FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #177, March 2004
When you go fishing with Yankee Doodle Dandy, you do it in style, man. And comfort. Throw in a bit of class there too, like a vanity-mirrored bedhead and heaps of other handy accessories that make life aboard a great deal more comfortable.
I’m talking about the latest import from Uncle Sam, the Seaswirl Striper range of fishing boats made under the huge Genmar Holdings umbrella. They’re the biggest boatbuilders in the world and they’ve got more brands than Heinz has varieties. Boat brands alone number more than 15 with names like Wellcraft, Four Winns and Glastron.
The Stripers are imported by Mentone Marine in Melbourne, and with the Aussie dollar looking far more attractive these days, we are going to see quite a few of these beauties on our waterways at competitive bucks. In fact, the 2601 we tested had already been sold and it had been in the country less than a month.
The range is extensive and the options list comprehensive. On this test we looked at two comparable boats, the 2601 powered by a 250hp Evinrude direct-injection outboard motor and the 2301 by a 5lt V8 MerCruiser multi-point injected sterndrive delivering 260hp. The bigger boat had an LOA of 7.80m and the smaller version 7.37m.
Both are walkarounds in the style of the Aussie-made Cruise Craft and Haines Hunter around the seven-metre mark. In fact, I’d love to get the Striper 2301, Cruise Craft 650, Haines Hunter 680 and throw in a Caribbean 24 to do a comparison test. It would be great fun.
According to Seaswirl, all its boats are designed and built for strength, durability and performance. Hull and decks are constructed with hand-laid fibrecore for an optimal strength-to-weight ratio — especially in the chines and keel, where strength is needed most. The stringer system is also fibrecore.
Decks and hulls are double sealed, and stainless-steel components are through-bolted. All Seaswirl boats are designed and built to meet or exceed the requirements of the US Coast Guard.
The models we tested were fitted with what is called the Alaska Pack, which will appeal to Victorians, West Australians and Tasmanians, but perhaps not so much to anglers in the far north of the country.
The Alaska Pack consists of a hardtop mounted on an exceptionally high aluminium-framed safety-glass screen and side windows (which slide open for a breeze, too). Drop-curtain clears fall from the hardtop’s trailing edge to make everything snug on a cold day. Headroom was good, but not outstanding.
The boats are also available with a lower four-piece wraparound screen with or without a hardtop and clears, but give this Mexican an Alaska Pack every time!
The all-round vision was brilliant, especially through the huge screen, although perhaps the small windscreen wiper could have covered more area. Then again, I think Rain-X works better on glass than a windscreen wiper anyway.
As a fishing platform, the Stripers compare with the best. Walkarounds to the bow are quite wide, non slip but only ankle deep. The anchor is carried on a large bowsprit and fairlead, which is so long that the pick might be a little awkward to get at. In this regard, the high, one-piece bowrail — though formed around the peak — gets in the way a bit.
I’d prefer a split rail and one that’s a lot stronger than those on these boats. Flimsiness is not conducive to confidence in a decent sea. Thank heavens for the handrail on the hardtop.
Mounted on the bowsprit is a stainless-steel-covered navigation light module longitudinally mounted cleat, rather than a post, but I suppose it would do the same job. The rope locker is not large enough for another anchor.
The raised foredeck has a cushioned recess seat for bow fishing in comfort. Behind that is a circular ventilation hatch with a flyscreen fitted internally.
HEART OF THE ACTION
Getting onto the walkaround is simple via a step arrangement from the cockpit sole, which incorporates cushioned “dicky” seats behind the main seats that would be ideal for the crew to watch a spread of lures.
From a fishing point of view, the Striper is right on the money. The cockpit certainly doesn’t have the cavernous space of, say, the Caribbean 26 runabout, but as a workspace it’s miles in front of the Aussie-made product which, by comparison, appears stuck in a 70s era timewarp. And it’s large enough.
It has four rubber-lined stainless-steel rodholders in the wide gunwales — top quality gear, but I’d like to see another two. There are no sidepockets as such, but two rubber “boot” pairs hold rods on either side. The hardtop also has a gold anodised four-pot rodholder fitted.
The cockpit sole is non-slip moulded ‘glass and features twin plumbed (overboard) fish-storage bins on either side beside the centrally-mounted fuel tank, which holds a huge 600lt of juice! The bins are great but you’ll need very long and very strong fingernails to get your digits under the flush-mounted lift-up tabs to get the lids open.
Coamings are padded very stylishly and there are well-recessed, self-draining holes in either corner.
The transom is well designed with a large 114lt elliptical livebait tank in the centre with a Teflon cutting board built into the lid, which is mounted on a gas strut. The livebait tank is the heart of a fishing workstation and it needs to work well, be easy to get at but not be in the way. Seaswirl has got this one right.
On the port side is the transom door plus a rear-access cupboard and deckwash fittings. On the starboard side a cupboard door gives access to oil bottle and batteries. The oil filler is, sensibly, on top of the transom. A telescopic boarding ladder folds down into its own recess in the engine mount platform.
The boarding platform on which the Evinrude 250 DI outboard is mounted is not as deep as some, which means it’s easier to fish over the stern. That’s a good thing when you’ve got a short rod and a green fish that’s running you all over the shop, but finding a spot to mount the berley bucket could be a challenge.
As a workstation, however, the cockpit is first class. All coamings are generously padded and at thigh height, and nothing protrudes into the workspace. Lovely.
The helm station with its twin navigator’s chair is a step up from the cockpit. That step is the lid of a cavernous underfloor bin of which, on my knees, I could just touch the bottom.
Everything on the boat is moulded fibreglass, of course, and beautifully finished. The helm station is no different. Fully-adjustable bucket seats are made from impact-resistant materials in the frames, backs and bases, and are covered with durable, stain-resistant 30oz marine vinyl. They have fold-down footrests and are mounted on fully-moulded, lidded storage boxes.
The wheel is a six-spoke Seastar stainless-steel number with compass in front, and a quality Faria instrument cluster is fitted in a panel to the left front beside a comprehensive switch panel.
Right of the helm is a recess for mounting electronics — which were yet to be installed on the test rig — and radios could be mounted behind the helm within easy reach. Or you could install them in an electronics box on the hardtop — an optional extra. And there’s a switch for the cockpit floodlight, too.
Engine controls are mounted to the side on a vinyl-covered and cushioned panel. Beneath that is a small odds-and-ends tray, a two-tray tackle drawer (complete with trays) and a drinkholder. I really liked these finishing touches.
A TOUCH OF CLASS
To get to the cabin you take three steps down into very classy quarters featuring a vee-berth (with that mirrored bedhead), stylish cushioning in various fawn tones with matching carpet on walls and ceiling. Interestingly — and practically — there is no carpet on the moulded, non-slip deck.
Naturally there is dry storage under everything. The fully-enclosed head is small but adequate at the end of the starboard bunk, and opposite is a small sink, workbench and swing-down single-burner stove.
A mesh hold-all above the sink will come in handy. While natural light was adequate, I reckon the elliptical windows either side of the hull could have been a little bigger. The stereo system is mounted above the head door adjacent to the interior light.
The take-away impression of the cabin was one of neatness, practicality and panache, with lots of super-soft padding, tasteful cloths and vinyls. The head even had a toilet-roll holder.
The 2301 was almost identical to its bigger sister except for a few changes to accommodate the hull’s smaller size. For example, the head was a simple under-bunk arrangement rather than being enclosed. The interior mirror was at the foot end of the starboard berth, and the fire extinguisher was positioned in a coaming recess behind the passenger seat.
This boat was also equipped with a removable cabin table with recessed drinkholders in the corners. Another nice touch. The hardtop, too, was a few centimetres higher, which pleased my very tall son — but then few companies build trailerboat “lids” to accommodate someone of 200cm.
The 2301 was powered by a MerCruiser 5lt MPI so the stern treatment was a little different too. The engine box, which had a brilliant two-piece lid that opened on rams from the centre, encroached only about 30cm into the cockpit. Either side of that were removable rear quarter seats on short pedestals. The livebait tank, still more than adequate but reduced to 109lt, was on the starboard side, while a smaller transom door remained on the port.
Both hulls featured very broad shoulders, very wide chines and huge strakes. As I suspected, they handled the vicious 1.5m Port Phillip Bay chop well at speed except into a headsea, when the big chines tended to slap a little.
But there were no hard “falls” and the ride was generally smooth in the messy conditions. Finding the right speed to balance the boats was quite easy, and then they ate up the miles. Despite the awful conditions, we managed to get both boats flying fairly well at 5000rpm.
Nobody flogs boats like testers do: you really have to push a test rig beyond normal boundaries in an attempt to uncover any possible bad habits. It’s not comfortable, but it has to be done.
Unfortunately we couldn’t record effective speed figures for the 2601 because of prop slippage, particularly in turns, but rectifying this problem is just a matter of a little fiddling with the prop setup. The 2301 — fitted with the MerCruiser — never missed a beat and
felt very solid indeed. In fact, the weight and size of both boats was clearly evident throughout the tests. You feel safe and secure even in very rough conditions.
These newly-available American beauties are mighty impressive boats. They’re not perfect, but the Stripers really are a very good compromise between a cruiser and a fisher — boats that can genuinely claim to offer something for everyone in the family.
SEASWIRL STRIPER 2601
Price as tested: $123,000
Options fitted: Alaska Pack options, safety equipment and registrations
Priced from: $105,000
Material: GRP with hand-laid
Length (overall): 7.8m
Rec/max hp: 400
Weight on trailer: About 3200kg
Make/model: Evinrude 250
Type: DFI two-stroke V6
Rated hp: 250
Prop: Three-blade 17in alloy
SEASWIRL STRIPER 2301
Price as tested: $97,900
Options fitted: Alaska Pack, rear quarter seats, blue hull, safety equipment and registrations
Priced from: $90,000
Material: GRP with hand-laid fibrecore reinforcing
Length (overall): 7.37m
Rec/max hp: 250/300 outboard;
Towing weight: 2019kg (sterndrive)
Towing weight: 1746kg (outboard)
Fuel: 397lt (sterndrive)
Make/model: MerCruiser 5.0L
Type: Fuel-injected V8
Rated hp: 260
Drive: Alpha 1
Prop: Three-blade 19in alloy
Mentone Marine, Nepean Highway, Mentone, (03) 9585 4566, visit www.mentonemarine.com.au, or for more info on Seaswirl Stripers, check out www.seaswirl.com
tory: Bernard Clancy Photos: Stuart Grant
First published in TrailerBoat #177
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