REVIEW: WHITE POINTER 850

By: STEVE RAEA, Photography by: STEVE RAEA

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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One man finds nirvana aboard his White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser escape machine.

REVIEW: WHITE POINTER 850
The White Pointer 850 custom underway.

For Mark Sinton, Fred, his White Pointer 850 Custom Cruiser, is the closest thing to perfection in an imperfect world and a panacea for a job that requires him to spend his days working deep within the earth’s crust managing gold mining operations on the African continent.

Sinton is a bloke’s bloke and lives for his time at sea. Home only sporadically, he can’t get out of his suit fast enough and back out onto the waters that have been his hunting ground since he was a child.

He thinks nothing of traveling 60, 80 or even 100 miles offshore chasing game and trophy fish, so having a capable and seaworthy boat that will get him home again safely has always been Sinton’s top priority.

Having owned a White Pointer 750 Custom Cruiser for the last three years, Sinton says there was never any question that his next boat would be a White Pointer.



QUALITY FIRST

Fred is foremost a standard 850 Custom Cruiser and engineered exactly the same as the stock product, but Sinton’s extensive range of options have been carefully considered and integrated in a way that doesn’t compromise the boat’s integrity.

This is no small achievement because there’s a lot going on – liferaft, outriggers, radar, craypot hauler and electric winch, cockpit freezer and multiple aerials. Add in the boat’s large diesel engine cockpit cover and the potential for clutter is real.

An aspect often overlooked in assessing boats like Fred is the finer detail of build quality and it’s here the White Pointer team go the extra mile. The devil is in the detail and at a glance, the detail isn’t always obvious.

But study weld continuity, crisp press break folds and the fairness of the hull, cabin sides and superstructure, and the picture that emerges is one close to perfection. Look closely too at the exacting tolerances around window frames, deck and cabin-top hatches and you’ll see a boat built with care and attention. It reflects sound experience and knowledge of the sea.



DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

The heart of any boat lies in its construction and White Pointer hulls are built using the traditional methods including shaping the hull over a predetermined honeycomb-like, interlocking frame.

Using a structured welding sequence, the hull emerges with a rounded (compound) curve that is most predominate at the shoulder where the chine rail begins to widen. The compound shape of the hull eliminates much of the harshness of landing when the boat becomes airborne. It is also an extremely strong way to fabricate a hull.

While White Pointer’s moderate 18-degree transom deadrise is a compromise between stability and fast, efficient planning, the Custom Cruiser series all share a deep forefoot that further reduces pounding and helps ward off any tendency to steer by the bow when running hard into a following sea.

The boatbuilder’s managing director Rex Briant says that while construction techniques have been refined with experience and feedback, it is essentially unchanged since the company’s formation more than two-decades ago.

"They’re as proven as a hull can be; so as long as the seas don’t change neither will our hull shapes nor our construction methods. Our build time is longer than some but that’s the trade-off for getting a handcrafted boat," said Briant.

One factor that sets it apart from other Kiwi-made trailerboats is White Pointer’s use of naval architects. The adage "what looks right, probably is" works to a certain extent, says Briant, but there is no substitute for a qualified understanding of hydrodynamics.

"Hull shapes are a calculation rather than a guess. Teaching yourself CAD is no substitute for trained and qualified boat design," he explains.



STEP BY STEP

On a build project like Fred, the many extras are dry-fitted and removed prior to the boat progressing through to the paint shop. This ensures items are not only placed to owner requirements but prevents any further drilling.

This ensures that every fastening hole is adequately sealed and coated before fittings are attached, reducing the likelihood of premature corrosion or paint flake. It takes time, says Briant, but the end result is worth the extra effort.

Similar attention is paid to electronics and wiring with pre-designed, custom-made wiring looms assembled offsite by professional loom builders. Every loom is colour coded, labelled, fused and switched in keeping with marine industry best-practice.

Engine installation is a major part of the build process and particular care has to be taken with inboard sterndrives like that of Fred’s.

Keeping seawater out of the engine box is the key to longevity, but engine boxes need to deliver adequate ventilation. Having fitted more than 200 diesel inboards, White Pointer Boats has learnt what works and what doesn’t.

The interiors of White Pointer’s Custom Cruiser series boast professional custom joinery in the galley, leather trim at the helm and high-quality upholstery, all complemented with mirror-finish epoxy coatings for a pleasing and stylish rig.



BORN TO THE SEA

Safety is paramount when voyaging offshore and between Briant and Sinton nothing has been left to chance. The boat’s solid aluminium transom rails and twin gates effectively enclose the boarding platform allowing the entire aft end to be fished safely, even in difficult conditions.

The full-length transom platform is generous in width with a raised mid-section over the central duoprop well. Every inch of space aft has been used to good effect, including twin tuna tubes recessed into the aft combings.

The aft cockpit is necessarily dominated by the central engine cover which hinges inboard for easy and complete engine access. The engine box serves many functions but is optimised for fishing with a clever bi-fold baitboard that is large and practical.

The baitboard assembly is such that it provides space beneath for four 20lt plastic bins held in place on aluminium extruded runners fitted to the underside. The unit caters for four rods and has twin recessed sinker/cupholders. But this is just for starters.

Like all Custom Cruisers, there are another three capped rodholders recessed into each gunwale and a pair of solid welded bollards well aft we’re they’re needed. The coamings are relatively high and wide and covered with non-skid rubber matting.

The single, deep parcel shelf running the full length of the cockpit is solidly constructed with gussets to cope with the weight of crew using the shelf as a step up to the coamings. Captive rodholders, fixed under the shelves, provide secure rod storage when underway.

Dedicated dive-tank storage is provided in a large underfloor cockpit bin with a heavy checker plate lid. The lid is not captive and while unlikely to move in flight, it is a bit awkward when retrieving or stowing items. All unpainted metalwork within the cockpit has been treated with an anti-corrosive coating.

Moving forward, the wheelhouse is enclosed by an offset rear bi-fold aluminium door that folds inboard and is secured by a positive latch. The aft port corner houses the boat’s large cockpit freezer built into a fabricated storage locker with an upholstered cover that provides cockpit seating for two. Additional clever touches include a pair of tackle boxes built into the boat’s gunwales.



BEDSIT

Fred’s interior is standard to the Custom Cruiser design, a raised saloon and table to port with a small galley opposite. Fitted with a hob, a small stainless steel sink with a 150lt underfloor freshwater tank and a fridge tucked in under the bench, cooking at sea is a realistic proposition. Prep space is limited but the saloon table can be pressed into service should the need arise.

The helm station is centred on a quarter bulkhead on the starboard side. This creates an open and easy passage to the forward cabin. With an embossed leather helm seat and stitched leather dash, the bridge is stylish and functional with ample room for a large screen plotter.

Fred bristles with the latest Raymarine electronics, including a 12in C120 CHIRP widescreen combination plotter-sounder and latest 18in 4kW HD radar. Radio gear is recessed into a separate overhead module and includes a VHF and Fusion stereo head deck. An impressive cluster of proprietary Volvo Penta engine and fuel management instruments are flush-mounted at the helm along with automatic trim tab switches, dual opposing wiper switches, an autopilot head unit and a double gang of BEP switches.

Fitted with tinted, side-opening safety glass windows and a toughened glass, curved windscreen, Fred is as good to look through as it is to look at.

In standard trim the boat will sleep two couples or three singles, but this can be increased to four singles with the addition of a pipe cot fitted above the forward vee-berth. The interior finish is stylish with full lining and an electric toilet fitted between the cabin bunk fronts. A courtesy curtain provides privacy from the saloon.

A cabin deck hatch and twin overhead saloon hatches ensure there is ample lighting and ventilation, and White Pointer’s signature cavity slider cockpit window makes for an airy yet cosy retreat.



LET IT RIP

Sinton initially wanted to fit a 350hp Volvo Penta D6 diesel engine but was persuaded by Briant to go for the smaller 300hp common rail D4 with duoprop leg which gives up little in performance but is considerably more frugal and requires less space.

It was the right choice, says Sinton. The D4’s reliability is now well-proved and, while not scintillating, it pushes Fred along easily and is well matched to the boat given Sinton’s preference for offshore fishing. With an optional 500lt underfloor tank, range should never be an issue.

With little wind and a relatively flat sea, this wasn’t the ideal day to gauge the boat’s rough-water handling but it provided an opportunity to test Fred’s onboard systems and check Sinton’s crayfish pots 20 miles up the coast.

With a beam of just 2.5m, Fred’s minimum width is a trade-off between cockpit volume and ease of towing. Briant says the 850CC can be optioned with a beam of up to 2.9m, but says he wouldn’t necessarily recommend this unless the boat’s permanently moored or beach launched.

"Sure, you get extra cockpit volume and a bit more stability at rest but there’s no discernible on-the-water performance edge and towing restrictions apply. It is horses-for-courses but the standard 2.5m beam works well," says Briant. "I liken the 850 to the sports car of the Custom Cruiser range. It’s fast, nimble, compact and easily managed."

D-series Volvos have a reputation for quiet and responsive running and the 300hp did not disappoint, being barely audible at idle through Fred’s superior, fireproof engine box insulation.

The fly-by-wire electronic gearbox and hydraulic steering are silky smooth and responsive, and with the aid of automatic self-levelling trim tabs you can’t help but feel a little redundant once the autopilot is engaged.

From trolling speeds to WOT, Fred is stable and predictable in every way with a clean, well-defined wake tossed well clear by the boat’s gullwing chine. The duoprop works effectively with only the slightest hint of cavitation in fast, tight cornering. Noise intrusion is further dampened through the 6mm hull plate and insulating properties of inbuilt foam buoyancy and linings. Even with the rear door open, conversation is easy. Close the cockpit door and you feel invincible.

This is a smart package from stem to stern and, as is usual with Briant’s boats, it’s a challenge to take in everything in one sitting. The harder you look, the more you see. The standard of engineering and finish is first-class and well worthy of its custom-build status.



THE OWNER SPEAKS

As for Sinton, he’s over the moon.

"It’s twice the boat of my 750 and that’s saying something because I loved that boat," he says. "I wouldn’t have dreamed that an extra metre could have such a marked difference on performance and feel. But it does."

Sinton said keeping the boat at its standard beam means driving on and off the trailer and towing is no more challenging than it was with his 750.

"In some respects, it’s even easier," he continues.

"With the torque of the diesel, getting the boat up onto the trailer doesn’t require a fistful of throttle. It feels easier, more comfortable and Rex’s self-catching trailer hook works a treat.

"Even when I’m by myself I don’t have to get my feet wet – and that’s something," said Sinton.



[TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS…]

This is a smart package from stem to stern and, as is usual with Briant’s boats, it’s a challenge to take in everything in one sitting. The harder you look, the more you see. The standard of engineering and finish is first-class and well worthy of its custom-build status.



WHITE POINTER 850 CUSTOM CRUISER SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$250,000



GENERAL

MATERIAL Marine grade aluminium alloy (6mm hull; 4mm topsides)

TYPE Planing monohull

LENGTH 8.8m (overall); 8.20m (hull)

BEAM 2.5m

DEADRISE 18°

WEIGHT 3400kg



CAPACITIES

FUEL 500lt

WATER 150lt



ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D4

TYPE Turbo-diesel w/ common rail injection

RATED HP 300



FOR MORE INFORMATION

White Pointer Boats,

189 Stanley Road,

Gisborne, New Zealand

Phone:+64 6 868 6519

Email: tony@whitepointerboats.co.nz

Web: www.whitepointerboats.co.nz

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #442, July/August 2013

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