Mission of the 21 H2O 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 21 H2O Ski & Fish's hull. She is designed and equipped to do it all.
The 21 H2O Ski & Fish is based on the successful 21 H2O 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 saltwater fishing.
Viva la Difference
What is the difference between the 21 H2O Sport and the 21 H2O Ski & Fish?
First, the added standard equipment: we couldn't have freshwater and inshore saltwater 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.
The Chaparral 21 H2O Ski & Fish 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).
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 21 H2O Ski & Fish 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 that was rarely done during normal operations. When taking power off she settles back into the water stern first.
The standard engine on the 21 H2O Ski & Fish 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 21 H2O Ski & Fish--
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.
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.
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.
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 an 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.
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 are 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 is molded fiberglass and Chaparral has made it an earth tone which looks rich. Adding to the effect 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The fiberglass swim platform is integral to the hull. To starboard is a three-step re-boarding ladder.
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.
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 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.
The second question people are likely to ask is which boat is better, the 21 H2O Sport or the 21 H2O 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 21 H2O Ski & Fish was designed.
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 21 H2O 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.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Chaparral 21 H2O Ski & Fish (2015-) 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 21 H2O Ski & Fish (2015-) 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.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Optional Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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