Seven Marine 557 Outboard: In-Water Debut

It’s alive! Seven Marine has breathed life into its 557 outboard. The monster motor — powered by 6.2 liters of supercharged Cadillac V8 — was in the water at the 2012 Miami International Boat Show, and I got a ride. Ask me to describe the experience in a few words and I’d choose smooth and sophisticated. The V8 hums under the cowl, the ZF transmission shifts silently, and the powerband feel seamless. This is not the kind of motor that’s going to snarl and give you a kick in the pants when you drop the throttle. It’s more like a locomotive, churning away with unlimited, unabated thrust.

Seven Marine’s 557 powers a Sea Hunter 29 at the Miami International Boat Show.

We laid out the premise of the Seven Marine 557 when it debuted in a static display at the 2011 Miami show . Since then Seven Marine has put together several examples of the motor to use for development and endurance testing, which was conducted last summer and fall. Successful on-water testing generated support from investors that will finance the creation of production tooling and an assembly operation in suburban Milwaukee, Wis., with a goal of delivering the first motors to customers in June or July of this year. The motors will be built in batches of 25.

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Crestliner 1850 Sport Fish: Video Boat Review

Charles Plueddeman reviewed this family friendly fishing boat on Boats.com. Watch the Video Boat Review. You can also check out his in depth Crestliner 1850 Sport Fish Boat Test Notes.

Family fishing boat: does that sound like an oxymoron? Crestliner doesn’t think so. This 1850 Sport Fish is designed to keep big water anglers safe and secure, but it’s also got some features that make it a great family fun boat. So you can drag bait all morning, and drag those screaming kids around in the tubes all afternoon, and never feel like you’ve made a compromise. One boat, one happy family. Let’s see how it works.

Performance

The Verado 150 on this boat delivers a nice combination of performance and economy. We got 6.2 mpg at 25 mph, that’s a nice fast cruising speed, and a top speed of 47 mph. This motor’s got some great mid-range punch, it really makes the boat fun to drive.

Expert Interview

Steve, this is pretty comfortable. It doesn’t feel like we’re sitting in a fishing boat. Who’s the customer for this Crestliner Sport Fish line?

Steve Magers, Crestliner Boats: Well this boat is for the family fisherman. It’s a very safe boat, deep freeboard, has a 17 degree deadrise hull for a smoother ride, but it has all the features of a great fishing boat.

Even a baitwell for my leeches.

Steve: Even a baitwell for your leeches.

Steve, to give it a better ride in rough water, the Sport Fish hull has seventeen degrees of deadrise. What exactly is deadrise?

Read the rest of the Crestliner 1850 Sport Fish: Video Boat Review transcript on Boats.com

Outboard Expert: $500 Upgrades

Editor’s Note: Outboard Expert Charles Plueddeman shares a few inexpensive upgrades that will improve your boating.

Just because this wasn’t your year for a new outboard doesn’t mean next season you can’t have a better boat. Here are some affordable upgrades you can probably handle yourself.

This Mercury ECO-Screen reports fuel use in miles per gallon and can be used to optimize your boat’s economy.

Install a Remote Fuel Filter
A 10-micron remote fuel filter is your best protection against water-contaminated fuel and injector-clogging gunk, both symptoms related to the ethanol-blended fuel that is getting harder to avoid. All of the outboard manufacturers offer remote filter kits and the replacement filters, or you can order a Racor filter kit from West Marine. Prices for the kits start at about $90 and go up to $140 for larger filters. The replacement filter elements cost about $20 to $30, and you want to keep a spare on board. We went through the installation process in a previous Outboard Expert column.

Read the rest of Outboard Expert: $500 Upgrades on Boats.com

How to Shrink Wrap a Boat

If you’re looking to protect your boat against winter, shrink wrap just might be your best option. Because it requires some special tools, and materials generally only sold in very large quantities, shrink wrapping is probably not a job you are going to tackle yourself. But it’s still important to know how it’s done, if only to make sure your subcontractor is getting it right.

Shrink wrap can be applied to almost any boat.

Boats.com’s outboard expert Charles Plueddeman explains why shrink-wrapping has become such a popular option:

“It’s fall, and that means it’s shrink wrap season. In my part of the world marine dealers are frantically racing freezing temperatures and impending snow, winterizing boats and sealing them tight in yards of blue and white plastic. The process of shrink wrapping has become a common, final step in the off-season storage regime, not just of boat owners in the snowbelt, but across the country. Sealed tight, a shrink-wrapped boat is protected from rain, snow and dirt and ready to be stored for months – or even years – right out in the elements.”

Read the rest of How to Shrink Wrap a Boat

Stinger 18HP Special Edition, by Lowe: Video Boat Review

Doesn’t this week’s featured video boat review look like a great way to celebrate your anniversary? Lowe Boats is marking 40 years in business with this 18-foot Stinger 18 HP Special Edition, an aluminum bass boat loaded with features that has surprised us with its price, and its outstanding performance. Check it out.

TRANSCRIPT OF THE STINGER 18HP SPECIAL EDITION VIDEO BOAT REVIEW
by Charles Plueddeman

TESTING THE RIDE

We’re out here on the lake with the Lowe Stinger 18HP, and we’re gonna give that pad hull a try. What should I be feeling for?

Clint Starnes, Lowe Boats: You’re gonna feel a great hull shot, good top end speed, and the boat really free up over 4500 rpm.

All right, let’s let her rip!

What exactly are we talking about when we say pad?

Clint: Well you can see the pad running surface here, it’s the flat area at the back of the boat which helps provide lift when the boat’s at speed.

We tested the Stinger 18HP in a variety of water conditions. I was hoping for a smooth ride and great handling and this boat didn’t disappoint. We measured a top speed of a solid 50mph, and the boat got 6.1 gph at 26 mph.Stinger 18HP

FEATURES

The Stinger offers 29 square feet of space here on the bow casting deck, so lots of elbow room. Now this boat is made with all aluminum construction; there’s not a splinter of wood in the boat, and it’s all welded. You can see how they’ve nicely reinforced things here.

This big storage compartment in the bow holds 6 cubic feet of gear. They’ve got a 13 gallon live well up front. Now this rod locker will hold a seven foot rod. If you’ve got something longer than that, or a big flippin’ stick, you’ll have to keep it on the deck.

Now in the aft casting deck, the Stinger’s got a 30 gallon live well with a divider, and two of these storage compartments for tackle boxes. They’ll each hold three of these Plano boxes.

Now on the transom, we’ve got a two stroke outboard.

This is a Mercury Optimax Pro XS 115. It’s a “hot” 115 motor that has carbon fiber intake reeds and a revised intake tract to make more power. Now a key feature is it weighs 24 pounds less than a 115HP four-stroke. That really helps this boat get up and go.

The Stinger 18 HP is a special model, loaded with lots of extra features. We start up front here with this Motorguide 24V trolling motor. An extra Lowrance X52 fishfinder. We’ve got this beautiful black and silver custom upholstery on the fishing seats and the regular seating, a tilt steering column, polished stainless steel wheel, special silver cap, and special instruments with chrome bezels and brushed aluminum faces. The custom matching trailer has cast aluminum wheels. On the hull we’ve got this beautiful black and silver two tone paint, special graphics, and this Lowe anniversary logo.

WRAP UP

The Stinger 18HP splits the performance difference between a typical aluminum bass boat, and a fiberglass rig that costs a lot more money. It’s ready to fish, and loads of fun. Happy anniversary, Lowe.

For more information, visit Lowe Boats.

Summer Contest Winners Go Fishing

Well, Carson and Carter McBride are going fishing. In an aluminum boat. The two boys from Springdale, Ark., were featured in the winning entry of the Tap Into Summer video contest hosted by Boats.com and Boat Trader. Their winning video depicts Carson, age 9, and his 6-year-old brother, Carter, fishing in a playground, and then in a shallow pond while standing in plastic crates, imagining what they’d do if they only had an aluminum boat.

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The McBride family picks up their new boat.

Last week the boys joined their father, Aaron, on a trip to the Brunswick aluminum boat manufacturing facility in Lebanon, Mo., where they got a VIP plant tour and towed home a brand new Triton 16 Storm, their prize for winning the contest. “They told us we’d see the factory from the highway before we got to the exit,” says Aaron McBride, “and when the boys spotted the plant they could see our new boat, which was parked right out front. Everyone at the Brunswick plant was very nice, and really happy to show us around. We had a good time.”

They’ve even put together a video of picking up the boat.

Aaron says his boys, who are both avid anglers, came up with the idea for the video but that they really do like to go out and pretend to fish. “Carson has been fishing with his grandfather, that’s my dad, since he was about two years old,” says Aaron McBride. “They have a place and boat on Lake Fork in Texas, which is about a five-hour drive from our home. To fish here at home, we go out and work from the bank, wading for trout in the White River and casting into some local lakes. But these are creative boys, and they actually do get out those plastic crates and imagine they are floating in the lake.” The Tap Into Summer effort was not the first video project for Carter and Carson. The pair have a website devoted to their angling exploits. Carson is also an avid fan of pro fishing, and enjoys following pro angler Kevin Van Dam and watching old Bill Dance blooper videos.

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Carson McBride, age 9
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Carter McBride, age 6

Aaron McBride, an engineer specializing in lean manufacturing at Preformed Line Products, took a professional interest in the tour of the Brunswick plant. “I take a lot of plant tours as the leader of a team studying lean processes,” says Aaron McBride. “This was the first time I’d been in an aluminum boat plant, and it was interesting to observe the Brunswick methods. Before assembly actually begins, they have cut every piece of aluminum that will be used in the boat, and placed it on a rack where each can be picked up as it’s needed. It was all very well organized and efficient. In fact, I may come back with my team, and we’ve talked about an exchange with the Brunswick manufacturing team.”

Winning the boat will help Aaron McBride get back on the water. “I got out of fishing while going to college, and there just wasn’t time when I was starting a career and a family,” said the 36-year-old McBride. “It’s Carson’s enthusiasm that’s dragged me back. Now that we’ve got the Triton, I think we’ll be out more often. We’re starting this weekend, and will be taking the boat with us down to Lake Fork for out annual family Thanksgiving gathering.”

View Carson and Carter’s video of the first adventure in their new boat.

plueddeman-head-shotCharles Plueddeman is Boats.com’s outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.