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September 21, 2007

Seaswirl Striper 2600 Walkaround

With a roomy cabin belowdecks and a big cockpit above, Seaswirl's new 2600 Walkaround is a boat you can take the family on and still do some serious fishing. We spent a couple of days fishing the 2600 off Islamorada in the Florida Keys, where the boat didyeoman's duty as we caught tuna, sailfish and dolphin.

The cockpit is well laidout for a 26-footer, boasting an intelligent use of space.We werefishing live bait, and naturally appreciated the optional 46-gallonlive well and bait-prep center in the middle of the transom bulkhead.The cockpit also features two shallow fishboxes that drain overboardbeneath the sole, as well as comfortable coaming pads all theway around. Our test boat had a conventional transom with a motorwell, but you can also order the boat with a bracket or an inboard/outboard.A small transom gate to port provides access to the motor well.

The 26-footer rode well in the offshore chop, and was quick with the twin 150-hp Evinrude FICHToutboards. The new Evinrudes were among the quietest two-stroke outboards we've ever tested,and performed flawlessly during our test. They pushed the 2600 toa cruise speed of 27.3 knots at 3500 rpm, and hit 43.9 knots at 5400 rpm (full throttle). The 2600's deep-veehull cut through waves without much problem, although the boatcould have benefitted from trim tabs.

Cabin Features

Taking a look below, alarge vee-berth occupies the forepeak. Basically, the entire cabinis a berth, with the excep tion of a small galley to port thatfeatures an alcohol stove and a fresh water sink. There's a mirroron the aft bulkhead and a storage shelf that runs all the wayaround the berth on the hullsides. The cabin is carpeted, anda porta potty sits beneath the berth, where it's out of the way.

The Striper 2600 is a lot of boat for the money.The helm area features twin seats that sit on top of fishboxes. These insulated boxesdrain overboard and could do double duty as coolers, or be used to hold loose gear. The boat's gauges are arranged tothe left of the wheel, and there's room for flush-mounting electronicsto starboard. Our test boat also featured the optional fiberglass hard top withan electronics box, additional rod holders, and a spreader light.

Being a true walkaround,the 2600 has wide areas for making your way to the bow for dockingor anchoring. It comes standard with a bow pulpit too, to makeanchoring even easier.

Seaswirl sells the 2600with a lengthy standard-equipment list that includes raw-waterwashdown, flush-mount stainless rod holders, hydraulic steering,cabin lighting, a locking cabin door, remote oil fills, coamingpads, a stainless steering wheel, and a Bimini top. Options include the transom bulkhead live well andbait station, the fiberglass top, a Sunbrella canvas en closure,and single- or twin-engine brackets. OMC power options start witha single 150-hp outboard, and range up to the twin 150's on ourtest boat. The hull is also covered by a ten-year transferablewarranty.

The Striper 2600 is a lot of boat for the money, one that is sure to be appre ciated by all membersof the family, from the kids to the hardcore fishermen. That makesowning one a win-win situation in our book.

Seaswirl Boats, Culver,OR; (888) 921-4662; www.seaswirl.com.

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