Mike Bonnici is a glazier by trade, but on weekends he cruises the high seas in pursuit of marlin, tuna and topwater kings. His saltwater sled is a Sea Devil 620 and its reputation is almost as lofty as Mike’s you’d be seriously hard-pressed to find a fisho in Sydney who doesn’t know of this dynamic duo. Mike tells us he’s been fishing solidly for the past eight years, but before that he was a dedicated spearo, harassing fish below the surface. Mike is seriously hardcore. So much so, that when we took his boat out for a photo shoot at 3pm he said it was the only time he’d seen his local ramp in the daytime! Mike’s always fishing before sunrise, while the rest of us are battling the queues and trying to find that bloody winch handle. He’s also still on the water at sunset, while everyone else is telling stories about the fish they didn’t catch over a soggy pub parmigiana.
SWEET SIMRAD FIT-OUT
One of the most impressive parts of Mike’s rig is his electronics set-up. It’s hard to miss as it takes up the entire dash. He’s running a Simrad NSS12 evo2 for his charts and the massive new S2016, which is a dedicated sounder. All-up, there’s a whopping 28 inches of screen. It’s not just a pissing contest, either; Mike likes to split the screens on the S2016 and runs two different frequencies. Having such a large display also means he can watch the sounder from anywhere in the boat.
In terms of the installation, one issue that Mike faced was the transducer set-up. He originally went with a wet box to try to keep the transom clean. However, he discovered the flooding keel on the Sea Devil affected the transducer performance, especially at speed, because the chines ran over the face of it. He then installed an Airmar TM275LH-W on the transom and the pick-up has been gravy, even at speed. When the conditions are good, he gets a clean bottom read at 30 knots. Mike has also been out wide looking for swords and picked up depths as low as 900m.
Other electronics include a Simrad RS35 VHF with AIS receiver and a Sonic Hub that Mike’s usually too busy fishing to use. He also has a 4G radar, which is a great safety asset when travelling into unfamiliar harbours at night. Mike did admit to one missing feature – an autopilot. But after seeing his mate’s boat with one, he’s penciled it onto the Christmas list.
The Sea Devil was originally developed by Peter Williams in the 1980s. Pete figured he could build a better offshore boat than the legendary Haines Hunter V17. The first was a 5.1m model (now known as a 520), the 620 evolving from that. The reputation has grown, particularly on the NSW coast where they can often be seen beach-landing at high speeds. Both models feature flooding keels (200L and 300L), 23.5-degree deadrise at the transom and a full composite construction. It’s a sweet set of specs any spearo or offshore fisherman could fall in love with, which is how Mike found out about them. Sea Devil is now owned by Jon Wilshire of Northern Beaches Marine. He typically fits big V6 or lightweight four-cylinder Suzukis, but Mike wanted an Evinrude E-TEC G2. The Captain can’t argue with him. The punch and throttle response are on point for the big deep-vee, and Mike reckons their fuel usage is up with the best: “Optimum fuel consumption is just under 1L per nautical mile cruising at 30 knots.”