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Seaswirl Striper 2301 CC

Seaswirl's Striper 2301 CC is a lot of boat for your money.

February 1, 2001
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We ran this boat for most of the summer, but one snotty day chasing bluefish taught me all I needed to know about it. The wind was blowing against the current in the narrow confines of the western Long Island Sound, tightly stacking up three-to-four-footers between us and the fish. Leaving the harbor we aimed into the waves, fully expecting a saltwater shower. But even at 30 mph, we stayed bone dry. And when we found a school of blues blitzing a group of peanut bunker, we were able to safely fish in the rocking waves due to the Seaswirl Striper 2301 CC’s deep cockpit and reassuring stability. Over the course of that day, as well as the rest of the season, the 2301 CC proved itself to be quite capable.

Another endearing feature of the 2301 CC doesn’t need a day on the water to be appreciated. If you’re in the market for a small center console, you’ll notice it right in the showroom: the price tag. The basic boat with a 200-hp Johnson sells for only $31,725. Even with a single 225-hp Evinrude Ficht Ram, the price remains under $40,000. Our test boat, powered beyond many boater’s needs with twin 150-hp Evinrudes, costs $47,540. All in all, that’s a lot of boat for your money.

VALUE ADDED. For starters, look at the cockpit. The boat comes standard with a 30-gallon livewell, a raw-water washdown, four recessed rodholders, and two stainless-steel rocket launchers in each gunwale. The aft coamings are padded, and moving forward, the raised 5’2″-by-5’8″ bow casting platform has a built-in, self-draining, 4’7″-by-1’10”- by-1′ fishbox. Add the optional aluminum T-top ($3,605) and you’ve still got a lot of boat for your dollar.

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Compare the 2301 CC’s features to another economical center console, the Canadian-built MPL-24 ($40,000 with a 225-hp Mercury EFI). It comes standard with a T-top, rocket launchers, and a trailer, but it doesn’t have any of the 2301 CC’s other amenities. The Robalo 2220 Center Console ($39,995 with a 200-hp Mercury) has more comparable standard features, including two livewells in the cockpit and a 109-quart fishbox in the forward casting deck. In addition, the 2220 Center Console has an 18-gallon freshwater cockpit shower, dual bilge pumps, and an electronics box at the helm. The 2220 Center Console also comes with hydraulic steering, an option on the 2301 CC. Look for other little things – like the 2220 Center Console’s one – piece stainless-steel bowrail compared to the 2301 CC’s assembled one-that make up the price differential.

THE HIGHS: Stable bow casting platform has lots of freeboard to keep you safe in rough water. Jumps on plane like a rocket. Nice stainless-steel grabrails let everybody hold on at the helm.** **

THE LOWS: Scuppers in sole have no screens and clog easily. Hatches rattled and bounced at higher speeds in chop. Toerail needs to be extended farther forward.

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Performance-wise, these boats are fairly similar. The 2220 Center Console has a 142-gallon fuel tank, which gives it more range than the 2301 CC. But the 2301 CC is about 1,000 pounds lighter, which helps to even things out. As did our test boat’s Evinrude Ficht Ram engines, which over the course of a season proved fuel efficient. We could take several long fishing trips on each fill-up.

ROCKET LAUNCHER. That aforementioned snotty bluefish day also amplified some of the 2301 CC’s drawbacks. Although we remained dry on the run out to the fish, the fishbox and anchor locker hatches slammed and rattled as the boat pounded a bit more than we expected. And when we backed hard to maneuver toward the school, dozens of little peanut bunker got sucked in through the aft scuppers. This gives an accurate idea of how big the scuppers are, helpful when it comes to draining the cockpit quickly. But the lack of screens led the scuppers to clog occasionally throughout the summer.

The good news? Here’s an economically priced boat where the builder didn’t just bolt on a roller chock for the anchor at the end of the pulpit. There is a long slot in the pulpit with a recessed roller. When you haul in the anchor, it stows neatly, out of harm’s way, under the pulpit. This setup made it easy to quickly drop the hook at hot spots and get it up faster when we needed to get underway to chase the birds.

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The good news? Here’s an economically priced boat where the builder didn’t just bolt on a roller chock for the anchor at the end of the pulpit. There is a long slot in the pulpit with a recessed roller. When you haul in the anchor, it stows neatly, out of harm’s way, under the pulpit. This setup made it easy to quickly drop the hook at hot spots and get it up faster when we needed to get underway to chase the birds.

Another nice touch? The thick stainless-steel grabrails around the center console, which you’ll need if you get the twin 150-hp Evinrudes. With 300 horses, the boat rockets on plane in 2.4 seconds, sending everything not held down – including you – flying toward the transom. Those twin 150s gave us great midrange acceleration and a top speed of 51.9 mph. We ran the boat with just one engine and it still planed and performed well. A 200-hp outboard might be the more sensible match for many boaters, bringing the top end into the high 30s or low 40s with better economy and range.

LIGHT BUILDUP. Seaswirl attributes the stability we discovered on the 2301 CC to its wide running surface carried forward and its reversed chines. That extra beam in the bow also explains why the 2301 CC pounds a bit underway. Don’t expect it to knife through waves, but then again, it doesn’t roll much at rest either. Seaswirl claims that the hull is efficient, which we don’t dispute. We bet that this efficiency comes mostly from the boat’s relatively light weight of 3,450 pounds. The one-piece stringer system is built from Fibercore composite, and the hull is foam cored for sound deadening and strength without excessive weight. With its silhouetted billfish graphics laid over a glossy isopthalic gel coat, the boat looks sharp as well.

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The dashboard has a handy gel-coated stowage locker with a spring-supported hatch, which is a great place to keep your wallet and handheld VHF or GPS dry. A hatch just underneath the throttles opens to reveal a tackle stowage compartment that holds two Plano tackle trays. The seat forward of the console has four additional rodholders for lighter gear. The cushion lifts up for access to a built-in cooler where you can throw drinks and lunch.

The center console contains a 5’4″-tall head that comes standard with a portable MSD. The pump-out MSD option adds another $803. The sole drains, but there is no ventilation, so we’d use it only in emergencies. Seaswirl fastens carpeting on the inside of the head with Velcro to cover up the wiring, but this tends to come down when running in rough water, so we took it out.

The adjustable drop seat allows two people to sit or stand comfortably at the helm and adds an additional four rodholders. The 2220 Center Console, however, has a cool tube built into the back of its captain’s bench to stow your charts.

About that bluefish day: We slammed ’em. The deep cockpit and high rails around the forward platform allowed us to fish with confidence from the bow as well as the stern, meaning more people had more chances to cast. Of course, the high sides make it more difficult to fly fish, but that’s a small price to pay for the chance to be out there in the first place.

SECOND OPINIONS. From the day we got the 2301 CC, it rattled and clattered (most of which could be fixed with thick gaskets and hatch clasps). But on the flip side, even after hard use the cacophony never got any worse. Being light – and relatively wide forward – the boat hits the waves hard. But its construction holds up to the abuse, which included being smashed against pilings by tugboat wakes at our dock. The light weight also makes the boat a flier. The twin 150s were fun in flat water, but even in a small chop they were more powerful than we needed. If you’re going offshore – which is the 2301 CC’s intended venue – it will get rough. Slow down and you’re fine. To save gas and your spine, many of you will want to opt for a single 200. The one thing you can’t change is the lack of toe recess along the inwales forward of the console. The cockpit may be deep, but there’s no way to get close to the side for fishing or line handling forward and still feel secure.

I’ll say this: With its twin 150-hp Evinrudes, the 2301 CC has some serious giddyup out of the hole. And don’t worry about that 4 a.m. run to the canyon, you’ll be able to get there in a hurry. If you’re not blessed with a day of flat water, however, hold on to the grabrails because you’re going to catch some air. As we headed out in a two-to-three-foot chop, there were some rattles but not a bolt or screw rolled to the floor. That’s a good sign in my book. What’s more, the sole was completely flex-free.

I had no problems fishing this boat. There were no hazards to my flying bucktails on the way out, and it was smooth swimming to get the blues back in. When I could get to them, that is. One option I would gladly pay for is a fishfinder with a depthsounder. To see crashing blues on the surface and not be able to reach them for fear of a damaged lower unit will ruin your day. You never want to hear the words “I wish I was surfcasting” when on a fishboat.

LAST WORD. A good, stable ride for a good price.

LOA …..24’2″

Beam …..8’6″

Draft …..2’10”

Displacement (lbs., approx.) …..3,450 ** **

Transom deadrise..20° ** **

Bridge clearance..6’6″ ** **

Minimum cockpit depth…..2’2″

Max. headroom..5’4″

Fuel capacity (gal.) ……….105

Price (w/standard power) ……….$31,725

Price (w/test power) ……….$47,540

STANDARD POWER: Single 200-hp Johnson V-6 gasoline outboard.

OPTIONAL POWER: Single or twin Evinrude or Johnson outboards to 300 hp total.

TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 150-hp Evinrude Ficht Ram V-6 outboards with 158 cid, 3.60″ bore x 2.58″ stroke, swinging 14 3/4″ x 17″ three-bladed aluminum props through 1.54:1 reductions.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Recessed under-gunwale rodracks; 4 flush-mount ss rodholders; ss steering wheel; 30-gallon aerated livewell; molded-in anchor rode channel in pulpit; dual batteries and switches; padded coaming bolsters; raw-water washdown; 3-step telescoping swim ladder; remote oil fill; navigation lights; bilge pump; six 8″ cleats.

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