- Stress-free launching and retrieving
- Minn Kota bow-mounted electric trolling motor
- Custom, high-quality Enduro trailer
- Striking vinyl wrap
- 150hp Honda provides snappy performance
Launching or retrieving a trailer boat fills many owners – especially new owners – with dread. By fitting a Balex Automatic Boat Loader, you can swap the swearing for serenity.
Yeah Buoy is a Surtees 610 Game Fisher belonging to Sascha Haag and Isabell Zitzelsberger. It’s their personal boat, but since the couple work for Balex Marine, the developer, manufacturer and distributor of the Balex Automatic Boat Loader, the smart, vinyl-wrapped vessel will be used to demonstrate the company’s unique boat loading system, in addition to its general recreational boating duties.
Sascha and Isabell’s Surtees is a special boat in many ways. After travelling the world together, the German-born couple moved to New Zealand six years ago, eventually settling in Tauranga. They’ve enthusiastically embraced New Zealand’s outdoor lifestyle and fishing and diving are high on their list of favourite things to do. Their new Surtees 610 Game Fisher reflects this passion.
Bells and whistles
Sascha and Isabell have opted for a high specification vessel, from the 150hp Honda outboard on the transom, the maximum recommended horsepower for this model, to a Minn Kota electric motor on the bow. Various sponsors’ and suppliers’ logos wrap around the boat’s sides.
Electric motors are becoming so popular these days, Surtees Boats now offer electric mounting options across their range. And because the Minn Kota interfaces seamlessly with Humminbird electronics, Yeah Buoy is equipped with an impressive 12-inch Humminbird Solix 12 multi-function display. A 1kW transducer, to be fitted later, should ensure superb deepwater sounder performance.
Other notable features include a Clarion hi-fi system with Bluetooth and LED speakers, Surtees Carbon Deluxe bucket seats on softrider pedestals and trims tabs.
The transom is new as well. Called the Offshore Transom, it will be rolled out across the whole Surtees range in 2018. Although still in the pre-production stage, improvements include an enclosed transom locker for the batteries and dry storage, a more usable fold-down seat, a new bait station design and a redesigned transom gate over the step-through above the live bait tank. The gate now offers anglers thigh support.
Also new is a larger 200-litre underfloor fuel tank and an external fuel filler in the transom. They lose the standard underfloor ‘kill tank’, but Sascha and Isabell were more interested in extended range.
Usual Surtees options include LED lighting throughout, a canvas shade extension over the cockpit, which Isabell insisted on for sun protection, and Surtees’ excellent two-step boarding ladder which ticks the boxes for divers.
Carbon Deluxe bucket seats feature fold-away bolsters for stand-up travelling and there are plenty of grabrails inside the hardtop and elsewhere. Isabell likes the boat’s wide neoprene-covered coamings and each of the three through-coaming rodholders per side has its own cup/sinker/rig holder.
For overnighting and privacy when using the toilet, a canvas door encloses the forward cabin. There’s sufficient room for the couple to comfortably camp overnight, but they haven’t set the boat up with dedicated cooking facilities, fresh water and a shower, preferring to throw in a solar shower, water bottle and portable gas cooker when they need it.
The Minn-Kota features prominently in the couple’s plans for Yeah Buoy, not only to hold the boat on station using ‘spot-lock’ while deepwater dropping for hapuku and bluenose, but also to prospect in shallow areas casting soft baits and lures for snapper and kingfish. The electric motor will allow them to hold the vessel in place against wind and tide, follow contour lines or slowly navigate pre-programmed routes casting lures as they go.
Sascha demonstrated the Minn-Kota, which was operated remotely using a fob hanging around his neck. Deploying and stowing the unit is a hands-free operation, but access to the bows is good anyway via the huge forward hatch. Anchoring is manual with a grapnel, chain and warp housed in an open locker.
With 150hp on the transom, the maximum recommended for this model, performance is brisk. Engine data is displayed on Garmin digital displays and hydraulic steering is standard on the 610 model. The combination USB/12V outlet on the dash is also standard equipment these days and there is a battery gauge to monitor the health of the Minn Kota batteries, as well as the vessel’s house and start batteries.
A pair of weighty deep-cycle batteries for the Minn-Kota are housed forward under the bunk on the port side, the same side as the Minn Kota, so a bit of opposite tab helps keep the Surtees level while underway. At rest, the flooding keel does a good job of dampening any rock and roll and water can be locked in using the shut-off gate to add some weight when it gets rough.
Easy off, easy on
Ultimately Yeah Buoy is about demonstrating the Balex Automatic Boat Loading system. To this end a high quality, dual-axle Enduro trailer has been fitted with the latest Balex ABL2500 auto loading system. It is designed for multi-roller trailers and aluminium or fibreglass boats weighing up to 3000kg.
The Balex Automatic Boat Loading system can be retro-fitted to existing trailers using Balex’s mounting kit, but many manufacturers are installing the system before new boats are delivered to customers. With new owners injecting capital to refine and further develop the product line-up, Balex Marine’s Automatic Boat Loader is really gaining traction here in New Zealand and overseas.
Yeah Buoy’s Enduro trailer has been custom built for the Auto Loader, with galvanised welded brackets rather than bolt-on alternatives. On the drawbar custom brackets support the battery box and Bosch hydraulic pump unit.
The battery box’s 12V 8-amp input plug accepts various charging options, including solar, vehicle and dedicated chargers. The Enduro trailer also features an auto flushing system which should keep it free of serious corrosion for many years.
Back at the boat ramp, Sascha demonstrated launching and retrieving Yeah Buoy. Conditions were good, but the Automatic Boat Loader can cope with a range of launch and retrieval situations, including beach launching, the boat not coming on straight, and ramp gradients of up to nine degrees (16 percent slope). It will pull the boat onto the trailer with a minimal length of trailer submerged, so dry feet and no need to float the boat on.
Launching and retrieving are easily accomplished single-handed using the supplied remote control, even from inside the vessel, and the Balex Automatic Boat Loader retains excellent control of the vessel throughout both processes.