Issue: April/May 2006
EYE OF THE TIGER – This multi-purpose cat is as powerful as its namesake.
If power cats are your thing, these Tigers are worth a closer look. Especially if you like to stand out from the crowd. Not only are Silver Tigers a rare breed in Australia, but each boat is custom-built using Ron Given designs. Every interior is different and designed to be a perfect fit for the customer, even down to deck heights to suit extra tall owners.
This 11m test boat is owned by Australian agent, Chris Higham. His preference was for a social dayboat at the expense of sleeping accommodation. So there are only two double cabins, but a vast saloon/galley area and plenty of storage space.
A good share of this space is in the two holds. This is possible because instead of diesel engines and shafts, this Silver Tiger has a pair of 225hp Yamaha four-stroke outboards. Not an obvious choice for a catamaran of this size, but they well and truly do the job.
The day was not your normal WA summer weather, courtesy of a cyclone hovering up north. There was barely a breath of wind, no sea and stifling humidity. It was more reminiscent of Singapore than Fremantle, but it did bring out Chris’s good sense in varying the New Zealand specs of fixed-cabin glass and front-hinged fore hatches. These ones slide, are rear-hinged and offer good ventilation. It wasn’t a good day to demonstrate a boat’s sea-keeping qualities, but we did meet the returning cray-boat fleet off Fremantle and borrowed their wakes. We crossed at all angles, tried for a broach and so on, but if we had shut our eyes we’d have barely noticed these waves. Hardly a test, but it was all we had and they were big, husky V12-powered boats that churned up plenty of rough stuff to play on.
Still, you wouldn’t expect an 11m cat to be greatly disturbed by this, so put broken water ability down as undemonstrated ? to me anyway. But a recent delivery trip of an 11m from New Zealand to Noumea (880 nautical miles, with one 440-mile leg) suggests it’s been well demonstrated elsewhere.
But the calm waters did allow us to prove the outboards’ abilities. The Yamahas had plenty of grunt, getting up to 20 knots in seven and a bit seconds, obviously helped by the six-tonne weight of the Tiger. And they didn’t take much longer to reach a top speed of 31 knots.
Twenty knots came at 4000rpm and the fuel consumption at these revs was 2.48lt per nautical mile. Drop off 500rpm (three knots) and consumption falls to 2.02lt per mile, which is about as cheap as it gets for this much boat. Bearing in mind the higher cost of diesels, both to buy and to service, the outboards look economically attractive; they make a good partnership with the Silver Tiger.
But Silver Tiger builders don’t care how you want to power your boat. Inboard diesels or petrol engines are on offer, with a choice of V-drives, legs, or surface drives.
On monohulls, twin outboards are mounted as close together as possible and one of life’s little pleasures is watching owners trying to manoeuvre using differential power.
They often stuff up completely by using wheel movements at the same time, when they should just pretend they have a single engine on the back.
On this big cat, they are widely spaced (beam is a big 4.5m). The Yamahas showed plenty of grip and hauled the tail round to order with one engine running ahead and one astern. It’s a very satisfying boat to manoeuvre: just the right amount of inertia produces instant response to throttle.
The only helm station is on the flybridge and vision from here to all quarters is excellent. But you can also plug in remote control on a wandering lead and drive from the foredeck if you want. But most people will be happy with the bridge.
It’s a roomy place with a big lounge at the forward end and, with the cat’s inherent stability, you can pack in plenty of people. The helm console has plenty of room for instrumentation and the electronics of your choice. Chris opted for a Raymarine suite of GPS, sounder and auto-pilot.
The flybridge is covered by a bimini, which in this case, is carried on a folding arch. A permanent Targa is usual, but this boat needs to get under bridges.
Fishermen will get dewy-eyed checking out the Silver Tiger’s cockpit and platform. There’s so much room, so much access to the water, plus so much stability. Six or seven people can fish at the same time. The boat has a teak-laid deck throughout, which is a beautiful surface made for bare feet. This is much better than carpet, because it’s an area that’s going to get anointed with a lot of fish scales and guts. The cockpit has all the usual mod cons: sink, barbecue, icebox, as well as the more obvious rod racks and sockets.
The teak decking makes an obvious link between indoors and out, but the whole feel of the boat encourages casual interchange between the two areas. The sheer size of the cockpit and platform means alfresco dining is always on the cards.
Placing the galley at mezzanine level in the port hull separates the function but keeps the cook in touch with people on the lounge opposite. The galley is a purposeful space, as you would expect from Kiwis who take eating afloat very seriously indeed. Not many boats in this size range have four-burner gas stoves as well as a microwave and a domestic-size fridge. Or a wine cellar, or whatever other uses you want to use the big underdeck locker for.
The decor is simple and done well. There’s good use of timber trim and foam-backed vinyl deck heads. Surfaces are designed for ease of maintenance. The deck, like all the timberwork, is beautifully done. A new owner just has to decide if it’s worth the $545 per square metre it adds to the bill.
The large lounge (standard in suede or leather) surrounds three sides of a folding table that forms the infill to convert the whole lot to a double bed. There is room left in the saloon for folding chairs as well, but the feel of the Silver Tiger is casualness personified and extra people are more likely to wander in and out from the cockpit, or prop themselves here or there.
Sleeping accommodation consists of double cabins, forward port and starboard, with the beds extending into the bridge deck. They provide plenty of room, with mirrors making them appear even bigger.
The bathroom is in the starboard hull, aft of the access stairs. It’s actually two genuine rooms featuring a shower stall and toilet and wash basin area.
There is a feel of spaciousness throughout, which is what you generally get with large cats. It’s helped by the large amounts of natural light the builders have arranged to let in.
Silver Tiger doesn’t give this a boat a model name; it’s simply the 11m. So is it a sportfisher, a long-distance cruiser, a party boat, or what ? All of the above, really, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And it does it in typical New Zealand fashion, at a good-looking price.
This is a lot of boat for a basic $475,000. This test boat is tricked out to $560,000 and is still excellent value.
BARING HER TEETH
This 11m boat is a seagoing, midrange craft with luxury and space. It’s built to the highest standards without going overboard on price.
This boat has 30-plus knot performance. She’s fast, spacious, easy to manoeuvre, but more importantly, easy to maintain and delivers top fuel consumption from her twin outboard installation.
A RARE BREED
In one of the more unusual marketing arrangements, geographically speaking, New Zealand boat builder Silver Tiger Powercats, sells its product in Australia through an agent in Western Australia.
There aren’t ever going to be many Silver Tigers in Australia (two at present), because current production runs at about four boats a year and they’re also sold in New Zealand and the rest of the Pacific.
Twin 225hp Yamaha four-stroke outboards powered the 11m.
In dead calm conditions the Silver Tiger returned the following performance figures.
KNOTS – RPM
8 – 2500
14 – 3000
17 – 3500
20 – 4000
23 – 4500
26 – 5000
29 – 5500
31 – 5900
ENGINES: Twin 225hp Yamaha four-strokes
BASE PRICE: $475,000
WORDS + PHOTOS MIKE BROWN
+ Huge cockpit; Good manoeuvrability
– Numbers built per year