On a day that would test any hull, the 2600 Sports Cruiser's ride was its greatest asset.
Issue: September 2005
She may looks like an imported boat, but the Sea Spirit 2600 Sports Cruiser is built right here in Australia, at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. Sea Spirit is a relatively new boat builder that has been in the business for two years. It produces a range of boats from a 16- foot centre console through to the 26-foot Sports Cruiser tested here.
The Sea Spirit 2600 Sports Cruiser comes in two basic versions, outboard and sterndrive powered. The outboard version has its engine on a pod, allowing the room taken up by the engine bay in the sterndrive model to be used as an enormous dry storage locker. On the day of this test, Queensland's "beautiful one day, perfect the next" weather wasn't playing the game and the gusty winds really put the2600 Sports Cruiser's 23-degree dead rise hull through its paces.
No, it wasn't the best day ever experienced on the Gold Coast for boating, but it was an ideal day for boat testing. And the Sea Spirit excelled itself, delivering an impressively comfortable, so and dry ride, up until the trim tabs packed it in anyway.
Strong and gusty side winds normally demonstrate just how elective trim tabs are on deep-vee hulls like this one and it was a credit to the Sea Spirit's hull that it coped well without them. In a boat aimed at laid back cruising, on a day that would test any hull, the 2600 Sports Cruiser's ride was its greatest asset.
This boat is a sterndrive and is powered by an optional 5lt MPI MerCruiser (a V6 MerCruiser is standard) driving through a Bravo II leg. Unfortunately, the trim tabs weren't the only piece of equipment to pack it in during this test; the tacho went too. So our performance figures were restricted as a result. The 5lt MPI power option fitted to the test boat suited it well nonetheless. Muted V8 rumblings went well with the boat's imported look and left nothing to be desired in terms of performance. Spinning a 21" Mercury stainless steel propeller, we recorded an impressive top speed of 35.2 knots with the motor reaching 4200rpm, according to a wildly wavering tacho needle that is. Eight metre cruisers are spacious enough to be serious social boats and here too, the Sea Spirit excelled.
Its entire aft contains of an enormous horseshoe-shaped lounge/dinette. And I do mean enormous, it can easily seat eight adults without anyone getting too squeezy. The table also converts the lounge area into a dinette, which isn't shown in these photos. And while talking about photos, the difficulty our photographer experienced lighting the lounge area showed how well the canopy extension projecting aft from the Targa arch shades this area.
It's a definite plus in our sunny climate. The wide swim platform across the transom conceals the sterndrive leg and adds to the effective outdoor living area onboard the Sea Spirit. An extendable boarding ladder stows under a neat, flush cover, while moulded steps from the lounge make moving onto the transom platform easy.
Behind another cover, set into the side of the transom walkthrough, is a shower unit. This is plumbed with pressurised hot and cold water from the 90lt-watertank. Taking a shower may be a little breezy during the cooler weather, but there's an up side. Showering (outside) keeps the interior completely dry and leaves the sand and saltwater from swimming and beach activities out of the boat. Cooking on the 2600 Sports Cruiser is done on a portable barbecue that mounts into a rod holder. But there's also space on the bulkhead between the lounge and helm areas to use a small spirit or gas stove if preferred.
Behind the helm seat there's a small triangular sink, supplied with hot and cold water, via a "flickmixer" style tap. Hot water comes from a heat exchanger fitted to the motor's cooling system making it limitless up to the water tank's capacity anyway. Below the sink is a storage locker matched on the port side by a refrigerator.
The helm and passenger's seats aren't the deep bucket seats normally seen in boats of this type; it has mini bench seats instead. Having no sides, these seats will be comfortable during hot weather. There are also no footrests for the skipper and navigator, but they could be fitted easily. For security, the cabin door can be locked. Behind the helm, to starboard as you enter the cabin, the Sea Spirit 2600 Sports Cruiser has a full-size loo, rather than a portable version.
The vee-bunk in the bow is upholstered in marine suede and once the in fill is in place, it becomes a roomy double bed. The 2600 Sports Cruiser's cabin has a fully upholstered ceiling and the beige, cream and red decor makes you feel at home. There's a large hatch in the cabin roof and four portholes to keep the cabin's interior bright. The cabin's low profile restricts headroom a little, which makes it only a place to sleep, or for privacy when changing, which isn't a problem because of the well set-up aft area. Raising and lowering the anchor is handled by an electric winch, which makes a day on the water effortless.
All in all this boat follows the Sea Spirit's style and offers new owners effortless, laid back time out on the water.
The test boat was a sterndrive and powered by an optional 5lt MPI MerCruiser (a V6 MerCruiser is standard) driving through a Bravo II leg.
In blustery conditions with plenty of surface chop and three adults onboard, the Sea Spirit 2600 recorded a top speed of 35.2 knots at 4200 rpm.
Speed to RPM: 1.9 knots @ 600 rpm, 13.5 knots @ 2700, 47.4 knots @ WOT
HULL WEIGHT: 698kg
DEADRISE: 23 degrees
FRESH WATER: 90lt
+ 23-degree hull
Aft lounge -- Trim tabs lost it
Words by Warren Steptoe