IF YOU’RE into bluewater sport and gamefishing you won’t have much trouble getting excited about the new range of Seaswirl boats being brought in by Cunningham’s Marine. Those big centre consoles and walk-arounds that you see in the US magazines, with a few hundred horsepower hanging off the bank and an armoury of rods in the rod holders, will probably put you straight into the picture.
The rise in the Australian dollar over the past year has had a big influence in the viability of importing boats. Even with the AUD hovering back around the .70c mark, it’s a much better proposition than the .50c exchange rate of only two years ago.
I know we build some great boats here in Australia, but I don’t recall having jumped into anything like this for around $100,000. It’s a lot of money yes, but let’s have a look a what you get for your hard-earned bucks.
Having a 21’ walk-around or centre cab myself I know there’s usually a compromise when it comes to fishing or sleeping space. If you want purely fishing room you buy a centre console. If you want lots of sleeping area you buy a half cab or cruiser.
When you want a bit of both you buy a centre cab and generally compromise on your sleeping and helm area. In the Seaswirl 2301 you have the added bonus of the hull being a little wider and deeper than most boats we see, and with some very smart work in the layout you end up with plenty of fishing room and a rather nice sleeping area with a few built-in luxuries. That’s good news for keen fishos, because it means the missus and kids will love the boat as well – and that makes a very big difference.
When you step into the cab you don’t have to stoop, which is a nice change, and when you lay down on the twin vee berth bunk you can appreciate just how much room there is. I lay down with arm stretched back and neither my feet nor hands could touch the sides.
When you want to use the area as a galley, the centre bunk cushion is removed and a table lifts from below, complete with recess for cups and suchlike. At the end of one of the bunks is a sink with fresh water and a fold-out stove. The other side has a Port-a-Loo under one of the cushions.
Thus with the helm door closed you have the privacy you need, protection from the weather and it’s also lockable. This interior is all fully lined, as are the side pockets. A sound system with DVD is position in the cab too.
The helm is very practical with a large flat top section and a cut-out section in front of the driver for the electronics. Having the sounder/GPS mounted here has a couple of advantages, aside from the obvious benefit of being right in front of you. At the lower level it gives better visibility from a driver’s point of view because there’s nothing in front of you and, because it’s positioned in a boxed-in area, less light shines onto it, making the screen much easier to read.
The boat comes with the latest in digital instruments. Instead of the standard round gauges for the tacho, speedo and so on, there’s a digital screen, much like a depth sounder, flush mounted into the dash offering a variety of readouts. Part of this new era of digital helms is the electronic throttle. No cables to crunch and pull. A press of a button, push the lever forward and you are in gear – all very smooth. It does take a little getting used to but once mastered it’s very nice.
As with a lot of boats from the US, you can see that a lot of effort has gone into the mouldings and the finish of the Seaswirl. The customised helm seats are positioned on boxes which are moulded into the rest of the cab. Each has plenty of storage space inside and is lined with hatch doors. The seats also have a fold-down foot rest for added comfort.
When I look at the layout of a boat I always try to envision how it will cope with being loaded up with a few anglers and all their gear. A boat that has plenty of room but nowhere to put anything becomes very cluttered and hard to fish out of.
To start with, on the 2301 there’s a huge underfloor well between the two helm seats. It’s deep and square, and I’m not joking when I say an adult could curl up inside here! There’s certainly no shortage of room for a good size catch.
In the mould of the two helm seats are the two smaller bench seats behind the seat boxes. These are lined and foam filled, to serve as ice boxes. When you look at the cushioned lid of these seats you might not think there’s that much room inside, but when you take a closer look you can see the interior extends right up under the helm seats.
Being a sport/game fishing boat you do need a livebait well, and I’ve yet to see a bigger one on a trailerable boat than the livewell in this rig. It’s oval in shape, which is better for keeping baits alive, and it has plenty of depth. It’s livewell size.
Cunningham’s have had a smart stainless steel baitboard added on the transom above the livewell, which adds the finishing touches to the fishing side of things.
This particular rig also has aft corner seats which, from a pure fishing side of things, aren’t necessary as there is enough seating without them.
As far as room goes around the aft deck, there’s no shortage of space for four anglers to comfortably fish. It would be a pleasure to fish in this boat.
You’ll love the hard top and Targa set-up with twin polished 50mm tubing formed up from the centre cab and across the roof, with four rod holders above.
The walkway around isn’t a deep one, but the rails are high so there’s plenty to grab onto and offer security against your thighs while walking around to the bow. There’s little room to fish up here, but there’s enough for one person to fight a fish or cast at fish from the small recessed seat in the top of the cabin.
There are numerous other small inclusions all around the boat that makes it both practical and pleasing to the eye.
The overall look of the Seaswirl is a serious fishing package that just beckons you to head out fishing.
Graced with a 225hp Mercury Optimax, the Seaswirl 2301 has a top speed of nearly 50mph. With the capacity of up to 300hp, of which the transom has the capacity to take twin rigs, there’s the scope to have a real weapon.
A couple of four-stoke outboards or Optimax engines combined with the 511-litre fuel capacity below gives you an impressive range with good fuel economy, along with the added advantage of reduced fumes.
Looks can be deceiving, but that’s not the case here. We powered through a typical metre-plus Bay chop with no banging or thumping at all, and I was surprised when I looked down and saw we were doing it easy at 30mph.
The 20 deadrise and deep foot sees a very soft ride, and that upswept bow is a big plus when it comes to trolling or travel in general when there is a little more swell about.
The power of the 225hp Optimax is pretty well spot-on for this rig. You want plenty of speed and power and you’ll find both in this department.
If you’re used to driving a smaller boat it will take a little while for you to get used to this boat with its higher sides. Larger deep-veed boats with high sides tend to lean into the wind, and this is why the boat comes standard with trim tabs. An adjustment to one side or the other will correct the ride of the boat in the wind and in various sea conditions. Once you’ve mastered this it will become second nature and you’ll have the boat riding the way you want it to.
I’m actually hoping the boys at Cunningham’s will deck one out with all the game gear and outriggers ready for the coming summer game season, as it’s sure to be a winner.
To get the ball rolling on these rigs, an introductory price of just under $104,000 for the Seaswirl 2301 will be offered with all the extra options you see on this boat included in the price. That price is on the trailer ready to go.
Being slightly overwidth at 2.59m, there are a few minor restrictions which the boys will fill you in on. Other than that, all the necessary changes to braking, lights etc have been seen to so the rig meets all the requirements that you need to have it on the road.
You can check out a good range of the Seaswirl boats, both bigger and smaller, at the Brisbane Boat Show or at Cunningham’s Marine (ph. (07) 3284 2342).
Make/Model - Seaswirl 2301 Walkaround
Construction - Fibreglass
Length - 7.37m
Beam - 2.59m
Weight - 2600kg (boat, motor, trailer)
Deadrise - 20 degrees
Fuel - 511L
Max hp - 300
Water - 23L
Height - 3.5m on trailer
Flotation - foam filled
Warranty - 10 years on hull
Price - introductory offer including options $103,900