Developing the Stabicraft Ultracab series
7800 miles South by West of Alaska’s Anchorage, standing defiantly in the face of a relentlessly roaring Southern Ocean, lies Invercargill, a city of 50,000 mostly Scots descendants at the very southern tip of the Antipodes.
The similarities between these two isolated cities at opposite ends of the magnetic poles are as noteworthy as the differences.
Both find their roots in the pioneering spirit, footholds of European civilisation in their respective lands - an ethos that still runs true – unfailingly hospitable, proud, self-sufficient.
Both have long ties to the sea at it’s fiercest. The Pacific North-West’s famous crab fishery needs little introduction, thanks to shows that probably over glamorize a world where mistakes get punished harshly. Similarly, Invercargill’s local fleet operating out of the wind-swept port of Bluff, knows too well that the bounty of the sea is given only at its mercy.
THE ALLY DUCK AND THE EVOLUTION OF CHAMBERED BUOYANCY
It is indeed the sea that forms the heart of what is arguably Invercargill’s most well-known and internationally successful company.
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2017, Stabicraft Marine is both the largest and the most iconic boat manufacturer in that part of the world. It’s a land famed globally as a marine innovator and vaunted leader of vessel design technologies.
Founded on the welding tips of local men Paul Adams (now CEO) and Bruce Dickens, the first vessel in the Stabicraft lineage was an 11.5-foot rigid hull aluminium chambered boat dubbed the “Ally Duck”. Thus, the concept of a rigid hulled chambered boat was taken into commercial reality.
The safety and utility benefits of chambered buoyancy in rigid aluminium vessels were immediately apparent to the professional fleet. Stabicraft’s popularity snowballed.
For details on Stabicraft safety features view the following video series:
Positive Buoyancy: https://youtu.be/iXpNqXIN0Kg
Arrow Pontoons: https://youtu.be/3j-Ngyl-Ezk
Game Chaser Transom: https://youtu.be/JliE1ThxdQI
Wing Style Coamings: https://youtu.be/3DDP6s-o-lM
Build Strength and Quality: https://youtu.be/UonK0pMCdkA
Today, the company is a dominant force in the diverse aluminium recreational fishing fleet. The team has also fulfilled numerous contracts in commercial service including international government Coastguard and Search & Rescue fleets, where the value of Stabicraft’s inherent buoyancy and stability is well proven.
VENTURE TO THE PACIFIC NORTH-WEST
Around 1994, The Pacific North-West captured the imagination of Stabicraft founder and CEO, Paul Adams.
Attracted to its grand wilderness and welcoming, highly capable people, Paul took a personal interest in the region, making many trips to understand how its locals used their boats, while forming strong bonds with influential marine business leaders along the way.
DOC WARNER’S LODGE
Tucked away in a breath-taking corner of Alaska’s Excursion Inlet, a region described as the North-West’s fish “superhighway”, is a lodge with a reputation for outstanding fishing and unforgettable hospitality.
Founded in the early 1980s, Doc Warner’s Lodge is one of the leading fishing lodge operations in Alaska. The Lodge boasts a significant fleet available to its guests to hunt salmon and halibut in cold and unforgiving waters.
As a self-guiding fishing lodge, Doc Warner’s focus on safety is paramount. In the early 2000s, awareness of a certain type of user-error with the potential to cause swamping incidents, affecting the buoyancy of the Lodge’s standard fishing boat pushed the team to search for a better, safer vessel for its clients on-water adventures. A journey of research and advice lead Doc Warner’s to the other end of the world and Stabicraft Marine.
With positive buoyancy built into a “life-ring” like shape surrounding the hull, the Doc Warner team realised that this virtually unsinkable craft was ideally suited to the rigors of use on Excursion Inlet. Two vessels were ordered and put into immediate service.
Today, Doc Warner’s Lodge presents the largest privately-owned fleet of Stabicraft boats in the world, with 31 hulls in the fleet. In 2017, the Lodge proudly proclaimed itself as an exclusively Stabicraft facility.
The value placed on the wealth of real-world Pacific North-West boating experience an operation like Doc Warner’s offers a progressive, innovation driven company like Stabicraft cannot be understated.
Paul Adams’ frequent Alaskan visits now routinely include a stay at the Lodge. Suggested design tweaks and adaptions gleaned from Doc’s team of boating professionals are pushed back through the design team, where they are reviewed, refined, tested and implemented directly for the Lodge and occasionally for the benefit of all new Stabicraft owners.
The success of this process of continual improvement ignited what would become the company’s most ambitious project for the Pacific North West to date.
THE STABICRAFT 2500 ULTRACAB – THE BOAT THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
By 2014, Paul’s network of Pacific North West marine professionals included a limited number of hand-chosen dealers in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Numerous high-profile semi-commercial owners such as the National Marine Fisheries Service with nine vessels, the Keiko Foundation with a donated Stabicraft and of course Doc Warner’s Lodge were available for unbiased feedback.
Stabicraft’s trusted dealers had been pushing for the company to widen its bigger vessels to 101 inches – Down-Under trailering regulations carry a narrower maximum width.
In respecting the market need for this implementation, the design team saw it as an opportunity to build a vessel from the keel up specifically for Pacific North-West boaters.
Identifying the 2400 to 2600 size range as a sweet spot for adventurous boaters, the mission to build an industry defining full cabin overnighter infused with Stabicraft’s legendary sea-keeping and safety DNA, began with Project 2500 Ultracab.
IT HAD TO BE A PILOTHOUSE!
“It’s got to be a Pilothouse, Paul,” was the feedback from multiple professionals on the ground. The Pilothouse virtually defines boating in this part of the world, and the numerous benefits regarding internal cabin space, water shedding and options for overhead electronics put a tick next to the classic configuration with little debate.
It also had to be an exemplenery overnighter for a family of four, not a compromise that would force people to camp on the beach in conditions that can be willing at best, if not genuinely dangerous. Hundreds of hours would go into configuring a hybrid cabin that would prove stylish and practical with a full galley and dining suite during the day, and convert to a full four-berth (2 x 1 x1) overnighter.
The desire to change the market up with 360° views from inside that impressive cabin also made the list. After all, what’s the point in visiting some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet if you cannot see them?
At this stage the name “Ultracab” started to emerge as a model moniker. It’s more that a pilothouse, it’s an extension of excellence in every direction – an Ultracab!
FISH SPACE FOR LONG SUMMER DAYS
Probably most important consideration for this new breed of adventure boat was that it had to fish tough. Alaskan fishermen take no prisoners. They chase massive fish on a limited seasonal window. Every good day counts, the bins come home full and fresh, and no quarter is given to fishing designs that don’t cut it when the bite is hot and fast.
The Doc Warner’s team input proved immense on this front, ensuring the filleting space was optimized, the pole holders placed and angled to suit down-rigger fishing and the wet fish storage space maximised. On the latter point, the Stabicraft 2500 Ultracab rolled off the production line with a wet store in the transom and two more oversized cavities under the floor, one of which is available as sealed dry storage on extended cruises.
ONLY PHASE ONE
At the completion of the design process, team Stabicraft in the USA believed the company had a market defining craft in the 2500 Ultracab.
The unique Stabicraft positive buoyancy system with its virtually unsinkable sea-faring characteristics, blended with generations of Pacific North-West boating know-how quickly proved a formidable on-water fishing weapon with broad appeal across the sector.
Hard-core Alaskan fishermen would covet its no-nonsense approach, superior safety proposition and apparent suitability for extended excursions while families were attracted to the comfortable overnighting capabilities in an affordable package.
Buoyed by the overwhelmingly positive feedback, Stabicraft immediately commenced a redesign of its flagship offshore vessel, 2750 Centercab to launch a Pacific North-West version, the Stabicraft 2570 Ultra-Centercab.
THANK YOU TO ALL
Stabicraft Marine and Paul Adams would like to personally thank all their friends around the globe. The contributed knowledge, time, enthusiasm and energy for the duration of the company’s long history in the Pacific North-West, and to the development of the significant Stabicraft Ultracab Series is valued. May there be many more exciting projects in the future!
1871 Ross Avenue
Everett, Washington State 98201
Ph: 001 425 259 6126
Y MARINA INC
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Coos Bay, Oregon 97420
Ph: 001 541 888 5501
Mob: 001 541 888 6036
35770 Kenai Spur Highway
Soldotna, Alaska 99669
Ph: 001 907 262 5235