I spoke to Brock Elliott, who heads up the Kelowna, BC-based Campion boat company, back about 10 months ago and he was working hard on the development of the Campion Explorer 822 back then. No wonder.
Basically, here's what you've got; a XX foot pilot house cruiser based on a high performance-type deep vee hull design with an XXXX foot beam meaning that you could trailer this with a "dually" and an inexpensive annual trailer permit. The Explorer has sleeping accommodations for 4 and with twin outboards, runs like a rocket.
In fact, I would like to kick this off with the performance comments because Canadian Yachting readers haven't always taken outboard powered cruisers very seriously. Well, this is one of the new breed of cruisers that will change that.
The Yamaha F250 outboards are four-stroke, electronic fuel injected, twin overhead cam V6 blocks with electronic throttle and shift. They mount outside the boat on a huge bracket that is also the swim platform.
They have a great power to weight ratio, are fully contained drive systems requiring no through hull fittings, can be tilted clear of the water when moored, greatly reducing fouling and corrosion issues and they will be a breeze to service or even replace; lots of benefits to outboards over inboard type drive systems.
The Yamahas start with a twist of the key and instantly idle quietly with no smoke. Power tilt and trim allows you to idle through the shallows or to trim the bow up for maximum speed and efficiency.
Tuck them in, floor it and in 5.5 seconds with no load, the boat was planed off and gathering speed fast. It's a relatively narrow beam for the height and you need the tabs to level it in a side wind but that's a common vee bottom trait. What is not common is a 28 mph cruise at a quiet and comfortable 3500 rpm.
That is really covering distance quickly. Then, if you have to beat the weather in, open the big Yamahas up and the Explorer flies you home at over 50 mph. It's still quiet and the Yamahas never seem to mind running wide open. Try that with inboards. Also, even at trolling speeds the boat tracks very nicely. Power assisted hydraulic steering is a great feature and the Yamahas have an electronic trolling control feature so you can fine tune the speed for different fish species; a very neat feature.
It's a cruiser that runs like a performance boat.
The helm is in the pilot house and it is comfortable. There's a footrest, tilt steering wheel and the Yamaha control box was angled a bit, making it ideal in terms of ergonomics. Campion has really done their homework. It's a driver's boat and you can stand or sit on the adjustable seat. The glass areas are huge, there's a serious wiper and the side glass slides open. Yamaha digital gauges included fuel levels, gallons per hour readout, range remaining and more. The test boat had a Lowrance GPS navigation system with radar plus a chart plotter mounted near the companion seat so driver and navigator can both see it easily; a very good feature. A Lowrance VHF radio and Bennett trim tabs with LED readouts were fitted.
The pilot house is not large but it works well for shelter, heat or cooling and sun protection. Seats are rotocast frames, slide and swivel and have handsome upholstery. We mentioned the huge windshield earlier. It gives excellent outward vision. The sliding side glass delivers ventilation and defrosting to keep you cool and comfortable and there are two cabin roof hatches. The test boat had a "Heater Craft" cabin heater system and there are foot and dome lights for evening use.
Across the aft end is a large framed glass bulkhead with an opening door that secures, open or closed and locks too. Other good features are the two aft jump seats that slide away when not needed and under the companion seat is a huge cooler. This pilot house is full of neat little features. It shows lots of development thinking.
Another solid, locking cabin door protects valuables like tackle and expensive rods stored down in the cabin. It is four steps down into the full fiberglass liner cabin. Snap-in carpet makes it easy to clean and cozy too.
The galley lies ahead, convenient to the pilot house. It is equipped with a Tappan microwave, NovaKool refrigerator, single burner Princess butane stove and a great polished, round, stainless steel sink. You can really wash a dish here. We also liked the realistic looking granite counter tops.
The dinette in the forward vee area can be a double berth or is suitable for five or six people to sit, which is excellent for this size of boat. There is storage underneath the seats and rod storage overhead. You also get a big opening screened deck hatch and two port holes. There are also two drawers and a removable table.
The head does not quite have 6 feet height but there is an opening porthole, electric flush MSD, sink in a granite-type vanity top and although we did not notice a shower on our test boat, the area is a good size and fully enclosed.
The aft cabin is very low; only 24 inches high in places but it is 64 inches wide and has a small opening hatch for ventilation. Honestly, a couple could be comfortable here, especially in cooler weather, leaving the vee area as a dinette. The aft cabin features privacy curtains here and big side storage for tabletops, un-needed cushions and so on; very well thought out.
Nothing got more attention than the cockpit though. It has a transom door to the swim platform, several hatches all with gasketed lids (an excellent feature) and there are large scuppers. A big fish box / live well is in the transom top, there is a handy washdown to hose out fish blood and for night use, spreader lights.
The cockpit is not large but it is highly functional. There is a neat folding aft bench seat that is great for watching the kids swimming and there are huge stainless steel hand holds if you need to hang on for a wild ride through the ocean.
The cockpit features padded inwales for fishing and toe rails so you can brace yourself when reeling in a big fish. The Explorer 822 is available with stern drives but when you opt for the outboards, you get three underfloor lockers. With outboards, the lazarette gives you storage space big enough to hold fully inflated tubes, or perhaps scuba gear.
Campion also includes a scuba diving type removable ladder that clips onto the swim platform. It's simply amazing when you consider how versatile this outboard cruiser is. I know you could tackle salmon fishing off Vancouver Island with this, you could do the Trent Severn in a few days given the top speed, you could wreck dive the St. Lawrence. You could trailer this just about anywhere.
It is a boat that can change your reality with its performance and versatility. More than any other model they make, this one lives up to Campion's name, "Explorer".
By Andy Adams
To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!