Boat Review Date: January 2012
Author: Mike Brown
Cruiser might seem an adventurous title for a boat with an 18ft hull length, but the Whittley 2180 Cruiser uses the space within that hull very well, and also uses overall length outside it to good advantage. The verdict is, yes, a couple with perhaps a pair of children could go away for the weekend in this.
Of course cruisers are used far more as day boats, and the 2180 could make a good fist of all the usual daytime occupations as well, the biggest de-cruisering task being to remove the camper covers and reef or furl the canopy. With all the shading and sheltering material in place there is a big volume of living space within the boat, made larger by the cabin bulkhead being only partial. With it cleared the cockpit is usefully large, allowing space for two or three uncrowded anglers or the sprawling of a bunch of estuary wanderers.
The 2180 is available outboard or sterndrive powered and our option was the sterndrive, a Volvo 4.3L. In the space department you get advantages and disadvantages with a sterndrive. On the down side the engine box takes up room inboard, but the benefit is useable space behind the motor. We had the optional extended platform and that made a big difference to habitability. With easy access from the cockpit, we had a great spot for fishing, lounging or barbecuing. The rear had railings that carried the barbecue, and the platform had enough area for sun baking bean bags or even deck chairs.
Officially inside the boat there were several choices of places to sit. Besides the usual driver’s and navigator’s seats we had quarter seats, one removable to make a step, and padded surfaces on the engine box to give forward and rearward facing seats. If you were standing you got padded gunwales to pamper your angling thighs.
The two main seats have backs that can swing to the side allowing the seat cushions to be raised. Raising the driver’s exposes a sink coupled to a water tank by a pressurized system shared with the shower; the navigator’s, a spot to perhaps site a camping stove. Ahead of the navigator, under his footrest, is a niche to house an esky. All domestic arrangements neatly concealed.
Eating whatever these arrangements produce is bound to be done in the cockpit, but a folding table makes it possible in the cabin. It has more room than most boats of this size and is a very classy compartment. The structural moulded liner is itself completely lined, and the bunks are covered with up-market fabric; a quick test showed them to be adult length and comfortable. Adding a panel turns them into an even more comfortable double, lifting a panel reveals the chemical toilet. A privacy curtain makes up for the lack of bulkhead.
The Whittley’s dry weight is 1.8T. Powered by a 200hp sterndrive it is unsurprisingly quick. Our review day was lumpier than ideal and we never had the throttle fully open, but the indications suggested a top speed around 45 knots. The speeds we used gave the hull something to think about and it brushed up well. A boat with cruising goodies is not intended to skip across wave tops, but pressed hard it delivered a good ride and a dry one. At rest it was unusually stable, rounding off a neat package.
Price from $69,900
Hull length 5.5m
Fuel capacity 112L
Fresh water 40L
Deadrise 19 deg
Dry weight (hull and motor) 1,796kg
Motor fitted 200hp Volvo 4.3L sterndrive