Issue: July 2004
When a South Island New Zealander started his quest for a craft, built for his often tough and cold offshore fishing conditions near Nelson, he turned to the Mid North NSW boat builder Stebercraft. Built to survey, custom sports cruisers, are a substantial part of the Stebercraft repertoire and this brand new 47ft high performance vessel is a great example of what Steber can produce with an eight month agenda. We got the chance to take Rampage 2 out on Sydney Harbour just before the Steber 4700 was loaded onboard a ship headed for the South Island and it was a tremendous opportunity to not only experience a well-built craft, but to meet up with two generations of Stebers showing off their wears.
While the younger Alan Steber showed us the ropes, the company founder Bruce Steber looked on proudly as he bid farewell to another craft that already has its new owner thrilled. Although Bruce Steber has seen 1000s of craft leave his factory over his company’s 50 plus year history, there is still a fresh sense of excitement and achievement when a new craft takes its maiden voyage, especially the bigger craft like the 4700. This Stebercraft’s maiden voyage was the delivery trip from Taree to Port Jackson with the more than impressed owner onboard.
All went smoothly until about an hour off Sydney Heads when they got hit by a 45 knot southerly buster, but as expected, the 4700 dug in and arrived in the Harbour to find fleets of day sailors decimated across the harbour. “She’s tough and the owners were confident that the 4700 would endure the challenges of the Southern NZ conditions” Alan said. Some of the standout features of this custom craft included extensive onboard heating, which incorporates a high powered windscreen demister for the saloon helm, an open extended Fly bridge with large radar arch and a large well designed engine room with laundry facilities.
The balanced use of teak and stainless steel trim adds a bit of style to the craft, but also ensures that the craft’s ongoing exterior maintenance will not become a handful. At the owner’s request the craft had a large fishing table fitted that can be swapped with a game chair depending on the target. He also opted for an additional shower and loo located on the portside aft with access from the deck, a great idea when most of the messy action is going on outside. You won’t have to traipse fish guts and scales all through the boat if you need to go to the toilet. Overall, the 4700 has the main stateroom located forward and a portside bunkroom (with double size mattresses) opposite the head.
Take a few steps up from the accommodation and you are at the portside galley level that is a step down from the rest of the saloon. Incidentally, the steps open up to provide some extra storage areas. Although the galley is lower than the saloon it still has a good view out and all around, which will no doubt keep the chef happy. The galley is spacious and functional with an oven, cook top, splashback power points and a large sink. The domestic style laminates might kid you into thinking you are at home! Throughout the cabin, the use of blue leather and lime wash Tassie oak timbers should ensure that the fit-out would endure the test of the sea and time.
The saloon helm commands respect! Extensive Raymarine electronics combined with the Yanmar instruments, Autopilot, Flowscan fuel monitoring system, radar, GPS plotter, CD, heavy duty pneumatic seat, intercom and radio will no doubt reinforce who is master and commander. The craft is also built to Survey, which adds to value and piece of mind. As part of survey requirements the craft has to be compartmentalised with all seacocks located at a central point. In this case they were easy to access, but hidden behind the cushions of the main settee. I also noted that during the build, they use ultrasonic hull thickness testing and hull laminate samples are retained, very handy should there be any structural revisions down the track.
Customisation is king with Stebercraft. “What the customer wants the customer gets” within reason.Rampage 2 has a range of special requests including the cabin heating, aft shower and toilet, teak bowrail seats and dinghy and davit stowage aft at flybridge level. Dingy storage topside is great, because it really frees up the bow and makes it a great place to be in fine weather. Steber even widened the steps up the walkways, so they can be used as seats when fishing, another good idea requested by the new owner. There’s a stack of storage on the 4700, cavernous underdeck storage areas, nooks and crannies about the saloon, large under seat drawers, combined with a massive easy to work in engine room suggest that this craft is “oversize” to make life easy.
The harbour was not the place to stretch the 16 tonne 4700, because, essentially, nothing is going to trouble it inshore other than the odd wake from a similar sized craft. But, it was clear that this craft with its high bow and topsides would live up to the Steber reputation and endure the challenges of the sea. The flared bow has a decorative knuckle, and then a double chine knuckle to reduce spray, while the fine entry allows the craft to cut through the chop. Up and running the Yanmar’s engine noise levels in the main saloon seemed less than other Yanmar powered craft I have been on, suggesting good engine room insulation.
The craft produced a top speed of 27 knots and comfy cruise speeds between 18-20 knots. Fuel consumption at 20 knots was around 86lt per hour producing a range of around 800 nautical miles. So you could take her Sydney to Hobart non-stop. The bridge deck is quite different to others I have seen. The helm is located aft of the open air flybridge passenger seating and viewing platform, so on a good day it would be a great ride for all topside. On my day, well it was raining by the end of the review, so we adjourned to the saloon. But I get the drift and agree that would generally be the place to be. From last year’s Sanctuary Cove Boat Show to Nelson NZ in 8000hrs is a tribute to Stebercraft’s reputation for building solid seaworthy craft to anyone’s standards.
With a price depending on engine and options ranging from $900K-$1.2m this Aussie built in Survey 47 footer delivers in the key areas of sea kindliness, function and form.
Words by Andrew Richardson