Clear alternatives

Mark Robinson | VOLUME 22, ISSUE 1
The keen fisho finds his needs well catered for with the Clearwater 2100.
Whittley has returned to basics, with two new offerings from its Clearwater stable aimed at the serious angler.

To the experienced Aussie boatie, the name Whittley has long conjured up images of floating caravans or, if you like, trailerable luxury cruisers, where every possible floating bell and whistle has been packed aboard, with imaginative use of space and a finish that would do a 50-footer proud. Plush velour upholstery, wall-to-wall carpet, teak trim – all the ambience of a craft twice the size and costing five- to 10-times more.

Whittley has done well with this approach, both in terms of market place acceptance and in winning industry awards and, in my opinion, deservedly so on both counts. But there’s a broader market out there, where the demand is for craft more basic in fit-out and which cater more to the fisho who spends a fair bit of time up to his or her elbows in bait and fish guts; craft where a quick hose-down restores the patina.

Both these Whittley Clearwater craft fit that bill; both would make good fishing boats and both have the capacity for a day’s fishing or even a weekend on the water, albeit with very basic comforts. Obviously, the 2100 offers more in the way of creature comforts and fishability, as would be expected, but also obviously, with a steeper price.

CLEARWATER 1900

Let’s look firstly at the 1900, which was added to the Whittley stable late last year and, unlike other models wearing the Clearwater logo, is built right here in Australia. The craft has a stylish profile and looks good, both on the trailer and afloat, whether at anchor or underway. It has a length of 5.5 metres and a beam of 2.26 metres. The 1900’s combination of a transom deadrise of 19 degrees, a fine bow entry, three planing strakes and fairly prominent reversed chines, produces a hull which works well, both in choppy and rough water, and most of the spray is thrown well to the sides, ensuring a reasonably dry ride.

The cockpit is large for a craft of this length, with an uncluttered sole, which should aid in keeping this vessel shipshape. The rear lounge is readily removed when fishing is the priority, and the angler benefits greatly from the padded gunwales and the ability to hook one’s toes under the side pockets. Adding to the craft’s fishability is the underfloor kill tank, the bait wells on each side of the transom, a rod rack under each gunwale and an overhead rod rack.

In evaluating the practicality of a craft from a fishing perspective, one fact that should never be overlooked is that moving around the boat is an integral part of successful angling. The key to facilitating this is easy and ergonomic anchor access which, in this case, is provided by the convenient walk-through windscreen, a large bow sprit and an easy-to-use anchor system.

SPACE AND SUPPORT

The helmsman’s position provides good sightlines and is comfortable, whether seated or standing, with good support provided by the pedestal mounted bucket seats. The dash provides plenty of space for mounting fish finders, chart plotters and other instruments. On this particular craft, which was only partly set-up, the only instruments were the engine control gauges and a somewhat dinky little compass, which, even if it were accurate, was set way too far to the side to be useful in steering a course.

The test vessel was fitted with a 115hp four-stroke Yamaha, which ran very smoothly and was more than up to the task of powering the craft in swift fashion, rising effortlessly onto plane at 3100rpm. Cable steering resulted in a stiffish feel to the wheel, and although I personally would not mind it, an owner who shared the skippering with his lady or kids might want to look at hydraulic steering.

The test day began with fairly smooth water, but as the wind increased, the notorious South Australian gulf chop began to build and we were able to test the rough water capability of the craft at the entrance to Outer Harbor, where a run-out tide opposing an onshore breeze threw up triangulated waves in all directions.

The 1900 handled this rough stuff well, landing softly and throwing most of the displaced water well clear, and the crisp throttle response made for confident control at all times. While the craft was fitted with clears, the centre section was rolled up, yet neither skipper nor passenger experienced any spray coming aboard.

The performance figures listed overleaf were taken from the Yamaha gauges, as at the time of the test, the craft did not have a GPS fitted.

Altogether, the Whittley Clearwater 1900 is an impressive craft for its size and at a RRP of $43,750 as tested, should be within the budget of many Aussie anglers and those wanting a great family day boat at somewhat of a budget price. And sweetening the pot is the two-year boat/motor/trailer warranty.

WHITTLEY CLEARWATER 2100 WALKAROUND

From the Whittley stable via their Clearwater factory in Georgia, USA, comes this superb walk-around fishing boat that is well thought-out from stem to stern. In particular, a lot of thought has gone into it from a serious fishing point of view.

As a bonus, it comes with a very practical and spacious lock-up cabin, which impresses when considering the overall size of the vessel. The ability to cram maximum features into a craft, yet retain a spacious feel with everything to hand, is the mark of a well-designed boat and, in this writer’s opinion, Whittley gets full marks with this craft.

Some 6.4 metres in length, with a beam of 2.4 metres and a transom deadrise of 19.5 degrees, this hull performs extremely well as tested, with its Yamaha 150hp two-stroke outboard providing more than enough power – which is just the way we like it. Although rated for outboards from 115hp to 225hp, the 150hp Yammie on the test boat seemed like an excellent match to the vessel, with its 14½-inch diameter and 17-inch pitch propeller.

On some walk-around craft, you’d need dainty feet indeed, to move from the cockpit to the bow comfortably and safely. However, the Clearwater 2100’s 250mm-wide side decks and relatively high gunwales mean the chance of slipping overboard is slight when moving from one section of the craft to another. This is a very important feature as the very essence of a walk-around fishing boat is for the angler to have easy access to the entire 360 degrees of fishing platform – otherwise, why sacrifice so much space?

And remember that the angler is usually clambering around with rod and reel in hand and a fish on the end of the line, making it all that more difficult to move safely, unless the layout is well-designed. I certainly put the walk-around function to the test when I decided to climb up a harbour beacon to take some overhead shots and needed to go forward with two full-size SLR cameras and telephoto lenses. The pictures you see here are proof that I made it, and both alighting and reboarding were easy, thanks to the split bow rail.

Sightlines are good from the helm and with a seat that is adjustable for height and fore and aft movement, combined with a tilting steering wheel, ergonomics for the skipper are first class, although hydraulic steering would be an advantage as the cable unit fitted required significant input. Full instrumentation had yet to be fitted to this vessel, which had only the two Yamaha engine management gauges, but there is a swag of room to fit electronics according to the owner’s needs and wants.

FISHING FRIENDLY

The keen fisho finds his needs well catered for with the Clearwater 2100, including a plumbed live bait tank, two below-deck kill tanks, a self-draining cockpit, vertical rod holders on the forward section of the transom, padded coamings and an overhead rod rack. Storage throughout the craft is quite generous and caters well to an angler’s needs.

Nevertheless, the serious angler would probably add a few touches, like the optional bait preparation station and some deck lighting for night fishing, but overall this is an extremely well-appointed fishing boat. Speaking of night fishing, the cabin although basic, offers generous room to stretch out, with a 185cm vee-berth and a Porta-Potti installed just forward of the starboard bulkhead.

With the 150hp Yamaha behind it, the 2100 literally leaps onto the plane and provides a frisky response to the throttle right through the rev range. With its deep-vee configuration, the hull provides the expected soft ride through chop and handles rough water well. Spray is thrown well clear and despite powering through some confused seas at the harbour entrance, the windscreen stayed dry and the clears on the test craft seemed almost unnecessary. Almost.

Without a GPS on board, we relied upon the Yamaha gauges for our speed readings, but experience suggests that they would be pretty close. The craft began true planing at 17 knots and at WOT was pulling an impressive 41 knots at 5700rpm, although the WOT revs suggest it was a tad over-propped. But with speed like this on tap, along with a 220-litre fuel capacity, those offshore fishing grounds become readily reachable. All told, this is a craft that has been strategically designed and solidly constructed for full-throttle fishing.

The Whittley Clearwater 2100 is offered, as tested, at the very competitive price of $55,950 and comes with a two-year boat/motor/trailer warranty. This craft should be on the shortlist of any offshore angler looking for performance, combined with value for money.

SPECIFICATIONS: WHITTLEY CLEARWATER 1900

LOA: 5.5 metres

Beam: 2.26 metres

Deadrise: 19 degrees

Max power: 150hp

Rec power: 115hp

Fuel: 120 litres

Towing weight: 1480kg

PERFORMANCE: YAMAHA 115HP 4-STROKE

Propeller: Yamaha stainless, 13 ¾-inch diameter, 17-inch pitch

Conditions: Sea breeze building to stiff during test

Location: Outer Harbor, South Australia

RPM Speed in knots Comment

3100 10

4000 22

5000 29

6100 36 WOT

Price as tested: $43,750

Test boat supplied by Yamaha Pitmans Marine, tel: (08) 8349 7599.

SPECIFICATIONS: WHITTLEY CLEARWATER 2100

LOA: 6.40 metres

Beam: 2.40 metres

Deadrise: 19.5 degrees

Max power: 225hp

Rec power: 150hp

Fuel: 225 litres

Towing weight: 1700kg

PERFORMANCE: YAMAHA 115HP 2-STROKE

Propeller: Yamaha stainless, 14 ½-inch diameter, 17-inch pitch

Conditions: Sea breeze building to stiff during test

Location: Outer Harbor South Australia

RPM Speed in knots Comments

3000 17

4000 28

5000 35

5700 41 WOT

Price as tested: $55,950

Test boat supplied by Yamaha Pitmans Marine, tel: (08) 8349 7599.


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