There’s a plethora of bass-style boats on the market and purchasing one can be a confusing business, to say the least. Many manufacturers attempt to cram relatively small hulls with as many fishing features as possible, often to the detriment of important assets such as seating, cockpit space and sparse flat fishing room.
In its 465 Viper, Sea Jay has managed to avoid what many boat designers inevitably end up with: a hull that doesn’t cut it when it comes to practical fishability, with the required level of comfort for planing long distances to greener pastures.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
The Viper has a shallow vee-bottom hull offering minimal draft for drifting over skinny water or submerged shallow structures, while it offers good chop-slicing comfort due to the sharp keel line at the forefoot that sweeps up to spray-deflecting chines on the forequarters. It’s about as close as you can get to the best of both worlds, in that it doesn’t sacrifice stability at rest when anglers are fishing, and it maximises comfort on the plane over the rough stuff. The high chines at the forequarter also allow the water to travel up the hull before being turned down and away, keeping the occupants as dry as possible.
The deck is constructed of carpeted marine ply and is neatly laid out, with the forward casting platform occupying about half of the topside, while rebated about 75mm below the coamings to prevent feet from wandering too near the precipice.
The bow front features a large anchor well with a totally removable hatch to cater for bulky ground tackle, which may be discarded if you’re not concerned about falling into it when doing the bream or barra dance.
Located over the centreline aft of the anchor well is a large, squarish live fish well, in which half-a-dozen good-sized bream could survive during a tournament, while another is located over the centreline against the transom bulkhead. With both fish wells over the centreline, the boat is less prone to list whether they are in use or not, and they make for good stowage areas when not hosting live or dead fish. A couple of other hatches open to tackle box stowage and the battery box, which supplies power to the Minn Kota fitted on the bow on a purpose-designed base plate.
The helm station is wholly recessed into the bulkhead that supports the forward casting platform and, while it doesn’t feature any foot or leg room underneath, it doesn’t seem to be an issue for the types of anglers to which this boat is marketed. The Yamaha instrumentation and Humminbird sounder fit neatly behind the tinted screen.
The forward casting platform is easily accessed via a short step next to the console, while a stowage box within this step is handy for car keys and the like. To one side, a number of aluminium flush-fitting plugs can be removed to install the butts of fishing rods for vertical stowage when underway.
The forward/aft length of the cockpit is short, allowing for a generous rear casting platform. The forward section of the rear platform may be raised in sections to access cushioned seats underneath. Low-profile rails support the collapsed seat backs when the casting platform is in use and are low enough to be out of the way of elbows when seated. When the back rests are utilised, they provide high padded back support, and are retained by stainless steel chains.
One or more seats may be accessed at a time and under the base cushions further sheltered stowage is available across the beam of the cockpit.
Either side of the aft fish well, hatches may be opened to access the engine cranking battery and available stowage space. These areas have carpeted floors mounted up off the bilge, while a robust stowage rack goes back into the transom bulkhead.
The stern of the boat, including the shallow full-beam boarding step, has been kept short to maximise the raised deck area for those standing to fish. Boarding is best done on the port side, as the platform on the starboard side is interrupted by the wiring loom coming from the outboard engine into the transom bulkhead.
The fitted 80hp Yamaha four-stroke is 10hp under the maximum recommended and it matches this particular unit well. With two adults aboard, the engine has good hole-shot ability and propels the Viper to around 65km/h.
With minimum torque to deal with, the steering was easy and manoeuvrability excellent. Under Minn Kota propulsion, the boat was responsive and despite the low sides, was not wind-affected when manoeuvring in any direction.
The Viper is one pretty slick rig and while it may be spartan on the topside, below deck you’ll find all the innovation required to make the top as clean and clutter-free as possible.
For more information, call Stones Corner Marine, tel (07) 3397 9766, or visit: www.stonescornermarine.com.au.
SPECIFICATIONS: SEA JAY 465 VIPER
Length overall: 4.65m
Engine: Yamaha F80 BETL four-stroke
Fuel capacity: 60lt
Max horsepower: 90hp
Price as tested: $39,990