Westerberg 5.2 Barra Boat Boat Reviews
Boat Review Date: August 2009
Author: Mike Brown
Westerberg is one of the oldest, perhaps the very oldest, WA plate aluminium leisure boat builders, and until a couple of years ago it was run by Mr Westerberg himself. New owner Paul Gilbert has taken over, but Westerbergs are still built in Albany by the same team of craftsmen.
Curiously, the first Westerberg I have reviewed in years was built for service in the opposite corner of the state from Albany: the Kimberley. Various interpretations of the barra boat have appeared in the few years since people first thought there might be a specialised type here, and Westerberg’s version is probably middle of the road.
It is basically a centre console with a slightly lower freeboard than average; self-draining, of course – this builder pioneered self-draining decks in small boats. The deck is all on one level, so no tripping hazard for an angler concentrating more on fish than feet.
There is good clearance either side of the console for the mobile fisherman despite the console being wide enough to give good shelter, but it would be a good idea to limit the number of people on the same side. This boat has the heritage of lumpy Albany waters, and has the unusually steep deadrise for this size boat of 15 degrees. The result is a little more willingness to heel than average.
The big market for this model has been for use on Lakes Kununurra and Argyle, but the boats have a sideline of ocean trips where that sea kindly hull is welcome. Cambridge Gulf, let alone the adjacent ocean, can get thoroughly corrugated. Rather like some of those Kimberley roads.
There are rails all the way up each side – surprising numbers of centre consoles limit the length of rails, yet these are the boats with few or no seats and passengers will be looking for handholds. We gave the rails some use, giving the boat its head with four on board on a more than just choppy Swan River.
The sharp bottom paid dividends in these conditions, providing a very acceptable ride and an unusually dry one. Centre consoles with low spray potential are pearls beyond price.
The motor giving our boat a work out was a 90 Honda. A lot of motor for this much boat, only a touch below the maximum of 100hp. Buyers in the generally lower wind north like their horses, and they often have plenty of ground to cover. A clue to just how much travel is expected is provided by the monster 220L fuel tank. Users with less need for speed could go down to the minimum recommended 60hp and still get good performance, with the bonus of a healthy price reduction.
The 5.2 is a tough beast, with 4mm bottom, 3mm sides, 5mm frames and 6mm stringers, and all the visible parts went together well. For instance all the concealed edges had any dags or sharpness thoroughly cleaned off them.
The interior was left about as clear as it could be, without even a seat taking up deck room. Simplicity, but with all the essentials in place. Full length side pockets and the console interior provided storage, the latter with a mid-height shelf and a carpeted pound at deck level. The fisherman gets four rod sockets and a permanent bait tray and the steering, often stiff in centre consoles, is smooth and non-feedback.
The supplied GPS-sounder, a Humminbird 767, is a pedestal-mount on top of the console. If you wanted something grander, the builders could cluster the engine gauges closer together and leave room for the biggest of screens on the dash.
Westerberg built the trailer as well as the boat, both in aluminium. This is becoming more common, but the usual reason for an aluminium trailer is to get total weight within a figure to suit the likely towing vehicle. The 5.2 is not in that heavyweight category, and Westerberg’s reason was to reduce corrosion and extend trailer life. In the same spirit, suspension is by torsion bar instead of leaf spring.
The 5.2 is an attractive package, with extras like VHF, deck wash, navigation lights and boarding ladder included the price of $45,000. That it is physically attractive as well, with its slight reverse sheer, is a bonus.
Price from $44,500
Length overall 5.2m
Fuel capacity 220L
Power range 60 – 100hp