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Ocean Max Offshore 21SC Print E-mail

by Warren Steptoe.

a classically styled boat, the Ocean Max Offshore 21 SC features a pronounced flare at the bows with a subtly curving sheer and a smooth variable deadrise bottom without running strakes.

In a (boating) world full of standardised models carbon copied off each other, it's refreshing to say the least to encounter a boat that's individually hand built in low volume without the compromises to craftsmanship and fit out imposed on production boats by that great God called economy of scale.

As first impressions go there’s a lot to like about this, the second model from Gold Coast based boutique boat builder Ocean Max. Their first boat, a 24ft centre console released at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in 2010, quickly attracted a dedicated following and, as a result, was followed up by the release of this boat, the Offshore 21 SC (for Sports Cab) in 2012.

Foredeck has twin anchor wells, the power anchor winch seen here is optional.

Those favorable initial impressions don’t go away as you spend more time with the boat either. After several hours aboard, I was even more impressed by the standard of workmanship displayed, and by the way every fitting encountered is top shelf. I was also particularly impressed by the way Ocean Max are more than happy to custom build boats to meet individual customer requirements. It’s a fact of life that NO carbon copy production boat will be precisely how you’d like it and few small boat builders indeed are in a position to be flexible enough to change all bar the tiniest details.

Ocean Max actually began as boat maintenance, service, refit, and customisation, and blossomed into boat building simply because owner Jason Wellington-Stones is afflicted with a life-long addiction to boats and the boating life. Jason passionately wanted to build boats his way and it all came together when he employed Naval Architect and shipwright Max Watts. Twelve years later we have this the second model from Ocean Max due to popular demand generated by interest in their first ...

The Offshore 21 SC is a slick looking hull with classic lines departing in several ways from competitors. Her hull bottom is smooth, without the planning strakes so many production boats affect these days and with variable deadrise angles. Her bows have a pronounced flare and there’s a gently curved sheer line supporting a fairly low profile cabin which proves pleasantly roomy from the inside.

At the transom the Offshore 21 SC’s deadrise is only 16° – which is notably shallower than the so called ‘deep vee’ hulls so common in boats this size (6.3m or 21 old fashioned feet long.)

On the water one of the first things you notice is how stable the boat is sitting at rest. Unlike the ‘deep vees’ she’s like a proverbial rock in the water with absolutely none of the wobbling from chine to chine this cynic would call characteristic of low slung steep deadrise ‘sport’ boats. My 60 odd kg frame is often criticised for being no test of static stability in any boat but Jason Wellington-Stones was aboard at the time and he’s a much more substantial bloke than me. As Jason went about business aboard about the boat hardly moved.

The cockpit is plenty spacious enough for the serious offshore fisher - or some relaxed social boating. The Ocean Max Offshore 21 SC's transom features a small boarding deck with a foldaway telescopic boarding ladder.

This stability applies equally at speed where the Offshore 21 sits squarely and points and steers precisely and very predictably. In turns she cants over a little of course, although again without the dramatic lean angles (this cynic would call a) characteristic of low slung steep deadrise ‘sport’ boats.

Not that I’m especially anti sport boats, they certainly have their place, but I suppose there’s a certain admission here about how I like boats to be – and how I came to like this boat so much.

The final point about the Offshore 21 SC’s smooth hull bottom is that with (only) a 16° deadrise at the transom the hull might well bump and bang across surface chop. However (presumably) due to the lack of strakes bumps and bangs were only noticeable by their absence during an afternoon on the northern Gold Coast where a big run out tide pushed across the usual afternoon southerly sea breeze. Fair enough, we didn’t go offshore but as far as the ride went, it was exemplary and the lack of horizontal surfaces strakes and the like present to surface chop as they cleave water certainly seems to have a positive effect on this boat’s ride quality.

The Offshore 21 SC hull is rated from 150 up to 250hp. The 225 hp Suzuki 4-stroke outboard powering the boat reviewed produced a top speed around 40kts – it was hard to be more accurate than that due to a three knot current and the sea breeze. Suffice to say we recorded 37.3kts up current and 42.1 down.

The deckwash hose is hidden away in the aft bulkhead.

From a standing start the boat was up and planning cleanly in a few seconds and acceleration through the mid range exhibited the briskness Suzuki motors are renowned for. People who rarely travel heavily loaded would I think be quite content with less power around the 185-200hp range. If family outings or overnight trips with a full (330 litre) fuel tank and the 100 litre freshwater bladder optioned in the boat reviewed full to provide showers, the 225 on this boat proved ideal.

Moving inside, the Offshore 21 SC’s deck is set too low to self drain and there are pluses and minuses to this. On the one hand no doubt the fairly low set deck contributes significantly to how stable this boat is at rest. On the other hand some offshore fishers, especially those with bar crossings to contend with to get offshore, would prefer the inherent safety and easy to wash down convenience of a self draining deck. As it is the deck clears through a neat stainless steel drain in each aft corner into a sump where it can be pumped out. The deck in the helm area is raised slightly above the cockpit to keep it dry underfoot and to keep water from heavy rain etc out of the cabin.

This lounge seat practically disappears into the aft bulkhead when stowed. When released and folded forward the aft lounge opens access to service fuel filters, batteries and pumps.  

Being able to lean your upper legs against the cockpit sides to support yourself without need to hang onto anything is important to offshore fishers and while not perhaps perfect, the Offshore 21SC’s cockpit sides do have toe slots and the entire cockpit periphery is surrounded by an upholstered bolster which supports your legs pretty well. If I were setting one of these boats up for serious offshore fishing I’d get Ocean Max to make these bolsters thicker and enjoy the best of both worlds, perfect leg support and something soft to lean against.

Our review boat didn’t have the transom workbench few offshore fishers do without fitted, but one can be fitted easily enough. There was however a big livewell in the portside of the aft bulkhead. A gooseneck inside could be flipped out to provide pressurised freshwater making the livewell effective doing second duty as a sink. Third duty as a drinks icebox can come too; with insulation ...

Below the livewell a circular hatch stowed a coiled deckwash hose I never suspected was there until Jason washed some grubby footprints off the deck with it. Big pockets set into the cockpit sides had inset racks for fishing rods or gaffs, boat hooks etc.

On the starboard side there was a transom door opening onto a small boarding deck accessed from the water with the help of one of those folding telescopic boarding ladders and a convenient grab bar. The centre part of the aft bulkhead featured a fold out lounge seat.

 All in all the transom area, a very important part of any boat destined to be used for some combination of family and fishing usage, was very well executed.

With the clears and bimini to optioned on the review boat the helm area was completely sheltered from weather. The helm is comfortable no matter whether the person at the wheel is seated or standing. There are a pair of long fish boxes sized to contain pelagic like mackerel set belowdecks in the cockpit. They can be flooded for cleaning.

Also hidden away in the cockpit and helm area were firstly a pair of long narrow fish boxes set each side of centre. These could be flooded for cleaning. The fisherman in me was pleased to note the fish boxes were shaped to contain long skinny fish like mackerel. Then in between the helm and passenger seats was a monster of a stowage well (400 litres capacity.) This contained a pair of full size fenders on the day and would swallow a heap of hard to get out of the way gear; or can be insulated to function as a big ice box.

Lastly, Jason brought my attention to hatches in the sides beside the helm and passenger seat pedestals. Externally there was absolutely no indication how capacious these were, until Jason told me there were 10 PFD’s stowed in one, and other contained the 100 litre freshwater supply.

Shelter in the helm seating area was complete in the boat reviewed thanks to a well made set of clears and a bimini shade top. The bimini was supported in part by a neat stainless steel targa bar supporting the overhead rod rack offshore fishers like to stow rigged rods safely away. Twin radio aerials were mounted up there, and mounts for outriggers and GPS and radar aerials can easily be incorporated.

The dash area is designed for flush mounting the 10 inch display screens popular amongst the offshore fishing set these days with room for switches and a secondary display screen for supplementary instrumentation.

The multi-purpose livewell that can also serve as a sink or icebox.

Seating in the helm area is another very important aspect of any fishing/family boat and while our review boat had a pair of pedestal mounted deep bucket seats, seat pods with either an icebox and storage or a sink, cooker and icebox are on the options list. As perhaps you’d come to expect by now in a generally well thought out boat, the helm itself was ergonomically well set out and comfortable whether the person at the wheel was driving the boat seated or standing.

Moving into the cabin finds a folding door which can be securely locked, an unfortunate necessity in today’s world. The cabin itself is deceptively large, and somewhat larger than you’d expect looking at the boat from outside. Entry is easy without any gymnastics thanks in large part to a hatch in the cabin top inside the helm area. Sensibly this hatch is clear allowing extra light into the cabin and supplementing light entering through the circular hatch in the cabin top.

A 400 litre stowage compartment between the helm and passenger seats easily swallowed a pair of fenders. The cabin is fully lined and well lit and ventilated by two hatches.

The bunk is huge, and amply big enough for a couple to sleep very comfortably indeed. A toilet snugs away beneath the bunk’s centre cushion and here I was pleasantly surprised yet again to find the toilet is the electric flush type with a separate holding tank and pump out rather than the portable ‘loo so often found in competitor’s boats.

Inside, the entire cabin interior was either upholstered or carpeted and while I hesitate to speak for feminine boaties I suspect they’ll be well pleased with the cabin and er, facilities available, in this boat. A freshwater shower optioned in the boat reviewed completed an inventory which made it a weekender with something more to offer – compared with competitors.

Setting an Offshore 21 SC up as a weekender wouldn’t necessarily compromise it as a serious offshore fishing boat. For example, while offshore fishers working deep water set and raise their anchor from a basket in the cockpit, the Offshore 21 has two separate anchor wells and can be optioned with an electric anchor winch. Like the targa bar, the stylish low bow rail on our review boat featured quality metalwork.

On a trailer an Offshore 21 SC is likely to total up to a trailering weight around 2.2 tonnes. That means the medium 4WD’s so many of us own will be able to tow it well. Pricing starts at $69,900 for a basic boat on a trailer powered by a 150hp 2-stroke motor. The boat seen here added up to closer to $85,000 with its quite comprehensive inventory.

Remarkably stable at rest, the second model from boutique Gold Coast boat builder Ocean Max steers predictably and handles even tight turns very well indeed.


Boat – Ocean Mac Offshore 21 SC

Constructor – Ocean Max Marine, Coomera Gold Coast Qld

Ph (07) 5580 1473

Material – GRP laminates w/ closed cell flotation

Boat Type – mono hull sports cabin

LOA – 6.3 metres (21 ft)

Beam – 2.5 metres

Hull Weight – 1300 kg

Hull Deadrise – variable, 16 degrees at transom

BMT Towing Weight – approx 2250 kg


Power during test – 225 hp

Max Power – 250 hp

Max Motor Weight –  350kg


Fuel – 330 litres

Freshwater – 100 litres (opt)

Max Persons – 6 X 100 kg


Propeller/s Fitted During Test – Suzuki  s/s 20 inch pitch

Location – northern Gold Coast

Conditions – 15 knots wind, 3 knot plus tidal current

Load – 2 adults, full fuel and water


Priced from - $69,900

Price as Tested – $85,000 approx


Wendy Elliston
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