Two years ago Chaparral introduced a new line of sportboats designed to compete dollar-for-dollar with the boats in the "affordable" category. It was a gutsy move for a premium builder, but one that has paid off as the H2O line of boats has quickly established itself and seems to be here to stay. Now the builder is expanding the line by adding a sixth model to the H2O line up. It is the H2O 21 Ski & Fish seen above.
Bow casting platform
Built-in 70 qt. livewell with aerator
Rod holder in starboard seating area
Fiberglass molded bowrider area with storage underneath
Removable bow and stern cushions
Sound system with CD player and MP3 jack
Integrated swim platform with 3-step boarding ladder
Ski storage in floor
Trailer includes 14'' tires with galvanized rims
Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) Specifications
21' 0'' 6.40 m
3,200 lbs. 1,452 kg
8' 4'' 2.54 m
3,860 lbs. 1,751 kg
32'' 81 cm
40 gal. 151 L
4' 8'' 2.24 m w/ tower
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) Captain's Report
The new H2O 21 Ski & Fish is equipped to be an effective -- and stylish -- dual console, dual-purpose boat for the whole family at a reasonable price.
Mission of the H2O 21 Ski & Fish
Obviously people can fish from nearly any boat that floats. But most anglers tend not to want to do it from boats not specifically made for the job. The trouble is that there are other members of the household who would like to do other things on the boat besides fishing -- and this will increase as kids get older. Thus was born the "ski-and-fish" concept, something that goes back decades. Now H2O has introduced its own version of this concept based on the H2O 21 Sport hull. She is designed and equipped to do it all.
Overview of the H2O 21 Ski & Fish.
The H2O 21 S&F is based on the successful H2O 21 Sport. All of its major dimensions are the same except weight -- the dry weight of the 21 S&F is 250 lbs. (113.6 kgs.) heavier. Essentially the models are the same except for the dedicated fishing features that have been added to the S&F model. It is surprising how well a sportboat can be adapted for freshwater and salt water fishing.
Viva la Difference
What is the difference between the H2O 21 Sport and the 21 S&F?
First, the added standard equipment: we couldn't have a freshwater and inshore salt water fishing boat without a trolling motor, in this case a Motorguide trolling motor mounted to the bow.
Second, a 70 qt. livewell with aerator built into the aft bench seat, with all of the support pumps and hosing required. This is precisely where the insulated ice cooler was on the 21 Sport.
Third, two casting seats are supplied and serve double-duty, one for the bow and one for the stern. Their pedestal bases are affixed to the appropriate places for casting, and when cruising or for watersports they live in the cockpit.
Fourth, rod storage has been added in the side panels in the cockpit's bulwarks. A lockable rod locker has also been added to the starboard seating area in the bow.
There have been some other changes and upgrades to the 21 S&F, too, but they are mostly cosmetic, and we will point them out as we inspect the boat more closely.
Heading out to the fishing grounds or just cruising? We guess the latter because all of the standard cushions are in place.
The Chaparral H2O 21 Fish & Ski has a LOA of 21’ (6.4 m), a beam of 8’4” (2.54 m), and a draft of 32” (81 cm). With an empty weight of 3,200 lbs. (1,452 kg), full fuel and 2 people onboard, we had a test weight of 3,620 lbs. (1,642 kg).
The Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish shows a stylish profile with the wide hull coloring and gently curving sweep to the transom.
With the 220-hp catalyzed MerCruiser 4.3 MPI turning a 21 pitch 3-bladed prop, we reached a top speed at 4800 rpm of 47.6 mph. At that speed we were burning 15.6 gph giving us a range of 110 miles. Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 29.3 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to only 6.9 mpg which the H2O 21 could keep up for 153 miles and 5 hours and 12 minutes while still holding back a 10% reserve of fuel.
We reached planing speed in 3.4 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 5.6 seconds, and continued running through 30 mph in 9.1 seconds.
Upon acceleration the bow comes up 15-degrees with no loss of visibility to the horizon from the seated position. Once on plane, bring the trim up to about the ¼ mark on the trim gauge to get her into her optimal cruise attitude. If the trim is brought up too much, the propeller will start to ventilate, then just bring it back down and it will be just about ideal. When turning, she leans 13-degrees into the turn and she clings to the water like she’s on rails. There was no noticeable chine-walk during the turns except when turning hard at full speed, something rarely done during normal operations. When taking power off she settles back into the water stern first.
The H2O 21 leans 13-degrees into the turns which keeps everyone firmly planted comfortably in their seats instead of being thrown to the outside of the turns.
Standard Engine. The standard engine on the H2O 21 S&F is the Mercury 4.3 L MPI 220-hp engine with Alpha drive. The upgrade option is the 260-hp Mercury 5.0 L engine.
Test Results of the H2O 21 Ski & Fish--
The 21 S&F with her bow in cruising or watersports mode.
With the cushions removed and casting seat in place she is now in fishing mode.
The starboard locker is rigged for rod storage even though it is not shown here.
The bow seating is much the same as any other bowrider, and includes a wraparound bolster fully forward. This allows for aft facing seating from the center cushion. Bow cushions on the 21 S&F are standard. They can simply be removed when using the bow as a casting platform.
Details. To starboard the locker is rigged out for rod storage and a pedestal mount is installed on the centerline for the casting chair. Forward there is an anchor locker, pre rigged with holders for a Danforth-type anchor. The pre-rigged electrical outlet for the standard trolling motor is in the anchor locker, a good place for it as it is dry there.
Moving aft, there is storage in both the port and starboard consoles. The air dam is optional.
Anchor locker is made-to-order from an 8-lb. Danforth-type anchor.
Note the wide hatch with gas assist strut for the cockpit sole storage. The snap-in carpet is optional.
The boat has a well-designed windshield that looks racy and is wraparound. Both the helm seat and the companion seat are standard bucket seats although "Ultra-Comfort" pedestal seats with flip up bolster are available and shown in the images throughout this report. The port console has a glove box and there is more storage under the dash.
Between the seats is a large hatch that opens to storage for boards and gear. In the port side gunwale is dedicated rod storage.
The "back seat" of the 21 S&F. Note the configuration of the port and starboard seats which double as casting seats.
With the casting seats removed and all hatches open we can see that the livewell is being used this day as a cooler. The 21 S&F must be in watersports mode.
The Back Seat. Across the back of the cockpit is a platform that is significantly different on the 21 S&F vs. the 21 Sport. First, in the centerline locker there is a 70 qt. livewell with aerator with a drain. This box is insulated so it can be used as a self draining cooler when the boat isn't being used to fish. The wide hatch over this compartment has a padded cushion and there is a back cushion affixed to the motor box.
Dual-Purpose Seats To port and starboard the 21 S&F has dedicated, purpose-built seats with the back and bottom connected. These seats fit into bases that have been embedded into the hatches over access to the storage on port and starboard. Shown in the image above is the optional air pump and fishing seat pedestal. To open the hatches these seats must be removed. When fishing these seats double as casting chairs and fit onto adjustable pedestals on the aft deck (aka sun pad deck) and the bow.
When four anglers are fishing, they all have a place to sit, both when traveling and when fishing.
A nearly full beam sun pad has cushions that flip up revealing storage hatches and a non-skid walkthrough to the cockpit to both sides. These removable snap on cushions are standard on the 21 S&F and obviously they will be left at the dock when fishing.
The helm console of the 21 S&F is made in earth tones which makes the boat look more up-scale. A fish finder is optional.
We like the optional faux burl wood panel and the simulated wood steering wheel.
Bucket seats for the helm and companion are standard. Shown here are the optional bucket seats with the flip-up bolsters.
The optional faux burl wood panel is carried on in the port console. Note placement of the standard stereo control in the walkthrough.
Instrument Panel. The helm console is molded fiberglass and Chaparral has made it an earth tone which looks rich. Adding to the affect is an optional faux burl wood plastic instrument panel which comes packaged with the wood-treatment steering wheel. The helm definitely looks more up-scale on the 21 S&F than the gray treatment on the 21 Sport, in our opinion.
Gauges. Three gauges are mounted to molded mounts at the top of the panel and Chaparral went with stainless bezels surrounding fog resistant lenses. A separate panel is just below the three primary gauges that houses waterproof toggle switches to either side of the fuel gauge and the optional digital depth gauge. To the right of the instrument panel is a small shelf for the optional Garmin 150 Fishfinder.
Storage space under the helm console.
There are rod holders in the starboard cockpit gunwale.
Breakers. All of the gauges and toggles are water resistant on the boat. One of the features we like most, and one that is unusual at this price point are the circuit breakers, rather than automotive-type fuses.
Sport Arch. The sport arch can be purchased separately and collapses forward easily enough. The Bimini is available as an additional option, color matched to the boat, of course. An elevated tow point is at the top of the arch, reached through an access flap in the Bimini, and this tow point also supports the all-around navigation light.
The aft deck is now in fishing mode. Note deck hatches to storage compartments port and starboard.
Engine Box. The hinges for the lid to the engine box are at the transom and the lid opens from the front. Port and starboard there are walkways back to the swim platform and under them are storage compartments -- a good place to put water toys and wet bathing suits.
Swim Platform. The fiberglass swim platform is integral to the hull. To starboard is a three-step re-boarding ladder.
For Fishing. This boat has surprisingly few fishing equipment options given the fact that it is a ski-and-fish boat. The builder has provided some of the items of equipment that are needed for fishing such as the freshwater trolling motor and livewell with apparatus. Nevertheless, there are still a few items that even a casual angler will want to make provision for: a fishbox or bucket, a cutting board, rod holders, a bait bucket, and a place for tackle and tools. Most of these things can be brought aboard and simply placed in the existing storage compartments or on the deck.
For Skiing/Wakeboarding. There is a towing eye on the transom for skiers and adequate storage under the deck for boards. However, wakeboarders will probably want the advantage that a high tow rope can provide and only an arch can do that. H2O offers the "Velocity Package" which offers most of the things wake enthusiasts would want, such as the tower, Hydro-Turf on the swim platform, fixed board racks and special graphics.
The swim platform is flush and has a three-step boarding ladder.
Question #1.The first question most people will ask is if the standard 220-hp engine has enough power for the task at hand. The answer is simply how many people will be loaded aboard and how fast does the owner want to go? Check the tables on BoatTEST.com of boats powered by a 220-hp engine and guidance will be found. Also, we suggest asking the boat dealer -- he/she will know.
Question #2. The second question people are likely to ask is which boat is better, the H2O 21 Sport or the 21 Ski & Fish. Clearly the 21 S&F is set up for fishing, so it should be better for that purpose, but how about skiing or wakeboarding? The answer is probably the 21 Sport, although the heavier boat will make a bigger wake.
The point is that this is a boat that is designed for the family to handle both watersports and casual fishing and it was for that mission that the H2O 21 S&F was designed.
Looks peaceful to us. Isn't that what fishing is all about?
How to Save Money on Boat Buying? We are often asked how to save money on boats, and our answer is always the same -- get the right boat first, not on the second or third stab. The H2O 21 Ski & Fish is a good example of just what we mean. Little Johnny might like to fish with Dad when he is six or seven. But when he is in his teens he will want to be boogying on a board in front of his girlfriends. Buying a boat that will serve a family's needs for the long haul is the best investment.
Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) is 47.6 mph (76.6 kph), burning 15.60 gallons per hour (gph) or 59.05 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) is 29.3 mph (47.2 kph), and the boat gets 4.24 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.8 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 153 miles (246.23 kilometers).
Tested power is 1 x 220-hp MerCruiser 4.3L MPI cat.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) Standard and Optional Equipment
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
= Standard = Optional
Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) Warranty
Chaparral H2O 21 Ski & Fish (2014-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
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