Author : Barry Tyler
Mustang Pleasureboats have developed a name over the years, both in Australia and yes, in spasmodic doses over the years also in New Zealand, for good wholesome all-round boating packages. Renowned for their sea-keeping abilities, when a model comes along labelled a ‘dedicated’ bluewater boat, immediately the curiosity level is aroused.
People have long regarded the Mustang Pleasure boat range as a pseudo bluewater range anyway, with their walkaround and cruiser models seemingly at home in all conditions, but certainly the thought of a 20-footer cuddy-cabin version raised the bar somewhat. How could a boat of this size, in family guise, be genuinely regarded as an offshore rig?
Ever since the Hancock brothers, Paul and David, took over the pleasureboat or trailerboat arm of the Mustang marque in 2001, they have been recognised within the Australian Marine Industry as the quiet achievers. Never afraid to step outside the circle in order to create a new concept in styling or manufacturing technique, the idea of portraying a family boat as a ‘bluey’ though was going to have to be good to convince the pundits (and myself). A great family boat yes, but miles out to sea with nothing but your credentials to get you home should the weather turn sour – wow!
My first glimpse of this most visually-appealing rig reminded me instantaneously of a ‘camera boat/magazine toy’ I had the use of in a previous Editorial position here in New Zealand, so much so that it was almost a feeling of love at first sight. So vivid were my fond memories of the ‘black boat’ (it was coloured black, of all colours), and so much in every detail was this boat the actual carbon copy of it, that I was seemingly convinced before I started. I considered our boat, then, to be the epitamy of the perfect all-rounder, at home well out to sea, or meandering up a river, and this one looked to have all the same attributes and characteristics. Both designers, then and now, have seemingly and most coincidentally had the same conceptual thoughts, and as such have come up with the same near-identical conclusions as far as size, shape and profile.
Hull and Mechanicals
The hull length was 6.25m in length and courtesy of the very European portofino rear boarding platform, the hull bottom or waterline length was able to be extended right aft to the transom line. There were three strakes each side, a reasonable chine, and a generous 21-degree rear deadrise – all strong bluewater pre-requisites. The ratio between the 6.25 length and 2.34m beam was about right for an efficient deep-vee hull, and the dry weight of 1000kg was indicative of the kind of strength that is so obviously built into the hand-laid GRP and composite-strengthened hull.
Recommended power is outboard, from 115hp through to 200hp, which gives some insight into the efficiency of a ‘bluewater’ hull that it is still able to be powered by as little as a 115hp, yet at the other end of the scale will handle a 200hp offshore-suitable engine. Power for our test rig was one of the new-evolution 150hp Yamaha 4-stroke engines, a veritable pocket-rocket that ran a standard 19-inch pitch Yamaha propeller. The Smart gauge and the remote controls were Yamaha standard issue, and steering I am pleased to say was hydraulic, in this instance an example from Seastar. The helm dash featured a non-standard electronics package of Navman sounder and GPS/plotter, a BEP switch panel, and below the wheel, a VHF radio.
Stepping into the cockpit sensibly was via the boarding platform level to port, although you could use the starboard side (boarding platform) to enter from as long as you don’t mind working your way around the generously-sized live-bait tank/cold storage facility, which was recessed into the transom upright. There was a separate albeit shallow ‘well’ arrangement that separated these two ‘boarding platform’ levels, and as well a three-rung boarding ladder, ski-towing eye, grab-rail, transom shower, comprehensive bait station, and remote fuel filler were all standard equipment there. Very well appointed in fact, everything on this boat was standard barring the split bow rail, bimini, Clarion CD up-grade, electronics package, galley upgrade, cockpit carpet, and for me the must-have, the two -tone hull.
A full-width fold-down rear lounger against the transom upright easily seated four adults, but even with people seated there, there was still plenty of space left in the cockpit. Typically of course king/queen seat configurations take up more room than pedestal seating, but in this instance the boat was being supplied to a larger family who saw the need to have the whole family in under the shade/shelter of the overhead bimini.
Expectations are that a bluewater boat traditionally has a sparse and often-basic interior, but this Mustang was anything but – again a pleasing aspect that certainly enhanced the ‘family’ theme. Included in the helm seat module assemblies were under the folding seats, to port a sink with dry storage underneath, and to starboard, a generous size ice-box. Extending the galley theme, a strategically-placed side cupboard to port, folds down to reveal a single-burner gas stove that dove-tails in beside the sink. The floor was carpeted, the full-length side panels were upholstered storage facilities that blended in nicely with the rest of the interior, and there was even an optional five-seater cockpit table (that doubles as a bunk infill).
Helm seating was in effect two (short) pedestal-mounted adjustable bucket seats attached to these king/queen bases, which provided most comfortable seating for extended periods – in my mind an absolute must in a bluewater situation, especially when they are mounted as solidly as these were. Nicely-presented moulded footrests, along with well placed side grab rails and a windscreen grab rail, allowed you to lock yourself into a perfectly safe and secure seating position.
Despite the fact you were seated behind what was in effect a reasonably high front bulkhead or dash feature, nestled in behind the Taylor-Made wrap-around front windscreen, there was still however good visibility to the bow of the vessel. For the skipper, the best part about this higher than traditional dash level was the inherent bonus of a decidedly uncluttered dash facia, despite the level of specification of the electronics package that was fitted to this particular version. A most ergonomic helm area in fact, comfortable, everything at your fingertips, and room for even more ‘gadgets’ if you so desired.
The cabin, a full ‘liner’ assembly accessed through a central ‘lockable’ (easy) sliding acrylic ‘shaped’ cabin door, had deceptively large (you find out when you get in there) twin-berth accommodation below. Nicely upholstered squabs offered a modicum of class to the area, and the infill when fitted formed an ideal double berth, or alternatively area for restless and bored children. Appointments in here included lighting, a behind-dash cover, back-rest shelving, portholes, and an overhead hatch that provided good access to the anchoring facilities. Optional extras available for this cabin area included the carpet, the fully-lined interior, a bunk infill, and for the family, a porta-potti or electric marine head.
I mentioned good access to the bow, for this is an area of boating that is so often neglected. Yes you might have a hatch in some cases, but what a real back-breaker it can be to actually gather the anchor in – especially if you are in deep water (takes longer). In short it is sadly and all too often an intelligence-insulting after-thought, but not so in the case of the Mustang 2000 Bluewater. Everything was right at your fingertips, for the more aesthetic (standard) stainless steel anchor could mount permanently on the moulded bowsprit if you so desired (in this instance a winch was fitted anyway), and the Weaver hatch was close enough to the bowsprit. In short, there was no need to go up onto the foredeck – hence the fitting of the less-substantial bow-rails.
Interestingly, having done at the same time a test on an aluminium version of roughly the same length bluewater boat, it would be a most interesting exercise comparing the two manufacturer’s interpretations of a bluewater hull. Having been buffeted by some fairly windy conditions of late, our test once again was to be a genuine offshore experience, albeit still within the confines of the harbour.
A bluewater boat is often called upon to troll for long hours, and in the first part of our test we experienced an above-average result, for the 2000 rode at pre-plane speed at a decidedly level attitude. Even from speeds around 8mph the hull was itching to get up on the plane – efficient was a descriptive that immediately sprang to mind. And once up on the plane, it cruised nicely really at whatever speed you wanted. For me, a speed of around 30mph was perhaps the most pleasant, accentuated of course by the engine.
As I allude to regularly, the Yamaha 150hp 4-stroke is one of ‘those’ engines that does everything just so well, and contributes so much to the overall enjoyment factor in boating. Sure the 19″ propeller maybe could have come back to a 17″, or indeed you could even have tapped the bank balance slightly more with another ‘fancier’ stainless steel version, so as to improve overall performance slightly, but really I think the top speed of 41mph was acceptable. And certainly sufficient power to cope with a heavier payload and when addressing the definite pre-requisite for offshore work and especially down-hill work – where you need to dig your way out of troughs or bar situations.
Interestingly, a little while later I had the opportunity to try one of these 2000 models running a 175hp Mercury Optimax engine alternative (with 19″ 3-blade Laser stainless steel propeller), and while the weight, cubes and other influencing factors were all within a ‘bull’s roar’ of each other, the 2-stroke certainly had the ‘wheels’ on its 4-stroke counterpart. With another 200rpm (we managed 5800rpm) up our sleeve, we still recorded a top speed of just over 50mph.
Throwing the Mustang around, even in the choppy conditions, I couldn’t really say much more than the 2000 did everything as per my expectations of a genuine bluewater hull. As I suggested earlier, with experience you can look at a hull and have a rough idea whether it is going to be right or wrong – long before you even step aboard. This was one of those boats. It tracked well, was stable underway, and incidentally quite stable at rest too, despite the generous rear deadrise; it was dry, most importantly it felt safe, and certainly it was most predictable, whatever it was you were doing!
The extra weight coupled with the better presentation of the Mustang 2000 Bluewater’s underhull shape is clearly illustrated when it matters most, powering into head seas at speed, and in summing up I would go as far as to say this is arguably one of Mustang’s best handling, safest hulls – a big call! Plus, it has the comfort aspect to boot, with some very handy user-friendly ‘family’ features Mustang has gone just that little bit extra with. It is a deluxe version that can virtually be everything to everyone, what I would term a good wholesome all-round boating package. Proving itself more than competitive in the pricing stakes, this comprehensively-equipped version is offered at a price of $/////////////////, which for a bluewater boat with the added benefit of the ‘family’ aspect – must be seen as good value for money.
- Model: Mustang Pleasureboats 2000 Bluewater
- Designer: Mustang Pleasureboats
- Material: GRP composite lay-up, hand-laid
- Type: Cabin
- LOA: 6.50m
- Beam: 2.34m
- Deadrise: 21 degrees
- Hull Configuration: Deep Vee mono-hull
- Trailerable Weight: 1850kg approx
- Engine Capacity: 115-200hp
- Power Options: Outboard only
- Fuel Capacity: 185-litre underfloor
- Engine: Yamaha F150