TALK to just about anyone who owns a ‘cat’ style boat and they’ll tell you that they’d never buy anything else – aside from getting a bigger version! It’s hard to get a better selling point than that.
One of Queensland’s largest marine dealers, Northside Marine in Brisbane, has just taken on Markham Whaler Catamarans, holding various stock models in the yard. Because Northside Marine is only five metres away from the water, interested parties can arrange on-water testing before they make the final decision. Dominators have been largely sold and laid out to suit Southern markets but, if I know the team at Northside Marine, they’ll have a few of the boats fitted for boating in the North.
So why own a catamaran? Firstly, consider one of the cats’ biggest selling points: you get a large platform that offers superior stability. With support by the twin sponson design, the buoyancy is right on the outer edges of the boat so any weight on the sides is well supported. If you’ve ever fished out of a cat, you would have enjoyed this benefit.
Another outstanding feature of the hulls is that they don’t roll like standard mono hulls do. Once again, this is because the cat’s weight is supported on the outer edge. The stability and lack of roll on the boat is why many offshore anglers, game fisherman, charter operators and commercial fishermen choose to buy a catamaran.
The Markham Whaler has a roomy deck and there’s more than enough room for four anglers to fish out of. The coamings along the sides and rear are all padded for added comfort while fishing.
Because the engines are mounted on either side, you end up with a gap down between the engines. The deck area extends down here to a duckboard enclosed with stainless steel rails. This can be used to haul big fish on board, and is great for hopping in and out of the boat while having a swim or dive. You’re also likely to stand out here and have a fish where your lines are clear of the engines.
The area out here is relatively free of cables, and so is quite a useable. All the controls and so forth run through the transom and are hidden inside this area. Two lockers in each of the stern quarters accommodate the batteries and oil bottles. Here they are well off the floor and housed in a dry area. The beauty of being housed up off the floor is that there is little chance of them being swamped if you end up with a lot of water in the boat. It’s not hard to get water in the boat if you live in an area where you need to cross a bar to get out to your fishing grounds, or if you are backing up on a marlin. Any water that ends up here quickly runs out of the self-draining deck.
On the top side of the battery housings are your live bait tanks, one in either corner. One or both can be plumbed.
The helm design is a little different on those boats with only one fixed helm seat on the driver’s side. This box-mounted swivel seat has storage below, and in front the dash displays two sets of instruments for the twin engines.
The passenger’s side is where we see a little difference. It’s a big bench seat with a cushion allows seating for two, and underneath there’s a small kitchenette with sink, freshwater tape, small ice box and further storage in a small side-accessed hatch. This is great if you want to do a few weekends away, but keen anglers will opt to have the whole unit as one big fish box. That way you don’t need to worry about an esky on the back deck that ends up getting in the way.
The boat isn’t short of storage areas, with under bunk storage in the for’ard cabin, wet tanks under the aft deck and large full-length side pockets.
For a catamaran that’s only 5.6 metres long, the cabin bunks are a pretty good size. You can sleep two adults up in here, and the entry into the cabin is quite wide with no bulkhead on the passenger’s side separating the helm from the cabin. Because cabins on smaller cats are quite confined, this gives the feel of a more open and inviting cabin area.
When judging the ride and performance of a cat, you first have to get used to the feel of one and how they respond. The big thing to keep in mind is that they are built to handle rough water and offer a stable platform. If you expect to throw the boat around, buy a ski boat!
Despite having twin 90hp two-stroke Mercury outboards on the back, this boat is not quick off the mark and isn’t overly quick getting up onto the plane. Despite this, once you are underway the boat has a very good top end speed of 43mph.
Once you get going, the planing area under each of the sponsons starts performing, with the added lift of the air being forced under the tunnel between the two sponsons. This trapped air also acts as a cushion, softening the ride.
It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling fast or slow - you soon appreciate the stability of the Dominator once you start crossing the sea, and the boat isn’t affected by other people moving around in the boat.
It’s also worth keeping in mind the added safety factor of having twin engines. One engine can get the boat up on the plane, but it takes a little longer to get it up there.
While the Dominator’s 90hp two-stroke Mercury outboards are very good motors, it’s worthwhile having a look at a couple of four-strokes if you can afford the extra $5500. Four-strokes are quieter, more fuel efficient (which can add up in fuel and oil costs while running two engines), and you don’t get smelly fumes being sucked back into the cab, especially if the cab is fully enclosed with no flow-through ventilation. The hull is rated to take twin 115hp two-strokes or twin 90hp four-strokes
If you’re thinking about a serious offshore boat, and this is what the Markham Dominator was designed for, head down to Northside Marine and have a look at the various models in stock.
Test boat package priced at approx. $________, supplied courtesy of Northside Marine ph. (07) 3265 8000.
Make - Markham Dominator
Model - 5600 Canyon Runner
Construction - fibreglass
Length - 5.6m
Beam - 2.5m
Weight – 1120kg (hull only)
Fuel - 2 x 150L underfloor tanks
1. This hull is designed for rough, open waters. Combine this with the stability of the Dominator, and you have a great fishing machine.
2. Twin 90hp Mercury two-stroke outboards push this 5600 Canyon Runner along at 43mph.
3. Dual instruments are laid out nicely in front of you, along with flush mounted electronics for clear viewing.
4. The passenger’s seat is a little different and transforms into a kitchenette.
5. Underfloor storage, live bait tanks and off floor battery housing help to deliver a good workable aft deck area.
6. Not a big cabin, but still enough for overnighters with additional storage below the cushions.
7. There’s plenty of room to move about in this rig.Reads: 5603