The Whittley heritage goes back 6 decades. Timber construction in the early 1950s gave way to fibreglass, and with the company’s emphasis on best possible finish and presentation it didn’t take long for the Whittley name to become synonymous with quality boating.
Today there’s a large range of well appointed Whittley fibreglass boats. The Sea Legend series alone has 6 models, ranging from the SL21 through to the massive SL 28 hard top.
The reviewed cuddy cab SL22 with Volvo Penta inboard engine seamlessly combines comfort and useful features from stem to stern with decent shelter from the elements. Power options are interesting – you can choose either an outboard or inboard engine.
While many trailer craft these days are equipped with outboard motors there’s no denying the cost savings and other benefits of the inboard Volvo Penta 4.3L petrol V6. The Volvo unit costs around the same as a modern 70hp 4-stroke outboard.
The SL22’s layout was a combination of comfort and practicality. Reviewing the craft out from Scarborough on Brisbane’s north side, I soon noticed that no space was wasted. Every appointment and feature made a lot of sense in the best Whittley tradition. The Sea Legend’s sleek design emphasized modern styling highlighted by an exemplary standard of finish.
Up front the wide anchor well came equipped with a provision for an electric winch, although manual anchor tending is no trouble thanks to the large cabin hatch.
The Whittley’s cabin featured full-length bunks over large storage boxes, was neatly lined and had overhead shelving plus a marine toilet. An infill is available to convert the bunks into a large double bed. Entry into the cabin was direct, with a door another a factory option.
A heavy-duty set of clears were part of the SL22’s package. Featuring zip open front sections, they were linked to a solid stainless steel hard top frame equipped with a bimini. This extended both forward and backwards (the latter section is an option) to cover some of the cockpit work area. Sensibly, the bimini’s rear section had a zippered opening section to allow access to the 6 rod holders mounted on the hard top frame along with paired LED cockpit lights. These were also an option on the test boat.
Aft of the craft’s 5-section windscreen (the section in front of the skipper was equipped with a wiper) the Whittley’s helm seating was strong, comfortable, and very practical. The skipper’s and mate’s wraparound slide adjustable seats were set on the front of quite substantial storage boxes equipped with aft facing seats.
Up front, to starboard, the helm/dash layout was purposeful but practical. A compass was tucked highest, just aft of the windscreen. Just below was a rounded off dash section with gauges; a speedometer to port, then came trim, temperature, oil pressure, RPM, fuel, a voltmeter, with tachometer to starboard. On the next level were the engine’s ignition key, a Raymarine Hybrid Touch 7” unit, with winch controls and QL trim tabs to starboard, next to a 12V outlet.
The classy 3-spoke steering wheel had arrays of switches set each side, while forward controls for the inboard engine were set into the craft’s side, handy to the skipper. A VHF radio was also part of the kit. In all, an ergonomically pleasing helm set-up and very Whittley.
The carpet-lined cockpit was 1200mm long and 1720mm wide, and with only 30cm intrusion from the 200hp inboard engine at the stern there was no shortage of fishing room. Extended seating options involved 2 removable seats each side at the transom area.
As I saw it, the Whittley’s 770mm deep cockpit, from its underfloor storage area aft to the arrays of upright rod holders in each stern quarter, virtually had the lot! Large off floor side pockets with toe holds underneath were equipped with recessed (horizontal) rod holders that saw both butts and tips protected behind the hull liner. Gunwale top sections were well padded and featured another 2 stainless rod holders per side.
A freshwater deck wash unit was set up in the port side pocket, and a raw water wash down to starboard. Rounding off the cockpit features were a plumbed bait tank atop the engine cover plus a moulded bait board complete with storage area and 2 more rod holders, In total there were 20 stainless steel holders available.
Interestingly, there’s no transom door; you just step over the transom sections each side of the engine when boarding from astern (a ladder was set to starboard). Dual batteries were located to port in the transom area, with an isolator of course.
Thanks to the grunt from the fuel-injected 4.3L 200hp V6 Volvo inboard, the SL22 was no slouch underway. The low centre of gravity of this smooth-running petrol V6 added terrific stability to the craft, especially at rest.
The engine was also quiet. Even when working hard it had minimal noise intrusion into the cockpit.
And it was so willing to go! A push of the throttle lever saw the craft – with 2 aboard – planing at 20km/h, at just under 2000rpm. 3000rpm saw 34.6km/h, 4000rpm 48.3km/h, and 4500rpm (WOT ) saw 57.4km/h.
The 200hp Volvo Penta stern drive has a CARB 4-star rating and comes with a QL Neutra Flush engine flushing system as a bonus.
The Whittley SL22’s engine ratings are from 150-225hp (for both inboard and outboard) which saw the 200 Volvo towards the top of the tree. In my view it provided all the power required for easy performance.
The Volvo was very responsive, with only slight throttle lever movements required to increase speed rapidly. Steering was very sweet, too, thanks to hydraulic steering. It was fun to throw the Whittley’s 23 degree deep V hull into fast turns to watch how quickly the hull recovered to a level aspect.
QL trim tabs are standard and make sense on a large hull like this one.
Overall, the ride was very good. The hull was extremely quiet, responsive to trim and seemingly without any vice whatsoever. The slick entry section up front, paired bottom strakes each side, central planing plank and outer reversed chines ironed out small waves and chop east of Scarborough with ease. It was easy to see that the Whittley would make just as great an offshore rig as a boat for a day on the bay with the family or a group of friends.
The Whittley’s useful array of fishing features were backed up with a great touring range thanks to its 210L fuel capacity. This boat would easily take 4, perhaps 5 anglers well offshore for some bluewater work. A cockpit freeboard of 900mm would ensure confident sea keeping and minimal spray intrusion into the cockpit’s interior. The Whittley’s cuddy cab, of course, would also offer great shelter for occupants or for tackle storage.
In all the SL22 was a great craft for serious fishing or for enjoyable family use where fishing is mixed with tow sports or just enjoying some cruising.
It came on a well built tandem wheel Mackay/Whittley trailer which was quite suited to the drive off/drive on style of launch and retrieval that larger craft demand.
The test rig, with the extras of deck wash units, paired rear seats, LED lights, extra rod holders, VHF radio,and Raymarine unit, was priced under $90,000. A more basic boat-motor-trailer package is available for under $75,000. For more information log on to www.whittleymarinegroup.com.au.
|Length of hull||6.50m|
|Length on trailer||7.64m|
|Height on trailer||2.90m|
|Engine fitted||200hp 4.3L Volvo V6 inboard|
|Towing||Large 4WD, family 6 wagon|