Written by: Modern Boating
Aussie know-how produces a top weekend cruiser.
The sliding roof is a neat touch for sun lovers. Rear lounge converts into a massive bed. Generator, solar pannels and shore power, this boat’s got the lot.
In February last year I finished the final leg of the first Australian Offshore Challenge – a powerboat rally from Hobart, across Bass Strait, to Melbourne. I have many mental pictures from that memorable trip, as we tackled conditions that varied from dead calm, to a 4m multi-directional chop, to a full blown gale in the middle of Bass Strait – thunder, lightning, 60-knot winds, horizontal rain and a complete white-out with visibility down to 5m. And when you’re on the open ocean in a 24ft half cabin it really hones your boat driving skills quickly.
But it was the sight of a Whittley 660 Cruiser (crewed by Grant Kinkead and Brett Murphy) disappearing behind 7m swells only to punch out the other side, that reinforced my already glowing opinion of these top Australian boats. In the article I penned about the trip I named that boat the “wave-piercing caravan”. Here was a true-blue 6m family cruiser, designed for extended weekends away, out in the middle of Bass Strait in a gale, battling it out with the best of them. To me it drove home just how good the Whittley hull and build quality is.
Recently Whittley released another excellent boating caravan – the Whittley 2800 Cruiser. She’s a 28ft, cruiser (BMT weighs only 3236kg fully loaded, so she can be towed by a 4200 diesel Landcruiser easily), making her an ideal family floating home away from home.
Whittley have used plenty of innovative thinking to keep this boat’s tow weight down and one of the cleverest is the cockpit dining table. When you look at it in place it looks like a very solid and heavy piece of timber, were in fact it has a PVC core, which makes it extremely light. It stows when not in use in a locker in the cockpit roof, and because of it is lightness it doesn’t pose a problem when you’re getting it up or down from this locker.
It should also be noted that Whittley’s stated hull length is the true centreline length and does not include the bowsprit or swim platform. The LOA listed in the specs panel (29ft 1in) does include the bowsprit and swim platform.
This cruiser has it all, from a high performance hull (albeit one that uses trim tabs for optimum performance and there’s nothing wrong with that), to an electric sunroof. The tabs come into play, because this Whittley has a relatively narrow beam (2.5m to keep her within legal towing widths), compared to her length, and the tabs ensure the hull’s stability.
During this test it took me a few minutes to sort the trim tabs out and to get used to the subtle adjustments required for an optimum ride. Once sorted I gained a new respect for this boat’s ride ? in quite rough conditions I might add. But like getting behind the helm of any boat for the first time; they all have their own idiosyncrasies and it helps if you have the boat’s builder at your side, as I did, to point them out.
The 2800 Cruiser sleeps four in luxurious comfort. Two on the bow island berth and two on the cockpit lounge that converts into a huge double bed. Some may ask how can you sleep comfortably in the cockpit of what’s really a big half cabin boat? But this boat comes with an extensive set of clears (and mozzie nets) that completely enclose the aft cockpit and turn it into another usable weatherproof area.
Other standard fitments include pressurised hot water for the standing head height bathroom, fridge/freezer, drinks cabinet, wardrobe, vacuum flush toilet, timber doors, an electric sunroof and optional air-con. The air-conditioning unit uses a small portable 30amp Honda generator for its power supply when the boat is at rest.
Even though these gensets are extremely quiet, if you’re on a river, or lake, you can put the genset on the bank or behind a tree to lower noise levels even further. The fully equipped galley serves the main cabin and cockpit dinettes, but if you are like most owners, only water is boiled here and most of the cooking is done on the rail-mounted barbecue at the rear of the cockpit. There’s storage in every conceivable nook and cranny and the test boat had twin solar panels, a bow thruster and a top-of-the-line electronics package, which accounts for her $169,852 price tag – base price is $139,500.
A 6.2lt 350 Magnum MerCruiser powers this boat to a top speed of 39 knots, but she cruises economically and comfortably at 23 knots. This is an optional engine – The standard is a 5.7lt MerCruiser, which under normal circumstances would be more than enough power. The standard fuel tank holds 200lt, but for those that intend to go long-range cruising an optional 500lt fuel tank is also available.
This 28ft “floating caravan” from Whittley truly is the ultimate family weekender. She’s well built, thoughtfully designed, and if you have ever seen one of these cruisers perform out on the open ocean, you’ll know just how seaworthy these boats are.
In quite rough conditions out on Sydney Harbour the 2800 cruised comfortably at 23 knots and topped out at 39 knots.
A 6.2 ltr MerCruiser 350 Magnum powered the 2800 Cruiser.
LOA : 29′ 6″
Hull : 24′ 62″
Beam : 8′ 2″
Weight : 3236 kg
Fuel : 200 ltrs
Freshwater : 110 ltrs