With The Captain celebrating his 21st birthday (21 issues released). We thought it’d only be fitting to jump aboard a 2100 Supercab. We head to Jervis Bay to catch up with the Smith Family, who live a nomadic fishing lifestyle – with a tricked out rig.
Barefoot, his trousers rolled to his knobbly knees, The Captain is sitting on the beach at Callala Bay on the NSW South Coast, lunch munching and talking to possibly the happiest gamefishing couple in Australia, Tim and Bec Smith. Word had come through the jungle grapevine of a formerly dead keen fisho who now loves just getting behind the wheel of his Stabicraft 2100 Supercab, while his wife, who recently bagged her first marlin off Batemans Bay, works the rods and reels.
The deadly duo also have a 10-year-old cabin girl, their daughter Roxy, who is being trained in the ways of the sea hunt. The Captain’s curiosity was tweaked. When he discovered that this fisho family was traveling the coast and using their Stabi like a seagoing caravan — and that neither Tim nor Bec actually liked eating fish — well, that called for an in-person investigation of what could well be fishing’s perfect couple.
Tim does a bit of everything in his day job — from swinging a hammer as a chippy to working at Webbe Marine in Kirrawee, south of Sydney, helping get their boats out the door. Bec is a superintendent for NSW Ambulance. “I used to fish as a kid and Tim’s had boats pretty much as long as we’ve known each other, about 20 years,” Bec says. “Since we got this boat, the family has been fishing together, generally going after game fish. We get out in the summer a fair bit and chase marlin and dollies.”
The couple have had their Stabi, Resolute, for two and a half years and are pretty stoked with it. They’ve made the transition from centre console to cabin and aren’t going back. “It’s a bit of a reflection on our lifestyle,” Bec says of the name. “We’ve been set back by a lot of things, but Tim and I just keep going.”
As a young bloke, Tim was into waterskiing — and paid a heavy price. “We used to do a lot of waterskiing,” Tim recalls. After five knee surgeries and a couple of back ops, he’s very happy with the Stabi ride. “I’ve had quite a few ski boats, but I’m getting pretty soft in my old age and don’t like getting wet, so I’m happy to sit behind a windscreen,” he says. “I find myself sitting down a lot of the time, which I haven’t been able to do in any other boat. It’s very stable and I don’t feel too tired or in need of another back surgery at the end of the day. The Stabi is our first hardtop and it’s so comfortable it prolongs your day on the water — and when the wind comes up you can still stay put.”
One of the main reasons Tim and Bec bought the Stabi was to take their young daughter fishing and spend more time together as a family unit. “Every now and then, I take the boys out, but my main fishing crew is my family,” Tim says. “I wanted Bec to get more involved with fishing. She wasn’t a huge fan of the centre console plus we had nowhere to put Roxy, so we started looking at hardtops. Like all kids, Rox loses interest pretty quick there have been plenty of times we’ve had a marlin on the leader right next to the boat and she’s been in the cabin watching TV — we can do our thing, but we do it together as a family. It was great seeing Bec land her first marlin and hopefully Rox can get onto a couple next year. It’s good watching her confidence levels go up.”
Obviously, with a kid on board, the safety factor was a major consideration. “The Stabi has always been on top of my safe boat list,” Tim says. “It’s got a reputation for being bulletproof with a smooth-riding hull.”
Bec is also a fan. “It’s a nice break from work — you get out there on the water and you’re on your own,” she says. “As a mother, it just feels really safe. It’s nice and stable, the cabin is great and the high sides make me feel more comfortable when Roxy is fishing. You’re a long way offshore, but the Stabi feels safe. And Roxy’s getting more interested in fishing. She was so excited when I got my marlin.” Tim is just rapt to have a family that loves fishing. “I know so many blokes who have to lie and sneak out of the house just so they can go fishing,” he says. “It’s quite the opposite for me. I get home and Bec’s got the boat hooked up and ready to rock and roll. All we’ve got to do is put her in the water. It just works. We’re not relying on anyone else — if the weather’s good we just pack up and go — and there are no more of those 4am ‘sorry mate, can’t make it’ phone calls!”
NOMADS OF THE ROD
Tim and Bec have developed a nomadic fishing lifestyle — and the Stabicraft is a crucial ingredient. “We’ve put a few kilometres on the boat,” Tim says. “We try to take it places and use it more like a floating caravan. We’ve had a few trips up to Fraser Island and 1770. Here on the NSW South Coast in Batemans Bay and Jervis Bay, we primarily go game fishing.” “We’ve had a couple of trips up to Queensland chasing GTs, trevally and coral trout,” Bec adds. “And we do have some exchanges of words when we lose a few fish!”
Our current location is Jervis Bay, around two to three hours’ drive south of Sydney and highly rated for its game fishing — notably the Tubes, where you can be fishing in 50m of water only 10m from the cliffs. “Obviously someone has to keep a steady hand on the helm,” Tim says. “But when the wind’s blowing, you can always find a sheltered spot.” “We like it here in summer,” Bec adds. “It’s always good to be out on the water and Roxy can have a swim around if we’re not fishing, or you can have a BBQ on the white sand beaches or kick a ball around.”
After pestering Tim for a few weeks about a spin on his 2100 Stabi, The Captain’s crew cruised down to Jervis Bay with good intentions of heading out to the shelf and maybe knocking off a couple of yellowfin. The reports were good that a few were getting caught, but the weather window was getting shorter by the day. So Tim decides to head to Callala Bay where we might be able to hide out of the wind.
He has Resolute in full warpaint ready to rock when we arrive. After loading up all the Tiagras and riggers, we head for Point Perpendicular and the Tubes. However, the weather conditions turn from “less than stellar” to “shit” pretty damn fast. The wind is humming at around 15–20 knots and the sea is lumpy on a good solid 2m swell. Waves are coming over the roof, but no-one is too fazed. With one good idea shot to shit, Tim decides on plan B — bottom bashing for flatties and snapper before coming back ashore for a spot of lunch. Tim reckons Bec is on the rod 90 per cent of the time, and she proves it by nabbing first a flathead then a reasonable size snapper.
“That’s the beauty of Callala Bay — you can always salvage something out of the day,” she says. “I don’t really have any technique and usually don’t take too much notice of the gear we’re using.” “Today was about suck it and see,” Tim says. “We had all the Talicas and Tiagras out, but it wasn’t meant to be. I thought I was onto something big at one stage and got pretty excited, but I caught nothing”
Not exactly true — Tim did catch something. A self-confessed “OCD” neat freak, who likes everything in its place, he’s a bit embarrassed to tangle his line in the prop. “That’s a first — I’m always telling other people to keep their line away from the prop, but I was daydreaming, watching another boat and before I knew it, I’d spooled about 100m of line,” he says.
TIME FOR TEA
Lunch features some tasty sandwiches, but The Captain is a little concerned at the absence of a pie warmer. As the conversation turns to all things cuisine, Tim and Bec confess they don’t actually eat fish. “We love going out and getting game fish and enjoy catch and release,” Bec says. “We only eat stuff that moos or clucks and aren’t really into seafood,” Tim chips in. “But we keep our friends and family well stocked!”
Once The Captain has finished complaining about the absence of hot pies, Tim gets a chance to runs down the Supercab’s specs. “It’s 21ft long with a 1.8m internal and 2.3m external beam. The internal freeboard is about 800mm and she’s got a 200L fuel tank although you can now get a 250L option.” Tim rates the tow weight with gear at about 2100kg, which he pulls easily with his trusty tradie Ford Ranger workhorse. “We’ve put about 1200km on the trailer so far,” he says. “It doesn’t take long to rack up the klicks with a few trips up north.”
HIGH FIVE – TIM AND BEC’s TOP FIVE TIPS TO KEEP THE KIDS ENTERTAINED ON BOARD
As a family we have created some great memories on the boat, whether we are heading offshore for a full day trolling or exploring inshore waters, these are some of the things we find keep our daughter Roxy entertained.
01 Make her feel a part of the crew by giving her jobs such as setting up the outriggers or putting up the aerials.
02 Roxy likes to have her own rod and reel. This gives her ownership of something on the boat, something to take pride in. Resist the urge to snatch it from her when the big one goes off!
03 No one likes a hangry child. We make sure we have plenty of food and drinks on board.
04 Having the comfort of the hardtop helps prolong our time on the water, as Roxy can get out of the weather and chill out in the cabin.
05 If all else fails, technology is your friend. Having a phone, laptop, tablet or even a TV on board goes a long way. Usually, these five things prevent the dreaded “I want to go home”.
Pretty handy on the tools, Tim has knocked together an impressive passenger “lounge” for chilling and watching lures. “Because we’re game fishing, we mostly pull lures around and 90 per cent of Bec’s day is looking backwards,” Tim says. “We did the first season with the standard seats, but Bec wanted a bit more comfort. So I pulled the seat out and fabricated up a sort of trolling lounge. It’s got tackle storage above and houses an esky underneath.”
“The custom lounge has been great for me, although sometimes there’s a battle with Rox over who gets to sit there, but it’s made trolling much more pleasurable,” Bec says. “It also folds down into a bed. We’ve gone with the extended vee berth in the cabin, which has been great for overnighters. There’s heaps of storage underneath and in the pockets on the driver’s side. All in all, it works really well for a family.”
Although the bed is the major modification, Tim’s also added a few other things like solar and lights. “Those are more for our trips up to the reef in Cairns where we chew through quite a bit of power with the TV and fridges. Other than that, she’s pretty well standard.”
Tim and Bec run a 200HP Honda on the Stabi 2100 — and they love it. “I’ve never had a problem with Honda,” Tim says. “The boat goes really well with the 150, but the 200 just takes it up a notch. It’s got a bit more linear torque so there’s always that little bit of extra power when you need it.
Electronic gizmo-wise, the Stabi rocks a Simrad NSS12 evo3 with a TM275 low/high wide transducer, GMT2 and “gauges that came with the Honda”, plus a VHF radio and AIS (automatic identification system). “It’s a pretty standard fit-out these days,” Tim says. “The Simrad gear is pretty easy to use — if you can handle a phone, you’re all over it.”
Tim bought his Stabicraft 2100 Supercab from Webbe Marine — and loved it so much that he ended up working part-time for the Kirrawee dealership. “I bought the boat from Gav and Ash at Webbe Marine,” Tim says. “They’re absolute legends with their after-sale service. Anyway, I kept in touch and when a casual job washing boats came up, I applied and it’s evolved from there. When the boys have got a lot on, I help out, and get paid to talk about boats. It’s awesome seeing people pumped to pick up their boats, whether it’s a Stabi or a Sailfish. They’re always happy and excited when you take them out on the water.”
17 Yalgar Road, Kirrawee NSW
(02) 9521 7944.
345 Bluff Highway, Invercargill, Southland,
+64 3 211 1828.