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Engelbert Humperdinck

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 29 Mar 14:00 PDT
Don't just haul it around to shows - repurpose it - what a great idea! © Photo supplied

He had a few major pop tunes spanning a few decades in the latter part of the last century. Some even became standards of their own. Now, as an octogenarian, he's still going, and that's a fair effort in any language.

Yet for us today, this all stemmed from a single line in one of his most famous tunes. As I mulled around the theme of this editorial looking for a place to begin, I ended up with Spanish Eyes playing in my head, and more precisely, the line, 'Please say si si'.

How so? Well the number of CC (Centre Console) craft I have been looking at has been increasing almost geometrically, just as their uses and interesting new forms have expanded in what appeared to me to be the bottom of the parabola.

So join me. For it is time to put the 8-track in the cartridge player, and roll on down the coast road in the Corniche convertible. Time is not our concern. Ambience, relaxation, and a certain knowing smile are what this is all about.

Obviously, plenty of skippers are saying si si, to CCs. Just look at any waterway or boat ramp. From humble beginnings as the work horse, they seemed to revel in the growth of outboard power that tied in so well with their wide open spaces on board, and as the speeds climbed into the 70mph bracket and even more, they also left the traditional go-fast boat in their wake. Ease of maintenance, and a deft, utilitarian approach to functionality meant their uses had multiplied, and now a dozen people could go boating comfortably, where just a handful had the fun previously.

Design-wise they could be sleek, cheeky, and muscular, and their versatility could be applied across the mono, cat and RIB format, as easily as you could load people, pets, supplies and your playlist onto them. Yes. Here was a boat both of, and for the ages.

Whether as the fishing rig in the morning, the dayboat thereafter, or the tender or party machine from dusk onwards, the aplomb with which they accomplished the myriad of tasks asked of them was as notable as the ever-expanding offering from traditional boat builders and newcomers alike.

In the former category you have brands such as Boston Whaler, Intrepid, Grady-White, and Valhalla. Then in the latter there are the likes of the powerhouses that are Aquila, and now Gulf Craft. Then there are definitely also ones that can sit in both in a way, like Wally.

Pretty in Pink

Now about the same time as I was enjoying the metaverse from the Connolly split hide covering the sumptuous seat in the Roller (which definitely handles much more like a boat than a car) word reached me of the vessel you have been seeing thus far.

I mean, I love a bit of repurposing. No landfill going on here. Her owner is also quite into this notion, and has the track record to prove it. He brought a 90-foot trimaran across the Pacific after its first life as a Round The World express got halted pre-flight, and then made it a floating party and corporate extravaganza that changed the paradigm in the charter space.

Now given the age of the donor, a former offshore racer powered by high-speed Diesels, it is a fair chance she'll have a lot of Kevlar in her structure with some carbon reinforcement - i.e. she's bulletproof. Literally, given Kevlar is the very substance used in said type of vests. Equally, you take out a stonking pair of oil burners, and you gain vast room in her hulls, for you don't need it again, as the ponies will now be strapped to the transom.

As her owner says, "This boat is going to be a 50' kick ass centre console with two luxury cabins containing queen size beds, and self contained en suites, as well as multiple fridges, freezer, ice maker and BBQ areas."

I would imagine that 50 knots is the target number, and expect to see a quad outboard rig adorning her newly formed transoms.

Small IS beautiful

I was keen before the call came. I was smiling whilst driving. I was chuffed afterwards. Since my first experience with Sino-Eagle's Aquila powercats, two things have remained true, and they are pretty important in revealing the lengths a builder has gone to, and how well they will stand the test of time. The first is the brightwork. Get past the bling, and if the welds are smooth, the tubing straight, and the form has the presence to tell you it is up for the job, then it is tick, tick, tick.

The next is the moulds. If you look down the hull, and the only waves you see are the reflections of the ones in the water, then it is a testament to the number of man-hours thrown at sanding and sanding the moulds. Big moulds can swallow those hours like a hungry Pacman, and flat expanses like the topsides, consoles, decks, and superstructures will never be released with anything other than the appearance of the rolling hills of England.

I spoke with Alain Raas, the Aquila Boats Brand Manager at MarineMax, about these very elements, specifically in reference to the new enough Molokai Cat 28, and her sister, the Molokai Cat Cuddy. "Everything is vinylester resin infused on the A28MC/MCC", which talks a lot to strength, uniformity, dependability, reliability, and durability. Handy items to have in the back pocket when you're off on a major fishing expedition.

"We are up to hull #32 in production now. The engine package is a good mix, but does skew towards the larger engine package based on owner preference of orders to date. However, our clients that are focused more on economy or have their boats in large sea locations are tending to lean towards the lower HP threshold (base engine 2 x 150's), as they provide plenty of power and are better suited for their sea state conditions, for one can only go as fast as the sea state allows."

"Here in Florida the clients tend to be leaning towards the larger engine package as our seas are relatively calm, and one can achieve higher speeds for our long runs to get to the fishing grounds offshore. Both engine options perform really well, so ultimately it depends on where and how the owner intends to utilize their boat," said Raas in closing.

Now the Molokai Cat 28 I got the call on is capable of over 40 knots, and a real hoot. There are sooooooo many rod holders, lockers for this, that, and everything, bait well, fish tanks, rod stores, and even the swim ladder has its own little stowage position under the coaming. Yes. These are the detail items the brand has become somewhat synonymous for.

Well, what of it then? So a call came in for my host as we headed off, and that precluded pelting along, but the upside was I got to do what would be trolling speed for a long way down the Gold Coast's Broadwater. Normally, outboard or sterndrive craft at slow speed have you turning the wheel like you're a loco driver from the industrial revolution. That was not the case here, nor the tramlining you might expect a powercat to have as much as a penchant for, as a feline cat does for soft cushions. Upshot: if you're cruising canals and inland waterways with the 16 POB you can carry, then it won't be onerous at all to be the helmer. Equally, manoeuvring and docking is really easy, and very old school in terms of clutches and wheel only, which I loved.

Ultimately that call ended, and we were in the high-speed zone. So yep. The twin 200 Mercs got a pasting. The Aquila MC28 loves having the bows out, and running on her planing surfaces out aft. You also need to trim for load and wind, but get it level, and she is a delight. Now with a running attitude like this, you do want to reduce throttle on the inboard engine during turns, and remember, the powercat will heel out like a destroyer, not in like a speedboat.

If you are a petrol head, you'll know that an all-wheel-drive car is slow into a turn, but blindingly fast out of it, whereas rear-wheel-drive is the opposite. So what this means is that you are applying equal throttle once again before you have set straight on the new course. It is all a lot of fun, and very engaging if you are a driver style of skipper, not from the set-and-forget camp. I said into my recorder at the time, "Really worth a drive. REALLY worth a drive," so enough said.

Fast and agile is how you'd describe the Molokai Cat 28. I liked 34 knots as a fast cruise because it was so comfortable. We were burning 40 litres an hour, a side, at that point. Come back to 30, and it is more like 30lph/per side, which is just under half the 62lph/per side WOT will consume. Golden Rule applies - he/she with the gold makes the rules as pertains to elapsed time and overall range.

So you have a plethora of rod holders, a flushing head inside the console, well thought out storage, the ability to carry more souls than an equivalently sized monohull. It is stable and dry, and so very convertible in terms of changing modes from full bore fish, to party time, with shade to go over the expansive foredeck that will seat eight comfortably, let alone the CC and out aft, which can also be covered by a demountable system.

Honourable mentions

Well, we are starting to run out of time right now, but it has to be said that there are two vessels I just wanted to flag for now. The first is new, and the second has been with us for a while, but is a leading light, which is kind of apt, given it is electric.

So that would be Gulf Craft and X Shore. As for the latter, our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, interviewed Konrad Bergström at Boot Düsseldorf back in 2020, and we have certainly very much been following them ever since.

It seemed fitting that as part of their celebrations for 40 years in business, that Gulf Craft launched the Silvercat 40cc at their home show in Dubai. True they already had the Silvercat 34cc, but 40 definitely places you in another bracket altogether. Their release said, "There are two options for power: two 400HP or four 300HP outboard engines."

Well, my eyes are still working, so clearly you can also have quad 400 Mercs to play with as well. WoooooHoooooo.

OK. Today you will find that the website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo. If you cannot find what you want or wish to want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Finally: please look after yourselves,
John Curnow

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