Boat Review Date: October 2017
Author: Mike Brown
Blackdog Cat is a New Zealand company building, unsurprisingly, nothing but aluminium cats. Cats, of course, are many people’s ideal of a fishing boat. The inherent stability and the sheer space available within their dimensions are the chief attractions, but punching above their weight in sea keeping ability is hardly less important. New Zealand fishing trips usually involve less travel than ours, but many of them begin and end with horrendous bar crossing episodes. To suit these Kiwis build boats that track straight and are reluctant to broach.
The review Blackdog 5.1 was partially painted, with enough edges left raw to reveal the quality of the welding: superb, as is true of most other New Zealand boats I have known. There is a great deal of this welding since Blackdog integrates so much into the structure. An example of this is the bow grab rail. It does not project at all: the deck itself is recessed behind it.
The hardtop projects forward of the deep windscreen (glass, not plastic) to form a sun visor. In New Zealand style the area here resembles a backless wheelhouse such is the thoroughness of the protection it offers. The aerodynamics of the sliding side windows, though, let plenty of breeze in, WA style.
The seats, mounted on pedestals above small cave lockers, are excellent. Their placement gives good room for a standing driver and comfort for one sitting. The location of the footrests touches perfection.
Oddment storage is given serious attention. There are bins under the foredeck either side of the anchor well and, instead of a glove box ahead of the navigator, there is another bin capable of holding a couple of baseball catcher’s mitts. This is in addition to the full length side pockets that are thoughtfully lined by plastic reed matting to remove those maddening rattles.
This is a quiet boat, which is partly a function of its major safety features. Each hull is divided into three watertight compartments, a standard element in its building that suppresses a lot of resonance from the hull. For WA these compartments are foam filled, virtually turning suppression into silence.
Not many purely fishing, or diving come to that, items are built in; side deck rod sockets and the rocket launchers plus a dive ladder and platform pretty much account for them. The Kiwis generally like to keep things simple – for instance they seem to have a hatred of hinges, preferring things out in the open rather than behind doors. A fine example of this is the pair of fuel tanks.
They are brilliant, combining the advantages of portable and built-in. A 50 litre tank sits clamped on a shelf at each side of the transom, flanking the battery. Their fillers are directly above the tanks in the return of the transom allowing you to use the world’s most accurate fuel gauge: a dip stick. The far bigger advantage though is the ease of removing them to periodically clean them out.
The 100hp Honda proved good for 30 knots. It was driving a four bladed propeller to give extra grip, and it certainly did that; nothing in the sharpest turns could make it slip. The behaviour of catamarans in turns can be a bit disconcerting to people used to monohulls, but not this one: the sensation was more that of a conventional hull. What was unquestionably catamaran was the stability: it could only have been greater if we were aground.
I was reminded of one of the fringe benefits of catamarans at the end of the on-water session. More or less align the Black Dog with the trailer and just drive on; the boat and trailer do the rest. This trailer was especially helpful – not surprising since Blackdog built it themselves to exactly fit the boat. A handy feature here is the full length foredeck hatch: it makes the whole operation a one man job. With the motor slow ahead, the skipper can lean over the bow and hook on.
Price as reviewed AUD $68,950
Fuel capacity 100L
Motor fitted 100hp Honda