July 2003 Issue

 
   


SEATRIALS

Sea Cat 22 Center Console
By Tim Banse

Sea Cat’s 22 Center Console tackles rough water as easily as it does fish.

I tested the Sea Cat 22 Center Console on a stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway between Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, Fla. On the horizon, I could plainly see the Kennedy Space Center buildings, launchpad and gantries. The day’s strong winds would’ve no doubt delayed the departure of a space shuttle, but they created the perfect three- to four-foot chop for showing off this power catamaran’s exemplary handling characteristics.

Power cats in general, and Sea Cats in particular, are renowned for their smooth, stable, dry ride in rough waters. That trio of enviable characteristics derives from the way the twin sponsons’ knife-like bows slice through the water rather than force their way through. Slamming in big waves is virtually eliminated. Don’t misunderstand, there’s no substitute for a big boat offshore. But in coastal waters, in a close chop, I’d say the performance of power cats rivals that of bigger deep-V monohulls.

The 22 I tested was rigged with twin 115-hp Suzuki four-stroke outboards. It came as no big surprise that acceleration was razor sharp. I clocked time to plane at less than five seconds. With a cat, you can’t be bashful with the throttles. We went faster and rode more comfortably on top of the chop. In fact, in big waves, the boat ran like a cheetah. By the way, one of the first things you’ll notice when you take the helm of a power cat is that the wider spacing of its motors significantly improves tracking.

Both of the motors on my test boat were low on engine hours, so the 44-mph top end I clocked will likely climb a tick or two as the piston rings begin to seat in their cylinder bores. The 22 is rated for a maximum of 280 hp, which means you can also hang a pair of 140s on the transom for probable 50-plus-mph speeds. Fuel economy registered best between 3000 to 4500 rpm during my sea trial, averaging better than 5 mpg. With a 10 percent fuel reserve, I calculated a respectable range of about 495 miles.

A dockside glance at the 22’s profile reveals a particularly tall freeboard. This height creates a deep tunnel that decreases wave slap from underneath in big seas. 

Another neat design feature is the hydra-pod located between the sponsons at the bow. This pod forces air into the tunnel, which minimizes the effect of the hull pushing against a wave and then spurting water out the front of the boat. The net result is a drier ride. 

Beyond performance, the 22 also gets high marks for fishability. Said company president Don Fidler, “We researched the likes, dislikes and wishes of guides and fishermen alike, then designed exactly what they told us they wanted.” I saw that philosophy executed in the boat’s open layout and detailed finish. With the right weather window, I’d love to take the Sea Cat 22 Center Console to the Bahamas for some serious fishing.

©Motor Boating Magazine, July 2003

 
   

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