With 56 years experience in the boat building industry Whittley have more runs on the board than the South African cricket team.
The six different stylish and well-finished rigs in the company's Clearwater range show that all of those years of research and development – now taking place in two countries – have paid off. These are highly desirable, high performance boats that any angler would be proud to call their own.
The 2150 Cuddy Cab is the flagship of the Clearwater range. Like any great boat it is versatile. Being spacious and comfortable, packed with features and with good sea keeping ability, this boat is a great family craft as well as a superb fishing rig.
Up front there's a well-formed bow sprit and bow roller to protect the deep and lustrous gel coat. The large anchor hatch just aft is equipped with a locking lid and features a mounting point for an electric winch. But standard access to the anchor well is just a straight walk through the cabin once the windscreen centre section and deck hatch are flipped to the side.
The Clearwater 2150 has an airy cabin complete with windows, a pair of well-padded, wide Vee berths and provision for a marine toilet up front. Padded shelving serves as a backrest in the cabin and provides ample storage space. The cabin also has a deep foot well and generous head room. With a bunk in-fill in place a family could spend a quite comfortable night in the Whittley's cabin.
Outside the cabin skipper and mate are both treated to height adjustable swivelling pedestal bucket seats with slide adjustment and a foot rest. Like the rest of the craft these seats – with their supportive cushioning and attractive colour coordinated finish – are very robust units.
The first mate also has a side grab rail, two levels of storage shelves by the left elbow plus a handy in-dash storage area for personal items. Just below is a locking glove box and marine radio close handy. There is also an under floor storage area, which can also be used as a fish box, between the first mate and skipper seats.
The 2150's strong windscreen is linked to a sturdy bimini (with a sliding extension) via strong clears. The system works well, offering excellent weather protection plus ample ventilation when the large zippered front sections of the clears are opened up. Five overhead rocket launcher style rod holders are set up on the bimini framework's rear section on the test rig.
I liked the helm layout of the Whittley 2150 Clearwater. It is totally uncluttered and straightforward, consisting of a multi function Mercury Smart Craft gauge and a Navman 8084 sounder/GPS. To port of the wheel (linked to hydraulic steering) is a panel of switches, to starboard the ignition switch, plus a 12V outlet to keep the phone charged.
At about 2m long and wide the very deep, carpeted, cockpit of the 2150 has a very useful amount of fishing room. Gunwale hand rails are standard, as are the 2m long side pockets, which are equipped with rod racks. A two person bench seat was centrally located aft on the test rig, ahead of the large Bermuda cutting board. Corner in-fills for the bench seat would no doubt be available if required as this rig is rated for seven.
With just one rod holder aft on each gunwale a smart three-way rod holder is slipped into each factory fitted rod holder to provide six rod holders in all – a very neat job.
Paired live wells are set into the Whittley's wide transom, with plumbing an optional extra. A boarding ladder was located to starboard aft of the transom with grab rails on each quarter adjoining the rear boarding platforms. Anglers would be happy to use the berley pot and muncher to port.
With a seven person rating and some 1020kg hull weight the big Whittley is rated for outboards from 140-230 horse power. With the 150hp Verado the rig was quick enough at 66.8km/h, so it would be interesting to see how fast a 230hp would push the craft. But as Bill Hull of Northside Marine put it: “The 150 Verado would probably be the ideal engine for the 2150 Clearwater…” I think Bill was spot on. In my view more power would only be required if tow sports were part of the planned use of the craft, otherwise the 150 Mercury Verado certainly does the job.
The Verado was silky smooth and virtually soundless at idle. The rig hummed along without much cockpit noise intrusion even when pushed hard and showed very strong power throughout the entire engine rev range.
The 2150 Clearwater planed at 18.3km/h at 2,850rpm. At 3,000rpm the craft clocked 26.4km/h on the GPS, 4,000rpm saw 47.6km/h, 5,000rpm gave a smooth cruise speed of 60.2km/h and 5,600rpm gave 66.8km/h.
One thing that impressed me was the Verado's willingness even when cruising at high rpm. At 5,000rpm I pushed the throttle forward and the instant engine response kicked the Clearwater forward. As offshore anglers will appreciate, that sort of power is important for bar crossing work.
In quiet Moreton Bay conditions the only way of assessing the Whittley's ride was to charge over our own wash, which the Clearwater handled with complete ease. With a big high hull, substantial weight, fine entry mated to 20 degree deadrise, this craft would have tremendous sea keeping ability. At rest stability is also assured by both the 40cm wide reversed outer chines plus a 45cm wide planing plank aft.
I've given the Whittley full marks for finish, build quality and its easy, user friendly, layout. The 2150 Clearwater is a roomy, uncluttered craft that a family and friends or group of serious anglers could all enjoy. The colour toning was striking with black on white and adds the overall attractiveness of the rig. Yet users will quickly find that performance equals appearance.
There's room for an icebox under the aft bench seat and with an optional toilet fitted, day cruising or even weekend boating outings would be the norm.
As a fishing rig, I think the Clearwater would excel in offshore conditions given the amount of freeboard and ride quality of the hull.
At $77,124 the rig as reviewed represents a substantial outlay but does offer terrific performance from the premium 150 Verado. With a 150 Optimax in lieu the Whittley would come home for around $66,150 so buyers have some room to move. The test rig was supplied by Northside Marine who can be phoned on 07 3265 8000 or faxed on 32658099, alternatively visit their website at www.northsidemarine.com.au.
|Engine rating||140 to 230hp|
|Engine fitted||150 Mercury Verado|
|Towing||Large 4WD or family six wagon|