Four Years with my Orkney Longliner 2

I’ve owned an Orkney Longliner 2 boat for over 4 years now and this is my take on her. I don’t normally write reviews and I’m not getting a backhander from anyone for writing this. However, I struggled to find information on the Longliner before I bought her and there’s not much out there even now. I posted some thoughts when I first switched from Warrior to Orkney so this is an update, based on practical experience. Longish post and just a personal opinion, but I hope it helps someone!

A view of my Orkney Longliner2 ashore on Loch Etive
Orkney Longliner2 first trip – before any extras were fitted!

I am not discussing the original, displacement hulled, Orkney Longliner that dates from the 1960s or 70s, but a completely different boat. Orkney described it as the Longliner 2 for a few years but have now reverted to simply Longliner. If you bought a new Orkney from roughly 2015 onwards then you’re talking about the same boat as I have, but do check carefully!

You can find out basic specs and prices from Orkney or any dealership. Here I’m more focussed on my practical experience of the Orkney Longliner over a reasonable period.

Full fishing mode

Just for background, I’ve owned a small boat for 35+ years, mainly sea fishing around the Scottish coastline, summer and winter. I trailer them; moor them off shore for the night; camp aboard; and even catch the odd respectable fish from them. In that time I’ve owned a 14 foot plywood dinghy, 15 foot Icelander (same hull as a Seahog Hunter), 16 foot Warrior and also a 10.5 foot Avon inflatable. I’ve also spent many days afloat on a friends’ Raider 18. However, I’ve never had a boat on a mooring or used my boats in freshwater.

All of these boats (and my kayak) are brilliant. You won’t find me slagging any of them. However, all boats are compromises and you really need to consider how you plan to use it. What suits me (just now!) may be a disaster for you.

Pros and Cons

Pros first, in no particular order…

She sits happily on an unbraked trailer. Big reduction in maintenance hassle and cost. I reckon my total rig weighs in around 600-630kg with boat, trailer, engine, fuel, anchor, etc. which means you can legally tow behind most cars.

Light, unbraked trailer is a definite plus point

It can fit in my garage (height being the main problem with other boats). Probably not a concern for most anglers but it makes quite a difference for me. I kept my Warrior in a compound which was less convenient and obviously cost a bit. Also, I’ve occasionally snuck in under car park barriers which I wouldn’t have managed with the Warrior.

Excellent sea keeping. I am definitely a fair weather sailor but inevitably you hit wind, waves and tide. If you read my blog you’ll know that I like to explore around the west coast of Scotland as well as just fish it. Having confidence in my boat when heading out longish distances is important. My longest trip in the Orkney is over 110 miles.

40 miles from launch, on the Isle of Rum

Good performance with a smallish outboard = low fuel, maintenance and replacement costs. To be honest though, unless you’re out there every day, fuel costs are well down the list of expenditure you’re going to incur. However, if you’re heading out on a long trip it probably means fewer fuel tanks are needed.

25Hp gives a decent turn of speed when solo

Perfect for an angler fishing solo. Light and easily manoeuvered (ashore and afloat) by myself, but still with 20+ knot performance.

I think the cuddy deserves a mention too, mainly because it is simple and spacious with a good sized hatch. When I’m solo I can just sit comfortably completely under cover, even with a load of camping gear aboard. In theory it is also removable, but this is probably not very practical on a day to day basis, especially if you have installed wiring.

I do like the cuddy. Note the rocket launcher added to the side of the cuddy

And some Downsides too

Speed. Solo is fine, with over 20 knots available, but two aboard means 13-15 knots. Three means 10-11 knots with a 25hp and obviously wind and tide will have more effect on your speed over ground. Upping the max rating to 30hp would be really nice Orkney!

Space is good for two anglers. Workable but a little tight if you have three aboard (I’d say the same for a Warrior 165, although it does have a little more usable floor area). I wouldn’t choose the Longliner if you routinely fish with three anglers.

Fishing two isn’t a problem
A brace of skate aboard my little Longliner 2. One each to me and Ian, with a double hookup always being interesting to manage when the fish hit the surface.
But getting a little tight with 2 anglers and 2 skate aboard

Wobbles around and rolls more in swell than a Warrior or Raider. Not a problem to me, but a trade-off for the light weight of the Orkney.

As with any small boat, weight distribution matters a lot and makes a difference to both speed and safety under way. No great surprise, but my boat likes a bit of weight up front (anchor and spare fuel usually) to balance out the outboard(s), fuel and battery in the stern. Above displacement speed she doesn’t like people moving around and even the position of a half-full cool box affects her behaviour. All of this was true of the Warrior too, but the Longliner is definitely more sensitive.

The bilge, or lack of it, is the most obvious design flaw in the boat. There is a tiny little bilge space under the fuel tank, but this is less than 1 cm deep and will fill quickly with rain or general fishy gunge. If you go forward into the cuddy the bilgewater has a tendency to follow you, which is not great.

A small thornback ray graces the rear bench of the Longliner2
Poor bilge – see the water accumulating

Bailing it out occasionally during the day helps, but having a deeper set fuel tank and more space for water to collect at the stern is surely possible if Orkney put their minds to it. You can fit a bilge pump through the floor and into the bowels of the boat, but drilling holes through the deck is not a good solution in my view.

Bailing out!

Fitting Out

Orkney offer a variety of extras with the hull and I took the cuddy, steering console and tonneau cover. Most anglers probably take two seat boxes as well, but I elected for just one. I didn’t take the internal seating options for the cuddy as these didn’t really offer very much for me. The cuddy isn’t cheap, but try surviving a January day without one…

Gunwhale, showing handrail, 2 railblaza mounts and S/S rocket launcher

In addition, I had two long handrails fitted, one to each gunwhale. I think these are pretty much essential from a safety perspective. The tonneau cover does fit over the handrails OK, although it is a tightish fit. Finally, a bracket for an auxiliary engine completed the initial list. This is a fixed bracket rather than a drop down effort, which is perfect for me (I find the drop down style prone to seizing up)

I’ve added quite a few bits and pieces after getting her, mainly to set the boat up for fishing.

Handrail on the cuddy roof is very useful

A pair of handrails bolted through the cuddy roof, which work very well. Without them it’s difficult to get a good handhold if you’re standing and the boat is moving at any speed.

I’ve added a couple of small bicycle LED lights to the handrails to give a bit of cabin lighting (just very small ones on a rubber strip designed to go around bike handlebars). If you were doing a lot of night fishing then you’d want something better, but they work fine for me alongside a headtorch.

A little background light

Second battery for electronics. This is under the console rather than in the stern of the boat. There is room for a second battery in the rear compartment but I wanted to limit the weight at the stern.

Rod Holders

Stainless steel rocket launcher style rod holders at the stern. These are secured into the same wood backing as Orkney put in for the rear cleats, so are reasonably solid.

Rocket launcher secured into the backing plate used by the cleat

Four Railblaza rod holders around the gunwhales. Two of these replace the rather pointless rowlocks provided by Orkney, and again make use of the wood backing for extra security. Being Railblaza I can swap out the rod holders for camera mounts, etc. as required.

A Railblaza bait board at the stern. I was a little doubtful about this at first, concerned that it might be a tad flimsy. However it’s proved to be pretty good and works well for me. I’ve added a couple of mounts to it to act as mini rod holders when the boat is on the move. You do need to remove the board to fully tilt the outboard but this is easy enough.

Well used bait board

Your obvious alternative to this approach is a bit of custom stainless steel to create an arch between the gunwhales – just make sure you’ve got clearance with the outboard tilted up. I quite liked the one I had on my Warrior but the fitting was poor and created stress cracks in the gel coat, so there’s no ideal solution. If I was starting again then I’d seriously consider custom stainless, but remember to allow for fitting the tonneau cover.

Chucking a final wad of cash towards Railblaza gave me a cabin mounted pod which can hold 4 rods, cameras, etc. This needs to be removable to get the boat into my garage, but a stainless steel rocket launcher would be better if you don’t have that constraint. The Railblaza unit isn’t really strong enough to take several medium boat rods/reels and a landing net and still plough into a swell.

Thick fog cuts visibility to a few tens of metres a few miles off Dunbar.
Cuddy, rails and railblaza units

Partly to get around this, I added a couple of stainless tubes to the sides of the cuddy a few months ago. They seem to work fine – they’re mainly used to hold the landing net outside the boat and still keep it easily accessible.

Removable RailBlaza rod holders and a camera pole

Usual electronics, none of which are Orkney specific. The console is a good size and I’ve not had any problem fitting kit. I sikaflexed a piece of hardwood to the top of the console which allows me to screw in different kit as required, without the need to drill more holes in the fibreglass. There’s a small switch panel added for various lights, and a USB/12v outlet which I use for charging phones, etc. Generally I slightly prefer the console to that of the Warrior as it seems to hold miscellaneous crap a bit better.

Steering console – I’ve often got a tablet along too (fits in the empty bracket)

I would upgrade the steering wheel though, as a soft-touch job would be nicer than the hard plastic on mine. The Warrior had no-feedback steering which was great, and much better than the looser set up on the Orkney, which will wander off course quickly. I’m not sure whether no-feedback steering is available on smaller outboards, but I’d definitely go for this if I had the choice.

One point to note if you’re using sidescan sonar is the cone angle of the transducer. On a small boat it can be difficult to get the transducer far enough away from the outboard to avoid the leg blocking the sonar pulse. In my case I can get a reasonable but weaker return from the left hand side of the boat compared to the right. Not an issue with traditional, CHIRP or downscan modes, only with sidescan.

Huge transducer for sidescan needs care on launch/retrieval

On The Water

A light boat and a roller trailer means that launch and retrieval is easy. That includes single handed dry launch and retrieval on a beach. Other boats on roller coaster trailers, like the Warrior, are also easy to work single handed though – so this isn’t unique to the Longliner.

Easy to launch single-handed

Trickling along at low displacement speed is fine and she’s well behaved in terms of steering, etc. The only issue I have is that the Yamaha has very little throttle movement between 800 and 2000 revs, so you need to have a light touch when opening her up.

Acceleration isn’t particularly exciting, but you’re not buying the Longliner as a speedboat! I don’t find much sensation of her going on the plane, as you do with Seahogs or Warriors, but she picks up speed quite nicely. She does seem to behave better than a planing boat if you’re running along at perhaps 10-12 knots.

She drifts well and predictably, so no complaints there. Being light, the wind has an impact, but I’ve rarely had to use the drogue. You’ll notice wave movement much more than you will on a bigger, beamier, boat. If it got too annoying I’d just stream the drogue from the bow to bring her head into the waves, which should calm things down.

Orkney Longliner2 Anchor well is larger than first appears and should hold my heavy duty setup with 200m of rope
Orkney Longliner2 Anchor Well – original bow roller

Anchoring is straightforward, and I just use the same setup I had with Alcatraz – 5kg Bruce anchor, 10m of heavy chain and 200m of 10mm rope. In most situations you’d probably get away with less, but 500 feet of water over mud means I need a heavier set up at times. Retrieval is by Alderney ring, using the same technique as for any other boat.

I’ve now replaced the bow roller with a larger one. The Orkney original was just too tight for the chain I use with my anchor. As a result it jammed sometimes, which got frustrating. It’s an easy job (3 accessible bolts), but best done before buying.

Working the anchor – note the larger bow roller

Working the anchor through the bow hatch is easy, and the anchor well does it’s job. Of all the small boats I’ve anchored from I’d say this is the best combination of cuddy, hatch and anchor well that I’ve used.

Generally she sits nicely at anchor, but she will roll a bit more than a Warrior style boat.

Space

As it comes, there’s only stowage for a 25l tank and battery at the stern and a large bow locker up front. Although there are seats at the transom these are buoyancy tanks and don’t have any internal access.

25l tank and battery box

The bow locker is bigger than it looks and can take a fair mountain of gear. I keep a 15l fuel tank, stove, gas, spare clothes, drogue, food and other junk in it. Very handy indeed! You couldn’t fit a 25l tank in though.

Cavernous bow locker will swallow a lot of gear

Most anglers are also going to fit seat boxes, and these will offer another large chunk of space. I only use one of these and that still provides a fair amount of storage.

I mentioned that the anchor well is pretty useful when you’re out at sea, but I choose not to keep the anchor in it when I’m towing. Instead I just use a large box to hold everything in the cuddy.

My portable anchor box also holds a stove quite nicely

A Note on Railblaza

Incidentally, the reason I use Railblaza is because I wanted an interchangeable system of mounts that could support rods, camera gear and (some) electronics. I also wanted to be able to move kit from the Orkney to my kayak and inflatable.

There are other systems out there that will do a similar job – Scotty, RAM, etc. – and there will be cheaper options if you don’t need the same range of mounts. I chose stainless for the stern mounts as these are the ones that tend to hold the heavy rods and reels for skate, and I didn’t want to rely on plastic (however well reinforced).

You can find Railblaza here

Seating

So far, so good – I’ve made some obvious additions and minor changes. My biggest remaining dilemma is the seating arrangements. It’s not Orkney specific, and the same issues popped up in the Warrior and the Icelander that preceded it – the trade off of a comfy seat versus the loss of deckspace when you’re dealing with several anglers and large fish.

Decent storage in the seatbox

At the moment I have one fixed Orkney seatbox on the skipper’s side, whilst the crew side is completely open. This makes it easier to move around the boat, and gives plenty of space to sleep aboard, but makes it less comfortable for anyone who’s out with me for the day. Not a problem at anchor (comfy camping chairs are better than fixed boating seats), but more of an issue when ploughing through a choppy sea.

Ideally I’d like to replace the Orkney seat box with something removable as required. Possibly some form of pedestal seat will do the job, but I haven’t bitten the bullet on this one – as I say, I haven’t had great solution on any other boat I’ve had either.

I can sleep aboard too (usually with tonneau cover attached)

Conclusion

When I look back at what I’ve written here, I would say there is very little wrong with the basic concept of the Longliner 2 – a light but seaworthy boat with a decent amount of space and which can be combined with a smallish outboard and trailed with an unbraked trailer.

For fishing solo it’s a brilliant combination. If you’re fishing two it will work fine, provided you accept that your speed will drop to around 13/14 knots (say 15/16 mph on average) or a little more in flat calm conditions. If that’s not OK then you’re looking at something like a Seahog. That offers around 20 knots 2 up with a 40hp, and is probably OK on an unbraked trailer, but it does slam and I wouldn’t want to take it on extended trips. Anything larger and you’re definitely into braked trailer territory – Warriors and the like.

You can fish 3 aboard in decent conditions, assuming you’re organised, but speed will be more like 10-11 knots and I wouldn’t choose this boat if that’s what I did regularly. If you routinely fish 3 (or 4) aboard and trail, then get something like a Raider. It can handle that payload easily and still be a manageable trailer/boat combination.

Finally, if this post helps you then great, but do remember that I’m just some random bloke on the internet. You alone can decide what compromises you can live with when it comes to boats!

A jaw-dropping view along Loch Etive as the sun pokes through the early morning cloud
Reason enough to own a boat – a jaw-dropping view along Loch Etive
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4 comments

  1. A well informed report based on long experience, good for newbies & experienced folk alike, thanks. Exactly who you allow on board makes a huge difference too. In my opinion, some people are simply best left ashore! I have just two railblaza rod holders, but I will now investigate the rocket launchers. Any particular make?
    Happy new year !

    1. Hi Ash,
      I’d agree it’s definitely easier having friends who are boat owners too, although I’ve never had a problem with people aboard. Innocently flashing filleting knives in your direction as the boat rolls around is never a great idea though!

      The rocket launchers come from eBay, and I can’t see the same seller offering them anymore. A search for 316 stainless steel rod holder will turn up some results. I see the price is £37 for each now, compared with £45 for two only 18 months ago!

      They’ve worked out pretty well for me and I’ve not found them working loose if they’ve been tightened correctly. I’ve had a little rust staining on the fibreglass, but nothing I haven’t had from other S/S fittings and it clears up well with a dab of fibreglass cleaner. One point worth noting is that the rubber liner isn’t secured properly and can pop out – in the photo of the rocket launcher you can see I’ve added a bit of duct tape to secure it. I really need to tidy this up, but it’s the only negative so far.

      I’m sure you know this, but there’s a fair bit of leverage on these mounts so you need a decent backing plate when installing them.

      Cheers,
      Doug

  2. Hi Doug – Excellent post as always, thank you. Given that most 25hp motors are the same unit as their 30hp ‘big’ brothers, same displacement, same weight just different tuning, in your opinion do you think the Longliner would cope well with a 30hp? I see that Gulf Stream in Ireland often sell them with 30’s. I appreciate that there may be insurance consequences as they are plated at 25 and no doubt the official line would be ’25 maximum’. If so why do Orkney only plate it at 25hp. Honda now do not list a 25hp in their range, which surely is going to restrict sales somewhat. Who would want a 20hp LL2?

  3. Hi Steve,
    I think the LL2 would perform significantly better with 2 aboard if it had a 30hp, although weight distribution would be pretty critical. With only 1 aboard and lightly loaded then I suspect the extra 20% in hp would translate directly into extra speed – so maybe 26-27 knots rather than 22. I could see this being an issue in terms of safe handling (being almost twice what Orkney describe as the optimum design speed), and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable running at this speed. Personally, I’d be happy to run at around 20 knots max whether there’s a 25 or a 30 on the back, and use the extra power of the 30 when I’d a heavier load. I’d agree that a 20hp engine on a LL2 would probably not make a good combination for most people.

    All written with the rather large caveat that I am not a naval architect! It would be interesting to see Orkney’s thinking and whether it’s a genuine design limitation or whether it’s more of a marketing issue.

    Cheers,
    Doug

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