he Kevlacat 3000 Express is an adaptable dayboat and overnighter. Just ask popular ‘dodger’ on Snodger, ‘Phippsy’.
Business and/or pleasure! Either way, likeable television compere Andrew Phipps – Phippsy as he is know to Queenslanders who religiously tune in to his outdoors, fishing and lifestyle programs – has an envious lifestyle.
Trade-A-Boat recently tested Phippsy’s pride and joy, his brand-new 8.0m Kevlacat 3000 Express called Snodger. With an LOA of 9.3m and a 2.8m beam, Snodger is impressive and almost the perfect all-rounder for Queensland’s coastal south-east.
Phippsy’s commission to Kevlacat was for more than just a fishing and photography platform for television commitments. The boat had to be suitable for taking his family and friends to the secluded beaches and bays up the coast from Noosa. It also had to serve as a platform to get away from it all in the extensive and beautiful lakes and everglades of the upper Noosa River and, of course, blast out to the offshore reefs with mates for some serious fishing.
Importantly, the boat also had to be capable of safely crossing the treacherously shallow Noosa River bar and Fraser Island’s Wide Bay bar, which present the most restrictive obstacles to boating around this part of the world.
With a background as a fisherman, chef and television fishing show host, Phippsy has seatrialled a variety of boats used by charter operators and professional fishing guides.
It was during one of these offshore fishing trips several years ago that Phippsy first became enamoured with Kevlacats. Filming a fishing documentary around the reefs offshore from Hamilton Island onboard a 8.2m Kevlacat, the crew were beset by a week of strong wind warnings.
Although most craft were confined to port by the high winds and rough seas, Phippsy’s crew were at sea with a cameraman, producer and soundman producing footage for prime time TV.
This admiration evolved into Phippsy’s own boat, Snodger.
Phippsy selected the same basic Kevlacat hull for his boat with the deck and interior customised for his specific requirements. Such a course is typical of many of the craft emerging from Kevlacat’s Sunshine Coast factory.
Kevlacat has earned a reputation from a network of satisfied government and commerical users, as well as coastguard and rescus organisations. Add to that many satisfied private owners and it’s easy to understand why the company’s order books are maintained at a healthy level.
Phippsy’s power boat is not going to win any beauty contests but the layout suits its multi-purpose role. The layout is best described as an open dayboat set-up.
Comprising a sheltered helm deck below a substancial hardtop, it’s been compared to an enormous open-space living room that’s adequately ventilated by large sliding side widows and open to the cockpit at the aft end.
The starboard side features the steering station with helm chair, wheel and throttle controls. Forward on the console (in clear view) are mounted the compass, Lowrance sounder and GPS. Aft of the steering station is a galley workbench with integral basin and freshwater taps, while below is a 12V 110lt Waeco domestic refrigerator.
To port is a navigator’s seat. Aft of the navigator’s seat is a dinette seating four adults comfortably. This converts to a three quarter bunk for, say, two children.
The aft seat of the dinette houses a heavily insulated built-in freezer.
As with most powercat configurations the cockpit space is enormous.
A large, centrally-mounted icebox (capable of easily holding around 15 large Spanish mackerel or cobia) also contains a bait storage box and filleting workbench. Stainless pillars/grabrails support stanchions to a soft awning.
The covering boards have low stainless rails, while below are convenient lockers for gaffs, nets, tackle boxes, gloves, etc.
The transom contains a huge livebait tank, with enough capacity for any fishing situation. Battery storage and oil reservoirs are concealed below.
A swim platform between the outboards neatly finishes off the transom area.
Our test was conducted at Noosa in conditions that ranged from slight sea and swell to a moderate to fresh 20-25kt northeast sea breeze with the associated short steep choppy seas. Swell on the Noosa bar was approximately 1.5m.
Snodger is powered by twin 200hp Mercury Optimax outboards and there is no doubt that the engines are quiet, smooth and clean running.
Having fished on three different versions of this hull it is interesting to draw comparisons on handling performance. Fuel and water tanks were full and there were two onboard, as well as an assortment of fishing gear.
Low-speed manoeuvrability is very good and, as with most cats, tracking is straight and true. Even in a moderate crosswind, the hardtop version presented no undue tendency to misbehave when berthing. The response from the Optimax outboards was instant.
As speed was increased the transition was effortless. A few more revs translate into a few more knots, simple and smooth.
Snodger is fitted with Mercury Smart gauges, which give digital readouts of motor performance as well as fuel consumption figures at various revolutions.
Blasting across the Noosa bar was a non-event in this boat. I made Phippsy complete the run another three times to prove the first run was no fluke.
During each crossing the big Kevlacat would impressively eat up the sea and chop as if there was nothing there.
Blasting across the Laguna Bay at 35kt, in 15-20kt of NE wind chop, had us floating on a cushion of air.
Travelling at high speed offshore in conventional V-bottomed boats is rarely possible – but good cats make it effortless. It is amazing how this type of boat can eat up the miles so quickly and comfortably.
When I think of all those trips out to the offshore reefs and islands off the Queensland coast where 50-70nm runs can take a painfully long time, the added performance of this type of hull is put into perspective.
Kevlacat’s Fred Temminck is well known in Mooloolaba, and is the Pied Piper of the gamefishing fleet. When Temminck starts fishing, the whole fleet aggregates around his boat like a school of mahi mahi. So when the weather is less than ideal and most other fishermen stay in port, Temminck and wife/deckie/skipper Michelle head out in search of fish.
He has used his own boats as a test platform to refine and improve the Kevlacat hulls, and fishing every weekend in all kinds of weather gives him the justification and knowledge that the hull refinements he makes are in fact an improvement. It is reassuring that this boatbuilder and boat designer spend the hours on the water in their craft, and not all of their time in the office simply selling boats.
Indeed, the performance of this 8.0m Kevlacat hull is outstanding. It has long been recognised this hull works well, and with the recent refinements of the spray strakes, it’s even better.
Snodger, in outboard configuration, is ideal as a fast overnighter or dayboat. Should gamefishing or commercial fishing take priority, then the shaft diesel or sterndrive offer greater manoeuvrability and economy.
The incredible separation of shafts in the powercats offer unparalleled manoeuvrability when chasing sportsfish or gamefish.
After the boat test I had a number of visions of the suitability of the Kevlacat 3000 Express.
While we often look towards larger craft and dream of owning a bigger boat, sometimes the most ideal and functional are those that are simple and reliable.
In bygone years, many considered the Bertram 25 flybridge to be the ideal dayboat/overnighter. The Bertie (and similar boats) are still great boats and although many manufacturers have tried to copy the concept, none have replaced it.
But the Kevlacat 3000 Express has raised the bar.
It has that same dayboat layout with an optional lockup facility. And it’s trailerable (just) a lot faster, and is capable of negotiating shallow lagoons before drying out on a sandy beach or in a sheltered bay.
With each outing I become more and more convinced about this concept.
Built to customer’s specifications
|Material||GRP reinforced with kevlar. Wheelhouse GRP
reinforced with composite sandwich panels.
|Make/model||Mercury twin installation (2 x 200hp)|
|Type||Optimax 200 direct fuel-injection V-six @ 60?|
|Rated hp (ea)||200hp|
Article taken from Trade-A-Boat, June 2001