Fleetmaster offers family fun, freedom

FAMILIAR FEEL: The Fleetmaster 26 from Whittley Marine is simply fantastic for weekends with the family.
FAMILIAR FEEL: The Fleetmaster 26 from Whittley Marine is simply fantastic for weekends with the family.

To celebrate 65 years of building fibreglass fishing boats in Australia, Whittley Marine has released two limited edition heritage cruisers – the Fleetmaster 23 and Fleetmaster 26.

These new cruisers were displayed at July’s Melbourne Boat Show.

The Whittley Company & Family has built high quality boats since 1953.

Brothers Jim and Ossie Whittley built a bond wood boat for a friend in Victoria’s northern suburbs, beginning a legacy that has lasted more than 65 years.

More than 400 bond wood cruisers were built in the 1950s and 60s before the company became one of the pioneers of fibreglass boat building in Australia.

Whittley Marine managing director Neville Whittley said: “The Whittley company has always been known as a boating family, building high-quality family boats for Australians.

“The Fleetmaster model name is well known being one of the most popular sports cruiser models, since fibreglass boat building was introduced to the company.

“The Melbourne Boat Show is Whittley’s hometown boat show, so it was the perfect time to release these new model packages.”

The new Fleetmaster 23 soft top sports cruiser has an overall length of 7.6 metres and features a standard double berth, fridge, sink, stove and toilet, along with a large moulded rear platform.

It is ideal for water sports, extended weekend living, fishing or cruising. The hull features a computer designed variable deadrise for the perfect balance between ride and stability.

The cabin takes advantage of the Fleetmaster 23's generous beam.

The roomy cockpit flows to a moulded transom step-through, providing easy access to the boarding platform, which also acts as an alfresco balcony and fishing platform.

A further large storage compartment runs down the starboard side of the cockpit and forms an L-shaped lounge, which converts into a double bed and uses the dinette table as an infill.

The optional moulded Targa bar acts as a mounting point for the antenna, navigation lamps, full covers and clears.

The Fleetmaster 26, features a full length hard top and large sliding sunroof ideal for Australians’ outdoor lifestyle.

It has an overall length of 8.5 metres and beam of 2.5 metres. Making the most of its beam, the Fleetmaster 26 is both spacious and innovative. An elegant helm console with twin seat provides the captain and first mate a commanding view through the panoramic windscreen.

The large cabin features a stand up head and well-appointed galley, with accommodation for four adults and a sliding cabin door for privacy.

A full service galley and generous V-berth are complemented by the rear lounge, which morphs into another berth.

The wide rear deck is accessed via a drop-down door and hides cavernous storage below deck.

“The two new Fleetmaster models are designed specifically for local Australian boat buyers. They offer great value with a high quality hull, motor and trailer package and are available for a limited time only,” Mr Whittley said.

The Fleetmaster models remain under the legal trailer towing width of 2.5 metres, avoiding the cumbersome over width towing regulations in each state and territory. This includes signage, flags, flashing lights and other restrictions.

“A legally trailerable, live aboard style family boat is the ideal way to explore Victoria’s boating destinations for an extended weekend,” Mr Whittley said.

“You don’t have to stay in the one location, there is so much to explore with your family.

“The weekend starts the moment you pull out of the driveway.”

These Fleetmasters come packaged with a Mackay Trailer, Volvo Penta V6 200 SX and a long list of standard equipment.

Both models are available at Terrace Boating.

Steber works on bold plans

NSW-based builder Steber International has embarked on its most ambitious project to date – an 18.5 metre fisheries research vessel for the government of Mauritius. It will be the largest vessel ever constructed by the Taree-based fibreglass boat manufacturer. The build has just reached a milestone, with the hull being released from the mould, allowing for further fit-out to continue.

With the fully enclosed flybridge, the project will need to be finished on the water due to its impact on the factory and transport configurations. Build time is 18 months, allowing Mauritius to spread funds over two financial years.

Blair prepares for solo voyage

Australian sailor Lisa Blair has announced her latest adventure. 

Departing from Sydney Australia in mid-October, she will circumnavigate the coastline of Australia anti-clockwise and, as a solo challenge, will be the only person on board, taking about six weeks to complete the epic journey. She will sail a total distance of 6536 nautical miles.  

Blair aims to inspire women and youth. “There are some exceptional women in the sailing world at the moment.  I feel the recognition is definitely there, but sometimes it takes pioneers to push others to take up the challenge,” she said.

Jack O’Rourke is a contributor to Ocean Media.