Here’s one sportfishoes will love.
Sea Fox is a name not many in the Australian boating community would be familiar with, but that is about to change. The company was established in 1957, in the US town of Charlestown in South Carolina and boasts more than 50-years of boat building experience. Since 2003, the Sea Fox brand in the States has undergone extensive change from the ground up and despite what you may read on some websites about older models of Sea Fox boats, the new models are a far superior product to the old tubs they used to produce.
Sea Fox boats come in a variety of configurations and sizes with centre consoles from 16 to 26ft making up the bulk of the model list. Three models of walk-around (starting at 21ft and finishing with a sizeable 25 footer) are also available, as are Bay Fishers from just shy of 18ft to a shade over 22ft. Dual consoles, essentially a bowrider configuration with a walk-through windshield, are available in two models from 21ft to 23ft.
By fishing the new-generation Sea Fox 206 centre console at Port Stephens in the 2008 Trailerboat Fishing Competition, we were able get an honest feel for the boat and used it extensively, both inshore and offshore. We towed the boat up the day prior on a Dunbier trailer and, as expected of a new trailer, it performed the task with no problems, even with a full tank of fuel courtesy of our friends at BRP, who filled the entire 246lt fuel tank for us after fitting a brand new Evinrude 150hp E-TEC. Thanks BRP!
Handling the conditions
Day one saw us up at 5am and straight out to the islands surrounding Port Stephens to catch snapper. The wind was relatively light, but the small NE-swell against an outgoing tide made the seas stand up at the shallow mouth of the inlet. This produced a short sharp wave, which isn’t overly forgiving or comfortable in any boat. The closeness of the waves produced a jarring ride, but the 206 handled the conditions and rode well at a moderate speed. We found the bow a little light and therefore bouncy when heading into the waves, but by using the trim tabs to get the bow down reduced its tendency to bounce.
During the course of the weekend in choppy conditions, we found that driving the boat with the bow down offered a more comfortable ride, albeit slightly less fuel-efficient. But this was negated by the fact that the 150hp Evinrude is so fuel-friendly.
The driving position is comfortable and well protected behind the curved windshield, though I did find the top of the windshield to be right in my line of view when standing, my gargantuan co-captain had no such problems. The helm seat is fitted with a footrest, which folds away when standing and the grab-bar for the passenger is a welcome addition. The ‘standard’ steering wheel provides good manoeuvrability and is fun to use, because it features a technically named ‘turning knob’ providing quick transition from lock to lock.
The dash console is large enough to mount electrics, we had a Lowrance 27c chartplotter/sounder, Navman 27meg and VHF radios fitted and still had space left over. There’s a watertight compartment on the portside of the driving position and moulded cup holders to the starboard.
The boat’s constructed with no wood and is promoted by Sea Fox as being “rot free”, but it’s the standard inclusions this boat offers where the real value lies. The test boat came with a plumbed-live well at the transom on the portside with the option of another on the starboard. The deck-wash is handy and the Esky (strapped down under the helm-seat) is a brilliant idea that wastes little usable deck space. The two rod-storage compartments (one under each gunwale) are handy, as are the four rod holders behind the helm seat and six other around the gunwale and transom, although we would have liked to see more forward of the helm.
The Sea Fox is an entry-to-mid level marque and the finish of the boat is not up to the standard of much more expensive brands such as Boston Whaler. That said, stainless components are used throughout and extend from cup holders, rod holders and latches to pop-up cleats.
The gelcoat is finished smoothly in all areas, but unfortunately, the finish inside the console (which is spacious and features a portable toilet) is let down by the vinyl backing covering the helm wiring-looms. This is fixed in place with Velcro, which attaches itself, albeit not very well, to the carpet on the inside walls of the console. Once the pockets are full, it tends to lift away very easily.
Fishing with three relatively large lads on one side was comfortable: one at the front, one at the helm and one at the rear. Tangles were non-existent and once a fish was hooked there was no extreme tipping as three excited anglers curiously peered over the side to see what would come up.
The coamings are a good height to lever against and you are able to get your feet under them in the rear two-thirds of the boat. Forward of the helm there are no coamings as such, but the deck height is comfortable. All seating comes with optional cushions making trips to fishing grounds luxurious for all crew.
The Sea Fox is comfortable and handled the conditions much better than some boats we have been in. It’s true this boat is not as finely finished as some more expensive brands, but does it have to be ? It is a well-appointed boat capable of running to the shelf if need be, but in our opinion would be more comfortable for inshore sportfishing with some estuary work.
The crossover appeal of this boat cannot be underestimated. The toilet onboard and plenty of seating makes it capable of doubling as the family runabout. You’d be hard pressed to find a similar-sized boat with a better price per foot of useable space.
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