Tested by Erwin Bursik (May/June 2006)
SO FISHABLE – SO PRACTICAL!
THE never-ending quest for perfection! While in some cases this phrase is merely used as promotional hype, I firmly believe that, in the boating world, manufacturers genuinely are engaged in ongoing and patient endeavours to create the perfect craft.
A craft I recently reviewed showed that this quest is well underway. Blue Water Marine presented the Triton 2486WA to me for reviewing shortly after she was offloaded from her trans-ocean carrier. She was spectacular — not just in overall appearance and presentation, but also in her immaculate finish.
What’s more, I saw the boat not under the spotlight in an upmarket boat showroom, but in the backyard of KP Marine’s Durban workshop where its twin counter-rotating 200hp Mercury Optimax motors were being installed. Here came the first pleasant surprise for me.
“We’ll install the two motors in a couple of hours,” Kevin Jensen, co-owner of Blue Water Marine had told me over the phone after the craft had been offloaded and towed to KP Marine.
Indeed, I have heard that before and I fully expected to arrive after the stipulated “couple of hours” to witness holes being cut in the dash, with cables everywhere and the motors still in their boxes. In reality, the motors had already been hung and 95% of the installation had been completed.
“How was that possible?” I asked. Quite simply, when the craft is ordered from Ashland City, Tennessee, USA, the manufacturer is told what make and model of motors are to be fitted, and all preparations for these fittings are made in the final stages of completion.
The net result is that everything — from gauges to hydraulic steering — is in place and immaculately fitted, and all Blue Water Marine’s workshop manager, Kevin Smith, had to do was hang the motors, prime them with fuel and turn the key.
While I launched my boat, Sea Lord, off the beach at Vetch’s, the Triton 2486WA was slipped into Durban harbour at the Point slipway and proceeded to sea to rendezvous with me off Durban’s beachfront.
As she exited the breakwaters, with Blue Water Marine co-owner Duncan Campbell at the helm, she was planing at speed, her deep-vee monohull cleaving the choppy waters of tide against wind. Indeed, she was clearly displaying her pedigree — she looked beautiful.
Although the Triton factory is relatively new by American standards, having first commenced building craft in 1995, their crafts’ designs and ride have taken the smaller outboard powered boating market — both fresh- and saltwater — by storm. Today an average of twenty boats per day are delivered out of their Ashland City factory.
Soon it was my turn to see just how well she would perform in South African offshore conditions, and after seeing her exit port, I was anxious to take her controls and experience her ride for myself.
But first I needed to watch her perform for the cameras in the south to south-westerly wind that was beginning to blow as a cold front moved into Durban. This wind over the surprisingly large easterly swell provided an interesting sea, yet one this big monohull seemed to enjoy. The resultant photographs tell a good story of a fine craft riding this water in style.
The other interesting aspect of the test was in noticing that the Triton 2486WA was running rings around my own boat, a 21ft deep-vee that I have always considered to be a lover of a short, sharp sea.
With some delicate manoeuvring of the two craft, I made the crossing from one craft to the other deep off the Umgeni, and thereafter had the Triton 2486WA at my disposal for a few hours to get to know and appreciate.
As with most boat reviews, my modus operandi during the “getting to know the boat” stage is to set a course on a bearing that I think will provide me with the most comfortable ride, and then gradually power her up onto the plane. While holding her at that speed, I would then start playing with the factors that can and do make a difference to the craft’s ride.
A deep-vee is without doubt more sensitive than a twin-sponsoned craft and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that. Therefore, in addition to the motor trim, I also had to adjust the after-planers (or trim-tabs) to minimise the hull’s wetted area, while at the same time stabilising the transom area of the craft to obtain maximum lateral stability. After this is achieved, marginal bow-up or down adjustments are used to obtain the most comfortable ride in varying sea conditions.
The Triton 2486WA is true to form in that her deep-vee’ed bow and heavy shoulders provide her with inherent lift. This enables her to ride bow-up with minimal assistance from the trimming devices, i.e. motor or trim tabs. On a flat sea with small chop, her speed can be maximised by trimming her bow down marginally.
With motors just out of the box and revving at 4 500rpm, we glided over the water at 45 miles per hour. I did not open her right up to 5 500 rpm, firstly because the motors were so new, and secondly because ±40 knots is fast enough for me at sea.
Back to the sea trials. An unsettled sea with no direction is not good for small boats, yet the Triton 2486WA — with her bow into the swell and the wind chop hitting her directly beam-on — was able to maintain a steady 15 knots on the plane directly on a bearing 45°E. Not only did she maintain this course and speed, but she also provided us with an extremely comfortable ride with no pounding or jarring. And those of us aboard were completely dry.
With the flare of her bow, especially around the shoulders of the craft, the spray created by the hull over water was deflected low and far aft which, regardless of the direction of the sea and strength of the wind spray, was never an issue.
This craft comes with a full set of clears for the express-style helm station, thus affording good protection from cold as well as rain or spray, should the weather get really bad.
On reaching the open water deep off the Umgeni River mouth where there is no protection from the south-westerly, I swung her bow into the prevailing wind and increased throttle. At about 20 knots she cruised remarkably well, seeing that the big north-easterly swell was leaving big holes after we ran down the face of the swell.
My next test had to be to try and run her in a following sea. However, this did not happen with the swell against the wind, so the best way of judging her performance in this situation was to run the swell with the wind on the forward quarter.
The Triton 2486WA held her bow proud and ran with the swell, gliding down the faces, and we did not experience any drag or suck-back when reaching the trough. It was exhilarating, especially when we were running at close to 30 knots.
Out in the deep I wanted to try out her stability, both on the drift and at a very slow troll. Being used to my boat which is a rock-and-roller of note under these conditions, I was pleasantly surprised at how stable the Triton 2486WA was, both laterally and bow-into the sea. I experienced a fair degree of wind push when trying to troll at ’cuda speed on one motor with her bow just off the wind, but this is to be expected on a craft with substantial superstructure.
During fast trolling trials using both motors, not only could I hold direction in the prevailing sea and wind, but I also enjoyed only a minimal degree of effort swinging the helm to keep her on course. A further plus is that the twin Mercury Optimax 200hp motors, swinging 19-pitch, 4-bladed stainless-steel props, held her forward momentum at a constant speed. This augurs well for those planning to pull lures — especially konas — for marlin.
As mentioned above, Blue Water Marine have opted for twin Mercury Optimaxes to power the craft. Even though they were straight out the box, the two 200hp motors powered the craft with awesome performance. Even on one motor, with the other lifted, she was able to plane reasonably easily and maintain a good speed, even in rough water.
I found the power more than sufficient to get this craft to jump out of the hole, even after pulling out of very tight turns in simulated surf conditions. A big deep-vee like the Triton 2486WA banks significantly into a tight turn. Any skipper using this craft for surf conditions needs to be aware of this and should practise out at sea before launching through the surf, especially at launch sites where fast, sharp turns are required.
A factor that immediately caught my eye when I first saw the Triton 2486WA was its immaculate turnout and the attention to detail of her finish. I found myself admiring even the smallest aspects that combine to produce a good fishing machine. It’s the fishability of this craft that’s at the heart of the Triton 2486WA, and she not only has a spacious cockpit area, but a user-friendly one at that.
She is also a walkaround, which adds to the practicality of the craft for general gamefishing, as well for as chasing big tuna or billfish.
The cockpit or fishing platform offers an open deck with easy access to the coolbox and livebait well in the false transom, as well as a transom gate. As can be seen in the accompanying photographs, rod racks effectively house a full array of light-tackle rods and reels which can be stowed in rocket-style rod holders on the rear of the canopy framework, as well as on the aft of the false transom, when fishing.
Under the aft-facing, hinged, upholstered seats are the two very substantial fish boxes which extend forwards under the helm station deck.
As helm stations go, while space has been slightly restricted to allow for the walkaround feature, this area is comfortable enough for the skipper and one other crew member to stand or sit up in front while running to the fishing grounds. Two or more other crew members stand aft of the two seats and have comfortable hand-holds during such a run.
The skipper is well looked after. He has plenty of space, and the steering and control system is well positioned for skipper comfort. He also has a full array of gauges and electrical switches at his fingertips to control all that is happening aboard his Triton 2486WA.
Also fitted below deck are the two built-in fuel tanks that hold 571 litres, as well as a 75 litre pressurised freshwater system with a transom shower.
A hinged double panel door with locking flap provides access to the forward cabin. Here you will find a reasonably sized V-berth bunk bed that can be converted into a forward lounging area with a centre table, a small kitchenette and a porta-potty.
A novel feature is the hideaway storage for life-jackets. They are stored behind a zip-up flap in the canopy cover overhead the helm station. They are nicely and neatly stored out of the way, but in the event of an emergency, with one pull of the zip the life jackets virtually fall into one’s lap. It beats frantically trying to find the life-jackets if the boat is sinking.
Typical of the production craft now emanating from America is the fact that an extraordinary number of extras are included in the standard craft. A study of these numerous features needs to be undertaken when assessing the value of the craft. Indeed, the Triton 2486WA is truly a “turnkey craft” — just add rods, tackle and fuel, and you can be on your way to the fishing grounds.
This craft is also supplied on a substantial, double-axle trailer. Using a combination of an aluminum longitudinal main frame with galvanised cross members, not only does the trailer look good, but is also a lot lighter in overall weight than many similar trailers. After the test, her trip up to Johannesburg was relatively effortless behind Blue Water Marine’s Dodge Ram.
The Triton 2486WA monohull, the first of a series of offshore craft Blue Water Marine intends bringing into South Africa, is certainly worth a good look, and will certainly find a place in the mix of craft this size in southern African waters.