When it comes to flats boats, there's usually a large tradeoff between handling capabilities and skinny water accessibility. With the Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 we found the opposite to be true. Our tests showed a very capable and nice handling boat in the chop, but one that allowed us to access seemingly impossible shallow water.
The Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 has an LOA of 18' 1" (5.51 m), and a beam of 6' (1.83 m). Our test boat was powered by an Evinrude E-TEC 115.
Our test boat was powered by an Evinrude E-TEC 115. With an empty weight of 940 lbs (426 kg), half fuel, and two people on board we had a test weight of 1797 lbs (815 kg).
Our top speed was reached at 5350 rpm and 42 mph. At that speed we were burning 11.6 gph and getting 3.61 mpg for a range of 84 miles. Pulled back to a cruise of 3500 rpm, we were running at 24.6 mph with a 5.1 gph fuel burn. That meant 4.86 mpg for a range of 114 miles.
Our time to plane was 5.3 seconds, and we accelerated through 30 mph in 8.3 seconds.
The E-TEC 115 did the heavy work on our test ride.
I found the handling of the Backwater 18 to be outstanding. During our test we had a roughly 15 mph wind creating a light shop across our test area. Thanks to the wide flared bows I was able to ride through any chop while throwing water nicely to the sides. This is a characteristic I don't usually see in a flat water bay boat, but I'm happy to see that it works with this boat. Another pleasing difference that I noticed was the Backwater 18's turning capability. Where, shallow draft boat's flat bottom typically allows you to slide across the surface when turning, our test boat entered a gentle bank, at which point the reverse chine started to dig in allowing us to carve around the turn with little to no sliding.
I also found that as we came around into a following "sea," such as it was, we were still able to track straight and true with no tendency for the waves to push our stern to the side.
Wide flared bows and a reversed chine add to the handling characteristics. Notice the stainless steel rub rail. Not many 18' boats have a stainless rail when aluminum with a rubber insert will do.
The reverse chines allowed the boat to grab on in the turns and really carve.
The Backwater 18 features no-wood construction assuring a long lifespan. Andros Boatworks covers the boat with a 10 year transferable structural warranty. The transom is fabricated with an integrated stringer system. The flat surfaces on the deck all have non-skid texture.
The hull is constructed of closed-cell foam for light weight. The outer coat of the hull is vinylester resin which resists blistering and chalking due to sun exposure. The hull and deck are constructed with infused closed-cell foam and bonded together with chemical adhesive.
There was an abundance of stainless steel throughout the boat. Every thru hull, deck drain, hinge, even the garboard drain plug… all stainless.
The E-TEC 115 was mounted to a jackplate that allowed me to raise or lower the boat's draft by roughly 6" (15.2 cm) without affecting trim. The control for the jackplate was on the left side of the helm and allowed for changes on the fly. To starboard of the E-TEC was an electrically actuated power pole.
The stern features a raised poling platform that is 3'5" (1.07 m) off the deck. The aft casting deck measures 6' (1.83 m) across by 2'7" (.79 m) fore and aft. There is plenty of room to move about, and while doing so, I noticed no tendency of the boat to list or cause any instability to my 185lbs (83.9 kg) of mostly water weight. The aft deck is also the helm seat, and a removable cushion will give you a minor comfort level while driving.
The gunwales are wide enough to support a foot or hand when fighting fish or bringing in a net.
There are three compartments under the aft platform. Two storage areas flank a 28-gallon livewell that is lighted and aerated. One of the storage compartments on our test boat was outfitted with the optional insulated fishbox.
There are dual storage compartments under the aft casting deck. One is fitted with the optional insulated fish box. In the center, a 28-gallon (106L) livewell.
The console itself is very straightforward. A stainless three-spoke wheel with steering knob is connected to no-feedback cable steering. Custom made Andros electrical switches are in a panel just below the wheel with pop-up circuit breakers across the top. The engine controls are mounted at 45-degrees with trim tab controls, which operate the custom mounted Lenco tabs, just beneath.
Our test boat was also fitted with the I-Command multi-function display that allowed me to customize the readout to the specific information that I desired. The menu control is very intuitive and requires no training or even a manual to figure out. There is ample space at the top of the console to mount electronics.
A basic helm layout means fewer complications on fishing days.
There is storage underneath the helm, and poking my head up there allowed me to see that every wire was labeled for its use, and all were heat-shrunk for salt water operations. There are three rod holders on each side.
You've got to love the way the sheer line rises.
At the bow, our test boat had a Moto-Guide 82 lb. thrust trolling motor. In the bow storage locker there was the trolling battery and charger tucked next to the removable reboarding ladder. The lid of this compartment was resting in a gutter that channeled water away and through a stainless drain.
With such pleasurable handling characteristics that belie a shallow draft bay boat, along with the usual cast of fishing features balanced together with quality construction, the team at Andros Boatworks has created a boat that adds a touch of fun to the regular realm of flats fishing.
Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 (2011-) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 (2011-) is 42.0 mph (67.6 kph), burning 11.6 gallons per hour (gph) or 43.91 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 (2011-) is 24.6 mph (39.6 kph), and the boat gets 4.86 miles per gallon (mpg) or 2.07 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 114 miles (183.47 kilometers).
Tested power is 1 x 115-hp Evinrude E-TEC.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 (2011-) Standard and Optional Equipment
= Standard = Optional
Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 (2011-) Warranty
Andros Boatworks Backwater 18 (2011-) 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.
10 year transferable
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