Boat Review Date: November 2009
Author: Mike Brown
LeisureCats come near the top of any offshore angler’s wish list. That not all end up buying one is more the shallow-pocket syndrome than the wish drying up. Like all power cats, LeisureCats are more expensive to build than the same length monohull, and buyers tend to add a lot of extras. As did the buyer of the review LeisureCat 8000. He had owned it for less than a week and was delighted to show me his baby and to let me play with it.
It had the size he was looking for, yet with a 2.5m beam he could tow it without legal restrictions, and on its aluminium trailer was light enough to tow with a standard large 4WD. It replaced a plate aluminium boat that did the job, but on deep-water expeditions was too harsh riding for long term comfort. And because he was planning some night fishing he wanted accommodation and basic cooking and food storage facilities. And when he thought about it some more, there were masses of things he wanted.
The basic boat has plenty of capability and equipment. It is a closed hardtop boat, with a big cockpit and a fore cabin with standing headroom. Having virtually a square bow, the cabin has room for a bed to satisfy Hugh Hefner as well as an electric-flushing toilet. Standard fittings include a bow ladder (always handy), side glass that opens either at the front or rear end, overhead grab rails in two dimensions, sullage tank, two starting and one house battery (our boat has a 75W solar panel to help charge them), and a very workable galley.
The galley takes up some of the space below the navigator’s seat. A two-burner gas stove complete with safety certificate, sniffers and safety shut-off solenoid sits alongside a sink. The fridge is located under the driver’s seat. The seats slide on boxes that extend aft as jump seats and have internal volume to swallow large pieces of gear.
There is no shortage of places to put stuff. The twin of the deep side pocket to port has been given a lockable lid for secure stowage of rods; one of the two underdeck tanks is used for the dry stowage of dive bags; a removable mid cockpit esky-seat (removed for the day) has scuba cylinder clips on its sides.
You are left in no doubt that this is a fishing boat, and no expense was spared on gear for searching for fish. The dash has two 12-inch Garmin touch screens that allow any combination of information from radar, GPS and the sounder of awesome power. Fishing’s practical side is just as well equipped, with a huge recirculating tank, custom bait board with lidded compartments, deck wash, rod sockets, and three sets of drawers for lures and rigs.
Better than the equipment is the boat’s aptitude for fishing. Its steadiness is almost absolute, three men at one rail barely moving the horizon. And standing at the rail is practically luxurious: thick padding down both sides and at the transom connects with the legs way up the thigh, and the full length of padding is matched with toe room.
The 8000 is as well suited to its secondary diving role. The all-important space is there, and access to the water is excellent. The transom is a straight walk-through giving onto a boarding platform between the motors. This is the ideal spot for a fresh water shower and naturally one is provided.
Propulsion is by a pair of 175hp Suzuki four-stroke outboards. Their most noticeable characteristic was quietness - besides their keenness to take us to a top speed of 39 knots. As usual this was academic as the owner admitted that cruising speed was the same 22 to 25 knots that every other WA leisure boat travelled at. However he said that so far the ride at that speed was several miles in front of any other boat he had travelled in.
A benefit of two widely spaced motors is the possibility of using them differentially to make tight parking manoeuvres. Another is using them like trim tabs to set the boat up to suit beam seas and the like. Trim one motor out and down goes the opposite gunwale.
We tested this out but had no beam sea to make it realistic. As is so often the way when I have an all-weather boat to play with we had a day of flat ocean. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but owner and builder were kicking things in frustration. Unlike many catamarans the LeisureCat leaned into turns monohull style rather than leaning out like a frigate. That leaning out habit can spook people unused to it, and you never quite get used to it.
One excellent feature of every LeisureCat I have been on has been its dryness; not just from spray but also from mist sucked aboard from the rear of the tunnel. There are cats that drench anybody in the cockpit on days of no sea at all.
The LeisureCat’s place on the wish list is secure.
Price as reviewed $194,000
Price from $165,000
Fuel capacity 520L (680L optional)
Fresh water 120L