Stabicraft 1550 Fisher – an owner’s review
“I’d long admired the look of Stabicraft vessels fishing on the water around us,” says Martin. “When an opportunity arose, I’d always take the time for a closer inspection at the dock.
Jeff Martin knows boats. The 58-year-old Seattle resident boasts half a century of boating experience dedicated to the many moods of enigmatic Puget Sound. Indeed, Martin and his wife Donna, credit much of their happiness to a lifelong relationship with its productive waters.
The commitment to his latest purchase, a Stabicraft 1550 Fisher dubbed SeaBiscuit, can be credited to his extensive experience; the result of a well-considered pursuit of two essential Puget Sound boating requirements - low maintenance and stability.
IMPRESSED BY ALUMINUM
Martin has always owned fibreglass vessels but in later times has been drawn to aluminum due to its well-publicized reputation for easy-care, low-fuss boating.
It’s a move in no small way driven by the downrigger-centric style of the local salmon fishery.
Recent 28ft and 22ft vessels performed well enough but the regular occurrence of gel-coat and fibreglass damage proved a constant frustration. Aluminum offers plenty over fibreglass on the upkeep ledger, especially when the use-case has such potential for wear and tear.
As for stability? Well, it simply makes sense, especially in smaller boats. Stability equals safety, and safety equals confidence.
Like most passionate boaters, Martin maintains an awareness of prevalent vessels in the market, and in Puget Sound, the Stabicraft brand is well represented.
“I’d long admired the look of Stabicraft vessels fishing on the water around us,” says Martin. “When an opportunity arose, I’d always take the time for a closer inspection at the dock.”
“Finding a dealership was a simple as a Google search. Boat Country pops straight to the top with Stabicraft’s home site right underneath; it doesn’t get any easier than that.
Stabicraft’s sole Washington State dealership, Boat Country, in Everett, is an impressive brokerage and service center with excellent freeway and water access to the Snohomish River.
“Frankly, I found the whole Boat Country experience terrific,” raved Martin. “The yard offers a wide range of high-quality craft and most of the crew are lifetime fisher people, which makes all the difference when you are preparing to commit to a major purchase, like a boat.”
“Tylor Hawley stands out in particular,” says Martin. “He’s a tall gentleman, and when he stood up on the gunwale of the relatively small 1550 Fisher, and it barely moved - well, that was Donna sold on the boat!”
Martin goes on to shower praise on the Boat Country team, enthusing about the professional manner of the vessel’s outfitting and follow up service. It’s clear he’s delighted with the whole process, which of course pleases us.
ON THE WATER, WHERE IT COUNTS!
With an additional battery installed by Martin to ensure power redundancy under the load of multiple electric downriggers, Seabiscuit was ready to go.
Incidentally, when queried whether the Honda 50hp four-stroke delivered the required charging capacity to cope with the extra battery and the vessel’s impressive Garmin navigation and sounder system, Martin assured us there had been no issues.
A typical July day-out for Jeff & Donna starts around 7-am at Neah Bay, on the very north-western tip of Washington State, and aims for the waters enclosing the famous Swiftsure Bank.
Situated approximately 14-nautical miles west of Vancouver Island, the Swiftsure is a designated marine sanctuary and protected breeding ground for Pacific halibut and a range of other local species. Fishing the perimeter of the closed zone can be incredibly productive. Read more about the Swiftsure here: http://www.trailhead-resort.com/swiftsure-bank.php
The Swiftsure bank is a known feeding ground for salmon, migrating to and from the Fraser River in Canada and Washington State’s own Columbia River.
On a good day, a couple of hours fishing with downriggers is all it takes to fill the Martin’s icebox, and they can be on their way home before lunch.
Jeff made comment about the surprized stares the pair sometimes get, being out near the Swiftsure on a 15ft boat.
“In truth, the Stabicraft handles as well as the much larger vessels I’ve owned.
“Of course it’s equipped with a life-raft, but we’ve never experienced any issues.
“The stability is remarkable, as is the hull integrity.”
While near-shore prospects in Puget Sound are limited by heavily regulated open seasons, Jeff and Donna enjoyed a solid July opener on the new boat, primarily catching King and Coho salmon.
Martin also views the 1550 Fisher as well set-up to capitalize on the region’s popular Dungeness crab and Spot prawn fisheries. Again, both have restricted open seasons, with the prawn fishery as short as four hours, so a well-organised boat proves its worth when the window of opportunity is small.
JEFF MARTIN'S SUMMARY
In the emails we’d exchanged prior, Jeff Martin mentioned he’d only had good things to say, so we weren’t surprised by his glowing review. Regardless, we are always keen to hear everything – good or not so.
Right up front, the confidence he expresses in the integrity of the hull and on-water performance is music to our ears. On that front, he says it’s his wife’s endorsement with which we should be most impressed.
“I married well, with Donna,” reveals Martin. “She digs fishing, for sure, and just loves and trusts the boat.”
“And the storage is so well thought out. In my view, the Stabicraft 1550 Fisher offers organizational space comparable to a 25 to 28-foot vessel.
As the vessel gets moored during the boating-friendly Summer months, the Martin’s added a hull coating to protect and prevent fouling.
“We’ve enjoyed the Stabicraft’s ultra-low maintenance aspect,” adds Martin. “There’s little to do between services other than keeping her clean.”
Another important facet is the range the vessel offers in a relatively small hull. The 1550 Fisher includes a 16-gallon underfloor fuel tank, which the Martin’s supplement with a six-gallon tote tank.
“To be honest, I find the Honda 50Hp outboard to be remarkably economical; there’s no need for the extra fuel, but it’s there for an emergency,” offers Martin.
The set-up of this additional fuel tank is the only thing the Jeff mentioned as worthy of a rethink or improvement. Every boat is a compromise, and if this is the single item a man with 50-years boating can point out as possibly worth refinement, well, we are happy.
When questioned on other areas the Martin’s would like to feedback to the design team for improvement, Jeff was almost apologetic in his inability to suggest fault.
“Frankly, we think this boat has nailed this class of vessel,” says Martin. “Having owned umpteen different boats as comparison, I’d call the Stabicraft 1550 Fisher a ten out of ten!”
“It’s exactly the vessel we wanted; it’s exceeded our expectations, caught tonnes of fish and moreover, provided plenty of enjoyment.”
Martin’s parting comment is arguably the most telling. In his view, the Stabicraft 1550 Fisher works perfectly in the Washington boating market, and with Boat Country providing such exceptional service, it’s an attractive package.
STABICRAFT BOATS and BOAT COUNTRY extend thanks to Jeff & Donna Martin for taking the time to engage in this interview and wish them well with their fishing adventures.