Boat Review Date: November 2012
Author: Mike Brown
The description ‘power cat’ generally brings to mind a boat built with speed in mind, and that is not at all what the Prowler 10.4 is. And a 35ft cruiser powered by outboards is not main stream either, but this boat ticks an awful lot of boxes.
New Zealand built for open waters, the Prowler has evolved from the earlier Prowler 9000 to cope with serious seas. The bridge deck – the structure joining the two hulls – has been raised to make slamming less likely, and tanks have been relocated to reduce pitching. Coastal cruising was in the designers’ minds and they appear to have nailed that one, but they have also created an exceptionally versatile vessel.
Draught is less than half a metre: most of Peel Inlet is open to this boat. And for Rottnest cruising you would not need a tender – just nose up on the beach. A less obvious advantage of that draught is a greater choice of river mooring sites.
The outboard power has something to do with the draught, but it has a lot more than that going for it. They hang on the back, so no engine rooms take up hull space. When back on the mooring or in the pen the legs tilt right out of the water to remove any corrosion or fouling problems. But it is in servicing that they really show their advantages; to start with they are accessible – on many catamarans, for anything more than routine maintenance the engines are lifted out. And the servicing costs of the Prowler’s motors are modest like the motors themselves: the power range is only from 60 to 90hp on each hull.
Those hulls are slippery: the 60s will let you cruise at up to 18 knots. The bigger motors would give more assertive manoeuvring and would be lightly stressed at 18 knots, but 18 knots is about the hulls’ maximum speed. With 500 litres of fuel in the tanks range is phenomenal, and the cost of a Rottnest jaunt would be no more than for a runabout.
But deck space and accommodation is more like that of a 40-plus foot cruiser, with two cabins, two bathrooms, full size galley and spacious entertaining areas. It actually can sleep six as those cabins each contain a single as well as a double bed. They would be reasonable weekend numbers, but for a serious cruise two couples or a family of four would be pampered for room. Typical of catamarans, the Prowler punches above its length in the number of day trippers or party guests it can absorb.
With a 4.8m beam the cockpit cannot help but be roomy; settees for about eight spread across its forward face. Aft, sink and hot and cold shower are contained within the transom, and davits span it to carry a tender between the hulls (you can’t always find a beach to ground on). A hardtop shades the area. Extra deck space – a big area of it and practically square – is ahead of the superstructure. This is bound to be called into service for evening drinks on the mooring.
The saloon’s vast expanse of glass makes it almost as well lit as the cockpit, and with a high percentage of the glass openable nearly as airy. Forward are the stairways to the hulls and the very neatly executed driving position; aft and sides are the galley and dinette. In New Zealand style, cooking is taken seriously; no microwave nonsense – a full blooded gas stove instead. The galley is immediately inside the door and abutting a window opening on to the cockpit. Food is never far away.
The entire volume of each hull is given over to its two or three occupants. The after end is bathroom, with electric flushing, macerating toilet and spacious shower. The forward end is the single berth. The double bed lives within the bridging structure beneath the foredeck. This is the style evolved for the long range cruising sailing catamarans: a great use of space and very comfortable.
The Prowler can be parked anywhere, can handle shallows, Rottnest weekends, coastal cruising and ocean going. It is cheap to run and easy to maintain – the electrical system is based on flexible solar panels. For a lot of people this is the perfect boat.
Price as reviewed AUD $335,000
Hull length 10.8m
Fuel capacity 500L
Fresh water 400L
Power range 2 x 60hp – 2x 90hp