In the latest boat review, we check out the Smuggler Strata 770 mid cabin. In the last issue (Mar/Apr ) of PPB we ran a review of the first Smuggler Strata 750 Mid Cabin, a new concept in cabin RIBs, which has proven an instant success for the builders, Smuggler Marine. Although the first mid cabin wasn’t launched until late Dec 2014, by the end of Feb, just two months later, four more had been sold. More importantly of those three have the Sealegs Technology, the first of which I got a chance to take for a run on a very calm Auckland Harbour.
Now I have written at length on the boat in the last issue (PPB Mar/Apr 2015 Page 88) and without repeating everything again – as it is essentially the same boat, but with wheels – I do need to talk about some of the very distinctive differences between the Smuggler Strata 750 (no legs) and the Smuggler Strata 770 (with legs). Firstly there is the price. Choose the Sealegs option and you have a starting price of $NZ240,000. Go for the Strata 750 without legs, then you’re in for around $NZ135,000.
Both include a 250 hp ETEC outboard and depending on your option choices, especially when it comes to the electronics, the prices will vary. Roughly, the Smuggler Strata 770 is $NZ100,000 more than the Strata 750. Then there is the construction. What David Pringle, MD of Smuggler Marine and designer of the new mid cabin range wanted, was to get both packages around the same weight, although with the extra weight of the Sealegs package this was always going to be hard to achieve. Because the Sealegs components and generator have a combined weight of around 495 Kg, compared to a single outboard at around 238 kgs, it was, therefore, necessary to make the boat itself lighter.
To achieve this, he has made a lot of changes to the materials and the way the hull is constructed, while at the same time being conscious to not compromising the strength of the boat. As the 750/770 RIB is based on the ultra deep 27 deg vee Smuggler hull, all outboard powered models come with a flooding keel. This adds a lot to the stability at rest, although is probably more noticeable on the conventional Smuggler hardtop cabin boat than on the RIB variant.
With the Smuggler Strata 770 however that is not required as the weight of generator, down low in the centre of the boat and the wheels at the rear of the sponsons, means the boat naturally sits lower in the water at rest. The 750 weighs in at 1650 kgs, while the Smuggler Strata 770 is 2000kg both including a full tank of fuel.
SMUGGLER STRATA 770 – Boat Review
SMUGGLER STRATA 770 – Noteworthy Changes
Another change is to the rear of the tubes. On the Strata 750, the tubes are cylindrical and tapered in the end, but in the Smuggler Strata 770 they are D-shaped to allow a recess for the wheels when in the up position. Smuggler has done a nice job of tucking the wheels as much as possible into the existing tube profile. While you can certainly see them, they blend in reasonably unobtrusively with the contour of the hull lines.
There are some additional controls on the dash for the Sealegs system, but otherwise everything else is much the same. The Smuggler Strata 770 does have the new, Automatic Braking System (ABS). This is a land based mechanical brake within the rear drive motors that automatically activates when the boat is parked and the inboard motor is turned off. It also triggers in the unlikely event of a hydraulic transmission failure, or if the operator hits the emergency stop button on the console.
To support these enhanced safety features, the leg assemblies have been redesigned for greater strength and fitted with specifically designed hubs and bearings. But perhaps the most noteworthy change is the positioning of the generator into the mid cabin. In the past, all Sealegs configured boats have had the generator engine in the cockpit, something that David wanted to address with the new boat.
“I was determined to design the new mid cabin boat in such a way that when it was fitted with Sealegs Patented Technology, there was provision for the generator, so I could get it out of the cockpit and retain the space of the similar Strata 750”, says David.
This has been achieved at the expense however of the head and some storage space. Bulkhead hatches give access through to large storage areas as well as the generator. The result is a better transfer of weight in the hull, a fully functional cockpit and a quieter generator.
As you would expect, the performance of both the Strata 750 and Smuggler Strata 770 is almost identical when powered with the same outboard and prop combination. The running surfaces have not changed and as the three wheels and all hydraulic components are above the waterline when running, there’s no extra drag.
Our tests on the Strata 750 was with the new ETEC Gen2, 250hp outboard and as reported, it proved to be an amazingly economical and powerful engine. Top speed was 52.5 knots @ 6150 rpm, running a 21” Viper three blade stainless propeller. With the same prop, the Smuggler Strata 770 topped out 46 knots @ 5500 rpm with a standard ETEC 250hp direct injection two stroke. The Strata 750 is available with outboard or sterndrive power, while the Smuggler Strata 770 is strictly outboard only.
What Smuggler Marine has done is marry two great products together to form one outstanding boat. While the Strata 750 mid cabin offers a fresh approach to the cabin RIB market, the Smuggler Strata 770 takes it one step further.