Vee 26 - Balanced Budget
By Lenny Rudow
Our long-term test with
a bargain hunter
Yelling at the top of our lungs, the four of us rounded Bloody Point Light and met head-on with the worst the bay had to offer: solid five-foot waves barely 15 feet peak-to-peak, stacked up as tight as physics allows. In a monohull, the slam-slam-crunch that our 41-mph top speed would have produced would have crippled us. In this powercat, we skittered over the peaks with minor impact. So we turned around and tried it with
following seas. Again, the slurry of compressed air and aerated water compacted between the Twin Vee 26
Weekender's two hulls cushioned the blows. There was more whooping and yelling- tromping seas like this at high speeds generates quite a rush- but there was no one to hear. All the other crazies must have stayed home today. Hmm. Wonder why.
SMOOTH GROVE. After fishing and cruising in this boat for six months, I can sum it up in seven words: the softest ride at the smallest cost. Wait a second- if it's built to ride softly, shouldn't it be a displacement cat, not a planning cat? According to traditional thinking, yes. But there isn't much traditional thinking going on here. Twin Vee makes best use of the compression tunnel and reduces impact by building the boat as light as possible. In fact, it's so light at 2,800 pounds that it's nearly impossible to "bottom out" the hulls and strike the top of the tunnel (called tunnel slap), which is the cause of most major impacts on a cat. Light weight also allows the 26 Weekender to use minimal power. The twin 115-hp Suzuki four-strokes have plenty of oomph, propelling it to 41.2 mph. Thanks to digital EFI four-stroke technology, they did so at stunningly low sound levels, with 100 percent reliability. No blue smoke to inhale either.
Pro Sports' 2650 ProKat Cuddy runs faster at 45 mph but carries another 70 horses on the transom. Also, the ProKat weighs a lot more at 4,270 pounds. Why? For starters, it has an inner liner, which the 26 Weekender replaces with a speckled gray and black interior. The ProKat also has much taller gunwales. The 26 Weekender looks as if it were shaved off halfway, which appears strange but saves on weight and significantly reduces windage- making docking easy, no matter what the wind is doing. Dragging large fish over the side is easier than on boats with traditional gunwales, too. The downside? I was concerned about bringing my two-and three-year-old children onboard, because I thought they might climb over the side. To solve this issue, Twin Vee offers optional siderails ($350).
Now, here comes the good part (read: money). World Class Catamaran's 26 SC, which has a fit and finish superior to both the Twin Vee and the ProKat, goes for a hair under $50,000, power-plants excluded. The ProKat comes in at $30,000 without power. The Twin Vee, however, costs under $26,000 without power. How is this possible? The 26 Weekender is about as bare bones as they come. In the cabin, there's a portable MSD, light, and sink. The sink has a hand pump, not an electric one, as the ProKat and the World Class Cat have. These boats also have opening ports, while the Twin Vee's ports don't open. Such creature comforts aren't critical for a hard-core angler like me. In fact, I liked the barren cabin because it allows lots of room for gear: a 120-quart cooler, eight rods, two downriggers, two gaffs, two full fighting harnesses and gimbal belts, fenders, and a box of emergency cheese-n-crackers all fit easily. Throw in bags and foul-weather gear for four guys, too. At the helm, it's more of the same. There are only four switches and one bare terminal for accessories. Fortunately, with the flat dash surface, there was room for both 10" Furuno Navnet displays. On many 26-footers, the dash wouldn't have been large enough.
KEEP IT SIMPLE. The simpler-is-better theme continues in the cockpit, which, despite a few oddities, remains one of the best fishing platforms on any 26' cabin-equipped boat I've run, although it's not perfect. The livewell top didn't close securely, so water sloshed out in rough seas. And the fuel fills are mounted on the side of the inwales, so it's hard to fuel the boat without spilling gas on the deck. Our test boat also lacked anti-siphon loops on the bilge pump hoses, although Twin Vee says it has already redesigned the system with dual pumps- check it out during your test run.
Now, the positives. This cockpit is laid out to slaughter fish of every variety, no matter what your technique. The aft stowage compartment running from gunwale to gunwale accommodates two flush-mounted rodholders above as well as cutting boards, chum grinders, and cast nets galore below. Add in the four rodholders in the gunwale, and place two more up forward on slide mounts. Don't forget about the four rocket launchers either. We managed an eight-line trolling spread from the 26 Weekender- pretty thick for a boat with an 8'6" beam- and could have put down two more if we'd had gunwale-mounted downrigger mounts instead of rodholder drop-ins.
Care to chunk? Again, the numerous well-spread assortment of holders allowed us to keep a huge number of lines in the water at any time. When the lines were taut under tuna power, it was easy to maneuver around the outboards, too.
Step up onto the aft stowage compartment and you're only three feet off the props. With this boat, we caught more than two dozen yellowfin and half a dozen bluefin through the summer, and not one single fish was lost on the props or lower unit. On most outboard-powered boats, I'd call this a miracle.
What about casting or bailing for mahi-mahi? The fore-decks high rails make it a good casting platform, and the cockpit is so long that three anglers can toss lines at once. Oh, and remember the low windage, thanks to the low gunwales? I was able to hold the boat close to lobster pot balls, logs, and other flotsam much more easily than usual. And that translates directly into more fish caught. So while the cockpit of this boat doesn't offer you the most glamorous surroundings, it allows you to surround more fish with the sides of your cooler.
SECOND OPINIONS. Go or stay? At the helm of a 26 Weekender, the answer's a no-brainer. Even in five-footers, we stayed comfortable and dry while prowling in this cat. It was surprising that during turns I didn't feel the slipping sensation common to catamarans. During a run offshore for an overnight tuna trip, I had one nitpick-water splashed out from the livewell, showering anything aft of it.
At the fishing grounds, I wasn't pleased with the beating my shins took from the low gunwales. I was, however, thrilled with our ability to lift a precariously gaffed 90-pound tuna over the gunwale without losing it.
-Daniel W Long
Want a minimalist boat that can fish like a million-dollar battlewagon? The Twin Vee 26 Weekender might not win any beauty contests, but it's an unbelievable performer in the rough stuff. It handles sloppy bay chop as well as ocean rollers without sending you to the chiropractor.
Although the boat cruised extremely well and had scads of fishing room, it lacked creature comforts. There was only one seat for passengers and the nonadjustable leaning post didn't allow for seated driving unless you stand over
six feet tall. If this were my boat, I'd opt to upgrade the leaning post and mount additional seating.
LAST WORD - Does the job for surprisingly little money.