Add to that the fact that it's a well-engineered product with good handling - and keep in mind that Sea Jay is happy to have the boat modified to suit your needs - and you can't go wrong.

 

 


WEATHER CONDITIONS

 

Wind: 6-7kts

 

Sea: Slight

 

 

 


On the plane...

 

Well engineered design

 

Plenty of usable power

 

Good use of space

 

Well set up for fishing

 

The family will like it

 

 

 

Dragging the chain...

 

A bit fragile at rest

 

Controls set high

 

 

 


PERFORMANCE

 

12kts (23kmh) @ 2400rpm (plane)

 

17kts (32kmh) @ 3000rpm

 

23kts (43kmh) @ 3500rpm

 

29kts (54kmh) @ 4000rpm

 

34kts (63kmh) @ 4500rpm

 

38kts (72kmh) @ 5000rpm

 

42kts (78kmh) @ 5500rpm

 

43kts (80kmh) @ 5600rpm (WOT)

 

 

 

 


Specifications: SEA JAY 580 VENTURE CAB

 

 

HOW MUCH?

 

Price as tested: $54,750

 

Options fitted: 150hp OptiMax, Boeing trailer, platinum sides, bimini, clears, sounder, livebait tank, boarding ladder, safety equipment

 

Priced from: $51,990 (with Mercury 150hp EFI)

 

 

GENERAL

 

Type: Monohull half-cabin

 

Material: Aluminium; 4mm bottom; 3mm sides

 

Length: 5.92m

 

Beam: 2.44m

 

Weight (hull): 690kg

 

Deadrise: 16°

 

 

CAPACITIES

 

People: 6

 

Rec. HP: 130

 

Max. HP: 150

 

Fuel: 160lt

 

 

ENGINE

 

Make/model: Mercury OptiMax 150

 

Type: Direct-injection, V6, two-stroke

 

Weight: 195kg

 

Displacement: 2507cc

 

Gear ratio: 1.87:1

 

Propeller: 19in stainless

 

 


MANUFACTURED BY

 

Sea Jay Boats

 

2 Maddison Crt

 

Bundaberg, Qld, 4670

 

Web: www.seajayboats.com.au

 

 


SUPPLIED BY

 

A&J Outboard and Boating Services

 

1/66 Hassall Street

 

Wetherill Park, NSW, 2164

 

Tel: (02) 9609 1027

 

Web: www.ajoutboards.com.au

 

 

 


First published in TrailerBoat # 274

Find Sea Jay boats for sale.

 


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