Boat Review Date: December 2018
Author: Mike Brown
There are inflatables, rigid inflatables and, perhaps, rigid rigids. A Blackdog Cat is a catamaran by definition, but its hulls have much in common, certainly in their provision of buoyancy with, say, a rigid inflatable with a foam filled D-section collar. It has sealed hulls below the deck, each divided into three compartments. Importer Dinghy World specified the crossed fingers addition of foam filling.
The Walkthrough in the name is literally true. The centre section of windscreen tilts up on gas struts, a lower door swings to one side, and a small step upwards starts the walk though procedure. The bow cockpit provides a fine fishing platform or, equipped with a bean bag, a travel spot for the children.
Blackdogs are built in New Zealand where they are serious about providing protection from the elements: the driving compartment would probably handle an attack by fire hose; from the side or front, of course, the rear being open. For Australian conditions there is sliding side glass as well as the opening windscreen to deliver fresh air. For those NZ bar crossings plenty of hand holds are provided, including rails at port and starboard dashes and a pair of fore and aft overhead rails.
Nowadays most boat builders are equipping their boats with vastly improved seats, and the two provided by Blackdog are beauties. They sit on cave lockers whose roominess is echoed elsewhere: the glove box could take several pairs of boxing gloves; lockers under the foredeck alone would accept more maritime gear than I own. There are more lockers in the transom plus long side pockets with rattle suppressing mesh linings.
There is no question that Blackdog has fishing firmly in mind for their 6.3. There are no fewer than 12 gunwale rod holders besides six more at the rear of the hardtop; heavy duty bait board and live bait tank are standard, and the sounder is a big screen Humminbird Helix 10 with side imaging and extra deep scanning. Stability of course is an important element in fishing and the 6.3 has this in spades. Stability has more to do with where the buoyancy is located than with beam The 6.3 is only 2.2 metres wide, but the buoyancy is located at the outer edges. The result is a steadiness it would take a much larger monohull to equal.
One of the busier parts of the boat is aft of the transom. A pair of Danish Zipwake electric trim tabs lives here; these are interceptors – vertically travelling blades – similar to those installed in high speed ferries. Also vertically travelling is the transducer that is mounted on a substantial sliding post; this retracts for trailing. Ahead of the motor is a free flooding compartment that will accept a burley cage.
The construction of all Blackdogs I have examined is utterly consistent. Welding is as close to perfect as you could reasonably hope for, the fit of everything is accurate, the paintwork flawless to my eyes. Yet they have a touch of the workaday about them. The presence of only two seats could be taken as on the Spartan side, though it results in more clear deck area. The deck is in bare chequer plate aluminium which gives good grip but is unfriendly to bare feet. A square of carpet is provided that you can position where you wish to help deal with that.
Our 6.3 was powered close to the recommended top end with a 175hp Honda fitted, naturally, with hydraulic steering. Power cats are probably more commonly fitted with twins, but the big single worked fine for us. It was actually a pleasure to drive. The driving position is set high, giving good vision all round, and the feet are kept happy by foot rests at the right height.
A trailer poorly matched to its boat can spoil a day’s boating, but ours was tailor made by Blackdog. It was perfectly tuned for an easy drive on (no one ever complained about a lack of need for hand winching), Catamarans of course excelling at self aligning.
Price as reviewed AUD $122,000
Fuel capacity 110 litres
Motor fitted 175hp Honda