Reviewed by Erwin Bursik
DURING late 2016 I was asked to review a new craft, the Carrycat 830 that was being manufactured in Jeffrey’s Bay. Although it was not fully completed at the time, my article covering its on-water performance appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of SKI-BOAT.
Its pedigree was inherent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the boat’s on-water performance as well as its overall looks.
My interest in the craft was further stimulated when I attended the 2017 Two Oceans Marlin Tournament at Struisbaai, and saw a number of Carrycats participating in the event. Taking a closer at these craft on the slipway as well as out at sea further piqued my interest.
A few months ago I heard that Carrycat was now producing a 620 model that was to be marketed by SMG Yamaha in Durban. Word on the street was that it would be rigged out to the general requirements of the KZN offshore sportfishing fraternity and those ski-boaters travelling to the booming southern Mozambique ski-boating destinations.
Naturally I was keen to see how Carrycat had designed and presented this craft, and wanted to find out just how well she would take on the seas experienced along this stretch of the South African coast.
During a visit to SMG’s premises in Cornubia just north of Durban, Steve Bailey and Paul Sheppard showed me not only what SMG has to offer the ski-boating fraternity, but also a number of Carrycat 620s that were being finished off in preparation for delivery.
With my interest climbing, I boarded one of the completed craft to see for myself what this new model had to offer and also how far this manufacturer had advanced the design, finish and deck layout during the nearly seven years since my last interaction with Carrycat offshore craft. I was very impressed, and got even more excited when Paul asked me to review their Carrycat 620 demonstration craft.
And so it came to pass that we all arrived at Durban Ski-boat Club during a short weather window that provided a good degree of sunshine to aid photography, with a fair north-westerly turning to light north-easterly blowing. The conditions were excellent for photography, but a little flat when it came to the tests I like to put boats through, but that could be overcome.
I like to start my reviews by taking numerous photographs and viewing the test craft from every conceivable angle while she’s put on parade for the camera. This gives me a good idea what to expect when I eventually take over her controls and attempt to correlate what I’ve observed with the feel of the craft’s on-water capabilities.
Paul, as many will know, is a top powerboat racing champion as well as a very accomplished ski-boat fisherman, so it’s inevitable that he likes speed. While showing off the boat, he certainly satisfied himself with testing how fast she can go, completely overloading my senses in this regard.
All those who read my reviews know my disregard for speed over 20/25 knots, but I admit that a bit of speed now and again is a lot of fun. Paul also played in the surf off Umgeni River mouth, and the other photographer and I got a few spectacular photos of his wave jumping.
Once things had slowed down a bit I was happy to get behind the wheel of the Carrycat 620 to find out for myself how she would perform at reasonable speeds. I also wanted to get a feel for the power of the twin 100hp Yamaha 4-strokes swinging 17 pitch props which drive this craft’s performance.
My own six-metre craft has the same motors and props, so that allowed me to form some educated opinions about the Carrycat 620’s fishability and performance.
After getting her up onto the plane and settled at 3 900 rpm on both motors, I established that her most comfortable speed in the prevailing conditions was just on 20 knots. She only needed very marginal trim adjustments to provide a great ride, regardless of whether running into, with or in a side-on sea. In fact, considering the prevailing conditions, I was surprised how little trim adjustment was necessary.
Despite that, I did take her through a number of trim adjustments purely to reaffirm her natural hull-over-water attack, but found this was generally unnecessary and such trials were just that – testing her to the extreme before reverting to her natural ride.
I spent a good deal of time judging her wake at various trolling speeds from very slow with only one motor in gear right up to both motors at 1 700 rpm. For those interested in trolling lures, her wake was well contained to just over 8 knots, at which it started to spread. In essence, from 4.5 knots for sailfishing to trolling big marlin lures at 7 knots, there were many pockets of clear water into which the appropriate lures could be run if outriggers were fitted and that style of fishing pursued.
As with all craft in this size range, it is imperative that the boat provides a stable platform, cover from the sun and, in my opinion, as little spray as possible. This craft did just that.
I was very impressed with the T-top fitted to the Carrycat 620. It was solidly constructed, of adequate size and, most importantly, when running at speeds up to 20 knots it did not affect the overall ride.
A substantial number of longitudinal strakes are incorporated into the basic hull, both in the tunnel as well as on the outside chines. These, I believe, stabilise her hull-over-water ride, reduce tunnel slap and spread the lateral spray out wide and low. In the relatively calm conditions we experienced during the test, there was no blowout from the bow tunnel and the lateral cleaved water was low and well aft, meaning virtually no spray came onto the skipper and crew.
Having watched Paul perform with her in the heavy surf, and after assessing my simulations of her turning and out-the-hole performance at sea, I can confirm that she is very responsive and the motor power curve not only achieves the needed results, but also does so without being onerous on skipper or crew.
Fishability is obviously a major factor for any fishing boat, and all important to the entire crew to enable them to have a great day on the ocean. In saying that, the entire deck layout needs to be crafted from experience with carefully considered design features to achieve this.
I found that the Carrycat 620 has evolved well and provides just that. Compared to the craft I reviewed previously, the deck layout has improved in leaps and bounds. I found that all the features were not only very practically situated, but were also extremely well finished off.
Naturally I place a great deal of emphasis on the helm station. Carefully considered positioning of the helm and throttle controls as well as all the instrumentation is vital, as are the seating arrangements, so a full day on the ocean can be enjoyed. I found those aspects were all practical, well placed and thoughtfully designed.
The Carrycat 620 looks after the skipper very well and the facilities offered for the crew have also been taken into account so they too will be happy.
For a long time I have believed that a craft in the size range of the Carrycat 620 is a great choice for the average all round ski-boater who fishes for gamefish as well as bottomfish.
A boat this size provides comfort and fishability that suits three to four anglers and gives them sufficient space to ply their trade in addition to enough stowage for rods, tackle, bait and fish catches, as well as the ability to walk the deck and fish comfortably. Above all, for me, there needs to be a fair degree of protection from the sun, wind and sea spray. The Carrycat 620 does just that.
In terms of being able to tow this boat long distances, Paul arrived at the Durban launch towing the Carrycat 620 with his Hilux double cab, using the SMG single-axle trailer designed specifically for demo purposes. It has a very interesting design that worked well for depositing the Carrycat on the beach for the push pole launch and for retrailering her after beaching. They do, however, also have single and double-axle trailers with the roller set up that is popular among ski-boat skippers.
In summation, I reiterate my appreciation for how much thought and attention has gone into finishing off the Carrycat 620 I reviewed. The craft has certainly come a long way, and all the aspects of this boat’s redesign and the implementation of the Carrycat’s finishes and facilities impressed me.
The accompanying photographs give you an idea of what this craft has to offer, but I strongly suggest you afford yourself the opportunity of gaining a full appreciation by visiting SMG Cornubia and seeing the Carrycat 620 for yourself.