Simon Everett gets aboard the new Orkney Longliner 16 to see how this established boat has been updated and improved.

The modular concept has been around in the automotive trade for many years. Orkney have introduced this versatility of fitting out with the all-new Orkney Longliner 2, and it is not just available at the initial build stage either. The tried-and-tested Longliner 16 has stood the test of time, having been in production for over 35 years, and it still provides the inspiration for the new model. The Longliner 2 is an all-new design, with a new, improved hull, in keeping with the established Orkney heritage, but a fresh, modern look.

The Longliner 2 has a flat, moulded cockpit sole that provides a larger, more comfortable standing area than the narrow sole of the original. The standard boat has the aft thwart moulded over the buoyancy tanks in the quarters and the fuel tank stowage under, for use with a tiller-steered motor, but the remainder of the interior is left as an open launch that can then be fitted out to suit the particular use. Several accurately moulded options are available, each of which can be retrofitted should circumstances or budget change over time.

The midships thwart sits onto moulded knees and simply drops into place before being bonded. The forward plain thwart butts up to the forward bulkhead, or an alternative U-shaped seating option can be installed that still allows access to the forepeak and provides additional seating down either side for more passengers. A console for wheel steering is another option, together with seat boxes to suit, and finally a removable cuddy can be added to provide some weathering capability. Each of these elements can be added at a later date, so it is possible to start off with a tiller-steered open launch and in a year or two end up with wheel steering and a cuddy. The benefit to the customer is that the budget can be spread over a longer buying period as capital allows.

Under the cockpit sole there is a full-length GRP spine that provides massive strength without adding a great deal of weight. The simulated clinker planking not only maintains the traditional, workmanlike look, but adds stiffness and helps to deflect spray. By keeping the weight down, something Orkney have always been known for, less power is required, saving fuel and capital cost on engine size. Being a semi-displacement hull she will potter along quite happily at 6 knots on just 8hp, but with wheel steering and a 25hp outboard she will zip up to 22 knots.

I had a day out in Poole Harbour to get acquainted with the new boat, which had been fitted out with just the midships thwart, leaving the remainder of the cockpit as open deck space. A tiller-steered 15hp Yamaha long-shaft outboard sits on the aluminium-plated transom, with a protective strip that runs full width across the top edge of the engine well. It was obvious from the outset that she is nicely built, with crisp edges to the mouldings and foam-filled buoyancy voids that help to dampen the sounds transmitted through the hull. This hull is an all-new design from the same pen as the Nelson motor launches. Little wonder, then, that she has seakeeping to spare with the high freeboard and even higher fo’c’sle. The lines incorporate tried-and-tested traditional traits, such as the maximum beam carried just short of the midway point, tapering away towards the stern and given just a hint of tumblehome. These features aren’t obvious until the boat is viewed from astern, so for most people the fresh, modern profile is what they will see. Even less obvious with the boat on the water is the three-quarter-length keel, which holds the boat abeam on the drift and with the protective stainless steel keel strip provides protection for beaching.

So the Longliner 2 is a morphing of ancient and modern to give a substantial platform on the water. The established seakeeping qualities, with a lighter, more efficient hull to reduce power consumption, make towing and launching easier, and there is a wider range of options in the layout stakes to make the boat appeal to a much wider range of potential users.

Stepping aboard with the boat afloat, the first thing you notice is the stability from the beamy nature of the boat. The uncluttered cockpit makes moving around so easy. That expanse of grey-painted deck drains aft into a bilge well with a manual pump fitted. The fuel tank nestles neatly under the aft thwart, out of the way but handy for topping up. The fuel line is fed through to a top hat in the engine well, again ensuring neatness in the cockpit. There isn’t much stowage with this layout, other than the forepeak, accessed through the watertight hatch on the forward bulkhead, and the shelf stowage under the centre thwart. On the foredeck, an open anchor well keeps the ground tackle and warp at constant readiness and contains the dirt from a muddy anchor. The deck furniture is minimal but sufficient and of a decent size. There are the usual strategically placed mooring cleats and a stemhead roller, stainless steel U-bolt for winching onto a trailer and rowlocks set into the gunwale.

On the water, the new Longliner 2 not only looks the part but provides a comfortable ride at a sedate pace with the 15hp outboard, cruising happily at 8 knots, and with the throttle wide open she managed to achieve 12.8 knots with two of us and our kit aboard. In this form, though, the boat isn’t about speed, it is about practical access to the water. The ride was very pleasant and the generous freeboard ensures she is a dry boat, even butting through some short chop. The rounded bilge rides the waves in a controlled and confident manner befitting the Orkney reputation and providing a level of stability at slow speed or stopped that will ensure relaxed comfort for those aboard; standing up or moving around doesn’t result in wild angles of list or sudden lurches.

With the tiller steering, most of the weight is aft and as such doesn’t provide the best trim, but the boat performs well enough and is certainly manoeuvrable, spinning around in her own length, and remaining rock solid as she does so. This kind of wild manoeuvre is well beyond the realm of normal boating but goes to illustrate the inherent seakeeping of the hull. With the additional seating forward and wheel steering she will ride even better and perform a little better too due to the better angle of trim. Put a 25hp motor on the back and she isn’t too shabby in the speed stakes either: with a cruising speed around 15–18 knots and a flat-out maximum of 22 knots, she can cover some ground.

The Longliner 2 offers a really advantageous range of options. I love the fact that owners can add to their boat with tailor-made mouldings at a later date, including the bolt-on forward cuddy. The removable aspect of the cuddy allows the boat to be stored in a standard garage and then the cuddy reinstalled when the boat is recommissioned. It is a bit more than a five-minute job, but at the start and end of the season it could be considered just part of the winterisation process. You could even choose to leave the cuddy off for the summer and put it on for the winter.

Whether left open or used with the cuddy, the Longliner 2 is a modern take on a traditional launch that provides an easy-handling and affordable boat with some serious capability to nip further offshore when conditions allow.


  • LOA: 4.88m (16ʹ 0ʺ) Beam: 1.83m (6ʹ 0ʺ)
  • Dry weight: 270kg (600lb)
  • Power: 6hp – 15hp tiller steering, 15hp – 25hp remote steering
  • Max. design speed: 22knts

Thumbs Up

  •   Solid, crisp build without being heavy
  •   High freeboard
  •   Retrospective fitting-out options

Thumbs Down

  •   Limited built-in stowage


As tested with Yamaha F15CMHL: £8,816.20 (inc. VAT)

Boat only: From £4,392 (inc. VAT)

Golden Arrow Marine Poole

27 West Quay Road

Poole BH15 1HX

Tel: 01202 677387

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