Tested by Heinrich Kleyn (November/December 2012)
Length – 5.2m
Beam – 2.22m
Min hp — 2 x 50hp 2- or 4-stroke
Max hp — 2 x 70hp 2- or 4-stroke
Buoyancy — High density foam
Power as tested — 2 x 60hp Yamaha 4-strokes
IT has been a while since I last tested a new boat for Yamaha, so I was happy to have a look at the new Seacat 520 when they asked me to test her. The range of Seacats is getting so wide you have no shortage of choice. Grant Reed always gives a lot of thought to the boats he puts into the marketplace, so I was keen to see what changes he had made with this craft.
My first impression was that, as always, Grant’s quality and finish are faultless.
On the day of our test we had clear, sunny skies with a northeaster blowing, but not too hard. The sea conditions were not what I like to go fishing in and made for challenging photography. However, as for the boat test itself, they would be ideal.
LAUNCHING AND TRAILERING
This centre-console boat was still on the trailer when I arrived at Natal Rod and Reel Club. Charles Leydekkers from Durban Yamaha asked if I could help push her into the water. Once again the trailer was custom-made for the boat which makes it easy to offload and load in the bay. I simply pushed her slightly back, touched the brakes and she slid off the trailer.
By the time we returned the tide was very low, so we had two options — either try to drive her straight onto the trailer, or else pull her up with the hand winch. We decided to drive her up and she went all the way to the front of the trailer without any hassles.
The Seacats come standard with a single-axle galvanised breakneck trailer which makes for easy trailering, especially when you have to load or offload on the sand.
MOTORS AND CONTROLS
This demo model was fitted with twin 60hp Yamaha four-stroke motors with hydraulic steering and sidemount cable controls. The steering was very light and the hydraulic system is a winner, especially when you start using bigger engines. Getting her into and out of gear was very smooth.
With these two 60hp Yamaha motors on the back of a 17ft 6in boat, there’s a lot of power behind you. Even though they’re four-strokes, the boat was nippy enough at pull away from a standing position and would be ideal for surf launching.
I was most impressed the way the new Seacat 520 easily handled the rough conditions and that I could run into the swells at 10 to 15 knots without the boat pounding.
The bow is very proud and high out of the water which prevents the water and spray coming over the front — great for anglers who don’t like to get wet. Her turning circle is very tight and she makes a perfect figure-of-eight which is a clear indication that the engines are mounted correctly.
With three of us on board she was still very alive when standing still and I pushed her to full throttle — she literally took off! Running with the swell and even over a swell she gave no indication at all that she would broach. Running along the shore with the swell coming from the side I also had no cause to feel unsafe or uneasy — she handled the conditions with flying colours.
Apparently Grant has also worked on the boat’s beam. I have found on some other boats that if they are a little broader they tend to be more stable and have a softer ride, but there’s a very fine line between wide and too wide.
Overall, the the performance of the Seacat 520 CC was, in my opinion, flawless. She is stable, very comfortable with ample room to move about in, and she provides a very smooth ride.
The first thing you notice on this new Seacat is that there’s plenty of space.
Grant has made a number of changes to this Seacat, including raising the height of the gunnels which makes it more comfortable to lean against them when fighting a fish standing up or when jigging.
When it comes to the below-deck hatches, they have created channels in the floor, on the top next to the lid, to drain away any water on the deck. This is one of the few boats I have tested that has these measures in place to ensure as little water as possible goes into the hatches. So many times when out at sea and the weather turns bad — with water over the front or side — most of this water runs into your hatches. This adds a lot of weight to the boat. However, if this new system works correctly, most of the water should drain off the deck. It’s a very clever idea indeed.
Starting at the front of the craft, you have easy access to the anchor hatch with a bow rail on each side. On each side of the deck you’ll find the fish hatches with self-draining lids, and in the gunnels on each side you’ll find a few rod holders.
This centre console craft has been fitted with an aluminium T-top which looks very elegant and saves a lot on weight. No electronic equipment had yet been fitted to the boat I tested, so I cannot comment on that aspect.
The battery hatches are fitted at the stern in the false transom — one on each side — with the livebait well in the middle.
I have tested a lot of boats of this size, and this is the second boat in this class that stands out way above the rest as far as I’m concerned. The Seacat 520 CC is suitable for all facets of fishing.
Well done to Grant Reed and his team for putting together such a great boat. Overall, I reckon this is one of the better boats currently on the market, but in the end — although we’re happy to give advice — it is a personal choice. Every skipper has his own way of handling a boat, so test a few different craft in your price range, and once you find one that you like, if it’s from a reputable dealer, buy the boat.
For further information on the Seacat contact Ryan Hansen or Charles Leydekkers at Durban Yamaha, or any of the other Yamaha dealers who should have her in stock shortly.