Sea Jay 455 Escape Sports CX and 485 Haven Sports Review

You see a lot of Sea Jay boats throughout the remote parts of northern Queensland. There are enough for you to work out that Sea Jay’s enviable reputation in the Sunshine State was earned the hard way. What impressed me most about the pair of boats on test here was that they’re still built like ‘traditional’ Sea Jays, with their presentation as slick as the best tinnies on the market.

These are the kind of boats that will potentially catch, or hopefully catch-and-release, a lot of fish. They’re no-nonsense, practical, down-to-earth fishing boats, forever may they reign!

Both the test boats have enough sophistication to come in above $20,000. It’s $24,300 for the larger blue boat, and fair enough in that price bracket they’re competitive with their peers. 

The blue 4.85 metre boat has an extended transom and is typical of the sophisticated tastes developed by today’s boat fishers. Although it wouldn’t be out of place in an exclusive canal development on the Gold Coast, it will probably be seen more often in suburban backyards around the country.

The black 4.55 metre boat is also well appointed. It doesn’t have the extended transom but has a (new-for-Sea Jay) bow casting deck, set up with an electric motor mount, and its anchor well under the casting deck is standard. It also has a dry storage well/kill tank/fish pit, call it what you will, it can be plumbed as a tournament-style live well.
I’d keep it as somewhere to put the fish to keep the rest of the boat (relatively) free of slime and the other smelly by-products of a great day’s fishing. 

If you want a boat show special, a fishable package starting out at around $16,000, you could swap the (superb) 50 EFI four-stroke outboard and the side console, and a few other fancy bits and power it with a 40 hp tiller steer two-stroke. I’d keep the carpeted casting decks, an under-floor fuel tank, a pair of pedestal seats and the new bow arrangement with electric mount. 

If you budget somewhere between $16,000 (which isn’t realistic because of the usual extras) and the $22,950 which the black boat was packaged up for by Brisbane’s Stones Corner Marine, you’re going to get an awesome amount of fishing boat for your money!

On the water

If you don’t expect more from a moderate deadrise aluminium hull than it’s capable of delivering, you won’t be disappointed. For what they are, Sea Jay hulls are as good as tinnies get, plenty good enough when operated with common sense. Either of these boats will get you where it counts, out where the fish are on rivers, lakes, dams, sheltered bays, and even open water bays.

As for the different configurations, the 455’s bow and stern deck arrangement means it has a lot more room inside and more (casting) deck space, despite being 30 cm shorter. On the other hand, the full height bulkhead that goes with the extended transom on the blue 485 would probably be the choice of people spending more time on open water. 

The extended transom hull also had a more level attitude at low planing (rough water travelling) speeds, while the flat-transom black hull tended to lift its bow as it planed and didn’t level out until higher speeds were reached. This translates directly into a better ride because the extended transom hull will use the finer deadrise angles further forward on its bows to ‘cut’ chop and soften the ride at lower speeds.

The package
The EFI four-stroke Yamahas powering these boats were superb in every respect. Their performance left nothing to be desired and if your budget extends that far, go for it. But there is the price of a good bow mount electric between a four-stroke and a similar power two-stroke, that’s also worth consideration!

A technician from Yamaha was conducting fuel consumption tests while we were testing the boats and readers will be interested to know that the worst fuel consumption for either motor powering the Sea Jays was under 1.5 litres per hour. That’s at full throttle ! You can halve that at 4000 rpm, miserly ain’t the word!