Gone are the days of launching old tinnies on rusty extended drawbar trailers off the beach at K’gari (Fraser Island) with beaten-up LandCruisers. Wade Bachmann has it dialled. He launches his impeccable RipTide 9200 Custom Cab off the beach with a rockin’ red commercial-grade tractor. This rig is, without a doubt, the most dominant set-up on the island. Get the popcorn ready and enjoy Wade’s pants-expanding RipTide 9200 Custom Cab.
When Corey Weier got wind that The Captain was heading to K’gari, he bombarded our inboxes and blew up our iPhones, pleading for us to come fishing on his mates brand new RipTide 9200 Custom Cab, teasing us with images of the build. We agreed, but it wouldn’t be an easy task. Wade’s mint rig was located at Orchid Beach, on the far end of K’gari (Fraser Island) and Corey said we only had a 24-hour weather window. Cripes! We were eight hours away and had a manic schedule.
“Mate, you’ve gotta get here!” Corey begged down the phone. “You guys can stay at my mates epic pad at Orchid Beach. It’s got everything you need — stacks of bedrooms, a huge barbecue area, twin deep-fryers for all the fish we’re gonna catch, plenty of power points to charge your camera gear and enough beer and spiced rum to survive prohibition.”
“Rum, you say?” The Captain responded. “We’ll be there.” So it came to pass that alarms were set for an ungodly hour in order to make it to Orchid by sparrow’s fart. And here we are — The Captain’s rig first in line, sitting in the dark at Inskip Point awaiting the Manta Ray barge to K’gari. After a tyre pressure check — nice and low — we disembark and make our way along beaches up the eastern side of this amazing island of rainforest and sand, only slightly distracted by the sight of a dingo dragging a decapitated green sea turtle up the beach. Damn Nature, you scary!
We follow the mud map Corey drew up for us. It leads to his mate Wade’s holiday shack at Orchid Beach — a modern Robinson Crusoe retreat. Corey greets us with open arms and introduces us to the K’gari posse. A stocky, tanned and wellpreened bloke extends a hand. Wade Bachmann owns the RipTide. Born and bred in Gatton in rural Queensland, by all accounts he played some pretty handy rugby league in the day. But these days, Wade tackles building developments in the Brisbane big smoke, as owner/operator of the WRB Group, which specialises in building concrete sleeper retaining walls. His company employs hundreds of people, but he reckons all the stresses of work instantly disappear the minute he gets to K’gari. “Fraser is a very special place to me,” he says. “I’ve been coming here since I was two years old. As soon as you get to the barge, it’s like someone has pricked you with a pin and you’re instantly relaxed. We’ve got the most beautiful blue water and the whitest sand you could ever imagine.”
Wade’s an alloy man through and through. His first boat was a 520 Quintrex, and from there he jumped into a secondhand 7.8m RipTide before falling in love with the brand and commissioning the build of the big 9200.
K’gari can be pretty unforgiving on tow vehicles. To say it’s a graveyard for hire 4WDs and Rav 4s would be an understatement. “We’ve got two-metre tides here,” Wade explains. “If you drop your boat in and get stuck, you can be underwater in a couple of hours — it happens all the time.”
To cope with this perilous state of affairs, Wade has upped his tow vehicle game and now rolls in a 170HP Case tractor. “The tractor is a necessity for the size of the boat that we have now,” he says. “Once you get in, it’s also nice to take your time, have a couple of beers on the beach and know you’re not going to get bogged driving back up to the house.”
His trailer is a little different to the usual dual-axle alloy bouncing down the highway. In fact, Wade’s trailer isn’t doing much bouncing at all. That’s because it doesn’t have springs — or any suspension system, for that matter. His logic makes perfect sense. “Here on Fraser, the environment is extremely harsh,” he says. “The boat is constantly in and out of salt water. So, having fewer moving parts means there is less to break. Realistically, I’m towing it behind a tractor on soft, spongey sand at 25km/h. I’ve also put on the biggest possible BF Goodrich tyres with 25lb of air in them — that’s all the suspension I need.”
Who are we to argue with a bloke who builds megastructures for a living?
After an extended perve through Wade’s saltwater weapons, it’s time to hit the water. He fires up the Case tractor, snakes down a narrow track and then along the beach, each gear change signalled by a bellow of black smoke. Then we’re at the surf. There’s no big show put on by the launching crew. Everyone knows their role and before we can send off the drone, the boat is bobbing in the gutter, swallowing Pelican cases full of camera gear. Easy as. From there, it’s a 15-minute run to the bait grounds. The lads work quickly to fill the 100L live well, which features a coral reef graphic backdrop, while The Captain’s crew inspects the boat in more detail. “The coral backdrop makes our live baits feel relaxed and right at home prior to being sent to work,” Corey jokes as he unloads another full string into the mobile aquarium.
Next stop, the Spanish mackerel grounds. It doesn’t take long for an 8kg Spaniard to hunt down one of the live baits. Quickly pulled on board, it’s bled and dropped straight into the fish box on ice. Wade also has a eutectic fridge/freezer set-up (Captain’s note: eutectic systems consist of hollow tubes, beams or plates filled with an eutectic brine to store energy and produce a cooling effect) living underneath the port and starboard bench seats. On long-range trips, these can be used to store fish longer-term and hold weeks of food supplies. On K’gari day trips, the boys keep all the bait in freezer and a couple cases of beer with lunch in the fridge.
With the Spanish box ticked, the boys are keen to move out to the deep and show off another side of K’gari. Wade drops the throttles and takes us to what feels so much like the end of the Earth that we’re hoping this isn’t all a ruse to knock off The Captain’s crew — Wade does work in the concrete business, after all. But after a surprisingly pleasant ride punching into 15 knots of wind and sloppy chop, we finally make it to spot X. (Captain’s note: it’s a secret.)
“We’re looking for pearlies out here,” Wade says. “And it looks like we’ve found them.”
After finding the school, he moves to the second joystick helm in the cockpit. “This joystick is probably my favourite feature,” he shouts while working the knob like F-18 fighter pilot. “Usually, when we’re deepdropping, I’m stuck behind the helm the whole time. With the joystick, I can manoeuvre the boat and have access to my deep-drop winch all within arm’s reach.”
The deep-dropping rig looks seriously commercialgrade. It consists of six 14/0 circle hooks baited with a piece of mullet, a pilchard and strip of squid, to top off the fisherman’s basket. For a sinker, the guys run a bunch of steel rebar that has been welded together. The Captain’s crew sheepishly put their micro jigging outfits back in the rod holders — this is a serious meat fishing operation. First drop and apparently the boys have a bite, not that we can tell, as Wade instructs the guys to leave the rig downstairs in hope of getting a few more bites. After a couple of minutes, the winch is flicked into gear and up comes dinner for 10 with three of the biggest pearlies The Captain’s crew have ever seen. Wade insists this string is a mere puppy litter. So we bait up again, deploy and a while later, up come another three monster perch. “Well, that will do us for dinner, guys. Who’s ready for a beer and a feed?” Wade asks. Everyone is keen and we steam back to base. If there’s a measure for kilograms of fish per drop, then Wade and company have just obliterated the benchmark.
Back at the beach pad, the Stone & Wood beer is flowing freely from the tap stationed at what Wade calls the “Red Emperor Bar”. Suitably lubricated, he opens up on his pride and joy. “I had a pretty specific hit list when it came to the build of my 9200,” he begins. “First and foremost, it had to fit in the shed here at Fraser. Secondly, I needed something that was still manageable to launch and retrieve into the beach gutters, yet capable of taking on long-range missions to 1770. I also wanted a rig I could potentially run charters or commercially fish off one day, so we opted to go for 2C and 3C survey. The rules and regulations are crazy. The specifications it needed to be built to are the same for a 40m boat, as they are for a 9m boat. That definitely threw a few spanners in the works for Dave the builder. He’s such a gentleman, though, probably one of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met. I explained everything I wanted in my boat, we workshopped a game plan and voilà, it all came together.”
RipTide has been around for more than 25 years and is owned by David Claussen and his wife, Tracy. “There are custom boat builders, and then there are serious custom boat builders,” Wade says. “They only build eight boats a year and if you were to order one today, be prepared to wait around three years.”
Word has is that Dave is very accommodating on the custom side of things. That was good news for Wade who practically camped at the RipTide factory to make sure everything was on point. “With my boat, the build actually started upside down,” Wade recalls. “It stayed that way for about a month until the hull structure was complete. From there, we flipped her over and started work on the floor. The hull is foam-filled. There’s actually 3.8 cubic metres of foam inside, which gives her positive floatation. The dash was critical, as I’m not the tallest bloke in the world. I had to make sure I had great visibility, whether standing up or sitting down. We actually built it out of pine at home first!”
With the dash ticked off, next item was passenger seating. Wade has two sons, Zak and Brax, so he opted for a dual seat close to the skipper’s. That way, he didn’t have to worry about where the boys were while underway. That’s the luxury of having a generous beam, Wade reckons. He also opted to extend the cab 300mm wider, giving the cabin the volume of the Starship Enterprise. The mega cab does mean it’s a little squeezy when walking around to the bow, but by no means impossible.
Surprisingly, Wade says it was the fiddly bits like the bow rail heights that took many hours — and beers — to get right. With the hull, deck and hardtop complete, it was off to the spray booth for five long weeks of painting. Then it was back to the RipTide factory for windows, windscreen and fuel tank installation.
Next stop was Barney’s Marine in Hervey Bay for the motors, wiring and electronics. “The build was around eight months, which is not too bad considering how much has gone into her.” Wade says. The Captain suspects Wade exercised his well-practised building project management skills to cram such an epic build into such a short window. Speaking of epic, the hull is 6mm plate alloy all around — bottom, sides and floor structure.
When we ask Wade to describe his RipTide in five words, he says, “Fast, comfortable, stable and great fun.” No arguments here.
BEAM ME DOWN, WADEY
Wade’s pretty damn handy in the electronics department and his Furuno set-up is key to his deep-water dominance. He’s running two Hatteland displays and an FCV-1150 fish finder. Being able to ping fish at speed in 300m of water was also right up there on the priory list, so Wade opted for an 82B 35R transducer, which is a 2kW low-frequency big dawg. Also, joining the beam team is the WASSP multibeam sonar that lets Wade map the seafloor in real time and in 3-D.
The install sounds like it was a bit of a mission. “Dave had to custom-build the faring block for all the kit,” Wade says. “Luckily, we’d had plenty of practice building a similar one for the old boat, where we had to cut the arse out of it about five times before we got it right! This time was a little bit simpler. She houses the 82B 35R at the front of the fairing, the WASSP is in the middle and a 200B high-frequency at the back. On the fairing, we’ve got a leading edge up to the keel as well as a taper towards the back. We’ve done that to try to get a high water pressure over the face so we don’t get any air bubbles. It works incredibly, even at 40 knots.”
Wade drives his Furuno displays like a US military drone pilot. He even has a mouse and keyboard on the dash to navigate the menus. “Believe it or not, I’m not very technical in the electronics department,” he says. “The set-up took a little bit of getting used to, but because I ran Furuno in my old boat, everything was pretty familiar. A lot of people will leave their FCV- 1150s on auto, but we’ve had so much success driving them manually. I’m constantly adjusting my gain and changing my TVG. They really are such a powerful unit and if you know what you’re doing, they can be deadly.”
Matt at Barney’s Marine got the job of arming all the electronics to Wade’s rig. An unenviable job, to say the least. Furuno made life easier, mocking up an entire wiring diagram, which Barney’s boys used to map out the install. To put it all into perspective, on either side of the keel in the hull, Dave built in two pieces of 150mm PVC just to accommodate all the wiring. “You can get a lot of interference bugs by running certain cables next to other cables — that stuff is so sensitive,” Wade says. “So for us to get that drawing done prior to arriving at Barney’s Marine was a key process on the wiring front.”
In The Captain’s books, the boys at Barney’s have done an incredible install with attention to detail at the highest level.
On the horsepower front, Wade purchased a set of shiny new Suzuki 250HP outboards for the transom of his 9200. There was only one problem. Prior to bolting them on, he heard about the new Suzuki DF350A with contrarotating propellors.
“Er, I couldn’t resist,” Wade confesses. “The more horsepower, the better, right?”He switched out the 250s for a set of 350s, giving his metallic machine a 200HP injection along with an additional two propellers to slice and dice the wet stuff. Economy-wise, Wade is using 1.3—1.4 litres per kilometre which gives the boat a range of around 750– 800km with the whopping 1200L fuel tank. “The reason we’ve opted for such a large fuel capacity is so we can get to Swains Reef from our base at Fraser,” Wade says.
To get his fuel economy in the best possible shape, he experimented with different motor hole heights until finding the perfect balance between economy and prop bite in the water. “Sometimes, we’re taking off in 500mm–600mm of water in the gutters off Fraser, so there’s not much room for error,” Wade says. “Having the additional horsepower also helps get the boat out of the water and onto the plane quicker.”
Top speed for the 9200 is 90km/h and at WOT, she’s chugging 220L per hour — better drop her down to 4500RPM Wade, if you plan on making it back from Swains.
DADS 2 LADS
The steady flow of cold pale ale and fresh fish from Wade’s deep-fryer sends The Captain’s crew into a pirate stupor. But salty tales are calling, and we are soon packing our salt-encrusted cameras away ready for our next epic adventure. On the way back to the barge, the guys are kind enough to give us a mini tour of the island. While looking over the rusted shipwreck of the SS Maheno lying on the beach on the eastern side of Fraser, we ask Wade how the name of his boat, Dads 2 Lads 2, came about. “My mum actually came up with the name,” he explains. “My dad had two sons, me and my younger brother. My brother unfortunately got killed in a car accident 20 years ago. As you know, I also have two sons. So, Dads with two lads.” That’s an awesome tribute to your family, mate. And what an impressive boat to plaster the name on. The Cap’n salutes you, Wade. Oh, and cheers to you Corey for being such a persistent bugger.
CHECK OUT ANOTHER RIPTIDE FROM THE CAPTAIN’S ARCHIVE, BELOW:
Unit 1/52 Smallwood Street,
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