Long-standing alloy boat manufacturer, Stessl Boats, has launched a new, mid-sized side console boat called the Stessl 485 Apache Pro. This smooth sided, full-featured new boat is just the right size to fit into your garage at home and to tow behind a small car or SUV. Paired with Yamaha's all new 75hp four-stroke outboard, the Stessl Apache Pro is a versatile, nimble, well mannered bay and harbour fishing/family boat.
Gold Coast based Stessl Boats has a long history of alloy boat manufacturing in Australia. Founded originally by Alf Stessl in 1977, Stessl Boats are now built and distributed by long-time rival, and family owned company, Horizon Boats.
In re-establishing the Stessl brand, Horizon's Scott James has spent a lot of time refining the brand’s boat range, introducing new models, and upgrading others.
One of these new/upgraded models is the Stessl 485 Apache Pro. The largest of five models in the Apache side console fishing boat range, the 485 Apache Pro is an excellent choice for bay, harbour, impoundment and estuary fishing.
Paired with Yamaha's latest 75hp four-stroke outboard, the Stessl 485 Apache Pro is also an ideal new rig for boating/fishing newcomers and for those old salts downgrading to a smaller boat that can be easily launched and retrieved single-handed.
Rockhampton's Bluefin Sports has pricing for the Stessl 485 Apache Pro starting at just $31,900. This entry package has Yamaha's smaller, yet hugely popular light-weight 70hp longshaft (20") four-stroke outboard along with the single-axle trailer with mechanical brakes.
Anglers and boaters will welcome the large inventory of standard features. Some of this good gear includes a front casting deck with storage, wide, fully welded side decks, a broad side console helm station, an alloy anchor well with tread-plate foredeck finish, hefty looking bollards at the bow and stern, two helm chairs with four seat/floor sockets, bow and stern side rails, cockpit side pockets, transducer bracket, gunwale rubber, fast-back style transom, kill tank, a 60L underfloor fuel tank, and a 30L plumbed livebait tank.
Several of the above inclusions (such as the fuel tank, bait tank and kill tank) are options with many rival brands. It’s great to see them included in the standard Apache package.
Our test boat was set-up with only a few optional extras, including paint to the hull topsides and interior and a Raymarine Dragonfly 7 fish finder/GPS electronics display.
As noted earlier, the test boat was also rigged with the slightly more powerful, but much larger capacity 75hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard.
The additions add around $4000 to the price, lifting the price for the turn-key finished test boat to $35,990.
Most mid-sized side console boats we have tested in recent times have had an elevated bow casting deck, combined with a deeper, safer rear cockpit with high freeboard. The difference in layout between rival brands now comes down the size of the forward platform vs the space allocated to the rear cockpit, along with the size and shape of the helm console.
In the Stessl 485 Apache Pro, the helm console is a bit higher, a bit wider than most. Accordingly, there is better wind/spray protection behind the acrylic windscreen for the skipper, and more space on the dash and fascia for electronics.
The test boat was rigged with a bracket-mounted Raymarine Dragonfly7 fish finder/GPS, but there is ample flat-panel space to have a display flush-fitted with room to spare for the engine instruments, switch panel and a marine radio.
The console is topped by the short windscreen and a surrounding alloy rail. Like most other manufacturers, Stessl has used this rail to attach the screen - which then makes it difficult for the skipper to use it as a hand-hold. A separate hand-rail would be more robust and useful.
Otherwise, the Stessl is comfortable to drive while standing as the slighter taller console unit has the steering wheel situated a little higher than most, within a comfortable reach.
The seated driving position is pretty good too, though we would consider swapping out the standard pedestal seat for a deluxe model with a flip-up front bolster. This would allow the pedestal seat to be positioned closer to the helm (as the front bolster could then be lifted out of the way for stand-up driving).
The console unit does not have a storage shelf underneath, but there is an open bin on the dash for stowing car keys, mobile phones, etc. There is also additional storage space in the elevated cockpit side storage pockets (with handy toe/foot support underneath), in the small, square-shaped underfloor kill tank, and beneath the forward casting platform.
A full width, carpeted false floor sits beneath the casting platform (on top of the cross ribs) so you can stow your gear away without worrying about it getting wet. There is ample space to fit a safety gear bin and perhaps a battery for an electric trolling motor.
The casting platform is sized for a single angler at roughly 1.17m long by 1.78m wide. It is elevated about 270mm above the rear cockpit floor.
There is a single floor-socket on the casting deck to accept one of the two included pedestal chairs. As there are four in-floor seat sockets provided, we would consider adding a third chair for additional seating.
Forward of the casting deck is the deep, open anchor well, bow roller, low-set bow rail, sturdy looking bollard tie-off point, and a re-enforced foredeck with tread-plate non-slip surface.
Moving aft, the rear cockpit is long and wide. It stretches 2.5m from the casting deck aft to the transom. For security to fish choppy coastal waters there is full-height freeboard all the way around the rear cockpit. The floor to gunwale measurement is 650mm.
Other features include a rear floor hatch with access to the bilge for servicing, along with a floor-mounted battery on the starboard side, dual bollards, stern rails, boarding platform, 195mm wide (fully welded) side coamings, and the aforementioned 30L (plumbed) transom corner live bait tank.
The Stessl 485 Apache Pro is rated for a single longshaft (20-inch) outboard to a maximum of 90hp. Our test boat was rigged with Yamaha's new 1.8-litre 75hp in-line four-cylinder, four-stroke outboard and was able to achieve a high top speed of 35kt (65km/h). In light of this excellent performance, we can't envisage a recreational application where more power would be needed.
Conversely, the versatile Stessl could run quite adequately with an outboard in the 60-70hp class. You wouldn't have quite the crackle and pop performance of Yamaha's big capacity 75hp engine, but the smaller power motors would be sufficient for a crew of two or three anglers… And you would save a few bob, too.
With regard to handling and ride, the Stessl is a solid performer across the board. The shallow/moderate vee hull is very stable, well mannered and the entry shape at the bow is sharp enough to soften out the bumps on the bay and harbour.
The mechanical steering on the test rig was not the best we have encountered, but the boat was nevertheless easy to drive and it handled well through speedy slalom turns and tight figure-eights.
Anglers and boaters shopping for a mid-sized alloy side console boat have never had it so good. There are plenty of great new boats now available, and we can now add the new Stessl 485 Apache Pro to this burgeoning list.
The new Stessl might be conservatively designed, compared with some market rivals, but it has a safe, comfortable, well-sorted hull shape and a practical interior layout. The punchy Yamaha 75hp outboard delivers great performance.
For a mix of estuary, bay and impoundment fishing, the Stessl 485 Apache Pro is a terrific new rig and an excellent buy.
PERFORMANCE - SPEED
3.5kts (6.6km/h) @ 1000rpm
4.8kts (8.8km/h) @ 1500rpm
5.8kts (10.7km/h) @ 2000rpm
7.4kts (13.7km/h) @ 2500rpm
15.6kts (28.9km/h) @ 3000rpm
20.1kts (37.2km/h) @ 3500rpm
23.7kts (43.9km/h) @ 4000rpm
26.9kts (49.8km/h) @ 4500rpm
30.3kts (56.1km/h) @ 5000rpm
33.7kts (62.4km/h) @ 5500rpm
35.1kts (65.1km/h) @ 5700rpm (WOT)
PERFORMANCE – ECONOMY
1.9 l/ph @ 1000rpm
3.8 l/ph @ 1500rpm
3.8 l/ph @ 2000rpm
7.0 l/ph @ 2500rpm
8.1 l/ph @ 3000rpm
10.0 l/ph @ 3500rpm
12.9 l/ph @ 4000rpm
16.1 l/ph @ 4500rpm
21.9 l/ph @ 5000rpm
29.4 l/ph @ 5500rpm
30.1 l/ph @ 5700rpm (WOT)
MAXIMUM RANGE ON 95% OF 60l FUEL TANK: 114.6nm @ 3500rpm
Length overall: 4.9m
Hull length: 4.85m
Hull weight: 370kg
Weight on trailer: Approx 700kg
Bottom & transom alloy: 3.0mm
Topsides alloy: 3.0mm
Maximum power: 90hp
Engine as tested: Yamaha 75hp four-stroke
Fuel capacity: 60L
Flotation standard: Basic
Maximum persons: Five
Bluefin Sports (Rockhampton)
Words By Jeff Webster