'Tinnie' with all the trimmings

Rough-water overnighter Seas the Day boasts a finish more likely to be seen on a launch than an alloy trailer boat - plus every feature an angler could desire.

New Zealand has more than its fair share of passionate fishers but few more so than John Dunn. A man who not only loves to fish but is also happy to head away alone for days at a time, Dunn has recently launched what must be one of the best custom-built alloy fishing craft.

The highly impressive Southern Lazer XP996, Seas the Day, is definitely not your classic "tinnie". With an LOA of 11.5m, a hull length of 10m and a 3.2m beam, the XP996 is somewhere between a large trailer boat and a small launch.

It can be moved around the country but not easily. Not only would it require a very large trailer and a special over-width permit, at 5.5 tonnes, it would also need a pretty impressive tow vehicle.

Fortunately, not much of that matters to Dunn, who has decided to keep his new steed in the Gulf Harbour Marina drystack. "After a 200km day's fishing, the novelty of a late-night beach retrieval with a tractor soon wears off," he says.

Before ordering the XP996, Dunn spent several years chasing snapper and kingfish around the gulf in his SouthernSport 605 Hardtop. However, like those beach retrievals, having to punch his way back from the offshore fishing grounds was no longer proving enjoyable.

As well as a far bigger boat, Dunn wanted a boat on which he could live aboard for days at a time. It needed to have some of those comforts that were lacking in the smaller boat and to be set up so he could to take a few mates away and give everyone a bed.

He also wanted to change from petrol to diesel power and chose a Yanmar 6LPA married to a Mercruiser Bravo II stern drive.

One often equates out-and-out fishing boats like this with a fairly sparse interior, but Dunn clearly had other ideas. Not wanting to see any aluminium inside the cabin, he had the Dunedin-based Southern Lazer factory and nearby local cabinetmakers, Wood Solutions, cover everything in timber or fabric.

The result is a finish more likely to be seen on a launch than an alloy trailer boat. The three-tier helm is an entirely wooden affair - all of the galley drawers and cupboards are timber and all the seating is leather.

There are a couple of really special touches, too. The dinette table (which drops down to create a good-sized double berth) is inlaid with a magnetic chess board. The driver's seat is a custom creation that started out as an Isuzu truck seat, was covered in soft leather and now enjoys a new life as an inexpensive and very comfortable helm seat.

Recognising that, while under way, those on board generally like to be close to the skipper and watching what is happening, Dunn has also installed a comfortable double seat opposite the helm station.

There is also plenty of accommodation. As well as that convertible double in the saloon, there are berths for another two or three up forward in the shape of a small double, with a generous single berth above.

However, as impressive as its interior is, Seas the Day is primarily a boat for chasing fish and it is the cockpit that attracts the most attention.

There are more than 20 rod-holders as well as wide, full-length, lockable side trays, padded coaming side panels and deep kill tanks either side of the engine box.

There is also, well forward and out of the way, a module containing a sink and bench seat, alongside storage beneath for the auxiliary outboard, a rubbish bin and other gear. Opposite, there is also an external head and shower that doubles as another secure area in which to stow gear when no one is on board.

However, the most dominant feature of the cockpit is not one that initially appeals. This is the central engine box and it occupies a serious amount of floor space. Where most aim for a cockpit that is clear and uncluttered, Dunn and Southern Lazer have chosen to go the other way and make a virtue out of what could have been an intrusion.

As Dunn explains, once he decided to fit a diesel, there was going to be an engine box of some sort in the cockpit. While it could have been a lot lower, it would then have been "just something to trip over".

By raising the engine box to the same level as the coamings, Dunn has created a practical workstation, accessible from both sides of the boat and handy for storing tackle, bait and even lunch. It can also be used as a sort of poor man's tuna tower, providing a sturdy surface on which to stand when checking for bird life or fins.

There is also access to the large, pushpit-protected platform from both sides of the engine box. With a large live bait tank and a tuna tube on each quarter, a brace of territorial fishers can stay happily on "their" side of the boat without getting in each other's way.

With a 11.5m LOA and a 5.5-tonne displacement, Seas the Day is almost always going to provide a comfortable ride. However, with the 315hp Yanmar diesel running through those stern drives, the journey can also be surprisingly quick. Seas the Day cruises easily at a more-than-respectable 20 knots.

That's not bad for a true rough-water overnighter, pushing a 20-degree deadrise and carrying its own generator, 500 litres of diesel and 200 litres of water.

Southern Lazer

LOA: 11.5m

LOH: 10.0m

Beam: 3.2m

Deadrise: 20 degrees

Displacement: 5.5 tonnes

Construction: Aluminium (6mm/4mm)

Engine: Yanmar 6LPA-STZP2

Fuel capacity: 500 litres

Water capacity: 200 litres

Price as described: $300,000 (approx)

Want to know more?
Check out Barry Thompson's review of Seas the Day in the November/December issue of Pacific Powerboat magazine.

- NZ Herald

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