Boat Review Date: August 2018
Author: Mike Brown
For a given size catamarans are usually noticeably more expensive than monohulls. There is more metal, more cutting and more welding required, and normally two motors to pay for. The Blackdog 5.1 is dearer, but gets by with a single motor. Uncommon but it works well here, gripping relentlessly through tight manoeuvres. These were carried out with the Blackcat sitting essentially flat rather than leaning outwards in the turns, frigate fashion.
Beam is an unexceptional 2.18 metres but stability is far beyond what that figure would give a monohull. It is so good that to be much better would require the boat to be aground.
The quality of welding strongly and correctly suggests a New Zealand builder, as does the hardtop – high enough to fit a South African under. There was a lot of detail confirming the Blackdog Cat 5.1’s origins, and all of it matching the standard of the welding.
The fuel arrangements, for instance, are interesting: a pair of 45 litre portable tanks to feed a 115hp motor. Tailor made for the job, they fit in racks right aft. With current generation motors 90 litres will take you a long way so bigger tanks would mean unused fuel aging. But even 45 litre tanks will have some old fuel in them; condensation will be collecting. This is easily fixed by taking the tanks out and refueling your lawn mower from them.
So much thought has gone into every part of this boat that spotting the detail is a fun task. A few examples: the one-rung boarding ladder hinges have nylon bushes; metal ducts are on the transom to accept any future cables; the side pockets, big enough to accept scuba tanks, are lined with plastic mesh; the space ahead of the motor mount has been organized as a permanent burley bucket. One of the few shortcomings in hardware was the bow rails, deemed skinny for Western Australian hands and replaced by 32mm tubing.
The underdeck volume of each hull is subdivided into three air-tight chambers. With the “Titanic” in mind, perhaps, the imported version has the chambers foam filled.
The volume within the fore cabin contains nothing but a pair of small bins, which seems a waste of valuable space. Nets slung from the deck and tensioned with bungee cord would remedy this. Although storage generally is not abundant, the builder apparently tried to make up for it with the glove box: huge.
That tall space under the hardtop has a feature to make the Blackcat more acceptable on the Western Australian market: sliding side glass (the glass really is glass rather than acrylic); means of cooling having no priority in New Zealand. New Zealand trips tend to be shorter too, and the local agents specified first class seats for local customers. The pair of pedestal mounted buckets, in turn mounted on small cave lockers, has bolsters for standing and supremely comfortable padding for sitting. Seats with poorly placed or absent footrests are badly let down, but that is not the case here.
The shelter consumes most of the beam, and access forward via what is left is not only dodgy but pointless: there is no fore deck. Handling the anchor or putting out ropes is best done through the clear fore hatch. Everything is to hand, with the lidded anchor well immediately ahead of the hatch.
This is unquestionably a fishing boat. Besides the ingenious burley bin there are live bait stowage, side deck rod holders and a battery of rocket launchers. A catch tank was precluded by the foam filled hulls, so take your own esky – or should that be a chully bun?
With the motor fitted, a 115hp Mercury, transit times to fishing spots should be brief; which would be good for passengers as there are only the two seats on board. The obvious position for a couple more is standing behind those seats using the excellent hand holds. An interesting alternative would be to resurrect a couple of swimming pool bean bags: possibly the most comfortable boat seats.
Price as reviewed AUD $73,650
Fuel capacity 90L
Motor fitted 115hp Mercury