By: David Lockwood

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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Black Watch 40

First Published : Monday, 1 September 1997
Issue : September 1997



Black Watch 40(September 1997)

words - David Lockwood

From our point of view, the only thing wrong with thisAustralian-made "dreamfisher" is there's nothing much wrong with it.By David Lockwood

It's all very black and white for Blackwatch boats. There areno shades of grey in its approach to building bluewater boats. No comprises -or as few as you can get away with in this game. Quite simply, Blackwatchbuilds purebred, undiluted gamefishing boats and everything about them, bothinside and out, is seriously business-like.

Unlike the popular cruiser market led by the wonts offamilies, Blackwatch has concentrated on expanding its range of puristgamefishing boats. The heritage begun with the wonderful little 26, thenfollowed a much bolder 30 (available as a canyon runner and a more popularflybridge) and then the stretched 30 which turned into the 34.

The 34 proved a bigger hit on Queensland's Gold Coast (whereBlackwatch manufacture is based), NSW and some Pacific island nations than anyother model before it. Apparently, the bigger the Blackwatch boats became, themore popular they were. Thus it stood to reason that bigger would be betteragain.

That's pretty much how this new Blackwatch 40 - with a hulldesigned by Queensland naval architect Lee Clough and Associates - was born.But no prizes for guessing its fate; already the 40 has proven a big hit withthe 'go get 'em' gamefishing fraternity, partly because 40 is a fabulous sizefor game fishing.




Although Blackwatch was once distinguished by its black hulls, the new 40 wetested arrived as white as a hotel sheet... Just as crisp and comfortable to beenveloped by, too. In fact, comfort on the high seas and seaworthiness is theBlackwatch's best strength and a trait for which I can vouch.

Having fished from a Blackwatch 34 in Vanuatu during 35kton-shore winds and three-metre seas, I feel I know the hull's qualities. With adeep-V, sharp entry and about 18 degrees of deadrise at the transom, the hullhas a fondness for rough water and for finding fish in it. The new 40 is builton these same proven Blackwatch principles.

Although there was little time to put the new 40-footerthrough its fishing paces - in any case, Sydney was in the grips of a coldwinter current that made the Vanuatu experience seem almost heavenly - Idecided that at least a short offshore passage was warranted. It was to be arun from Sydney Heads to Palm Beach, catching a lowly bus back home whilecatching glimpses of the beaches I'd just cruised.




First impressions of the Blackwatch 40 are, like all new Blackwatch boats,nothing short of stirring.

The lines have an intentionally classical look to them. Anice little sheerline, some flare in the bow, a flybridge that's commodious butdeliberately low-profile (perhaps reminiscent of a Precision), cabin windowswhich are swept-back aft and a rake to the whole thing that, like the blackoutriggers' poles buttoned down in travelling position, looks fast - evenstanding still.

The 40 is confident and smart. The look is also somewhattraditional, derived from a clever use of wood. It starts with a teak-plankedcockpit floor but continues subtly inside for accents on doors and drawers,bunks and the galley floor. But up top the image is different again. The modernhelm console is an oasis of fish-finding technology, mixed with a classicpolished, all-American wheel complete with a hand-knob for spinning the boat onits length and running down fish in a jiffy.




Looks mightn't be everything but they count for plenty in a gameboat. The Blackwatch40 is very chic, but don't overlook its practical layout. It has also been bredfor tournaments, live-aboarding and simply snoozing a day away between strikes.

From the pointy end, there is a stainless bow rail and crossbollard, both hand-made with an image of strength and style. Beneath the niceflat foredeck is equally practical accommodation. The forepeak cabin sleepsfour on bunks - super-wide with thick mattresses. Alternatively a huge berthcould be substituted.

On the roof are teak handrails and a hatch for light andfresh air. Standing headroom throughout and a plush purple-blue carpetunderfoot complete the picture of comfort. The bunk fabric is your choice,perhaps not the choice on this boat's alternatively bright orange and yellowmix.

There are hanging hooks in the bow cabin for wet-weatherjackets. There is also a hanging rack in the separate cabin on the starboardside, just forward of amidships.

The test boat, built to survey for charter, had bunks insidethis cabin. Mind you, they were wide bunks which could sleep twogirth-challenged anglers, while storing their soft clothes bags full in thenearby wardrobe, which had hanging space and four shelves.

The head and wall-liners throughout the 40 are white marinevinyl with no signs of spilt glue or cutting marks. Importantly, the edges ofall the furnishings and walls are radiused and, thus, virtually injury free.The doors are similarly well thought-out, being easy wipe-down fibreglass,pretty much as it is inside the head.

Located just aft of the owner's cabin, the head features astorage cabinet, deep sink, pull-out handheld shower, Lectra/San toilet and anopen circular shower recess with room to sit and, well, read Trade-A-Boat. Thefloor is finished in non-skid, making the bathroom practical enough forheavy-duty workouts, which is the way of tournament fishing with a motley crewcooking and sleeping aboard.




The galley, opposite and on a mezzanine level, is similarly orderly. The teakfloor glistened, while shelves and easy-to-reach recesses beckoned being loadedwith crockery. A fold-down cutlery draw folds back automatically, while pantryspace was sufficiently generous for bags of rice and packets of spice, bottlesof chilli sauce, tins of spaghetti and jars of Vegemite... You get the idea.

The sink has a single-action tap, hot and cold, whilefacilities included a stainless-lined eutectic fridge, convection microwave(all a gameboat needs, really) and a two-burner electric stove. Despite theblanked-out lower windscreen, which trumpets that this is a boat for fishingnot coffee cruising, the main cabin is well lit with no sense of stuffiness.

Up three steps you arrive at the saloon, with a U-shapeddinette to port which can seat five, or six with a loose chair pulled up. Theleg rolls on the lounge and the high backrests kept you seated, while the tableitself is sturdy enough for a group of game-fishers to simultaneously lean ontheir elbows (as they will while talking with their mouths full).

Opposite was a three-person L-shaped lounge, facing forwardto a television/video flush-mounted in the short wall. The television can alsobe seen from the dinette, which is actually smarter than you think when youspend time onboard. A locker for CDs is alongside.

But the best thing about the lounges is that, while containedby them, you can look through the windows and watch the lures dancing in thewake. Plus, if you stop and take a close look, you'll notice the engravings onthe glass of these aft cabin windows. It was a beautiful touch which had methinking of the gameboats bobbing on Pier 66, Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA, allfull of hand-engraved glass art.




Walk through the wide folding door in the bulkhead and down a step and youcan't miss the cockpit. It's huge and especially w-i-d-e.

To port and starboard, against the bulkhead, are deep, deepfreezers. The freezer on the starboard side formed part of the ladder up to thebridge, while both of the freezer's teak lids are handy perches for the crew tosit, under the shade top, while waiting for the fish to strike.

What isn't so obvious is the engineering underfloor. Thereare hatches to bilge taps and couplings and shafts and, of course, the enginesback under the saloon sofas. There is also an 150-litre live bait tank plusroom to stash a few big yellowfin should the sashimi bug bite instead of thetag pole.

Rod holders are Reelax heavy-duties, the chair in futuremodels will also be a Reelax item - the heavy-duty 130lb model. The coamingswere padded, but the stainless marlin board, an option, is something manymarlin hunters will leave off their wish list.




Accessing the bridge over the starboard-side fridge takes a little care. It'sone of those familiarisation things where you need to practise it a few timesso you known how to do it instinctively in a hurry. Rails leading up top ensureyou at least won't do a Humpty Dumpty back into the cockpit.

Seating in the flybridge comprises five on a lounge, twopedestal seats and a strange little single seat to port. The view aft isespecially clear for spotting fish in the wake, while for the skipper and matethe transom is visible for backing down on fish or putting the boat, paintintact, into the pen at the end of the day.

The two American helm chairs face an island helm console withroom to flush-mount a deep-water depth sounder, GPS/chart plotter, radar andmore. Marine radios go overhead in the dedicated facia. That American alloywheel, single Morse controls and clear vision to all quarters make this a boat toenjoy driving and not relinquish to anyone.

The crew will find the bumps and curves on all the mouldingsmindful of their needs. No bruises when rushing for the cockpit when you needto. And as a quick aside, from the cockpit you'll find the water beautifullyclose to hand, so you can unhook a billfish without falling in the drink andwithout having to lift the fish right out of the water.

An all-over accessible boat, the 40's sidedecks leading tothe bow are also thoughtfully conceived with rails where you want them and abow rail (partly for survey) to keep you on deck.

As a tester, what I didn't like about the layout was the factthat I liked everything about the layout! Even the engine room has room for agenset (as it should), unlike smaller Blackwatch boats.




The best thing about doing an interior survey first is that you can kick backand enjoy the ride and end on that note. And so it was that we left SydneyHarbour, an armada of three Blackwatch boats - a 26, 34 and 40 - all headingnorth to Lake Macquarie. The Palm Beach detour was for my sake.

This was a day to be fishing. A lazy 1.5m swell, a 10kt sou'westerly, the boats all riding au natural - no tabs, no tricks... Just runningfree and easy.

Top speed of the 40 is 31kts at 2600rpm. The sail-past over,we resumed a 2200rpm fast cruise for 24 to 25kts. If the sea got nasty, wemight have dropped back to 2000rpm and 22kts.

But it didn't and the sea trial to Palm Beach was over almostas quickly as it started. It took perhaps 40 minutes from Sydney Heads to PalmBeach wharf, running down swell without a care in the world. The hull was dryand stable - due to its low centre of gravity - and it never fell off line.

In fact, the run up the coast didn't actually prove a lot.Blackwatchs love the rough going and that's when you learn to really love themback. This was just all too pleasant.

The cost then? Around $448,000 with twin 450C 430hp Cummins,though the test boat had one-off 435hp 3208TA Caterpillars.

The public bus back home had a Mercedes... And too manyschool kids... And no rod holders... And it was just a lousy way to end such awonderful sea trial...




Price as tested $541,866

Factory options fitted

Full NSW Survey ($35,000); 8kVa gen set ($15,470); Air-cond to sallon and cabins ($11,248); Eutectic cockpit freezer ($9798); Reelax HD outriggers and chair ($3350); electronics package (approx $19,000). Price does not include extra cost for Caterpillar engines.


Base price (w/ twin 430hp Cummins): $448,000



Material: GRP

Type: Deep-V monohull

Deadrise (at transom): 18°

Length: 11.99m

Beam: 4.08m

Displacement: 9800kg

Fuel capacity: 1900lt

Water capacity: 400lt


Engines (as tested)

Make/model: Twin Caterpillar 3208TAs

Rated hp: 2 x435hp

Type: V-eight turbo-diesel

Displacement (ea): 10,400cc

Weight (ea): 943kg


Supplied by Belmont Bay Marine, Pelican (NSW), tel (02) 4971 5100




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