Streaker’s 5.45m Sirocco Fisherman is a pertinent reminder the evergreen runabout is far from an ageing design
While some may believe runabouts are outdated by the advent of bowriders and the burgeoning popularity of cuddy cabs, today’s runabouts (or at least ones like this) with walk-through windscreens, remain as good a choice as ever when it comes to family and fishing boats.
Why should someone choose a runabout over a bowrider with its roomy bow lounge ? Anyone seated in a bow lounge when it’s a bit chilly will soon understand. So why, then, choose a runabout’s lower screen and deck over a cuddy or half cab’s higher one with extra headroom ? Because sometimes a cabin boat won’t fit under the roof where you store it, and if you intend to tow further than a few kilometres to a local ramp, cabin boats catch a lot of air, so their tow vehicles have to work harder and use substantially more fuel. And for fishing people, they’ll be won over by a runabout’s bigger cockpit compared to a bowrider.
All this brings us to testing the Sirocco Fisherman. Streaker do offer a more expensive version of the same hull with a fancier fit out for people whose fishing’s lower on their priority list than social boating, but those serious about fishing will likely choose the Fisherman.
The differences between the two are significant: an open targa canopy for the social model, a bimini with front and side clears for the fishing version. Lowrance sounders come with both, but only the Fisherman includes a GPS. The Fisherman model has a marine two-way radio, the social version a stereo sound system. A plush removable aft lounge for the social model, fold down, not-quite-so-plush seating across the aft bulkhead for the Fisherman. One of Streaker’s excellent bait boards in the social, or a combination bait board and ski pole for the Fisherman. The social boat has a carpeted deck, the Fisherman only a carpeted strip up the centre and easy-to-clean gel coat deck each side.
Power options range from a 115hp four-stroke up to either a direct-injected or four-stroke 150; all Yamahas.
Both follow Streaker Company Policy, with a full set of safety gear for six people, 146-litre fuel tanks with factory-fitted water separator filters, 16-plate marine batteries with isolator switches and a no-compromise fit out using top quality components, water tight switch panels and so on.
Our test boat was a package deal Streaker offers powered by a two-stroke Yamaha Saltwater Series 130, with an aluminium rocket launcher added free to sweeten the deal. Sitting on a multi-roller drive on/off Dunbier trailer, the Fisherman package was going for $48,750. With economic conditions as they are at the moment, that price could go up, but even so, it will still be relative to competitors as a darn good deal for an outstanding boat.
ON THE WATER
Port Phillip Bay had brought in a bit of a sea breeze when we tested the Sirocco and those plush bucket seats were well appreciated before we wandered too far offshore. Once I had the seat where I wanted and started to up the ante with a bit more throttle, I was soon enjoying the ride. Melbourne’s bay can be a cow of a place for boating and Streaker’s location nearby was demonstrated in the way the Sirocco handled a distinctly messy chop. I was impressed with the low-down and mid-range punch from an engine that’s been around a while. The latest four-strokes are fine, even fantastic, but if budget is a close run thing, there’s much to be said for getting out on the water with a good old two-stroke.
Streaker boats are only available from the retail showroom at Bayswater in Victoria and only with factory-fitted Yamaha outboards. This allows them to develop optimal set-up for the limited range of power options on each model instead of trying to cope with dealers selling them to variable standards. Some may opt for more power, but on a fishing boat, the 130 Yammie was fine. We pulled up well offshore to see how the Sirocco coped with the conditions and it dealt well.
One thing I was unhappy about was wide strips of bare gel coat on the deck in the cockpit. Sure, gel coat is easy to clean, but with a little water it immediately becomes slippery. Apart from this, though, the Sirocco’s cockpit proved a great place to fish, with your legs properly supported once the aft lounge was folded away and your toes were in under around the periphery. Mooring cleats and grab bars are neatly recessed out of the way into the topsides. The aft bulkhead has a bait well each side and while happily noting stowage for five rigged rods in the rocket launcher above the bimini, I kept on smiling about the icebox set into the cockpit deck!
Going forward to handle ground tackle through the opening screen and foredeck hatch is easy and safe, and although the stowage bins beneath the foredeck aren’t as spacious or convenient as they might be in a cuddy cab, there was no shortage of storage.
I took the sea breeze at that awkward angle on the bow shoulder to see what would happen and it took a very unsympathetic hand on the throttle to cause crash landings. The helm area stayed snug and dry, being sheltered by the bimini and clears, and when we re-entered the Patterson River I found myself sorry my day with Streaker had come to an end.
That’s how a good boat should leave you: wanting more even when the weather’s not perfect.
WORDS & PHOTOS: WARREN STEPTOE