Morning temperatures in the 40s on test day held a shiver in the Seattle air, so when I met the Stabicraft 829 at the dock, I quickly stepped through the watertight door through the gunwale to the cockpit, noting the boat listed minimally as I transferred my weight to the sole. The door swings on heavy hinges and, when latched closed, completes the boat's side from deck to gunwale. The all-aluminum Stabi’s broad-shouldered stance comes from buoyant chambers welded around the gunwales from stem to stern and vertically from chine to gunwale. At rest, the tubes meet the water, holding the boat’s footing as passengers move about to battle or gaff fish. At speed, the tubes serve as hard reversed chines that get the boat up on plane quickly; should the boat take heavy seas, the tubes carried all the way to the bow serve to lift the craft over seas and deflect spray away from the boat.
Evinrude engines connected to NMEA 2000 I-Command gauges and a Lowrance chart plotter gave me digital and analog readouts on speed, rpm, gallons per hour and miles per gallon. Hydraulic steering eased maneuvering away from the dock and, in normal maneuvers, allowed effortless steering.
Side windows in the pilothouse slid aft to allow ventilation. Two of our crew settled into the four-seat dinette while one checked out the forward berth conveniently accessible in the cuddy. A galley stove and sink made longrange fishing or coastal cruising comfortable. The head was located in the cuddy beneath the berth. Equipped to fish with an aft bait station and livewell and plenty of rod holders, the Stabicraft serves as well for those wanting an easy-to-handle, compact cruiser.