BOAT TEST: ARROWCAT 30
Cats always curry favour with divers and anglers, but the Arrowcat 30 takes aim at the family, too. KEVIN SMITH reports on the new breed of cat
It always comes to the same things with cats: you either have a passion for them or you don't. Or perhaps you have never had the experience of becoming acquainted with them. In my case, I have always been drawn to powered cats, mainly through experience - one day I might like the feline versions, too.
But aside from the beautiful larger cats being produced today, there still seems to be a stigma attached to the medium-sized models. The assumption is that they are a hardcore fishing, diving or rescue boat. But in the last few years there have been changes on the design front. The great performing craft are now quite luxurious and geared more towards the family.
The ArrowCat 30 is a prime example of the new cat breed. She combines graceful but sharp looks with purring four-stroke outboard power. But she is anything but a 'pussy' on the water. Perhaps that's not surprising given that world-renowned Roger Hill, a leading catamaran designer for more than 30 years, drew the hull.
When it came to the layout, serious consideration was given to catering for the family foremost. The ArrowCat 30's thoughtful, modern layout has plenty of liveable space. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised the builder managed to fit into this boat without having to compromise in any way.
Among the clever little features is a fold-away platform covering the stairs down below that serves as an area for passengers to stand when underway. Accommodation consists of a queen berth in the bow featuring generous stowage (the cabin also allows access to the helm's electrics and controls via a dropdown panel).
Aft of the bow cabin and below the midships deck are single bunks starboard and port that are spacious enough for family, guests, or for added stowage. To complement the sleeping quarters there is a full-sized, well-lit bathroom that includes hot and cold faucets, toilet, and vanity to 'powder the puff'.
Above, everything turns open plan in the hardtop saloon and cockpit, with breathable space in a modern and stylish area. A full-on wraparound windscreen with natural ventilation and loads of glass prevents any feelings of claustrophobia while adding to the cheerful ambience.
Continuing the open-plan theme is a helm on the centreline where a fully customised and adjustable skipper's seat engulfs you like a good old lazy-boy chair. The dash setup - as you can see for yourself hereabouts - is damn neat and uncomplicated. The only niggle for me was having to lean slightly forward to work the super-smooth fly-by-wire outboard engine controls when seated.
Whether relaxing on the sofa or socialising around a good bottle of vino, the saloon is the place to be. To port is a generous wraparound settee with a foldaway mini dining table opposite the galley offering composite counter top, cherrywood cabinets with locking latch drawers, mini-bar fridge, hot/cold water, sink and provisions for either an electric, gas, or alcohol two-burner stove, and microwave.
Immediately aft of the settee is the cockpit with stowage and neat fold-down seating. There's also shade from an extended bimini with rocket launchers for the fishing rods. Two large hatches are also built into the deck, with heaps of stowage for anything from fish to dive gear, folding table and watertoys. The inserts in the deck hatches are another great detail. Removable for easy cleaning, especially handy after carrying the catch on ice, the inserts also lift for good access to bilge pumps and additional fittings below.
The full stainless steel railings along the false transom lead to another novel design of the centre platform between the engines. It's a swing-down swimladder that awaits those who have just cooled off or are about to. The transom platform extends slightly past the outboards, a good safety feature in the event of whirring props.
Up front, the full bowrail is worth a mention. It's within hand's reach and angles outwards so as not to cram you against the cabin's side when going forward. The bow itself is the perfect place to relax and tan or practice the <I>Titanic</I> bow-riding manoeuvres for the romantics.
Grabrails, all too often lacking on boats, don't fall short and there is a number of thoughtfully-positioned rails throughout. But there age way too many standard features to mention - you really need to check the cat out for yourself to appreciate its detail.
When testing the performance it was obvious that the ArrowCat 33 is a cruiser of note. So instead of cruising I opted to really put her through her paces. Not that it's really necessary, more that I like to find the limits of powered cat. All I can say is the company was on money with its claims.
The twin 200hp Mercury Verados had all the guts necessary to blast the 30ft of ArrowCat effortlessly out of the water, onto the plane and purring at a mellow comfortable cruise speed of 20kts. Here the outboards are hovering around 3850rpm for an economy of 48lt/h on combined motors. Considering the conditions for the Moreton Bay test consisted of less-than-favourable southeasterly chop mixed with tidal flow, the boat was really eating it up.
Cranking up to full throttle saw 6400rpm for a speed of 40kts and consumption of 144lt/h. But even at high speed, the ArrowCat's beefed-up bow tamed the rough conditions. A series of aggressive full-lock turns revealed she holds on firm and throughout low and higher speeds the sponsons stayed level rather than banking outwards ? an important handling characteristic to have on any cat.
After putting the ArrowCat 30 through a fair hammering I would be more than happy to spend a day aboard offshore. Any boat can be adapted or customised to suit and, on the fishing front, she only needs, bait, tackle, ammo and ice.
The 3m beam leads to good stability. In fact, I can just visualise it, sitting back on anchor off Tangalooma, settled in with family and friends listening to mellow tunes in the background, sipping on some good wine, and, of course, the odd sound of a screaming reel to break the reverie.
Too often we forget about the ladies, but anybody can handle this craft without nerves getting the better of them. Basically, you hold the wheel just like a car and push the controls like your accelerator… it's that easy to command.
The ArrowCat 30 is such a pleasure to drive that in no time you will be pushing the skipper aside and taking charge. Curious? Thinking about a cat? Then head to Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, check out the Arrowcat and meet the local crew.
The ArrowCat 30's performance through a wide range of aggressive sea trials was superb, with a soft, stable and safe ride. The twin 200hp Mercury Verados had all the guts necessary to blast the 3500kg 30-footer effortlessly out of the water, onto the plane and purring at a comfortable cruise speed of 20kts for a combined fuel consumption of 48lt/h. Excellent going considering the gnarly chop mixed with tide and strong southeasterly wind on Moreton Bay. Go cat, go.
The design, construction and overall finish are really impressive on the ArrowCat 30 and we are definitely looking forward to future models heading our way. She also proves that boats manufactured in low-labour cost Asia or The East can be of exceptional quality.
PRICE AS TESTED
$254,000 w/ twin supercharged 200hp four-stroke Mercury Verados
Seastar power-assisted hydraulic steering; stainless steel rear canopy extension with aft and side clears; stainless steel overhead rodholder w/ radar mount; fold-down cockpit seat; freshwater tank level senders; air-conditioner ready (vents pre-rigged); Raymarine C120W colour GPS sounder combo w/ Australia-wide map; Raymarine VHF radio and antenna; insulated fishbox w/ macerator pump
$239,000 w/ twin 200hp Mercury Verados
ArrowCat 30 w/ twin 200hp Mercury Verados spinning 14.75 x 17 Inertia three-blade propellers
RPM LT/H (combined) Speed (kts)
1000 4.9 3.82
1500 8.2 5.38
2000 12.9 7.5
2500 21.7 8
3000 21.2 12.1
3500 38.1 17.3
4000 50.0 22.0
4500 59.6 24.5
5000 74.1 30.2
5500 100 35.3
6000 122 37.07
6400 146 39.9
Material: Solid fibreglass hull bottoms; Airex foam-core hull sides, tunnel, deck, and cabin top.
Type : Catamaran
Length overall: 9m
Weight: 3400kg (dry)
Holding Tank: 40lt
Make/Model: 2 x Mercury Verado L4
Type: Supercharged four-stroke outboard
Rated HP: 200 (each)
Gear ratio: 2.08:1