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The X Factor

by Kate Calamusa
StabiX Feature
Photography Courtesy of StabiX

Paul Adams is no stranger to out-of-the-box thinking. The co-founder of Stabicraft—the New Zealand-based manufacturer of brawny vessels built for braving the elements—has been in the boat business for almost 40 years, having sat at the helm of the aforementioned brand since its inception in 1987. Over the course of those four decades, Stabicraft built boats while establishing a reputation for innovation, thoughtfully designing their aluminum vessels with, for example, individually sealed buoyancy chambers for added safety; forward-raking windscreens to increase interior cabin size for escaping inclement weather; and offering mix-and-match design elements to allow for customization.

But, come the years of 2018 and 2019, Adams began to feel the itch to stretch himself in new ways, and he stepped down as CEO of Stabicraft in 2020. From there, he and a team of trusted individuals started tossing around a new idea—a line of amphibious boats that were more akin to brute-strength boats than dainty dinghies, and that could take adventurers pretty much anywhere, any beach, any shoreline, or any piece of open water that their souls longed to explore.

In other words, Adams decided to reimagine the box entirely by focusing on an X factor: wheels.

“Though the idea of amphibious vessels has been around for a while, once we started kicking around the idea with our internal team, we started to feel like there was a gap in the marketplace, a need for a boat that was built exceedingly tough for open ocean, able to withstand the elements, and yet, able to access land pretty much anywhere,” states Adams, who did have some prior experience in this particular market after Stabicraft partnered with Sea Legs for a time to create beachable vessels back around 2014. “There was a real opportunity to be creative, to take everything we had learned at Stabicraft, and apply it in this new way.”

Thus began the journey of StabiX, a company now composed of 12 individuals and also based in Adams’ native New Zealand. As of January 2024, the small but mighty team has built 30 amphibious vessels, customized to each customer’s needs, across five different base model platforms. “By working with each client individually, it has helped us hone the designs as we go,” Adams says of the initial business model. “As we have listened to their wants and needs, it has sprouted new ideas and design elements.”

Of particular interest to Northwest boaters may be the vessel known familiarly as Build #0030, a matte black looker designed off the brand’s 240UCC base platform that sat on display at the Seattle Boat Show last month. (Its aggressive profile and sleek paint job actually had one boat show attendee comparing it to Bruce Wayne’s classic Batmobile during a tour; a more than apt description.)

The #0030 also has the distinction of being the first StabiX model in the United States, designed for a longtime Seattle-area boater who expects to use the craft as both a commuter and work vessel.

“I’ve been attracted to the idea of an amphibious boat for a while,” explains the local owner, who prefers to keep his name private. “But I knew that I would need something that could take a beating, probably something aluminum, that also would be super low maintenance. Our conditions here can be challenging, to say the least, so once Paul [Adams] and I started talking about the idea, I was happy to essentially be part of their research and development with this boat.”

Delivered over the Christmas holidays, the #0030 sits just shy of 24-feet in length, with a 6’4” beam and a height of 9’8” when the wheels are engaged. It’s got the strength and stability of a Stabicraft, with smart details like built-in alloy rod roof holders, all-round LED nav lighting, powder-coated handrails, and traction decking, all buffeted by touches of comfort like the Guss soft touch steering wheel, sound-buffering woven roof liner, and supple upholstery. To put it nicely, the #0030’s captain describes it as “Work on the outside, luxury on the inside.”

Featuring twin helm bolster chairs, plus two additional convertible rear seats, the #0030’s center cabin can be fully enclosed against the elements, a key distinction the new owner states drew him to this model over others in the market. “We like to boat year-round here, and I knew I would need a vessel with a cabin, with heat, if I was to make it an everyday commuter vessel like I had dreamed,” he says.

Also a big draw: StabiX’s dedication to the technology that powers the build. The three-wheel drive system was designed by Anura, a fellow New Zealand company whose drive systems have also been utilized by brands like Asis, FC Boats, and Ocean Craft Marine. “I actually called up the guys at Anura while I was considering the build,” says the Northwest owner, with a chuckle. “I was really impressed with them, with the amount of engineering that was going into it. I mean, they were nerding out on these wheels. I figured them, plus Paul and his team, was a pretty solid combo.”

Fittingly, the first test drive of the #0030 was just that, a drive—not one that departed from a dock, or a marina, but rather a parking lot. “It drives pretty good,” he says with another laugh. “But that first run really did open my eyes to the possibilities for using this boat.” In addition to jetting between properties—he makes frequent stops on the Kitsap Peninsula, as well as Bainbridge Island where he has business prospects, and thus is elated to avoid the ferry system with this boat, as well as easily reach areas with limited dock access—the buyer hopes to use the #0030 in tandem with his larger Targa to explore areas, such as in Desolation Sound. He also points towards the San Juan Islands as a fitting location for this type of vessel, a sentiment that is echoed strongly by Adams, or Alaska, where the second U.S-bound StabiX is headed soon.

“It’s really prime for adventure,” the owner says in conclusion. “I don’t need to find moorage or a dock, all I need is a boat ramp or a beach, and we can reach all kinds of places we couldn’t before. As a native and a longtime boater, I had been kind of feeling like I’d ‘seen it all,’ so to speak, but no more.”

>> For more details on StabiX, go to: stabix.nz.

Stabi X
Photography Courtesy of StabiX

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