By: Bernard Clancy, Photography by: Ellen Dewar

Bernard Clancy took to the water on a Clearwater 2165 Cruiser by Whittley USA, to see if it will make its way on the Australian market

The Clearwater 2165 Cruiser, made by Whittley USA, fills a niche in the Whittley range of cruisers here in Australia. While the company’s Australian made cruisers are built, essentially, around their powerplants, this American style boat is built on top of its sterndrive engine.
It’s quite common for this design and construction technique to be used in larger cruisers but this 21-footer (or six-metre) boat is somewhat unique. While the forward cabin is quite deep, the back half of the boat is very high to accommodate a flat deck over the aft "cabin" and inboard powerplant.
This gives the Clearwater a very high centre of gravity and tight turns can be somewhat disconcerting until you get used to it as the boat leans considerably. The hull is interesting in that it comes up from wide chines to the gunnels in a series of three steps which combine to push away excess spray as well as increasing the beam (to 2.4 metres) where you need it most.
The aft cabin is really not much more than an additional spacious but single bunk built across the boat beneath the helm station. Claustrophobia is taken care of by a large, glass hatch that opens out on to the cockpit area. Kids would love it as a kind of cubby.
The forward cabin is very spacious indeed. Head height is 2.10 metres and light comes through a small overhead hatch and a couple of small elliptical portholes either side. As well there are four spotlights at various points around the place.
The v-berth is a good size with one long side and the port "leg" a little shorter to accommodate a molded unit which contains fridge, sink, single burner stove, a small cupboard and CD player. Opposite, at the end of the starboard bunk, is the head enclosed behind a fabric curtain. A small oval fiberglass table fits into the floor between the bunks and can also be used out in the cockpit.
The cockpit is fully lined in serviceable blue, brown and grey carpet. All storage bins beneath the bunks were also fully carpet lined.
In short you’d probably describe the cockpit as functional rather than exciting. There’s plenty of scope for female creativity to add some colour and imagination to the décor and fittings.
It’s four steps up to the deck through as bi-fold smoked acrylic door. The helm bucket seat mounted on a pedestal was very low but we managed to raise it a few inches to an acceptable height with a bit of muscle, push, shove and twist, although I’m not sure it was designed that way. It is certainly designed to slide back and forth. Getting the seat height correct is crucial because the Clearwater has one of those steeply raked five-piece windscreens which are designed more for sexy looks than practicability. That is, the top lip tends to sit right at eye level, thus blocking your view. 
The dash looks impressive with a wall of gauges on the fake-wood panel in front showing fuel, volts, oil temp, trim and under that rpm and speed. Switch panels left and right of the rather plain helm are well placed as is the anchor windlass switch. A hatch to access wiring is under the helm. However the low-slung windscreen narrows the options as to where you would fit electronics and a marine radio. Maybe there’s room in the centre of the dash above the cabin door.
On the port side is a longitudinal bunk-style seat which would fit two people at a squeeze.
There is a bimini over the top which is far too low but no clears or camp covers. They’re options.
The cockpit area is spacious enough for four people with a fold-down lounge across the transom. A stainless steel rail around the cockpit supports the rear lounge back cushion as well as the two-bar s/s gate across the rear walkway to gain access to the boat from the wide, full-width swim platform which incorporates a telescopic boarding ladder, grab handle and night light. Everything’s carpeted and trimmed in brown and beige tonings which did little to excite the senses and four flush mounted lights would be fine for night use.
Under all that is the Mercruiser 4.3 V6 churning out a respectable 186 horses, as well as twin batteries and other mechanical stuff. To access it you lift the entire cockpit floor which, surprisingly, wasn’t fitted with gas struts.
A hot, fresh water shower unit is built into the rear coaming. Large stainless cleats complete the transom work and nary a rod holder in sight. Don’t cruising people fish at all? Never mind, you could bolt a couple of after-market versions on the stainless rails.
The bubble foredeck is not really accessible around the sides but there is a substantial split bow rail there anyway. The Muir 600 windlass is mounted on the deck behind the stainless bowsprit (well it’s more a bow roller arrangement which carries the anchor) and a small-opening rope locker is between the two.
The centre panel on the windscreen opens up so if you really must you could scramble forward through this or through the hatch in the cabin.
The boat handled well, cruising at 50 km/h at 3000 rpm with a top speed of around 60 km/h at 5000 rpm, a speed which kicked the rev limiter into action and the need for raised voices became abundantly apparent. A light Port Phillip chop wasn’t ideal to test rough water performance but I guess this type of boat won’t be going to the Shelf for a day’s marlin stalking anyway. It was a little tardy getting on to the plane and, as I said earlier, dropped the knee to the tarmac on tight turns like a bike rider before sliding the stern out gently and straightening up. Nice feeling once you got used to it though.
The Clearwater was quite stable at rest, thanks to some very large chines.
It is an interesting boat (though the female member of our crew found it difficult to get excited) which fills a niche in Whittley’s range here in Australia but one can’t help thinking the Australian designed and made Whittley cruisers compare very favorably indeed with this import.
The Clearwater we tested was on an American trailer but due to compliance regulations JV Marine will supply all boats on an Australian Mackay Multilink trailer in a package deal worth $77,999.

Spacious cabin
Extra bunk
Hot shower

Windscreen height
Bimini height
No rod holders


Specifications: Whittley USA Clearwater 2165 Aft Cabin Cruiser

Price as tested $77,999
Options fitted    V6 Mercruiser with Alpha leg

Material    GRP
Length (overall)   6.4m
Beam     2.4
Deadrise    21°
Rec. max hp  185
Weight  on trailer   1800 kg approx

Fuel:     225 lt
Water:      50 lt

Make/model:    Mercruiser
Type:     Stern drive V6
Rated HP:    185
Displacement:    4300 cc
Weight:     385 kg
Drive:     Alpha One 1.81/1.62/2.0:1
Prop:     17in s/s

JV Marine,
Braeside, Vic.
Phone: (03) 9798 8883

Originally published in TrailerBoat #202


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