Easy rider

Warren Steptoe | VOLUME 21, ISSUE 5
This stainless steel targa bar and bimini top is replaced with a moulded hardtop and targa arch in the Targa version of the Powercat 2400.
It might be the baby of the range, but as we found, Powercat’s award-winning trailerable 2400 packs a lot of boat into a compact package.

When you see a Powercat 2400 sitting on a trailer, it’s hard to think of this award-winning boat as “little”. But talk to Powercat’s Steve Shaw and he habitually refers to the 2400 as the company’s “little boat”.

This is simply because the 2400 model is, in fact, the smallest Powercat Steve and his company build at their Bribie Island factory. It’s also the only one that’s readily – every day, open road – trailerable; that is to say, provided your tow vehicle is rated to 3 tonnes.

While it may be a small boat according to Steve Shaw, given that it’s a power catamaran, interior space is more in keeping with that offered by larger mono hulls. Square bows naturally provide more room inside than pointed ones on hulls of equivalent length.

But when you talk seakindliness and overall safety, the Powercat 2400 series really stands out in the world of trailerable boats. So much so, it warrants a category all of its own.

Now safety, as any experienced boating enthusiast knows only too well, is a coat of many colours. And seakindliness is often more a matter of opinion.

So let’s talk opinion. Anyone who thinks a 2400 Powercat isn’t an outstanding boat across rough water needs to take a test run on the worst possible day. Then follow it up straight away – same day, same course – in any mono hull of the same size, or even a metre or two longer. I’d defy anyone not to come away impressed by the multihull’s performance.

Power catamarans admittedly have their fans – and equally their detractors, who will regale you with such negatives as size, weight, the need to have two engines and their unique, unconventional handling. And I have to admit that it can take a while to come to terms with cat handling. I reckon it was the was best part of a year before I could trim the power cat I owned a few years back without thinking hard about it while fiddling with the trim switches.

But then again, if you’re looking for the ultimate trailerable offshore fisher, this may well be it. The need for a big 4WD or light truck to tow and launch it aside for a moment, the Powercat 2400’s weight and size does translate directly to safe, comfortable travel in seas a similarly-sized mono hull would baulk at.

MAGIC CARPET RIDE

As suggested before, if unfamiliar with the seakeeping abilities of a power cat (one of the best examples of which are Powercats), go for a test run on the worst day, preferably with someone who’s already familiar with power catamarans. You’ll soon discover why Powercat fans and owners talk about their ‘magic carpet ride’.

This boat, being the smallest Powercat, did cause me to comment to Steve during the test that it moved about underfoot and bounced about across rough water more than other Powercats I’d ridden in previously – and I’ve tested quite a few over the years.

“That’s because it’s our little one. Of course it’s livelier than our bigger boats! We’ve spoilt you!” he replied without hesitation.

Good point, Steve. Same place, with much better weather a few days later, I tested a 32-foot mono hull. We won’t identify the brand, but I can say it was one of those deep-vee, needle-nosed ‘sport’ boats. Across northern Moreton Bay’s infamous short chop – at half the size of that encountered on our Powercat test day – it threw everybody about and took a half hour longer to reach Tangalooma.

It also wasn’t trailerable behind any kind of vehicle. So, thinking fishing and low-key family cruising, the Powercat 2400 is, indeed, in a class all of its own. I’ve tested plenty of trailerable boats over the past 20 years or so and none of them can hold a candle to this craft when it comes to rough water ride and handling. That’s my opinion of the Powercat 2400’s seakindliness.

SAFETY FIRST

Now let’s talk safety. From my point of view, there are a number of reasons why this boat cruised away with the inaugural Club Marine Safety Trophy at the 2006 AMIF Boat of the Year Awards. Underlying everything here is Powercat’s uncompromising standards of engineering. There’s nothing in a Powercat that’s anything less than the best available.

I have to confess that I’ve come to know Steve Shaw well over the years and can tell you he’s a fussy, pedantic, uncompromising sort of a bloke. So much so that I reckon he’d be a hard man to work for. But he’s also exactly the kind of bloke you want building the boat you’re going to take long distances offshore. Or maybe out to some offshore islands, or along the coast a ways.

I talked to Steve about it once and he replied in typical straight-to-the-point fashion: “People complain about what our boats cost. I always say, ‘What’re your family and friends worth?’

Which brings us to the engines, specifically the fact that two motors is a form of safety insurance, too. Two motors mean separate electrical systems, separate controls, separate fuel supplies, and two chances to return home under your own steam if, somehow, you suffer driveline damage.

Then there’s Powercat’s self-draining deck. It’s carried high enough to drain properly – and through appropriately-sized scuppers. In a worse case scenario, if the self-draining deck isn’t enough, Powercats have two separate, positively buoyant sponsons.

Maybe these are the kind of nightmares you don’t want to think about when buying a boat, but these things can happen.

So, from a purely safety point of view, it’s no surprise Steve and his crew earned their Club Marine award.

When we get back to considering that all this comes in a trailerable fishing boat and family cruiser, we come to another interesting facet of the Powercat 2400. Appropriately equipped, it’s easily capable of supporting two people in some comfort for a few days. Let’s take a look around.

Starting in the cockpit, to use a 2400 Sports Cab as a completely serious fishing boat, you’d have to consider whether you really wanted the (optional) aft lounge seen in our photo spread. Personally, I see it as a worthwhile option because, with the lounge in place, the boat is as good for social boating as it is for serious fishing.

While talking social and family boating, the Powercat boasts a walk-through transom with a folding boarding/swim ladder between the outboards. Also relevant to social considerations is an optional table to go with the lounge. This, too, is easily removed and left at home if some fair dinkum fishin’ is the order of the day.

Without the lounge seat and table, the seat squab stays in place, providing a support structure around the cockpit periphery. Above this, few serious fishos would not want the optional workstation – definitely a must-have.

WHOPPER WORKSPACE

Sans the cockpit’s lounge room comforts, you’re left with a huge flat-decked, self-draining workspace. There are two bait wells in the covering board (drink coolers on another day) – most keen fishos would plumb at least one as a livewell. There’s a big locker underneath the deck along the starboard side of the central console, which is ideal for service as a fish box.

Powercat offers two versions of the 2400 series; the Sports Cab (the one tested) and the Targa. The Targa is the more upmarket of the two, coming with an electric toilet and holding tank, a hardtop incorporating a targa arch in place of the stainless steel bar seen on our test boat and the removable lounge and table as standard fitment.

Aft of Powercat’s unique central console – a common feature in their boats of all bar the largest sizes – the 2400’s fishing/socialising area actually compares very well with much larger boats. And about here it’s timely to observe that, at rest, this boat’s stability is monolithic!

Steve’s right; if it moves more than bigger Powercats, it still doesn’t move much. Certainly, the Powercat 2400 sits rock-solid on the water when compared to most other boats its size, and even when compared to many larger ones.

Centrally, perfectly placed to take best advantage of the hull’s excellent at-rest stability, is a massive console unit. This is quite a work of art.

In the 2400, the central console incorporates a sizeable sink unit (pressurised water at the turn of a tap), with a 65-litre icebox stowed in a locker underneath. Each side of that, curved doors access roomy storage compartments.

A portable stove is supplied and fits on the console’s bench top. And there’s a rail around the periphery to hold onto, if necessary – and to keep anything sitting on top of the console in place.

That’s the aft part of the console. At the front is another great piece of Powercat engineering – the helm and passenger seat.

This has a flip-up cushion, which becomes a bolster seat to lean against if you prefer to stand while travelling. Every Powercat I’ve ever tested always has a tiny steering wheel, which, nonetheless, controls the boat effortlessly, thanks to the wonders of hydraulic steering. The dash area in the 2400 is enormous; you’d have to be some serious electronics geek to clutter it, and a small glovebox is provided to secure valuables.

Now let’s take a peek inside the (lockable) cabin doors. Being a cat, you can’t stand up in the cabin; that’s one downside of having a whopping great tunnel running through the centre of the hull. There’s a very large comfortable bunk, though; and you can stand up in the starboard sponson as you enter.

WELL EQUIPPED

We missed the handheld shower while touring the cockpit; it, too, is supplied with pressurised fresh water from an inbuilt water tank. The shower is supplied as standard, as is an electric anchor winch. All in all, a very well-equipped boat in either version.

For motive power, our test boat ran a pair of 90hp Suzuki four-strokes. Powercat recommends outboards between 80 and 140hp for this hull and I thought the 90s a good match. It would certainly fly with more power.

Suzuki motors very quickly established themselves amongst the market leaders after their reintroduction by the Haines Group and the way the Powercat 2400 performed with the pair of 90s attached showed why. The performance figures speak for themselves, but I have to comment on how unobtrusively the Suzi’s went about their business.

The brand is known for smooth and quiet running four-strokes and the design of the Powercat 2400 transom area only enhanced that as the motors were well tucked away over the back. You could hardly hear them at low revs and at speed we were conversing inside the boat without raising our voices at all, even approaching the top speed of 33.7 knots. A minimum planing speed of 7.3 knots surprised, too, and being able to stay on the plane at such low speed will only enhance rough water performance

What can I say? What a boat!

SPECIFICATIONS POWERCAT 2400 SPORTS CAB

Length: 7.15 metres

LOA: 7.4 metres

Beam: 2.5 metres

Hull weight: 2000kg (bare hull approx.)

Trailering weight: 2800kg (approx)

Power Rating: twin outboard motors, 80-140hp

Pricing: packages start at $115,000

Test boat : $129,335 (including options)

PERFORMANCE

Powercat 2400 Sports Cab/2 x Suzuki 90hp

Propellers: standard Suzuki stainless steel 17-inch pitch

Location: northern Moreton Bay, Qld

Conditions: light winds, light chop

Load: 2 adults, gear for a day out, full water and fuel tanks

RPM Speed in Knots Comments

2500 7.3 minimum planing speed

3000 11.7

4000 19.7 easy cruise

5000 26.8

5800 33.7

For more information, see the Powercat website: www.powercatmarine.com.au.


Tags
Boat Test
Runabout
Share
Subscribe
Previous
Next