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Old 10-09-2006, 01:54 PM   #1
narcosis
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What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

I am interested in buying a new boat or reconfiguring my boat.

My partner and I own a 36' Palmetto, which is basically designed for kingfish tournaments. It is built on the Marlin hull, like Dakota, and similar to Merlago, etc. It is pretty fast (twin 250 Evinrudes), but performance really drops off when we weigh it down with all of the ice, gear, and tanks we use on spearfishing trips. The boat is long, but the usable space, when underway is all behind the helm, and that area is relatively small. More than 4 divers is almost impossible. I can't imagine a better boat for a group of freedivers, b/c of the lighter load, but for us, it is a little limiting.

I have recently been going out some on a buddy's 30' catamaran, that is shorter, but just as fast and significantly more stable when gearing up, and it has quite a bit more storage room for tanks, etc. Has anyone seen any disadvantages to a cat hull?

I was just wondering what everyone thought the ideal hull/configuration is for our waters, and if anyone has seen interesting spearfishing vessels out there, I'd like to take a look at them. I'd like to see photos of unique tank racks, speargun racks, beanbags, or whatever else I might incorporate into my ride.

Obviously, different trips are best tackled with different vessels, and I'm not talking about buying the 54' sportfish. I don't have the time or the $ for that. I'm talking about boats/gear to take out for spearfishing daytrips and tournament overnights. I think speed and economy are important, especially on the northern Texas coast. Not getting pounded in 3' seas is important everywhere, but especially down towards corpus.

I thought this could be a thread that might help us all, and I welcome your thoughts and ideas.
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Old 10-09-2006, 05:00 PM   #2
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

I've ridden in a few boats and found the Cats to be well suited with plenty of deck space and storage for 4 or more below to be plenty. I know we speared 4 out of a 30ish footer and it was great with plenty of room.
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:27 PM   #3
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

Cats have a real stability advantage both underway and stopped. But underway in bad weather, when they reach the threshold of high seas they'll bury in the trough. They are more comfortable because the don't recover as abruptly (quickly) and therefore, in steep seas they can't recover quickly enough.

A lot of people get used to the great ride in moderate seas only to be very suprised when some real bad weather lands inside the boat. Cats are great, but be aware of thier limitations.

The best small craft I've dived have all been metal boats. Gel coat and tanks are a bad combination no matter what boat you're on.

I'm also partial to inboard arrangements, but trailering is problematic.

I dived off a ski boat and that actually seemed like a great platform. It's built to get in and out of the water. The prop is tucked under the boat, but you still gotta watch the rudder. They tend to be much smaller than offshore class boats but the 25ft boat I went on in FL was comfortable with four divers + an operator in 3x4.5 seas.

Be careful not to find the perfect boat. Then what will you do for your next one?

Good luck. Boats are a tangle of compromises.

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Old 10-09-2006, 10:34 PM   #4
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

I have done many tournaments off of a 27' Oceanmaster and it is a great boat. But, slaps a little in close seas. Lately we have been diving off of a 30' Hydrocat. Six people, three tanks each. No problem or crowding. Lots of room. Working on a new swim platform right now. Eighteen tanks racked without using the fish boxes for storage. Let me know and I will try and get either some pictures or get it available for looking at.
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Old 10-10-2006, 07:31 AM   #5
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gnominic
Good luck. Boats are a tangle of compromises.
EXACTLY!!!
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Old 10-10-2006, 08:16 AM   #6
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

We have dove up to 5 (3 tanks each) off my wellcraft 248. I have removed the above deck fish box and helm seat for more room. I couldn't sit down and drive the boat anyway. It defintly rides the opposite of what Dennis said about cat hulls, "They are more comfortable because the don't recover as abruptly (quickly) and therefore, in steep seas they can't recover quickly enough". This boat recovers so fast it hurts, Bam Bam slow down man. I have not been out in much worse than 5's at the end of the day coming back in. Dennis, you have ended my cat hull envy. Now when someone complains about my boats ride, I will proudly answer it's got great recovery time.
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Old 10-10-2006, 08:49 AM   #7
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

Damn, that looks cold.

The best dive boat is the one that can get you back safely every time and gets you where you want to go. I find a cheap, well maintained old boat serves my purposes. I find the overall utility, ease of maintenance and inexpensive operation of a single outboard center console in the 21-23 foot range fits my needs. But, it is a warm weather boat with limited range in comparison to a larger (25-35') dual outboard walkaround, pilot house or cuddy.
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Old 10-10-2006, 11:49 AM   #8
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

1. 32' Kevlacat with inboard diesels
2. 28' Parker
3. 29' C-Hawk

All are fairly easy to trailer.
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Old 10-10-2006, 11:58 AM   #9
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

A 36' Palmetto is a nice boat. I am on my second cat and have more experience with them, especially the problems, than I wish I did. My current boat is a 28í Kevlacat with E-tec 250ís. When you talk about cats, different designs can make a big difference.

Few catamaran companies build their boats with the quality Palmetto does. Team Kevlacat USA was on the edge of bankruptcy a few months ago and unhappy customers had a lot to do with it.

With planning cats, weight makes a large difference in performance. They are designed for air traveling through the tunnel to pick the boat to where their wet surface area is small. Below planning these boats actually have more wet surface area than a comparable mono hull. This is why although people talk about the economy of cats they also tell you the number one mistake to avoid is underpowering them. That is because they take more power to get up on a plane.

The economy of a planning cat is at speed. My knots per gallon is just above 1. Not that great, but it stays there from 28 knots all the way to 40 knots. A comparable deepvee mono hull usually gets its best mileage around 28 knots, which is better than my boat, but it falls quickly as speed increases. But it also takes very smooth water for me to be able to cruise 40 knots.

My boat is almost completely freediving boat. Only scuba tank that has been on it in the last few years was to recover tangled gear more safely from the rigs. Freedivers fits the boat pretty well with little equipment and weight.

The small area you talked about behind the helm is both a curse and blessing. The helm and passenger seats are well forward on my boat giving good space behind them. The problem in Texas water though is the chop. Most high speed boats here have the helm behind the 50% mark. The forward design is a Pacific Ocean design where waves are large and spread out. Not the 2-5 with 5 second and less intervals we have here.

Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa like to design boats with the helm forward. The captain seat on my boat is about 1/3 of the way back from the bow, which means at speed the water is breaking right under my feet. It also means I and the passengers get a lot more up and down motion than if we were further back. I have a couple of folding boat chairs I sometimes put in the stern. The ride in those chairs is amazing compared to the other seats.

Iím not as familiar with displacement cats, but would think they would not be as affected by weight. Just the amount of fuel in the tanks and number of people, even though our gear is light, greatly affects my boat. But 500 hp helps a lot too when it loaded heavy.

Another problem cats have is excess spray on the motors from the tunnel. My boat was really bad because besides the tunnel they had the motors on long extensions which really put them back there in the spray. Several of thousands of dollars later I had the spray issue under control and also a nice large 3 x 8 foot dive platform.

One thing I really like in a dive boat is a full windshield verses a center console. When freediving we are in the elements for hours and itís nice to have some shelter during the trip. Unfortunately there isnít a whole lot of boat choices with full windshields. Center consoles pretty much rule.

With the seating so far forward and the inability of my boat to cruise at less than 22 knots (it just wonít run in a semi-planning state), it restricts me to pretty smooth days, which is not too bad, because freediving in large waves isnít that fun anyway. We canít escape them like you scuba divers can by staying below the surface for lengths of time.

No doubt that large displacement boats like sportfishers can have a lot of room and nice ride. But they wonít get you far on a one day trip if time is something you value.

Hope that helps. Another option is keep the boat and take up freediving! Maintaining an offshore boat is a big enough headache without having to deal with all the scuba gear!
don

Last edited by donmoore; 10-10-2006 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 10-10-2006, 12:53 PM   #10
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

Sportfishing boats are my current choice, but if I was to get a boat just for diving I'd start by looking at some of these.
http://www.newtonboats.com/boats/default.htm
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Old 10-10-2006, 04:25 PM   #11
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

We are running a 31' Contender right now. Top notch finish, holds tons of gear, fairly economical with fourstrokes. I use some pieces of carpet and rubber mats to keep gear from beating up the fiberglass. Works well.

Currently looking for a better ride. The Contender gets a bit bouncy when the chop gets over 2' and there is not much wind and sun shade.

Sea trialed a 32' Twin Vee and was the best riding C Console I have ever been on. Looking for the right deal on a 32' or a 36' Twin Vee. I have heard the 32' rides better than the 36', but don't have enough experience to tell.

A bunch of the fishing charters here in LA are running Twin Vees now, and those guys have to go when the weather is less than Ideal. Says something about those boats.
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:23 PM   #12
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

I normally suggest people stay away from the high end of the boats horsepower range, but for diving you're carrying a lot of extra weight. Many people will reduce the HP when they buy a new boat to conserve fuel and the cost of a larger engine they don't need, so be careful of the balance of a used boat that you plan to weigh heavily with tanks and the like.

I'm suprised more folks don't carry compressors on small craft rather than tanks. I'm planning to outfit my live aboard with a compressor next year. (They do cost a great deal.)

I also don't recommend going far offshore with a single engine. I know it happens all the time; I've even done it myself about a million times, but two is better. SeaTow and the like will not come get you offshore of Texas and LA, even though the insurance portion of membership will cover it. The boats in the area are not set up for long offshore tows. You can usually find someone to tow you in, but ugh.... I'd rather outfit a boat with twin 50s than a single 75 or something like that.... Just MHO though.

As for Cat envy, I suggest you get it back. Although the cat is ultimately less safe in really bad weather, a prudent operator will turn back LONG before that point. If it's that border-line you won't be diving from such small craft anyway. The cats comfort in moderately bad weather is worth the few times you need to head in before a monohull. You get much better roll periods, transverse stability and longitudinal (yaw) stability (you'll steer less). And I think the speed and fuel economy are better - I know that's true for sailing cats, but power cats may be different.

You see how tangled the compromises are....

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Old 10-11-2006, 07:57 PM   #13
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

Don, you don't have one of the prototypes do you? I know they are alot heavier than the later models. You are the first person I've encountered that wasn't enamered with the boat. I might be going out on one with Nick this weekend as I am thinking about buying one. The forward cockpit is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the extra deck space needed for multiple divers and all those tanks.

The boats I listed above all have forward pilothouses which is the only setup for a year round operation in the northern gulf I would consider.

A nitrox bank/compressor is a nice idea but too pricey, too big, and too slow (generally) for most "smaller" boats.

I would have put twin vee on my list but the larger boats (32-36') aren't very trailerable which is a primary consideration for me. If they made a go between the 26 and 32 I would be very interested, depending on how the cockpit/pilothouse is setup.

edit-
Looks like twin vee does make an 29' express that could be very nice as a dive platform.
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Old 10-11-2006, 09:25 PM   #14
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

2 of my buddies just got a 26' Twin Vee CC. Very large, economical, comfortable boat for the $$$. 140 Suzukis and cruises at 30mph with a pretty heavy load. Trailers with ease.

The 29' Twin Vee should really scream with the 250 hp motors.

I want them to make me a 45' hull that can handle 4 - 250hp outboards. That would be a machine.
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Old 10-12-2006, 09:17 AM   #15
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Re: What is the Ideal Spearfishing Boat?

Thanks for all the input guys. If you see any other cool designs out there, please add to this thread.

What do you guys think about the Cobracat and Mares Cat 36' center console racing cat designs?
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