like a ROCK
The result of a long period of evolution and development,
this big cat is a solid boat both in terms of fitup and rough
water performance. Ron Calcutt reports.
A nice thing happens when a company has been building a style
of boat for a number of years. Little by little the rough
edges get rounded off, errors of judgment are removed and
things that should have been there in the first place have
You get the feeling of a comfortable, complete boat that is
free of frills and decoration, yet everything you need is
there. Theres space where you need it, rounded corners
where you might get whacked, and hardware that works for the
size of boat.
The Kevlacat 6.5m Offshore SF fits into that category rather
nicely. Ive been getting to look at Kevlacats from time
to time over a period of years, and you can see the steady
development going on from model to model. This one impressed
me no end, and at the end of the day I could find only one
thing I would want changed on the whole boat, and thats
not at all bad.
I should point out up front that Kevlacat sells packaged boats,
although no doubt you could have all sorts of things done
to your personal requirements if you knew what you wanted.
The hull in question comes in two versions, the Cuddy Cabin
and the one I tested. The cuddy is a basic boat, although
it has everything you need to go boating as is. It is fitted
up with twin 90hp outboards and supplied on a trailer for
$68,210. The Offshore I tested had everything that opens and
shuts with the exception of sounder and GPS, and it sells
with twin 115hp motors for $81,740.
Big cats can very easily become as appealing as a great slab
of concrete wall, but this boat is particularly sleek and
attractive. A profile which keeps the forward lines low probably
contributes to this, as does a well designed Targa/Bimini
setup. This boat has been set up well to maximise work and
storage space. The cabin is an enormous storage cave, and
the forward seats are mounted on two huge boxes, one insulated,
that would take care of all the cockpit and cold storage you
would ever need.
Starting at the start, the cab top is in fact the entire foredeck
area, so you have a great expanse of flat space out there,
coated in aggressive non skid. This is an area that could
be used quite successfully for casting to pelagics, with excellent
security afforded by upright, well designed bow rails.
You can go forward through a large cabin hatch, or via side
decks that are a comfortable width.
As mentioned before, the cabin is a bit of an Aladdins
Cave, and while its not overly flash, it does sport
two long single bunks with extra large bins under. A toilet
under the port bunk is part of the standard fitup, but I think
Id opt for the space there. Theres also excellent
space running back behind the cockpit coaming for extra rods,
gaffs and other awkward things to have around the place.
Access to the cabin is excellent through a wide, folding door
and a generous lift-up hatch in the dash top.
The helm setup is good with a soft rimmed metal sports wheel,
then gauges set at one level at an angle of around 45 degrees,
then a big flat panel behind that affording thru-mount space
for side by side sonar and mapping units. The six switch panel
sits off to the right. The test boat was Yamaha powered so
it had just three of those excellent Yamaha multi function
The factory fits these boats up with three trim switches.
Two of these move each engine independently, while the switch
in the throttle head moves them in unison. This lets you use
offset engine trim in a similar manner to trim tabs.
Over in the front of the passenger a large radio box is located
with a lockable perspex door. VHF, 27 meg and stereo are part
of the package with this boat.
The seating set-up involves two well made bucket seats with
arm rests set on top of two enormous storage boxes. The helm
seat was set a little high for me, but even so I had no problem
handling the boat in rough water while remaining seated. This
was largely due to very light hydraulic steering and the fact
that the hull didnt need me to do all that much. Standing
the setup was perfect.
Additional seating is in the form of wide and very deep cushions
set on the back of the storage boxes. A grab rail runs across
the back of the bucket seats for the passenger at the back
to hang onto, and when travelling its very comfortable
to sit side on, on these seats with your back against the
base of the Targa arch.
The cockpit is nice and clean with a good non skid floor pattern,
and plenty of toe space under smooth, body friendly coamings.
Side pockets are fairly modest, but good enough for most of
the things you like to keep close at hand.
Big hatches on either side house twin batteries, with switches
in the ends of the side pockets. The fuel lines actually run
under the side coamings, but a helpful sign tells you exactly
where the primer bulbs are.
A hatch in the transom coaming opens to reveal twin oil bottles,
which I thought would have benefited greatly by having deck
fillers, as they were a bit awkward to get at (my one criticism
of the boat).
There are two excellent wells in the aft deck with one plumbed
for livebait. A big step located between the engines makes
access possible from the water and when the boat is up on
Hardware throughout is first class, as was the canopy and
clears which were well designed and a particularly good fit.
The power options range from twin 90hp to twin 140hp engines.
Since top speed with the twin 115hp Yamahas fitted was in
excess of 40 knots, youd have to be in a big hurry or
thinking of commercial loads to fit the 140s! I thought the
115s were prefect.
I kept thinking to myself what a great boat this would be
for long range work, and the twin 360 litre fuel tanks underfloor
certainly backed this idea up. It would be a very comfortable
rig for a few days away from it all.
We had a fairly typical Calcutt boat testing day for the run,
with 30 knots and better of offshore wind, then swells coming
in from two directions on the open sea. A couple of clicks
offshore the westerly was making a sea of its own, opposing
the crisscross of the ocean swells. It was not small boat
territory on the day, but an ideal day for a good cat.
Just offshore the swells were popping up against the wind,
so I took the boat in fairly quietly, then built it up to
the point where I figured we had a realistic running speed
that wouldnt involve a great series of aerial whoop-de-doos
and the like. It impressed the pants right off me to discover
that we could run over that stuff at 4000 to 4500, optimum
cruise speeds, without ever needing to get out of our chairs.
At those rev settings the Kevlacat was zipping along at 27-30
knots, and thats very fast for the conditions. The thing
was that the boat was not just managing to keep up that pace
it was loping along as comfortable as you like.
Several times we came into steep stuff that caused me to brace,
but the big impacts never came. Whether slicing it or flying
over it, this hull delivers a superbly soft ride.
In typical cat fashion this boat leans out of turns, which
you get used to after a while. With the strong wind we did
get a lot of spray blowing across the cockpit, but I was impressed
to note that this was not sucking back into the passenger
area. We had the clears unzipped up front, but I thought the
hull to be pretty dry under the circumstances.
Speeds through the rev range were as follows:
9.9 (just on plane)
19.1 (clean plane)
I liked this boat very much. It made few demands on the driver
and could have been driven by anyone with a modest amount
of offshore experience. Performance in the conditions prevailing
on the day suggested it would be a safe and comfortable boat
in much bigger seas, which is one of the things that made
me think of it as a long range boat. Getting caught out a
long way from home wouldnt be all that much of a fuss
in a boat like this.
For more information please contact Kevlacat by phone on 07
5472 8470, fax 07 5472 8559 or email:
Article taken from Boat Fishing, Jan/Feb 1999.