Family Weekender

John Willis | VOLUME 32, ISSUE 5
Parker Boats are relatively new to Australia, yet the parent company dates as far back as 1886.
Another contender has entered the Australian market in the family cruiser segment.

“The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend,” said American writer Chuck Palahniuk. If you own a Parker 800 Weekend you will find yourself asking every stranger the same question just so you can boast about yours.

The world of boating has moved quickly in the past decade. Many of our latest designs reflect traditional values more so than the sleek, streamlined craft of previous decades where aesthetics quite often overuled practicality. The Europeans have been leading the push, with trawler-style cabins on full-bodied hulls that maximise volume. The Parker 800 Weekend is a fine example, displaying a combination of modern Euro styling teamed with traditional seafaring practicality.

Parker Boats are relatively new to Australia, yet the parent company dates as far back as 1886. The company has been manufacturing boats in Poland since the early 1970s, producing a wide range of rigid inflatables, sports cruisers and family leisure boats from 6 to 8m. The range includes over 12 models distributed via international dealers throughout Europe, Japan, and now Australia. The 800 hull, as tested, is available in either Pilothouse or Weekend models, yet only the Weekend is available with diesel or petrol sterndrive.

Victorian dealer, MY Marine, was keen to show off its new Parker range on a fine winter’s morning on Port Phillip Bay. Our test boat certainly looked impressive as we fired up the 220hp Mercury QSD 2.8lt diesel and slid the big hull off its Dunbier Supa Rolla trailer.

WEIGHTY MATTERS

With the bare hull weighing in at around 2500kg, the engine and Bravo 3 sterndrive at around 470kg, plus just under one tonne of trailer, the boat needs a considerable towing vehicle, capable of around 4500kg, when filled and fuelled, plus compliance with over-size restrictions due to the 2.9m beam. While the overall weight may seem a little disconcerting to some, it really isn’t an issue when properly equipped. In my mind, weight equals construction strength, and the ensuing displacement equals seafaring confidence and satisfaction.

We motored out through the marina with the even attitude of the power-efficient hull becoming apparent from the start. It presented very little bow rise, even when we powered easily to the plane at around 13.5 knots (25km/h) at 2500rpm.

The hull has a nice, sharp entry with a series of strakes and definitive hard chines that soften as they progress to a moderate deadrise at the stern. These factors combine to provide tremendous lift and a smooth entry with a confident ride. At wide open throttle, and with a light load, we achieved a frisky 28.6 knots (53km/h) at 3880rpm. On a calm sea, we ran the 800 through a series of washes, turns and wakes where it seemed very even-footed, quite nimble, soft and quiet. The hull has evolved from Parker’s long history with rigid inflatables, presenting very confident seafaring ability combined with terrific stability for comfort at rest.

The Parker 800 Weekend is deep in the sides, providing a tremendous internal volume for the cockpit, plus a spacious cabin with a large forward berth and bathroom. The trawler-style cabin has safe walkways either side, making the bow area easily workable and accessible, and especially suited to a front-on mooring. It would be ideal as a weekender or dayboat on a wet berth and is very easy to manoeuvre into tight positions using the positive grip of the duo-prop leg combined with the forward thruster.

The rear cockpit is spacious and functional, with twin rear doors leading to a full-width marlin board. The convertible seating options are enclosed by a very safe coaming height. Engine access is exceptionally easy and the slightly raised engine box is not overly intrusive on the non-skid fibreglass cockpit flooring. There are three large hatches in the floor for storage and bilge access.

HOMELY CABIN

Entering the cabin through the large lockable sliding glass doorway, there is a small kitchenette immediately to starboard, complete with a twin-element convection stove, a small sink and a utility cabinet for utensils, pots, pans and pantry. Forward of that is the helm, with a comfortable driving position even for those of us of larger dimensions. The upright dash houses instruments and controls within easy reach, including enough space for a 12in multifunction screen that would be a worthy investment. The bolster-style shell seat is beautifully upholstered and the moulded cabinet beneath contains a Waeco compressor fridge. Overhead is more teak cabinetry that adds a touch of traditional homeliness to the modern demeanor.

The portside has a convertible dinette with a drop-down teak table that forms part of the bunk base for further accommodation. There’s a unique berth under the dinette and passenger seat that comes as quite a welcome surprise.

The upright windscreen has a neat dash with enclosed knick-knack trays and vents for the diesel heater and demister. Wipers with freshwater washers keep the windscreen clear. The cabin has a terrific vista with 360-degree vision and comes complete with sliding side window inserts and a set of privacy curtains. Overhead is a fully moulded hardtop complete with a manual sunroof and drop lighting. There are plenty of auxiliary power and USB points, with shore power as an option.

SNUG AND SECURE

Downstairs is a bathroom of reasonable proportion considering the compact nature of the 800 Weekend. It features a hot/cold shower, toilet with blackwater tank and a small vanity. The forward twin berth is exceptionally inviting for a boat of this size. The moulded fibreglass sides and ceiling liner are well accentuated by teak cabinetry and soft fawn upholstery on a thickly padded bed. There is an overhead hatch with shade screens, as well as convenient lighting and storage options, all snuggly secured and very private. Parker rates the 800 Weekend as having accommodation for up to six persons, but that certainly wouldn’t be all adults.

Parker and its dealers provides an extensive list of options, including a 40lt freshwater tank, 240lt fuel tank, cockpit helm, trim tabs, kitchen cabinets, sliding roof, windlass, deck shower, side benches, cushions for rear benches, Webasto heating system, shore power, hot water, bowthruster, searchlight, and electronics , entertainment and communications options.

The Parker 800 Weekend is a versatile package for a multitude of wet berth or trailerable boating options. It’s a homely boat with great capacity and comfort for a small family weekender, but will also double as a champagne cruiser or half-serious sports fisher, depending on your mood.

You will, undoubtedly, be the centre of conversation around the coffee machine on Monday mornings as you boast about your Parker 800 Weekend.

PARKER 800 WEEKEND

LOA: 7.9m

Beam: 2.9m

Dry weight: 2500kg (hull only)

Crew capacity: 6-8 persons

Fuel capacity: 230lt

Water capacity: 78lt

Power as tested: Mercury QSD 2.8lt 220hp diesel

Price from: $134,888 (with Honda BF200 outboard)

Price as tested: $172,985

More information: MY Marine, tel (03) 5987 0900. Web: mymarine.com.au. Or: Nautilus Australia, tel 0414 252 254. Web: nautilusaustralia.com.au.


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