It’s hard to beat the value and well laid-out approach of the Crestliner family of boats. Built in the US with interlocking tongue-and-groove aluminium sheets and full-length welds, they ride without the usual bang and clang.
And each new shipment to Australia reveals further refinements sure to appeal to Aussie anglers.
The Commander 1850 is worthy of consideration if you’re looking for a sturdy, well-appointed fishing boat.
The Commander is laid out for a different breed of angler from all the other Crestliners I have tested. This layout really has the traditional anchor-and-bait-fish angler in mind.
The fisher who likes deep drifting, slowly trolling live baits around headlands and reefs or anchoring and fishing baits down a berley trail should find a real connection with this boat.
The test boat was sent Down Under as test to see what Aussie anglers and boaters had to say, so expect modifications in future shipments.
The hard-wearing vinyl floor is on target, as are the deep cockpit and full-height transom. The location of the live-bait well in the forward casting deck feels a bit out of place to me and the addition of a larger, open-top anchor well for lots of rope and two anchors would be a great improvement.
The Commander design is substantially different from other Crestliners on our waterways. It looks boxier and more rugged, with a large engine well, space for an auxiliary outboard on the port transom, and the starboard corner has a cutting board with storage below.
The 76cm deep cockpit, the wider beam of 2.39m and the full-height transom provide the most cockpit of all the Crestliners I’ve tested. If there is one thing I know about Aussie anglers, we love plenty of space and high cockpit sides to brace ourselves against in a lumpy sea.
Forward of the windscreen, an elevated casting deck has two storage lockers below. In the test boat one was a small anchor well and the other a 68L plumbed livewell.
A Crestliner team has travelled here to meet with local dealers, fishos and boaters and as a result there are improvements coming for the local market.
The existing anchor well will become a storage locker and the forward deck is to be modified to house rope, chain and anchor plus a sturdy bow roller. There were also discussions about repositioning the live-bait well to the starboard transom corner.
The cockpit sides are carpeted all the way to the dash and carpeted side pockets provide plenty of space for rods up to 9’6” or for all manner of accessories. The pockets could be deeper to provide a more secure home for handlines, chopping boards, sinkers and the like.
The aluminium floor sheets are covered by a heavy-duty, UV-resistant vinyl that gives some grip.
The skipper and mate have fixed pedestal seats with fold-down backrests.
The helm is neatly tucked behind a high, five-piece walk-through glass windshield.
The alloy dash itself is split by the windscreen walk-through and on the passenger’s side is a basic glovebox.
A Lowrance HDS7 GPS/fish finder comes standard on the flat dash.
The custom Crestliner steering wheel looks and feels solid and is mounted on a Morse tilt-adjustable helm, driving a Sea Star hydraulic steering system. The tilt helm would be handy for those times when the skipper wants to stand up and drive.
Twin upholstered jump seats with built-in storage boxes are a great addition for the family fisho, although I do wonder about their practicality. They face each other and are not easily removable. In any case, you can customise the seating for the boat you order.
Under the floor between the jump seats is a storage compartment which can house a removable custom aluminium cooler box or it can be additional storage for items up to 7’ long.
Crestliners seem to ride flat on the water so it is a little surprising they ride as softly as they do. There is a solidness one expects from a fibreglass boat and, up on the plane, the Commander runs clean, soft and dry.
Each hull incorporates the interlocking construction and continuous welds that give the individual sheets their sturdiness. These boats also have full-length keels and double-welded transoms to create the unique four-piece.
The Mercury EFI 115hp four-stroke provides the torque and power to get the Commander 1850 on the plane quickly. The hull banks comfortably into corners and holds its own during accelerated turns.
Through chop the ride is quiet and soft and when the power is backed off the hull slides slowly to a halt. The progressive deadrise increases gradually from stern to bow, more like a fibreglass boat.
For long-distance runs up rivers, down the coast or towing friends and family on water toys, you should go a long way with 125L of fuel under the floor.
At rest the Commander is well set-up for fishing across the stern and provides a well-balanced platform for fishing standing up and during passenger boarding and alighting.
The Crestliner range is also built standard with level flotation.
The Commander 1850 is sure to catch the eye of keen fishers who want a no-nonsense package built tough for rugged use at a reasonable price.
With some customisation of the prototype test boat to meet the local demands, the Commander 1850 should do the job well.
With the 115hp Mercury EFI and a Dunbier trailer, this rig can be towed behind most suitable 4WDs and more powerful sedans and station wagons.
The Commander is definitely worth considering for a test drive.
Total weight BMT1420 kg
Total length BMT2.3m
Total height BMT6.7m
Capacity7 adults, 953kg
Fuel 125L sub-floor
Standard: Plumbed live-bait tank, bilge pump, level flotation, navigation lights, switch panel, battery switch, hydraulic steering with tilt helm, Lowrance HDS7 GPS/fish finder, bimini canopy, inshore saltwater safety kit for 6 persons, 12 months registration.
Price as tested with 115hp Mercury four-stroke on Dunbier CL tandem axle braked trailer: $55,980. Test boat supplied by Avante Marine, 210-212 Silverwater Road, Silverwater NSW 2128, phone 02 9737 0727, web avantemarine.com.au.