BOAT TEST: SEA JAY 4.85M MAGNUM XPACK

By: BRENDAN RULE, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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Sea Jay Boats is known for building tough alloy rigs to suit rough-and-tumble Aussie fishos and their families. The 4.85m Magnum XPack runabout is no exception, according to Brendan Rule...

BOAT TEST: SEA JAY 4.85M MAGNUM XPACK
The Sea Jay 4.85m Magnum XPack. It ticks all the boxes for a safe, solid bay runabout.

Queensland born and bred, Sea Jay Boats from Bundaberg has a reputation for building solid and sturdy fishing platforms. I recall many years ago how a professional crab licence-holder and work colleague of mine praised the attributes of his newly-acquired Sea Jay open tiller-steer tinnie. He bragged about how suitable it was for the terrain he had to traverse with his tow vehicle and all the different conditions he had to endure in his daily quest for crustaceans in southern Moreton Bay, his workplace.

Like I said, that was many years ago, and since then Sea Jay has incorporated many improvements into its design, such as the "Sure Trac" hull and the 3mm pressed-aluminium plate sides on models over 4.55m. I was excited to try out the brand new 4.85m Sea Jay Magnum XPack in the waters of southern Moreton Bay, where my good friend still plies his trade.

 

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE

This boat definitely catches your eye on the trailer. Pure white from the chine up and sprayed white with grey fleck inside the hull, straight away you can see the advantage of the optional hull paint. Sea Jay has done a flawless job in its paint booth and the finish accentuates the hull's lines and curves in all the right places. It's easy to see why the classic, open aluminium fishing boat has - from a female perspective - become a palatable family escape vessel, too.

Looks aren't everything, of course, so once on the water I was even more pleased to discover this Sea Jay really is a capable boat. Thanks to its metre-high sides and roomy 2.14m beam, the Sea Jay Magnum XPack steps up from the genre of a roomy and uncluttered fishing platform to a suitably comfortable family day-tripper. The large, fully-carpeted open deck space and forward and aft thwart seats accommodate up to five people, with plenty of room for fishing gear, picnic essentials and, of course, the Esky.

 

ANYTHING BUT STANDARD

The vessel as tested has a price tag of $22,000 (note that the dealer that supplied the boat, Brisbane's Stones Corner Marine, sells bare hulls for just $7130). Standard inclusions for the Magnum XPack include a switchpanel plate and navigation light plates, low-profile bowrails and a very handy rear step and rail, which makes boarding from the beach easy and much safer for the kids. Wide sidedecks are always an advantage, and on the Magnum XPack they add to the overall strength and are perfect to prop yourself against when fighting the big ones. Well, for someone as vertically challenged as I am, they are.

The owner of the vessel wanted a few optional extras that would accentuate the already large, open and uncluttered deck area. He had Sea Jay fabricate an anchorwell into the bow, which is an excellent use of this space. Anchor handling is much easier and the gear is readily accessible from the floor space forward of the thwart seat without bending your back. All the mooring lines, the anchor and the chain can be stowed neatly so they won't become trip hazards on the deck. A bowroller to complement the anchorwell would be a great addition, and could be retro fitted easily enough.

A 60lt under-floor fuel tank has also been fitted centrally between the two thwart seats with a deck hatch to the filling cap. Its positioning is perfect, and dramatically improves the performance and stability of the Magnum as opposed to having a couple of portable tanks sitting down aft near the transom. The absence of a sidedeck filler is not a huge disadvantage if the budget is your main concern, but it would be a nice luxury and would save dragging fuel hoses up and into the boat.

When fitting out this new build, it was discovered that the switchpanel plate included in the build was somewhat impractical due to the narrow space between the plate and the hull. Being positioned just forward of the aft thwart seat on the starboard side, it was duly put to use as the GPS / sounder mount instead, while a separate switchpanel for the electrical components was fabricated.

There is a basic theme that has guided the fit-out of this boat which adheres to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle: you get four well-positioned rodholders (two of which are ideal for trolling lures), a Lowrance Elite-5 GPS / sounder, LED navigation lights, and port and starboard dimmed LED deck lights mounted under the sidedecks. The fit-out was made all the more neater and easier by incorporating aluminium loops under the sidedecks every 500mm or so for the wiring loom.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Pushing this package was the recommended maximum horsepower in the form of a Yamaha 60hp four-stroke EFI electric start / trim / tilt tiller steer outboard. At 114kg the Yamaha sits nicely on the transom barely sinking the chines. Running at slow speeds it does produce some squat aft, impairing vision over the bow. This is probably due to the overall length of the vessel and the low height of the aft thwart seat. An aftermarket swivel helm seat for the skipper should alleviate this problem, which was mostly only apparent at around 6kts (11.1kmh). The boat trimmed nicely at anything slightly over or under this speed.

The Magnum XPack punches out of the hole smoothly and easily at about one-third throttle and is simply a thrill right up to its full speed of about 32kts (59.3kmh). It is easily as safe and solid as any tinnie I've experienced. The Sure Trac hull glided nicely over the 15 to 20kt (27.8 to 37.0kmh) south-easterly chop at full speed with the Yamaha running at a very economical 3500 to 4000rpm. With a slight five-degree tilt, the Magnum XPack produced a soft and comfortable ride at 20kts (37.0kmh) even when beam-on to the swell, with Sea Jay's solid ribbing and 3mm-plate sides producing a sound more like a dull thud than the normal tinnie slap.

Handling is really quite a surprise for a tiller-steer of this size. Although a little heavy when turning at high speeds, with the necessary adjustments to the engine trim, tiller friction lever and throttle friction control, it was comfortable to handle and required very little effort from the helmsman. In fact, the Sea Jay tracked perfectly straight in the conditions tested without touching the tiller handle at all. Handling was easy and effortless, with everything at your fingertips thanks to the Yamaha Multi-Function Tiller Handle.

 

THE WRAP

Sea Jay's 4.85m Magnum XPack ticks all the boxes if you require a sturdy, safe, comfortable and uncomplicated bay runabout or fishing platform. The size allows it to cope easily with typical choppy bay conditions, while the power and reliability of the 60hp Yammie will get you out of trouble.

As expected with an open boat, a little spray came over the bulwarks at top speed (due to the 20kt wind) but even then most of the spray is deflected down and away from the hull. More dry storage would be a good addition, but the beauty of this boat is that it lends itself to further customisation with modest and well-thought-out options, thanks to its simple, roomy layout.

And as for the paint job... Well, for any serious fisherman who needs a great bay all-rounder but who wants to also impress the "cheese and kisses", it's worth it.

On the plane...
* Decent build
* Solid, dry ride for a tinnie
* Under-gunwale eyelids for wiring

Dragging the chain...
* Limited vision at slow speeds over high bow from rear thwart seat
* Fuel tank could be repositioned
* Could do with a better standard electronics mounting plate

 

Specifications: SEA JAY 4.85 MAGNUM XPACK

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $22,000
Options fitted: Two-pack paint, anchorwell, 60lt fuel tank, battery isolator switch (the owner had also added LED nav lights, Lowrance DSI Elite-5, tackle draw and a plastic storage hatch)
Priced from: $19,950

GENERAL
Type: Open runabout
Material: Plate-aluminium (3mm bottom; 3mm sides)
Length: 4.85m
Beam: 2.14m
Weight: 297kg
Deadrise: 15°

CAPACITIES
People: 5
Rec. HP: 50
Max. HP: 60
Fuel: Optional 60lt underfloor (with either floor-fill or deck-fill option)

ENGINE
Make/model: Yamaha F60CEHTL
Type: In-line, SOHC, four-cylinder four-stroke
Weight: 118kg
Displacement: 996cc
Gear ratio: 1.85:1
Propeller: 11 1/8 x 13G

MANUFACTURED BY
Sea Jay Boats
2 Maddison Crt
Bundaberg, Qld, 4670
Tel: (07) 4152 2111

SUPPLIED BY
Stones Corner Marine
117 Old Cleveland Rd
Stones Corner, Qld, 4120
Tel: (07) 3397 9766
Web: www.stonescornermarine.com.au

Source: TrailerBoat #285, August 2012.

Find Sea Jay boats for sale.

 


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