Given the tough times in the marine industry, it is a bold move by Telwater, which has invested significant resources into making this work and is committed to it being successful with distribution through a national network of dealers. Telwater was up-front in stating the hulls are built in China and while I burred up at this and asked several probing questions, mainly about the effect on the Australian boatbuilding industry and buyer protection, I was clearly told, “it is a changing world”. The costs of manufacture are significantly less than here and some of that is reflected in the end price for the buyer.
These boats all have a Nereyda badge on the transom and a google search quickly confirms the New Zealand heritage of these boats, with Nereyda being a Greek translation for sea nymph. Nereyda is building its boats out of the Chinese factory for several other markets in addition to Australia, but the heritage is clearly from New Zealand where the Sea Nymph hulls have been well known for many years. Telwater does maintain a regular presence at the Chinese factory and when the package of completed hull, upholstery, windscreen and stainless hardware arrives in Australia, the final assembly is undertaken locally and the rig placed on a Telwater trailer and distributed through their network.
From a buyer’s perspective, the hulls are backed with a 10-year warranty in Australia and that is a big sweetener as Telwater is a big company with a great reputation in the market place. The cabin boats tested were supplied by Get Wet Boating at Ashmore and were a stock standard package apart from a bimini and envelope. Prices with the engines tested, on a trailer, safety equipment and rego, ranged from $34,318 to $62,172.
The range is aimed at the budget end of the market and clearly intended for families. The fitout lends each boat to be a multi-purpose crossover which includes casual fishing. Each hull has a full fibreglass stringer system and the basic flotation is achieved by air-filled void spaces.
The 485C is a compact cabin boat that would be excellent for first-timers. Sporting quality stainless fittings, lift out rear quarter seats and generous cabin space, this boat will attract a lot of interest. With a 75hp Evinrude engine there was plenty of zip and zing across a relatively smooth sea and good range from the 65 litre underfloor tank. While the mechanical steering could certainly do with an upgrade, the 19 degree deadrise and 510kg hull weight gave a smooth ride under way and was very stable at rest.
The 585C with more length at the waterline, another 250kg of bare hull weight and hydraulic steering as standard, lifted performance considerably. With an 85 litre underfloor tank and 130hp Evinrude it was more enjoyable to drive while being a bit heavy-handed on the throttle. I would be more careful with fuel range if planning a longer trip over open waters though.
By adding a sounder, GPS, VHF radio and the correct safety equipment this boat could be used in a bluewater application providing conditions were good and at $46,782 as tested represented good value for money. The next in the range, the 645 cabin, took family comfort to higher levels with features such as a rear ladder, transom grab rail and twin transom doors.
Access for water sports was excellent and as a budget family boat, $57,021 as tested, it was quite ergonomic at the helm and provided plenty of storage in the cabin and the short side pockets, as well as underfloor. Obviously due to a 22 degree deadrise, more centreline length and more weight in the hull, this boat performed effortlessly with a 175hp Evinrude on the back and in slight chop was very dry.
It was sure footed when travelling in all directions and benefited greatly from the hydraulic steering. The 170 litre underfloor fuel tank provides plenty of range and by removing the rear lounge there was plenty of comfortable space to fish at the transom. It was stable at rest, but I would love to see a bigger anchor well in the larger craft.
The 655 Cabin featured a walk around capability for ease of access to the anchor well. Again, a larger anchor well would be ideal as would some means of redirecting water in the walkround to the outside of the boat. With the 200hp Evinrude on the transom, it sizzled in the smooth conditions.
It has excellent mix and match capabilities, with the emphasis more on fishing than family fun. With a bit of tweaking of the ergonomics at the helm, and it is a bit squeezy there due to the external space taken by the walkround and resultant proximity of the floor drop down into the cabin when standing to drive, this boat could be well optioned into a selfish fishing platform thanks to its inherent stability and large cockpit.
In conclusion, it needs to be said that the overall external finish on all boats presented for testing was excellent, the quality of the fittings was right up there and while aimed at the budget / family end of the market, all packages represented good entry level value.