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Shetland Sheltie Boat Reports

Length 17' 7" (5.37m)
Beam 6' 7" (2.01m)
Draft 2' (0.6m)
Weight 340Kg
Engine Max 40hp
Country of manufacture: UK

More details on full specification can be found at


By Ian

Our example is fitted with a Mariner 55 - a Yamaha-built engine I'm told; which gives a top speed in a flat calm of a bit over 25 knots, measured via GPS both against and with tide flow to see how much error the tide introduced to the readout. Not that much in fact. But for all practical use, high speeds are a little academic because of how sea conditions affect the boat's behaviour under way. With two heavy guys aboard it's still a bit of a slammer heading into a chop, but probably no worse than most other planing boats.
Our motor lacks power trim - which is probably a bit of a disadvantage from not being able to retrim under way, according to the load of the day, which could be different from last trip if we've taken an extra body or two with us.
Something we can't see through is why Shetland specify a top HP rating of 40 for this boat, when the hull moulding is the same as for the 535, which is rated by them as much higher - so quite what factors they used to come up with this figure's beyond us. We've seen examples fitted with higher output motors - including one with a Tohatsu 90 on sale at a large Southern dealership, but we've not so far been tempted to stretch things too much in case the transom gets strained somehow.

For use as a sea fishing boat, the Sheltie's pretty good - with loads of deck space, and no over-high gunwales. Positioning of rod holders still hasn't been figured out to best advantage, that'll be done this year. She's got a fairly low side-on profile so mostly isn't prone to drift too overfast - but when the wind's fresh we use a drogue over the bow, rigged for retrieval via a lazy-line. It's not perfect, but it works.
Within a harbour she can be a bit difficult to manoeuvre in a blustery wind, since there's no keel(s) to grip the water against sidedrift. Displacement boats are much more predictable in this respect - but the Sheltie, sitting "on" rather than "in" the water, tends to faff about more than we'd like. Since there's no choice about this, we got used to it!
With ours we were lucky enough to get the added-extra of the original spray-hood and frame, which bolts to the sides and forms a roof extension to the windscreen. On a rough day this is a real blessing, although it has soft windows which don't shed spray well, making for "interesting" sight-navigation if heading past the hordes of crab-tackle flags we have here.

Fuel consumption is something to be taken into account now that petrol has become so expensive - about 80p/litre at the time of writing - but we do fairly well except if you compare costs to craft with diesel power - but few of those are both affordable and able to break 25 knots! We figure on using the best part of two five gallon tanks of premix to do a little over 30 sea miles. Consumption rises if the engine's gagged wide open, or if we can't get up on the plane at all because of rough conditions. Planing seems to start at a guess around 13 knots. We seldom cruise over the 20 mark, from about perhaps 75% throttle.

The well known Sheltie floor problem has arrived in ours now, and will be attended to before relaunch in the Spring. Hopefully the reconstruction work will mean another 20 years of usage! Best to be optimistic...

We also got the original trailer. It's a break-back model, still in good order. The outfit trails well, and launches/retrieves well too.

The forward low-roofed cabin is no use for putting people, but just the job for storing fishing stuff that you don't want to take ashore after each trip.

To summarise, we figure that the Sheltie was a good choice of boat, when the compromises of performance and expense are balanced up. To get a boat that performs significantly better would have probably meant around double the outlay.

Disclaimer: Everything written in these reports are based on personal experience and the individual's opinion only. I have tried my best to present the facts correctly, but I/we take no responsibility for any mistakes or omissions.

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