IF YOU want to do some serious offshore boating over long distances and into open water, twin-hulled boats offer excellent durability, safety and a very stable platform to fish from. Areas that are the gateway to these wide grounds often see concentrations of catamarans and a boat ramp is a good place to see what sort of rigs come in, and maybe have a chat to someone who has a boat you think may suit you.
In looking at cats, and in this case it’s the Markham Dominator, there are a few distinct features which are appealing. The twin hull is the most obvious and the hull on the Dominator has undergone extensive testing and developing to leave a hull that rides well and provides that very stable platform.
If you’re used to driving mono hulls, the first time you drive a cat you’ll feel a little awkward with how the boat feels. You don’t end up with that lean and roll because the major support in the hulls are either side of the boat, giving you that lift.
As you turn or run across a wave you really notice it – and the Markham, especially, well and truly holds in there as a very level deck. When it comes down to being out on the back fishing in an offshore swell you appreciate even further the beauty of such a hull, as you don’t pitch and roll anywhere near as much as a mono hull. Instead, you lift and drop with each wave or swell. The added advantage of this is that several anglers can fish down one side of the boat without the fear of overbalancing.
If you’re travelling to the wider grounds there’s that advantage of having two engines should one fail for one reason or another. For this reason, when you’re fitting up the boat with engines it’s a good idea to ensure that the boat can get up onto the plane with only one engine.
The 5600 Canyon Runner that we tested had twin 90hp two-stroke outboards fitted, and I recommend that you don’t go any smaller. I thought we had to work the engines a bit hard to cruise around at a comfortable speed, and by that I mean we were running at higher revs and this usually means more fuel consumption and more wear and tear on the engines.
Comfortable revs for general planing should be between 3800rpm and 4500rpm on most rigs. When it came to single engine running it took quite a while at full throttle to get up onto the plane and this was only in the Bay. In offshore conditions with even a moderate swell I doubt that you’d get onto the plane. You’d still get home no worries, it’d just be a slow trip.
The cost of running a pair of twin 115hp engines is significant but I feel that it’s worth it in the long run. With many 115hp engines you start running V4 blocks, at least in the two-strokes anyway.
Another thing that takes a bit of getting used to is how close to the bow you stand while driving. It seems like the bow of the boat is right at your feet, and it almost is. The odd feeling about this is that you think that the bow is going to bury itself into the very next wave. The design of the boat doesn’t see this happen, however, and you soon get used to it. I suppose that if you were used to driving cats and you jumped into a mono hull you’d think that the bow was a long way off and find it hard keeping in touch of just when the bow makes contact with the wave.
The Markham Dominator makes very short work of the bay chop and skips across it with ease. Once you get underway the dynamics of the air passing through the centre tunnel creates lift which also has a cushioning effect, enabling the boat to handle the rough.
Not long after doing this test I happened to bump into a pro fisherman while in a tackle shop who has had a Dominator for quite a while now. He’d worked it hard with heavy loads over long distances and has been more than happy with his rig.
Once you move into the layout of the Dominator it doesn’t take much to appreciate that big aft deck as a great fishing area. With the cab well for’ard it’s just one big back deck to fish from. This is no doubt one of the reasons that we see pro fishermen, charter boats and dive operators use these boats. You just can’t argue about the big deck and super stability.
Just the same as in the vast majority of boats you’ll find side pockets which, for their size, end up holding an enormous amount of gear. With the twin hull we have a pair of good size underfloor storage areas which can be used for all sorts of things, from live fish wells to fish boxes or just as storage.
There are a couple of reasonable size live bait tanks in the transom but, as you’d know if you’ve even done a bit of game fishing, you can never have too many live fish wells. Just when that hot bite comes on you seem to be using your last livey with the rest doing back stroke.
The deck extends out between the outboards with good high stainless rails for support and a nice deep ladder that folds down, which is great if you want to go diving or swimming. It looks more like the gangway to walking the plank (I’m sure we’d all like to nudge some of our mates along at times – especially if they’ve just pinched that last live bait!).
You shouldn’t think of this boat purely as a fishing boat, however, as there’s a reasonable degree of comfort to be found. The passenger’s seat in this case is optioned as a small galley. When not in use it is a big bench seat with two hinged lids. Lift the rear one and there is your ice box. Lift the other and you’ll find a sink with cupboard below and place for a small portable gas stove.
The inside cabs on these mid size boats are never that big yet here we have a double size bunk that runs across the beam of the boat. I wouldn’t say that it is huge but there is sufficient room to sleep. There’s a porta loo as well.
The diver’s seat is a good comfy Relax swivel seat on a fibreglass seat box. There’s more storage in this box and it’s nice to have a good quality seat to sit on.
The cabin isn’t anything fancy, but it’s comfortable with plenty of room and a good size dash providing a nice display for instruments and electronics. A targa top delivers shade and protection from the elements while the stainless rocket launcher provides for overhead rod storage.
If you talk to someone who has a cat and uses it often, they’ll tell you they wouldn’t have anything else. These boats do make for a great offshore fishing or mini gameboat, as well as a variety of other uses.
Test boat supplied courtesy of Northside Marine (ph. (07) 3265 8000). Prices for the Markham Dominator 5600 Canyon Runner start from $57,122.
Make/model - Markham Dominator 5600 Canyon Runner
Style - Half cab
Construction - Fibreglass.
Length - 5.6m
Beam - 2.5m
Height - 3.3m with hard top and 2.8m without
Weight - 1120kg (hull only)
Towing weight - 1900kg as tested (weight is reduced with soft top model and 90hp engines)
Max hp - 2 x 115hp two-stroke / 2 x 90hp two-stroke
Fuel - 2 x 150L underfloor
Flotation - foam-filled underfloor cells
Height on trailer - .approx. 3m
1) The Markham 5600 Dominator is a popular choice for those fishing hard in offshore waters.
2) The walk through centre transom makes life easy for diving and is also a help when game fishing.
3) Small cats are generally not regarded as having a big cab yet here we have plenty of room under cover and a set that turns into a small galley on the left.
4) The concealed galley is a nice little unit.
5) Underfloor storage is always a bonus as is the live wells in the transom.
6) I wouldn’t say the inside cab has heaps of room for sleeping but you could stretch out across the beam for a few winks, otherwise it’s a great storage area.