Issue: October 2006
CLEAR THE DECKS
Value for money and attentionto detail will push this sportsfisher well up any fisho’s must have list.
WORD + PHOTOS IAN MACRAE
Launched at the Melbourne Boat Show in July with a minimum of fanfare, the Clearwater 1900 received almost instant acceptance by Victorian fishos and has already chalked up impressive sales figures. This 18ft 2in cuddy cabin is the latest addition to the ‘Clearwater by Whittley’ range of affordable family boats. The keyword here is ‘affordable’. Th is purposebuilt sportfishing platform has been set-up for serious anglers and has a recommended retail price of only $38,700 (for the boat, safety gear, a 115hp two-stroke Yamaha outboard and Dunbier trailer) making her one of the most competitively priced 18ft sportfishing rigs on the market. The Clearwater brand is now wholly owned by Whitley Cruisers and while most of these American boats are builtin Willacoochie, Georgia, then imported to Australia, the Clearwater 1900 is completely homegrown. But the boat is also something of a chameleon here, because it’s built around a tried and true Savage Mako hull tweaked to further improve its performance. But that’s where any semblance to the Mako ends. The top deck and interior layout are completely new.
ON THE WATER
During this test Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay lived up to its reputation for being a bitch of a place to be when the wind comes up. But the 30 knots of bitterly cold sou’ wester that whipped up a multi-directional chop we didn’t want to be out in, hardly dinted the 1900’s performance and handling. Sure, it knocked the 115’s topend speed back a few miles per hour on the day, but still hit 24mph head-on into the sea at 4000rpm. Which was quite enough in the conditions, because my days of pounding all over the ocean till I’m black and blue are long gone. The 115 hits the rev limiter at 5500rpm, which gives this rig a top speed around 35mph. The Modern Boating team were also impressed by the Clearwater 1900’s ride and handling. The hull sliced through the multi-directional chop extremely well without too much banging and crashing. She also delivered a surprisingly dry ride. Sure, we got a small amount of spray coming over the screen (and I mean small), but that’s to be expected from any 18-footer punching into the sea with 30 knots of wind squall quartering across the bow!
DESIGN & LAYOUT
Even though 1900s have aggressive chines, they’re not carried as far forward as some boats on the market. But her sharp-bow entry and heavily defi ned strakes, coupled with the way the hull balloons one-third of the way back from the bow, generates plenty of lift and throws water and spray down and away from the boat. With three people onboard in the sloppy conditions the third passenger on the rear lounge had to adjust their position, depending on the direction of travel, to achieve optimum hull trim. Visibility through the windscreen was superb and at 173cm, I had no problems seeing ahead or reading all of the gauges while standing or seated. Another impressive aspect of the boat’s handling was the steering. It was so light and smooth I assumed it to be hydraulic, but it wasn’t, it was cables all the way.
Normally, I’d recommend hydraulic steering for any motor over 90hp, but this set-up didn’t need it. From a fisho’s perspective, the cockpit is open and uncluttered and features high, padded gunwales ideal for bracing against when fighting big fi sh. And yes, you can get your ‘toes in under’ the side pockets. Th e rear lounge is removable, so it doesn’t obstruct fishing access. There’s a bait preparation station, berley bucket and bait wells on each side of the transom, which can be plumbed for live bait. There’s a rod rack under each gunwale, four rod holders in the cockpit coamings and a fi ve-rod rocket launcher rack built into the bimini top. It’s aluminium not stainless steel, but it’s more than strong enough to hold your average sportfi shing outfits. The walk-through windscreen and dash lets you get at the anchor easily, the anchor locker is large enough to be useful and the vee-bunk infill cushion in the cabin allows two fishos to curl up for a snooze when the fish go off the bite.
The skipper and navigator’s seats are pedestal-mounted buckets offering good support in rough conditions, while the driver’s seat is on a slide to make standing to drive easy. The Yamaha multi-function engine gauges leave plenty of room on the dash for a GPS chartplotter/sounder unit and any other electronics owners may require.
Huge underfloor kill tank, clip-in carpet, footrests for the driver and navigator, 120lt underfloor-fuel tank and windscreen grab rail; the list of inclusions for fishos goes on and on. There’s no denying the Clearwater 1900 was built to a price, but the obvious Whittley attention to detail used in her construction will ensure this value-formoney sportfi shing platform becomes a firm favourite with Aussie fishos.
A Yamaha V4 115hp Saltwater Series two-stroke powered the Clearwater 1900.
On an extremely choppy Port Phillip Bay the Clearwater 1900 produced the following performance figures.
Length: 18′ 2″
Beam: 7′ 5″
Deadrise: 10 degrees
Max power: 150hp
Rec power: 115hp
Fuel tank: 120lt (underfloor)