by Shane Mensforth

I’ve always regarded Melbourne-built Whittley boats in a class of their own – not just because of their extremely high build quality and superb finish, but also because they occupy a market niche that’s really quite unique here. Up until quite recently, Whittleys were often considered to be ‘floating caravans’ – a term not used in a derogatory way – but rather to reflect the direction their designers had taken over several decades.
These days, however, things are considerably different at Whittley. While the boats still sport most of the clever features that make them so comfortable and family friendly, their lines, their hull shapes and potential applications have most certainly changed. You can still pick a Whittley from the crowd, but the boats are now far more sleek and deliberately styled to suit current trends.
Recently I was invited aboard a new Whittley Cruiser 2380, powered by a Volvo Penta sterndrive with DuoProp. It’s a rig that made quite an impression.

WHAT YOU GET
This model is designated as a fish/cruise/ski compromise and, powered by the big Volvo V6, there’s little doubt it will cover all three uses admirably. The boat is designed and fitted out to offer plenty for multi-purpose use and, like most Whittleys I’ve tested, it comes with a heap of well thought out internal features.
Whittley 2380 Cruiser 2
Whittley 2380 Cruiser 1Starting up front, the cabin is spacious enough to sleep two in absolute comfort. Bunk in-fill cushions are supplied as standard equipment, and you can order this model with a lockable cabin door if so desired for both privacy and security. The cabin floor is fully carpeted, and a chemical toilet is provided in the base package. This can be upgraded to an electric toilet with holding tank if the budget can be extended a smidgen.
It’s out in the Whittley Cruiser 2380’s saloon/cockpit area, however, you’ll find most of the traditional Whittley inclusions that make this boat so family friendly. Immediately aft of the cabin bulkhead on the passenger’s side there’s a neat, compact console that accommodates a sink with pressurised water supply, single burner stove and 12 volt fridge. A 100-litre tank provides ample fresh water for washing dishes or making coffee.
Seating for both driver and passenger comes in the form of deeply upholstered swivelling buckets. The helm seat is pedestal mounted, while the passenger’s seat sits atop a cavernous storage locker with dual compartments. The helm console is typical Whittley design – neat, compact and extremely driver-friendly. Gauges and instruments sit just below eye level while seated, and on the second tier you’ll find controls for bilge pump, deck wash, lights and similar accessories. Trim tab switches are located immediately adjacent to the throttle control, and both VHF radio and marine stereo are located here as well.
Whittley 2380 Cruiser 8An L-shaped bench/settee is positioned on the starboard side, aft of the helm, which converts to a comfortable bed if required. Integral to this conversion process is a handy pedestal-mounted table, which can be installed or removed in the blink of an eye. At the rear of the settee is a tank that can be used either as an icebox or plumbed for live bait. A handy walk-through door is located in the port side of the transom, leading out to a good-sized swim platform. In keeping with the fishing side of things, the Whittley Cruiser 2380 also carries three rod holders out back that are mounted on a stylish U-shaped security rail.
Full storm covers, clears and bimini top come as part of the standard package, which will be appreciated by those who enjoy overnighting and extended cruising. There’s no doubt that, despite Whittley’s bold steps into modern boating style, those traditional creature comforts remain.

POWER
The Whittley Cruiser 2380 is available in sterndrive configuration only, with a maximum of 280hp. The test boat was fitted with a 240hp Volvo Penta four-stroke, which turned in a truly sparkling performance. Provided water skiing wasn’t on the agenda, there’s no doubt you could opt for a 200 Volvo and shave close to $4000 off the cost. Remove the Duo Prop system from the power package and that figure drops by yet another $4k.
IMG_3250Whittley 2380 Cruiser 14
Whittley 2380 Cruiser 6ON THE WATER
With the torque and raw power provided by the big Volvo V6, I knew before stepping aboard that the Whittley Cruiser 2380 was going to be a flying machine. It’s a big, bulky rig that demands plenty of ‘grunt’ to work as it was intended, and that’s precisely what I found after exiting North Haven Marina and blasting out onto St. Vincent’s Gulf. Conditions were quite calm, providing the opportunity to push the boat hard.
Largely due to the combination of big horse power and the brilliant Duo Prop unit, the 2380 fairly leapt onto the plane when the I put the hammer down. Considering its bulk of nearly 2.5 tonnes, the hole shot was really quite remarkable, and we were soon rocketing along at 60km/h at 3500rpm. There’s absolutely no doubt this rig would pull two skiers effortlessly or, by adjusting revs and trim, a pair of wake boarders. This is the sort of versatility many prospective buyers will be looking for, and the 2380 offers it in spades.
Top speed over flat water was in the order of 80km/h at 6000 rpm, which is pretty damn quick for a boat of this size. Naturally, this is where maximum fuel burn will occur, but it certainly was exhilarating to travel at this pace in such perfect conditions.
Typical of the new generation Whittley hulls, the CR 2380 turns superbly at speed. I threw the boat into a series of tight turns at between 50-60km/h, experiencing minimal side slip and no noticeable cavitation. Once again, that Duo Prop option helps minimise loss of momentum in corners, and really assists the boat in hanging in there when driven hard. It’s this combination of hull efficiency and a great propulsion system that makes things work so nicely.
At a more sedate cruise speed of 45km/h and 3600rpm the big Whittley Cruiser 2380 was an absolute delight to drive. Without a fuel flow metre fitted I can’t provide any accurate consumption figures, but there’s no doubt this is where you’d want to be driving to achieve optimum economy.
Stability at rest is excellent, despite a relatively sharp deadrise of 20 degrees at the transom. This is a beamy, bulky hull that copes quite well with indiscriminately distributed weight. While underway the standard trim tabs would definitely help out leveling the rig under the influence of a cross wind or uneven load quite quickly.Whittley 2380 Cruiser 5
Whittley 2380 Cruiser 4ON THE TRAILER
The test boat rode on a trailer manufactured specifically for Whittley by Mackay. It’s a drive-on set up that proved a snack to use. It slipped effortlessly from the roller/Teflon skid-equipped trailer, and was just as easy to power back on a couple of hours later. Naturally, a rig of this size and weight demands a substantial tow vehicle with a larger four wheel drive undoubtedly the best way to go.
As our test was carried out at one of Adelaide’s metropolitan ramps, I can’t comment on highway towing, but I have little doubt that the Mackay dual axle trailer would be a snack to pull at speed behind the right vehicle.

OVERVIEW
I really like the way Whittley has responded to consumer feedback and taken giant strides into the future of boat design. There are five models in its Cruiser (CR) range, but for my money at least, the Whittley Cruiser 2380 stands out as the most versatile. As a serious angler, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but for those looking for a top class fish/cruise/ski compromise, this one certainly offers a bucket load of goodies.
Whittley 2380 Cruiser 15
Potential buyers who might have trouble convincing their better half about spending $100k-plus on a new boat certainly have plenty to present in the way of comfort, style and ease of use.

The test boat was supplied courtesy of Pitmans Marine in Adelaide.

POSITIVES
IMG_Whittley 2380 Cruiser 13Terrific interior fit-out
High comfort levels
Exceptional performance with this power plant

NEGATIVES
Bit tight in cockpit with table set up.

NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (from) $102,000, with 200hp EFI sterndrive (as tested) $124,957.
Construction: GRP
Length overall: 7.05m
Beam: 2.44m
Maximum power: 280hp (sterndrive)
Engine: Volvo Penta 240hp V6 DPS FWC
Fuel capacity: 208 litres
Weight on trailer: 2450kg

Save