Boat Review Date: June 2010
Author: Mike Brown
The Seaswirl 1851 Striper, at 5.64m overall, is probably a bit small for all the features it has built in. They are quite impressive, but since the main purpose of a walk around is fishing it is a pity that they actually restrict the ability to do so. That said, for the price of $59,590 you get a fair bit of boat, and many people might find it what they need for family use.
This is an American-built boat and much about it shows the American interpretation of a walk around. The width of the side decks makes walking just possible and there are competent handrails to guide you, but the side deck’s sole purpose is to get you forward; you could not fish along the way.
The decks are recessed, but at the rear of the side decks is a sort of dam that diverts water overboard. It means a full height climb to get out of the cockpit, although since the cockpit is unusually shallow this no great ascent and there are moulded steps.
The cabin is large and close to luxurious and is closed off by a bi-fold door. It has a full lining, thoroughly useable bunks that convert to a big double, and a toilet. A large dedication of space went into the cabin making it a good overnight proposition for a couple, although the common practice of sleeping the kids in the cabin while the adults take the cockpit would be uncomfortable due to the limited cockpit room.
Part of the cockpit’s problem stems from the amount of equipment the makers built in. The bait tank that projects forward from the transom is a monster: 114L. Tackle drawers and lockers intrude too, although mounting the seats on pedestals instead of locker boxes was a good move, making more foot room. If you were to limit the number of anglers to two, or maybe three if you used the small foredeck as fishing space, they would be happy people. They would have a 185L catch tank to share as well as a huge capacity for bait, rod holders and deck wash, and the tackle drawers are a nice bonus in a boat of this size.
On the subject of ability for size, the Striper has good stability. In the suggested mode of two at one rail and one forward there was little list. There is padding at the coaming, but this did not feel a boat in which to stand up and fish at sea. On the other hand the coamings made very comfortable casual seats.
I suspect the Americans were the people who introduced drink holders into boats; a great contribution to civilisation, and the Striper is well endowed with them. There are plenty of them in the vicinity of the two main seats, which are semi enclosed in a snug nest. The navigator dips out on a footrest due to the door in front of him but the driver gets a good one, complementing an above average seat. Both occupants have grab straps and oddment storage, and they share the shade of a Bimini.
The dash is impressive. It has no fewer than 12 switches allowing more accessories to be added, a 12V socket – invaluable this, all boats should have them – and a pair of analogue dials as well as the digital version. The throttle lever was perhaps a bit closer to the driver than ergonomics would suggest, but this was a trade-off with the open space between the seats.
The steering wheel is adjustable for rake, which is handy when changing from standing to sitting, and hydraulic steering is standard whatever model of motor is installed; a great step towards relaxed driving. The review boat had it hitched up to a 135hp Mercury Verado that gave ample urge. For a given horsepower a supercharged motor is always going to provide more acceleration, and this boat-motor combination would be ample for social skiing.
I suspect that current Verados have a stronger détente than earlier models; it used to be all too easy to shift straight from ahead to astern, missing neutral along the way. The electronics protected the gearbox, but it made for exciting manoeuvring. All much tamer now.
It proved a dry, pleasant and predictable boat to drive. Ride quality is about average - what you would expect from an average deadrise of 20deg and a fairly full bow.
This is not a full-blooded fishing boat or full-blooded anything else, but it could happily handle a lot of roles and do them economically.Lowdown
Price as reviewed AUD $59,590
Length overall 5.64m
Fuel capacity 234L
Motor fitted 135hp Mercury Verado