Every boat ever built was designed to suit a particular purpose. Whether it is a centre console for sport fishing, a 27m super yacht for relaxing and impressing, or an 18’ skiff for harnessing the wind’s raw power, each was built with a specific use in mind.
Take one look at the Micro Cat and there’s no mistaking that when creator Craig Jones, of Bluewater Fabrications, sat down to conceptualise this small but considered craft, he had a very specific purpose in mind. That is, shallow water, hard-to-access locations where a stable platform was required.
Fronting up to his workshop on the NSW Central Coast, I was interested to hear why Craig had decided to step out from the pack and build such a different, albeit almost revolutionary, style of boat.
He explained the design process and flipped through pages of hand-drawn plans and it became apparent that the driving force behind the birth of the Micro Cat was to investigate if there was indeed a customer keen for a boat at the micro end of the fishing boat market.
Having spent much of his time fishing offshore and on the sheltered waterways of the Central Coast, Craig has seen all manner of boats. But he’d never seen anything like this.
And that’s what got him thinking, there has to be a market for an unsinkable, stable fishing platform for two, powered by a small four-stroke outboard.
We jumped in the ute with Micro Cat loaded on the Ute Pack transport system and headed off.
The Micro Cat is unlike any boat I’ve set foot on. Perhaps the closest I’ve come across are the pontoon boats of the freshwater lakes of North America.
The concept is simple: A petrol-powered, stable, level-floatation fishing platform, capable of navigating waters usually reserved for kayakers and canoes.
The twin watertight, pressure-tested hulls are joined by a welded, reinforced checkerplate decking. The key considerations in the design process were to build a boat capable of carrying two adults safely, whilst not incurring compulsory registration for the vessel.
The maximum power rating is 5hp and the length is kept to well under the maximum for registration.
The other important factor was to ensure the boat could be easily stored/transported on a utility truck tray. The Ute Pack transport system is as nifty and well thought-through as the boat itself.
The Micro Cat comes standard with a skipper’s pedestal seat, port and starboard side rails and side pockets and the forward cleat and tow attachment.
The test boat was optioned up to include additional creature comforts to make spending extended periods of time aboard more comfortable and angler-friendly.
The rear raised bait table is worthy addition and provides space to keep tackle dry and out of the way. The bimini provides shade for the skipper, although the passenger seat is positioned to maintain greater balance and is out in the sun.
The bait box or wet tackle storage compartment at the bow provides space for basic fishing tools and its lid can double as a cutting board.
Two rod holders have been added, although I think the addition of three upright rod holders either side would be of benefit to the keen angler.
Lights and a battery can be added to ensure safe and legal navigation after dark and there is also the option to accessorise with prawning lights and other kit.
The hull is stable and comfortably supported Craig’s weight and mine. The production models have a deeper hull than the prototype we tested, delivering increased stability and greater freeboard, and will keep the deck drier when pushing through wind chop and boat wakes.
The watertight integrity of the hulls is a great asset; it is impossible to sink even if it does get swamped by large waves.
Manoeuvrability is exceptional with the 2.3hp Honda. One can basically turn on a dime, reverse with a flick of the tiller and access water as shallow as 300mm, meaning you can navigate small creeks, rivers and sand flats with ease.
You’re not going to win any races with such modest power but with a 5hp outboard I’d imagine this little rig must just about plane.
There are outstanding features of this package: Ease of transport, launch and retrieve, and the fact that it can operate in knee-deep water. Of course there’s the stability underway and at rest that cats are renowned for, too.
I really like the ingenuity of the Ute Pack and the way the hull can be single-handedly launched off the ute without even getting the tyres wet.
As a calm water fishing and prawning platform I’m sure the Micro Cat will win many fans. And safe in the knowledge this boat is unsinkable, it should also be a hit with parents of kids eager to get out on the water.
Craig says there have been inquiries about customising the Micro Cat for environmental sampling tasks in wetlands, around mining sites and even as camera boats for documentary film makers needing a stable dry ride for their precious cameras.
So if you’re in the market for a small, highly transportable and easily customised platform for skinny-water fishing spots, call Craig.
Test boat courtesy of Blue Water Fabrication 5/10 O'Hart Close, Charmhaven, phone 02 4392 8866, www.bluewaterfabrication.com.au/microcat.html
|Hull only weight||87kg.|
Hull warranty 12 months warranty,
Warranty Honda 5 years.
|Max load||300kg, 2 adults.|
Weight of boat and motor as tested: 95 kg.
Price as tested: $5500.
Options: Canopy, painting, bait tank, bait table, lighting for deck, lighting for prawning, extra seat, storage box. Inshore safety pack must be purchased to comply with
Standard package: $3900 includes hull, skipper seat, side rails, side pockets, forward cleat, towing eye.
Micro Cat Ute Pack $495
Trailer: Blue Water Fabrication trailer to suit: $1295.