The Roots of Rampage
Long-time fishermen remember when Rampage, then based in New England, built small, tough coastwise fishing boats, competitors to Grady-White, Pursuit and Boston Whaler. The boats were excellent for racing over the typical choppy waters of Block Island Sound or Massachusetts Bay, and for the occasional foray offshore chasing larger prey.That was more than 25 years ago, and, like the rest of us, Rampage has moved on and grown larger since then: After a stop in North Carolina, Rampage now builds their boats, from 30' to 45', in Oconto, Wisconsin, and has long been owned by KCS International. During the last decade KCS has come on strong as one of America's highest quality boat builders for both express cruisers (Cruisers Yachts) and fishboats like the Rampage 45 Convertible. Oconto is on Green Bay, a body of water that can be as nasty as any ocean, so it's a fine place for sea trials as well as boatbuilding.
Construction and Rigging
Any decent fishing boat has to be able to take more abuse than the crew that rides on her, and Rampage has always been known for tough boats. The 45 Convertible is built using proven fiberglass technology: Her hull has a solid fiberglass bottom laminated with stitched biaxial fabrics and premium resin; stitched fabrics retain less excess resin than woven fabrics, reducing weight while maintaining strength. The bottom is supported by molded fiberglass stringers, foam-filled for added stiffness. The topsides are cored, with solid blocks at all through-hull fittings to prevent water sneaking under the fittings into the core. Structural bulkheads are composite, encapsulated in fiberglass. Rampage covers the 45 Convertible with a five-year structural warranty that's transferable to a subsequent owner.
It's important to build a sportfisherman like this one with an eye to blister prevention: Boats of this type are frequently used year-round, and mostly in warm water where the fishing is best. Both factors increase the possibility of blisters. Rampage laminates the 45 Convertible with a premium resin, combined with high-grade gelcoat backed by a vinylester barrier coat. Before applying antifouling, the company further seals the bottom with a layer of epoxy primer, an important step often overlooked by some builders and boatyards. Rampage provides a pound of cure with a three-year warranty against gelcoat blisters below the waterline.
The 45 Convertible will sleep six or seven in two cabins and the salon, where there's 6' 7" (2 m) headroom. Too many builders today, in our opinion, arrange their sportfishermen with all queen or double berths – but where do single people sleep? Fishermen don't want to share berths, and in the 45 Convertible they don't have to: The guest cabin has fore-and-aft singles with an optional athwartships Pullman berth that folds down from the bulkhead, so three people can sleep in this space. We like this arrangement, but would like it better if Rampage, and other builders, would go one more step and offer the option of V-berths, or over and under berths forward, instead of an island double. Now that would be a real sportfishing cabin.
Power and Performance
Rampage offers three power choices, all by Caterpillar: The base engines are twin 715-hp C-12 ACERTS, with upgrades to 865-hp C-15s or 1,015-hp C-18s. We haven't tested the boat with any of these diesels, but we did run a 45 Convertible a few years back with twin 800-hp Cat 3106s. Our captain measured a top speed of 35 knots, well over the magic 30-knot speed that most sportfishermen demand. Best cruise was around 25 knots, with 332 n.m. range, but anything up to 30 knots was almost as good.
We can't say definitively how the boat will fare with the 715-hp Cats, but we expect she'll still break 30 knots; however, we recommend upgrading to the middle-sized C-15s if you can, just to have a bit more gumption if you need it. We are hoping to get our hands on this boat again soon, and will publish new numbers when we do.
Notice we didn't mention "pods." This boat was designed before they arrived on the scene, and relies on classic midships engine placement, straight shafts with props and rudders. If you think only pods can make a boat maneuverable, you should spend some time watching pro fishing captains pirouette their vessels around tight marinas, or spin them on dimes chasing trophy fish. They don't need pods – they have skill, and with enough practice you won't need pods either -- and it will save you a lot of money on the purchase price.
Rampage has been building the 45 Convertible for years, and it's one of the company's most popular models. It's a traditional sportfisherman built on a design that's proven successful for decades all over the world. Owners coming down from huge battlewagons will appreciate the lower operating costs, to say nothing of the lower price, of the Rampage 45. If you're ready to move up into a serious fishboat, but have been blown away by the prices for large convertibles by well-known brands, then perhaps you should be investigating the Rampage 45. She is big enough to go most anywhere, and she is built to all of the important quality and strength standards as are the big three. When it comes to fit-and-finish and the quality of her gelcoat and glass work, Rampage takes a back seat to no brand, in our opinion. MSRP of the 2011 Rampage 45 Convertible with twin 715-hp Caterpillar C-12s, EC and trolling valves, is $952,635.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Standard|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
|Oil Change System||Optional|