Versatile family cruising-cum fishing half cabins are probably the toughest sector in the entire Australian boating industry. Established brands like Seafarer, CruiseCraft, Whittley, Haines Signature, and Haines Hunter (to name just a few) have developed the configuration to an art form and have been doing so for generations.
Apparently unafraid of such august competition, and maybe because such a popular market segment is too attractive to ignore, Mustang Pleasure Boats initially entered the fray with its 2000 Bluewater. And it struck immediate success, earning Modern Boating’s prestigious Family Boat of the Year award in 2004.
It sold well, too, but its success helped the company realise that, while customers loved the concept, many wanted it applied to a bigger boat. Coincidentally, the company already had another proven performer in the hull of the 2250 Walkaround centre cabin sport fisher. So was born the 2250 Bluewater.
Our test boat was actually put together for the AMIF Boat of the Year Award judging and features an amazingly comprehensive fit-out, which is probably beyond the average fishing family’s needs. Therefore, we won’t pay too much attention to the fine detail, while we focus on the boat’s fundamentals.
To begin at the beginning, the hull the 2250 Bluewater is based on already has quite a pedigree after being developed from Mustang’s old 2150 Walkaround, and incorporating significant refinements to become the current 2250 version. On-water testing then became mainly a matter of checking out whether changes in weight distribution etc, involved in the full cabin version have affected the excellent seakindliness achieved in the original Walkaround.
On the day of our test, the Gold Coast Seaway bar turned out to be about as flat as the proverbial biscuit, so this wasn’t looking good until a 48-footer undergoing sea trials came by. Accelerating up from behind the lumbering cruiser, I jammed the 2250 Bluewater between the second and third, 1.5-metre bow waves and pulled the throttle back until we started to surf.
Mustang’s Dave Hancock blanched, but his boat took this fairly extreme move in its stride. It did lay over, as hulls with a fine entry tend to do when their backside is parked on one face, while their bows are jammed into the back of another wave only a boat length away, but it stayed true and steady. Which indicates the 2250 Bluewater is a pretty hard hull to broach.
A few more hops backwards and forwards over the wake was the best we could do from there. As far as I could tell, the Bluewater seems to retain the good sea manners of its predecessor.
The only other thing I should say about the 2250 Bluewater’s on-water handling is that I would not personally put one of these boats on the water without fitting a set of trim tabs. Nor, for that matter, any other 18-degree deadrise deep-vee boat I hasten to add. They invariably need tabs and the Bluewater is no exception.
A slightly increased tendency to lean into a side wind – again quite typical of the genre – was the only evident change from the added top hamper and windage of this new bigger cabin configuration.
With a supercharged Mercury Verado 225 sitting on the stern, you’d expect sparkling performance speed-wise and so it proved to be. With so much power on tap, it made the Mustang 2250 Bluewater quite a quick family/fishing cruiser.
More’s the point, it made the test boat a very easy boat to drive. It was quietly planing in a few moments, and its out of the hole get up and go, mid-range acceleration and top speed were eminently suitable for playing with wake toys. Just cruising about the southern end of Moreton Bay, the best description I could come up with for the Bluewater’s over-water performance was “unruffled.”
In a 6.8-metre cabin boat you’d expect a couple to be able to overnight in some degree of comfort. The 2250 Bluewater’s bunks are a full 2.4 metres long and extend the full width of the beam. It’s definitely plenty big enough for a couple and a comfortable night’s sleep should be par for the course.
Inside the cabin, Mustang has delivered a very high standard, indeed, with suede upholstery and full head lining. A portable toilet under the bunk comes standard, although our test boat was fitted with an optional electric flush model and separate holding tank.
With the bunk infill set aside, a small table fits into a socket in the deck and two or three adults could comfortably enjoy shelter from sun and weather inside the cabin. The table also fits another socket out in the cockpit if sitting outdoors is preferred.
To one side as you enter the cabin there’s a square sink with a pantry cupboard underneath. Pressurised fresh water comes from a 60-litre fresh water tank. On the opposite side, our test boat had an (optional) 42-litre Isotherm 12-volt fridge. Fresh water is also supplied to a hand-held shower stowed inside a recess on the transom.
Ventilation inside the cabin comes from a large hatch, plus an eye-shaped window each side. The sliding cabin door can be securely locked – an unfortunate necessity in a world where boats have to be locked up any time you’re not aboard.
A transom door and an extendable boarding ladder on the stern dignify entry and egress from the water or a favourite beach. An optional targa bar and rod rack on the test boat had an extra extension aft to completely shade the cockpit. The targa bar folds down to lower the boat’s overall height whilst trailering or to get under low doorways.
As a family day boat and/or weekender package for a boating couple, the Mustang 2250 Bluewater leaves precious little to be desired. That out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the other side of its personality – fishing.
Clip-in carpet in our test boat can be removed in seconds, leaving a spacious, non-slip and easy-to-clean deck in the fishing workroom – the cockpit.
A full deck moulding does compromise the leg support around the cockpit periphery essential for serious offshore fishing. However, this is minimised by moulded inserts each side, with padded coamings and side pockets, which do allow your toes underneath all the way along each side of the cockpit.
Across the inside of the transom is a comfy three-quarter lounge seat, which folds away flush against the bulkhead to free the entire cockpit for fishing space. That work station mounted on the test boat’s transom is an option few serious fishing boats could do without. I was most impressed with a standard fitment storage locker big enough to contain a set of fenders set into the outboard side of the aft bulkhead to starboard.
Set into the upper part of the bulkhead beside the fender locker is a 60-litre livewell, which shouldn’t have to be degraded to chilling drinks on social occasions because other iceboxes come standard in the 2250 Bluewater. One of these is built in beneath the passenger seat; another is a removable 45-litre icebox mounted underneath the helm seat. Which means it can be removed to a beach, or wherever necessary on social days – or brought to the boat full of frozen bait when headed off fishing, of course.
Storing messy fish is a potential problem in any serious fishing boat, but not here. Beneath the deck and between the helm and passenger seats is a 190-litre kill pit which, being down in the hull, could also be filled with ice to keep the catch in perfect table condition – as it should be!
One change Mustang was able to effect in the full cabin version of the 2250 hull was to set the deck high enough to self-drain properly – which can be a bit iffy in many boats this size. Dave Hancock assured me this one won’t wet your feet when a hefty mate joins you in an aft corner – and sure enough my shoes stayed dry every time he did.
The helm area is very well executed. I had a problem with the height of the screen frame cutting through my line of vision while driving the boat standing up – which, of course, you do almost all of the time offshore. I asked Dave about building up the deck behind the helm (usually a tricky subject with boat builders, who aren’t set up to deal with customer changes) and he said they can easily do this kind of thing if asked. Although apparently few customers ask. It often amazes me how many people never even think of a few simple adjustments to their boat to make them more comfortable – and safer.
Both seats are supplied with a moulded foot rest and, yes, there’s a substantial grab rail provided. Only the helm seat is fore and aft adjustable.
Hydraulic power steering comes with Verado engine packages and this certainly helped make the Mustang a pleasure to run. There were no appreciable torque loadings fed back through the steering and even lightly-built folk would find running a Verado-powered 2250 Bluewater effortless.
An innovation Mustang Pleasure Boats fits standard into this boat (and which the company apparently intends to extend throughout its prestige range) is a digital 12-volt electrical system. If this sounds complicated, it’s actually quite the reverse.
Remembering that this particular boat has a very high-spec inventory, a single panel controlled an electric anchor winch (optional), cockpit and cabin lighting, navigation and anchor lighting, bilge, deck wash and livewell pumps, and radio and stereo. And all from one small switch panel!
The instrumentation in our test boat can’t go unmentioned, either. It was fitted with paired Navman Fish 4600 and Tracker 5600 units, which, in addition to serving as advanced fish finder and GPS mapping instruments, integrate with Mercury’s Smartcraft system.
The Fish 4600 monitored and displayed engine information, including rpm, speed, trim, engine oil and water pressure, engine temperature and fuel flow. Then, at the touch of a button, it was once again a sophisticated fish finder. Regrettably, only Mercury-powered boats can boast this ingenious system.
We are fortunate to be very well served with boats in the Mustang 2250 Bluewater’s class in Australia. It stands proudly amongst the very best of them and, yes, it seems Mustang Pleasure Boats has marked out another chunk of territory for itself amongst the older and bigger boys of the industry.
Mustang 2250 Bluewater
Length: 6.87 metres
Beam: 2.44 metres
Dry hull weight: 1350kg
Deadrise: 18 degrees
Fuel capacity: 300 litres
Freshwater capacity: 60 litres
Transom height: 25 inches
Min/Max power: 175hp/300hp
Max transom weight: 294kg
Mustang 2250 Bluewater/Mercury Verado 225hp
Propeller: Vengeance 15-inch pitch
Location: Gold Coast Seaway
Conditions: Light winds, calm water
Load: 2 adults, safety gear, 180 litres fuel, 60 litres water
RPM SPEED (in knots) COMMENT
550 1.4 Slow troll speed (digitally adjustable up to 1500rpm)
2500 9.1 Minimum Planing Speed
3000 15.5 Economy Cruising Range
4500 28.2 Economy Cruising Range
6180 40.4 WOT
Mustang Pleasure Boats, Coomera, Qld. Tel (07) 5514 3100, e-mail email@example.com. Website www.mustangboats.com.au.