Patrick Brennan profiles a boat that highlights how co-ownership can offer the best of both worlds and cut costs.  

WHILE this review is basically about my mate Alex “Big Al” Nauomidis’s boat, it isn’t actually his, at least not all of it. Al’s mate, Manuel, the original buyer of the featured Stabi-Craft, saw shared ownership as a good way to offset the mounting costs of owning a moored boat. Manuel also liked the idea of another reliable person taking the boat for a regular spin, which is very good therapy for any boat (and its owner). Al, on the other hand, got a half share in a boat that’s perfect for the types of fishing he does and probably the calibre of boat that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to justify buying on his own.

The perfect boat?

Al was looking for a craft he could use for a wide variety of inshore and offshore fishing. During winter he’s most at home chasing snapper on the reefs out of Batemans Bay. For the warmer months he wanted to be able to head out over the shelf chasing tuna, marlin and other game fish. A boat that could handle the rough and tumble of a decent nor’easter over the continental shelf was desirable. While Al wanted a big enough boat to allow for safety and comfort in adverse weather, he also one that could be towed on a trailer up or down the coast if the fishing dictated.

He wanted enough deck space to not feel cluttered or cramped as well as a virtual 360 degree casting range around the boat whilst lure casting for snapper and pelagics. To top it off the boat had to have a few creature comforts to take the wife and kids for a joy ride or sightseeing trip. To sum it up, Al wanted everything!

Al spent quite a while looking around and found a few boats that were “ok” but none that were ideal. Then he found out that Manuel was considering part ownership of his Stabi. The boat was moored in Batemans Bay marina (Al’s preferred fishing grounds) and an inspection confirmed the boat was everything Al had been looking for and more. A deal was struck and the rest is history.

The details

Stabi-Craft is a boat brand regular Boat Fishing readers would be familiar with given that Fisho editor Jim Harnwell owns one (a 659 Supercab). Al’s particular Stabi is a 609 Frontier (6.2m) in side console configuration with a twin passenger seat on the portside. It’s powered by a Yamaha 115 four-stroke outboard.

Let’s be honest here. People either like the look of Stabi-Crafts or they don’t. It can’t be denied that they look “unique” so if sleek good looks are important to you a Stabi mightn’t be the boat for you. However, unlike some models of Stabi-Craft, which have a significant drop in the gunwale height from the cabin towards the stern, the Frontier maintains a straight gunwale from bow to stern. This reduces some of the oddity in overall shape of the boat.

Stabi-Crafts enjoy a significant fan base with ownership widespread and growing. I haven’t met anyone that owns one or has fished on one for any length of time that hasn’t raved about them.

The sides of Stabis feature aluminium chambers, each of which is completely airtight. This means that even if the boat is capsized through an impact event, there is almost no chance the boat will sink. They have a solid reputation as a sea boat; originating from New Zealand those are solid credentials alone – Kiwis aren’t known as fair weather fishers.

Personally I like Stabis and have fished out of several of them. They offer a good ride and a very stable and practical fishing platform. Al and Manuel’s boat is particularly versatile and the configuration suits his ambitions very nicely. On the fly it delivers a soft and dry ride with the flotation chambers creating pretty good spray deflection.

While the boat is rated to 150hp, its 115hp outboard delivers ample power. Al reckons he’s had it to 40 knots in calm conditions. It pushes nicely through swell or chop and turns well under power. Al did report that his early trips left him feeling the boat was a bit nose heavy in a following sea. After some discussions with other boat owners Al had the engine height adjusted (one notch) and in turn played around with weight distribution. This tweaking proved worthwhile and appears to have ironed out the boat’s bow heavy attitude.

On the inside the boat is very roomy, although you could rightly expect so of a six-metre craft. The side console offers a true walk-through configuration leaving the front of the boat totally open for casting. There is a surprising amount of storage throughout the boat including underneath the front seats, except for the very front seat, which covers the toilet. The driver and passenger seats also have huge storage compartments inside them.

There is lockable rod storage under the gunwales of the rear deck and open under gunwale storage towards the bow. All this equates to a very open deck space when everything is in its place.

The boat has a fixed bimini top incorporating a rocket launcher, offering sun protection and modest shelter from rain or spray. A rear step and walkthrough transom allows for easy access if you are into diving, skiing or anything else. A fixed bait board at the transom creates a practical rigging-station and general “doing stuff” area.

In the electronics department Al was keen to upgrade to a more sophisticated sounder/GPS unit for better deep water bottom coverage. To that end the owners have installed a Furuno 7000F colour sounder GPS unit. A recent addition too has been a 1Kw transducer to give the set even more “oomph”. Al took on the task of familiarising himself with this state-of-the-art unit, time that’s now paying dividends every time the boat leaves its mooring pen. One particular trip last August saw Al with his good mate Phil Petridis over the shelf and locked into a lengthy battle with a 50kg plus yellowfin on heavy spin gear.

On the updated list, this Stabi now features an auto-bilge pump, improved aerated bait tank and an anti-electrolysis system, the latter to ensure the boat/motor has maximum protection against corrosion while in a moored environment.  

Al and I have also put this boat on its trailer and towed it up and down the coast a few times. For a big boat, it towed very well behind my Nissan Navara 3L turbo diesel.

In short, Manuel reckons it’s a great boat, Al thinks it’s a ripper and I was very impressed. Testament to the advantages of like-minded mates pooling the resources to find the ideal boating situation.  
For information on Stabi-Craft’s range visit:

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