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Malee Kats: Built to last
  |  First Published: October 2005



It’s refreshing to see a completely new and innovative boat come onto the Queensland market, and if the attention to detail and quality of workmanship is anything to go by, Malee Kat boats will find plenty of enthusiastic customers.

Malee Kats are built in Burketown by local fishing guide Mal England, and engineered by naval architect Jon Pattie, of Sea Life Designs. The 4.7m test boat belonged to Steve Wright from Wright’s Welding in Mt Isa, and the attention to detail, workmanship and fisher-friendly layout were apparent very early on in the trial.

The Malee Kat 4.7 is a massive boat for its length and is fitted with a single 100hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard. The extra high sides and super stability offered by the catamaran hull will be ideal for boaties who like to have a solid and secure platform under their feet.

The main advantage of catamarans is their ability to cut through the chop and the Malee Kat is no exception: it easily carved up the nasty conditions that we ran into when testing the boat out the front of Trinity Inlet in Cairns. The conditions would have left my teeth chattering in a 6m mono, yet the big cat loved running into the swell and just flew over it. The performance across the swell wasn’t as good, but the boat still handled it with ease.

It’s difficult to compare catamarans to monos. Their ride is completely different but once you adjust to the motion, they offer a lot of advantages over conventional hulls. Internal volume for length is a big plus, and the beam, height above water and internal height create a really safe and secure feel to the Kat.

The whole construction is overbuilt to blazes, with everything made from the biggest and toughest equipment available. I lived in Mt Isa for one year and this boat very much reminds me of the place – larger than life! A good example of this is the hinges on the two transom gates: full height, welded hinges with 2cm diameter pins. There are none of those flimsy screw-on hinges on the Malee Kat!

The twin transom gates give access from both sides, with the starboard side featuring a heavy-duty fold-down ladder. The side rail, which carries down over the top of the raked back stern, offers excellent security when boarding.

The built-in bait board is an engineering masterpiece and could be used to lift the Kat off the trailer using a crane! It has two curved back rod holders, which along with the raked stern, give a very contemporary look to the Kat. The cutting board has a large drainpipe to stop muck getting all over the motor and there is a storage tray underneath to keep cleaning gear handy. A heavy-duty weatherproof hatch on the front of the bait board base gives access to the battery, fuel filter and lines. A great deal of thought has gone into the layout of the Malee Kat, and this is evidenced by small features such as having the inline fuel bulb tucked under the starboard side of the bait board, out of harm’s way but easy to access.

The console seat is another work of art, with a carpet-lined storage tray under the fold forward padded seat and internal storage, accessed from both sides. The middle shelf has a cut-away edge, so larger gear can easily be placed and removed from the bottom tray. The compact console has everything that a boatie needs to get around in safety and has access to internal storage, wiring and the steering mechanism via a door on the port side and another on the front of the console. A grab rail on the port side is ideal for passengers and another one on the starboard side will help the helmsman hang on in the rough stuff.

In front of the console is an in-floor, fully plumbed livebait tank with an inlaid carpeted edge to stop the lid slamming when you close it. Twin hatches give access to a massive amount of storage under the nose where the lifejackets are kept. Side pockets run from the transom to the nose, offering lots of open storage.

The anchoring system is simple and foolproof, with a large, open top, self-draining well, a cross bollard on the rear side and a split bow rail feeding onto a very solid bow sprit and roller. The front of the Malee Kat is so heavily built it could be used as a battering ram. The leading edge of each hull is 3.5mm thick, 40mm diameter alloy tubing, which runs from the gunwale to the bottom of the hull. A length of 10mm solid alloy is incorporated into the first 30cm of the keel so the boat can safely be run onto boat ramps and the like without fear of hull damage. With this type of treatment in mind, my preference would be to have the hull painted to the chine on the outside and where the hull meets the tunnel underneath, rather than the fully painted hull on the test boat.

With a deep red colour scheme and tough build, the Malee Kat is part of the ‘Queenslander Series’ of designs. It comes with a custom-built, dual-axle aluminium trailer, with Al-Ko independent suspension. There are no springs or leaves to break on the rough roads in the Gulf and the fully mechanical braking on the trailer won’t let you down in the bush. The trailer has an easy to operate, drive on/drive off set-up for a trouble-free launch and retrieve.

The 100hp Yamaha four-stroke provides plenty of power, although the top end speed was down on what Mal and Steve had achieved using a 19” stainless steel prop. While the boys were in the big smoke they tested different props to try to totally eliminate the slight cavitation that is often encountered with single engine cats during take-off. The best results were had with a 17” three-blade cupped stainless steel prop, which eliminated cavitation.

During the trial, the 100hp Yamaha pushed the Kat along at 36km/h (22mph, 19kt) at 4000rpm, 42km/h (26mph, 23kt) at 4500rpm, 49km/h (30mph, 26kt) at 5000 rpm and topped out doing 55km/h (34mph, 30kt) at 5500rpm. In previous trials using a 19” stainless steel prop, Mal and Steve had achieved 63km/h (39mph, 34kt) at 5900rpm.

The Malee Kat handled beautifully and had the tightest turning circle I have experienced in a cat. Even on full lock at full tilt, there was no sign of it playing up. The Kat loved running into the swell, but threw a bit of spray broadside on to the 20-knot wind and confused sea. At all other angles it remained dry.

The Malee Kat will suit discerning boaties who want a comfortable stable fishing platform that can handle running long distances at high speed over choppy water. And with the way the Malee Kat is built, you can be sure it will be around for a long time!

For further information contact Mal England on (07) 4745 5056 or send an email to --e-mail address hidden--

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Hull thickness (transom & keel) - 5mm

Hull thickness (sides) - 3mm

Length - 4.7m

Overall length - 5.2m

Beam - 2.2m

Max hp - 115 four stroke

Fuel - 120L underfloor

Max persons - 5

Price - $30,000 hull only (price of finished boat varies with level of customisation)

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