Issue: January 2003
The trouble with diminutive words is that they tend to imply that a smaller or downsized version of a piece of equipment is somehow a lesser entity than the larger model it’s based upon. That’s definitely not the case with Powercat’s latest, and smallest, 2600 model.
This is hardly a small boat. The lasting impression it leaves you with is how big it is, rather than how small. And even after testing several bigger Powercats, it takes a discerning eye to see where this cat is actually smaller than its bigger sisters.
When you stand inside this boat its sides reach up around the your hips, while out on the water it feels literally rock solid underfoot. Sure power catamarans have a reputation for being stable, but this cat is “rock solid”. Basically, Powercat’s concept for the new 2600 Series was to offer a trailerable alternative to their popular 2800 and 3000 Series boats.
While they’ve certainly achieved this, it’s a case of only just. This baby Powercat weighs-in at 3.2 tonnes on its trailer. And that’s before you add fuel and all the other paraphernalia we all seem to cram onboard for a day out. This means a proud new owner needs a LandCruiser, Patrol, or light truck like an F100, to tow a 2600 Series Powercat around.
We suspect that, trailerable or no, a lot of 2600 series Powercats are going to finish up on dry storage in marinas and moored to pontoons behind canal-side homes anyway. Still, given a LandCruiser, Patrol, F100, or whatever; it is legally trailerable.
After a most enjoyable day on northern Moreton Bay with the Shaw family, who build Powercats, it was easy for our crew to conclude that the golden sands of western Moreton Island, and places like it, are where this boat is most at home.
Forget about it being the smallest Powercat, as a trailerboat it’s a big boat, “a bloody huge one” a team member was heard to mutter. It’s high and the feeling of safety this instils is not at all imaginary. It’s also a heavy boat at around 2.5 tonnes on the water with crew and fuel.
In combination, these factors amount to a boat that’s capable of negotiating rough open water in a rare degree of comfort. So much so that few, if any trailerboats would be in the same class as this one in terms of ride comfort.
A 2600 Series Powercat is dry, doesn’t bounce about, crash land, skew off line, or make any fuss at all when it encounters surface chop. And that’s before you realise just how fast it can travel in rough conditions.
Typically of a power catamaran, this one needs to be running at 20 or more knots to get up on the cushion of compressed air generated in the tunnel between its sponsons. And it’s here that mono hulls get left behind. Cats are not for the light-of-throttle handed and actually need speed to work properly.
This one is no exception, as we found on our way back across Moreton Bay. The Modern Boating team confess to being cat lovers, that’s the twin sponson-boat type cats, we reserve comment on furry moggies. Biased or no, as far as cats go this one is right up there at the top of the tree. Cats aren’t perfect, they have a few foibles, such as sucking mist into the aft ends and leaning what non-cat lovers perceive as the wrong way in tight turns.
Then there’s the difficulty in working enough flare into the forefoot area of their sponsons to deflect spray aside. And these are several reasons why we loved this boat. Thanks to the airflow over the screen and underneath the bimini top, no mist at all was sucked into the passenger area at speed.
I threw the cat into a turn as tight as commonsense allowed and the Powercat sat flat on the water. However, all onboard were hanging on tight at the time, but it didn’t phase the boat at all.
Also, no spray was blown onboard from the bow shoulders. Looking at the way spray is deflected, there may be days when some may be blown inboard, but they’ll be bad weather days indeed. It’s yet another plus of those towering sides.
Twin Saltwater Series 130hp Yamaha two-strokes were hung on the transom of the test boat. While these evergreen workhorse two-strokes are neither particularly quiet, nor particularly noisy, from the passenger’s area engine noise was only noticeable by its absence.
While contemplating descriptive words, we’re tempted to describe the Powercat layout as a “giant runabout.” It has a fairly flat foredeck, a windscreen set in the forward third of the hull, which sweeps aft around the helm to approximately the centre of the boat. The rest of the boat is open. But with an LOA of 7.7m, the under foredeck area is big enough to house a reasonably sized cabin.
From the helm/passenger area you step down into the starboard sponson where an electric toilet is sited under a small lounge seat beside a big double bunk. There are also individual reading lights on the bulkhead above the bed.
Headroom is low over the bed, except when standing in the sponson, but otherwise the cabin is quite spacious. One of the drawbacks of a catamaran is that there’s no “vee” at the hull’s apex as there is in a mono hull, because of the tunnel.
A lockable cabin door opens to the starboard side of the helm area. Behind the helm station is a central console containing a bar fridge with a cupboard set into each end of the console.
On the bow side of this central console there’s a pair of folding seats that become a lean seat when they’re folded up. The top of the console is finished in Granitex and features a built-in sink unit.
The console also has grab bars all around it, which serves the dual role of keeping items left on the bench top from ending up on the floor and providing an essential hand hold right in the centre of the boat where it is most useful. A cook-top beside the sink in the bench top is optional.
The helm seating is comfortable for two and well sheltered from the elements by the height of the windscreen and the bimini top. Shorter folk like me might have to build up the deck behind the wheel to get a clear view over the screen when the boat lifts its bows when power is applied.
There is a walkway down each side of the centre console in the main cockpit, but the one to port is quite narrow. Beneath the cockpit floor there is room for an optional underfloor icebox, or you could turn it into a refrigerated box.
The dashboard panel is huge. Even with the twin instrumentation of the two Yammies there was still plenty of room for a Humminbird NS 25 combination GPS/sounder, a 27Mhz radio, a sound system, plus a glove box.
Hydraulic steering allowed the fitment of a small sports steering wheel, because it required little effort to turn the motors.
Our test boat had one of Yamaha’s superb twin binnacle controls, which made the boat a pleasure to drive. The Modern Boating test team is hooked on this Yamaha control and have been reminded several times lately of just how good it is compared to similar units offered by other outboard brands. Other manufacturers would do well to take a closer look at this binnacle control.
Behind the console the entire aft end of the cockpit is filled by a U-shaped lounge. A Granitex topped table converts this into a dinette with ample room for at least six.
Alternately, the centre section of the lounge is hinged to open a walkway out between the motors to the fold down ladder. This makes entering or leaving the water after a swim easy. There’s no clambering over bulkheads, just climb up the ladder out of the water and step into the cockpit.
A freshwater shower with an 80lt freshwater tank is tucked away in the transom beside the transom door. Beside each motor there’s also recessed storage for a fender.
Apparently, few Powercats are being bought by serious fishos these days, but for anyone so inclined, the entire rear lounge can be unclipped and lifted out to leave a large open cockpit.
Powercat do a central baitboard/workstation as an option and a game chair can be mounted centrally in the cockpit if you’re really into game fishing.
Powercats are an upmarket, better then average finished boat these days. Surprisingly, they’ve become far removed from their earlier career as rough and tough workboats. Back then, many were built for commercial fishermen, but those days are long gone.
All-in-all this is a refined boat entirely in keeping with its upmarket price tag. Comfortable weekends onboard for two a very real possibility. Powercat are already working on a hardtop version where a fibreglass hardtop will replace the Targa bar and bimini arrangement on the Sports Targa model.
This hardtop, plus a full set of clears would allow two children, or a second couple, to join you for a weekend away.
Meanwhile, for places like northern Moreton Bay, where a wide patch of often rough water separates a piece of paradise from where people live, this boat allows its lucky owners to enjoy this idyllic location without having to worry about the rough and wet ride home at the end of the day.
The base price for a Powercat 2600 Targa with twin 115hp outboards and all safety equipment is $104,300. The boat as tested, fitted with twin 130hp Yamaha Saltwater Series two-stroke outboards, all options and an excellent Powercat Ezy Launch trailer is approximately $128,200.
The test Powercat 2600 Sports Targa was powered by twin 130hp Yamaha Saltwater Series two-strokes. Two 115hp models are standard fitment, while the hull is rated up to a maximum of twin 150hp motors.
The hull has been specifically designed to cope with the added weight of four-stroke outboards, so there’s no penalty for anyone choosing this power option.
Using our official GPS, with three adults, one child, plus the usual gear for a day on the water, the test boat recorded a top speed of exactly 40 knots. Cruising at 3500rpm produced 20 knots; at 4000rpm she did 24.2 knots; and 29 knots at 4500rpm.
The hull planed at a minimum of 14.8 knots pulling 3000rpm, but the hull really didn’t start to perform and ride well until it had passed around 20 knots.
Under acceleration the 130 Yamahas lifted it onto the plane effortlessly. This boat was fitted with one of Yamaha’s superb fuel flow meters, which indicated a total fuel burn of 47lt per hour for both motors cruising at a 4000rpm.
Story by Warren Steptoe