Longboats are back! Rick Huckstepp revisits a classic 5.8m workboat that's an improvement on the original.

Southern Star UB 580

It felt like a reunion of sorts recently at Horizon Shores Marina on Queensland's south-east coast when we attended the debut of Southern Star Marine Products International.

Lined up displaying matching décor were five of the old Southwind models that were withdrawn from the market following the closure of the Southwind factory at Ourimbah, NSW in 2003. It was excellent to see the famous "UB"-style boat making its comeback, and those of you who've had any experience in these longboats will understand why we felt this way.

While not the most elegant-looking boat on the water, they perform outstandingly well in big seas and need minimal horsepower to do the job. This style of hull is firmly entrenched in the water-taxi and island-hopping native-fishing-boat arena throughout the South Pacific and beyond. Fishing guides around the northern coastal areas of Australia are employing similar hulls for long-hauling between fishing spots.

The test boat was fitted with a 90hp Johnson four-stroke, 10hp shy of the maximum rating. The banana-shaped gunwales do not provide much thigh support when fishing over the side, but the high, swept-back bowrails do, as they extend two-thirds of the way aft from the slender bow.

The deck is non-slip and the forward section is slightly raised, with storage below a large hatch. The anchor lives in here, and the hatch comes away completely rather than swinging on a hinge.

There is a raised-back section against the transom and a pair of storage bins beneath hatches. The console is central over the keel-line and narrow in its design, with a short windscreen that serves to keep water off your electronics. This screen, however, only offers protection for one person.

I found that the gimbal throttle was positioned in such a way that full reverse throttle found the top of the handle clashing with the helm. The manufacturers are onto fixing that issue.

The seat is a storage box with a swinging backrest, in which most of the gear that normally resides in sidepockets gets stowed. There are no sidepockets in this rig, with the flat sides contoured for strength, and then foam filled for further strength and rigidity.

One does tend to notice a little more rock and roll with this rig at anchor compared to other boats, due to its narrow beam-to-length ratio. It has a very flat deadrise that offers a shallow draft, making these boats extremely versatile - one of the many reasons why the northern charter fishing guides tend to prefer this style of boat.

The Johnson offered ample power and a fine holeshot. On the plane over chop, the flattish forward entry of the hull made for slightly bumpy re-entry into the water, but still at an acceptable level.

No one has ever offered any apologies for the appearance of these boats, nor the many attributes they lack when compared to what many of us look for in a "normal" boat. This is a work of serious fishing boat.

More than capable in seas that will keep many boats back on their trailers on the hard, this rig will fit up nicely into a mini offshore game- and sportsboat at an attractive, affordable price.





Priced from: $35,990 w/ 90hp four-stroke EFI Johnson, trailer, radio and sounder




Material: Fibreglass
Length: 5.79m
Beam: 1.96m
Weight: 590kg hull only




Rec/max hp: 90 two-stroke, 100 four-stroke
Fuel: Tote tanks or 85lt optional underfloor
Passengers: Six adults




Logan River Marine, Yatala, Qld,
tel (07) 3287 4888 or visit


First published in TrailerBoat #184

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