I always felt that few things in this world were sexier than those long, sleek, over-powered, deep-v, center consoles that we so often see associated with the Southern Kingfish Association. You know the kind of boat I'm talking about - roaring across three foot seas at fifty-five miles per hour, while the motors are sucking in gas quicker than the cooling systems can suck in water. Even if I never fished again, just coming home to one of those beauties in my driveway would keep a smile on my face and prove to all that drove by that I was a force to be reckoned with in the offshore fishing arena.
If the thought of owning one of those boats makes you feel anything like the way I do... or did, and you would prefer to continue feeling that way, then stop reading now, or get ready to trade that giddy smile in for a look of disbelief.Oh well, your decision.
Anyway, I suppose we have all come across somebody at one time or another that has tried to impress upon us how great a catamaran style boat works in rough chop or heavy seas. I know I have, and I always get that feeling you get when you answer your door on a Sunday afternoon and some odd looking person starts trying to talk you into changing your entire religious belief system while they wait. I mean come on, if there was really a better hull design out there, don't you think the people who make their living screaming cross the oceans looking for fish would be using it? Well, recently, a less argumentative buddy of mine named Paul gave in to the cat pushers hype and decided to see for himself if these double hulled boats were really all they're cracked up to be. He did some research and decided to set up a sea trial with a dealership in Apalachicola, Florida called Wefing's Marine. Wefing's carries several different makes and models of boats, but they're focus as of late has been on a line of catamarans by Twin Vee Power Cats out of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
On the morning of Paul's scheduled sea trial, I received a call from him asking me if I would like to join him in evaluating the performance of the 26' Twin Vee Power Cat. Normally, I would jump at any opportunity to get out on the water, but this day was different. A large tropical storm was pushing through, and no sane people were even on the road, much less, planning a trip out into the Gulf. I tried my tactful best to decline the offer, citing a house full of sick children requiring my constant attention, but it fell on deaf ears. Realizing Paul's determination not to postpone was based on his unrelenting work schedule, I reluctantly gave in. Besides, who in their right mind at Wefing's would match Paul's commitment to go through with the plan anyway? The President, Marc Grove, that's who. In fact, when we called Marc to make sure the plans were still on, he quickly pointed out that as long as the seas were under ten feet, he had no reservations about putting the 26' Twin Vee through its paces.
After several hours of driving through intense wind and rain, we finally pulled into Wefing's Marine. Immediately we were greeted by Marc as he handed us two yellow slickers and hurried us into the tow vehicle. The boat landing was only two blocks away and unless the Coast Guard was there launching a rescue mission, we felt fairly confident we would have the ramp to ourselves. The weather was so bad at times that I honestly thought to myself, this might be the last stupid thing I ever get to do. If not for Marc's enthusiasm and confidence in the vessel, I most certainly would have sat this one out.
Boarding the boat gave me my first real opportunity to survey this unconventional cat. The first thing that strikes you is that it really doesn't look like any other catamaran you've ever seen before. It has a much lower profile than you are used to seeing, and in order to keep the weight and cost down, the designers at Twin Vee opted to go without a liner, which in turn, increased the boats interior space dramatically. And at 25' - 6" in length by 8' - 6" across the beam, this cat has a ton of fishing room. Being that our test boat was the "weekender" model, it was also equipped with a large cuddy cabin sporting a queen size bed, portable head, a sink, and enough storage compartments inside to keep even your wife's belongings out of plain view. Another thing that jumps out at you is the aluminum tube work. It's all oversized from the bow rail and gunwale rails to the elaborate T top, which on this model features a telescoping rear section that when open, provides an additional four feet of shade toward the stern. And speaking of sterns, that's where you'll find the round 35 gallon live well and two bench seats with optional back rests. The helm is starboard and huge, with a large enough leaning post to slide a 128-quart cooler underneath. And there are enough gold anodized rocket launchers on board to invade a small port city.
As we idled away from the docks, I was reminded of how quiet these new four stroke motors are. This boat was being pushed by a pair of Suzuki 140s and with the thumping of the rain, it was impossible to know they were running without watching them pee. Easing out from the protection of the marina, Marc's eyes lit up with excitement as we were greeted by an ugly, whipped up sea. The conditions were just what he was hoping for, 3 to 4 feet without a single white cap missing. It became obvious that this voyage would tell us everything there was to know about this breed of cat. Marc leaned into the throttles, jumping the big boat up on plane with virtually no bow rise, and aimed us straight into the breakers. Now I've been in seas like this plenty of times, less maybe the winds, and I know in these conditions you want to bring your speed down quite a bit so you don't beat your boat or yourself up too badly. So when Marc hit the heavy chop at full speed, I took a death grip to the T top, bent my knees and started looking around for something to use as a mouthpiece.
Now, this is where things got weird. And it's the reason I felt compelled to tell you folks about the Twin Vee. The way this cat handled those conditions was so unlike any other boat I've ever been on that it actually changed the way I look at boats.
You see, while I'm bracing myself for the bone jarring, physical abuse, that I know is about to be inflicted upon me...it never comes. Your body and mind gear up for the punishment that your eyes are telling you is about to take place, but the punishment isn't delivered. Its freaky...it goes against everything you've come to know about the sensations you experience while boating. Paul and I were so amazed, we let go of the top and actually stood in the cockpit, arms crossed, grinning, while Marc kept her pegged at 40 mph. We did a lot of experimenting that morning and learned that unlike conventional mono hulls, the ride in a Twin Vee improves the faster you go. The trick is the air that gets trapped between the sponsons and the underbelly as the boat tries to re-enter the water after launching off of a wave. The faster and harder the boat is about to slam off of a wave, the more air pressure develops under the boat to resist the hard landing. It's almost as if you're in a hover craft, you can feel and hear all the turbulence under the boat, the seas are chaotic all around you, and yet it's steady-as-she-goes on the deck.
A few of the things that I expected to be real sore spots for the catamaran, like spitting out from under the bow, and rocking twice for every wave while at rest, simply aren't a factor with the Twin Vee. If you are traveling slowly into the wind, occasionally the bow would sneeze out a very fine mist, but it was exactly that, a mist, barely enough moisture to cause you to wipe off your sunglasses. Marc even let the boat rest at different angles to the wind so we could get a feel for what it would be like to bottom fish on a lousy day. As it turns out, the cat rocked far less than any monohull boat I've ever been on. In fact, because the buoyancy is positioned under the gunwales, everybody on board could fish off the same side of the boat and barely cause it to tilt.
Another area where the Twin Vee shines is in the fuel efficiency department. At roughly 2,800 lbs., this cat is about half the weight of most boats of similar dimensions. So, with the twin 140 hp Suzuki's, you can expect to get about three miles to the gallon at a cruising speed of 30 mph. And with a pair of 60 gallon tanks, that puts your range safely in the 300+ mile category.
Now, before somebody tries to accuse me of moonlighting as a sales rep for Twin Vee, let me add that I did find a couple of items less than desirable. In the manufacturer's struggle to keep costs down for the consumer while not sacrificing the integrity of the vessel, they let one very important piece of equipment slip by. The bilge pumps. The factory installed pumps are far less than adequate for a boat of this size and in this price range. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple. Immediately upgrade the bilge pumps. Even the good ones are relatively inexpensive and burned up pumps are the last thing you want to discover 60 miles offshore. Another, albeit less threatening, observation I noted is that there are no fish boxes designed into this boat. I guess you know what you'll be doing with that cooler under the leaning post.
All in all, the 26' Twin Vee is a great boat. It's not the sexiest looking boat out there, but the way it handles big seas is something you have to experience for yourself to believe. If you want a lot of boat for your buck, and the thought of being able to cruise in comfort during small craft advisories appeals to you, then you need to put the Twin Vee at the top of your list of boats to test drive.
Incidentally, my buddy Paul was impressed enough to purchase a 26' Twin Vee similar to the boat we tested. On several occasions we've ventured out in four to six foot seas and made a day of it. What's really impressive is when you're cruising along at 30 mph in five foot seas enjoying a beverage, while you're blowing by the big sport fishers that are bashing there way out to sea at a mere 15 knots.
Twin Vee 26' Weekender Specifications
Check out the Twin-Vee Web site to learn more about all of the models they have to offer. www.twinvee.com
A special thanks to Marc Grove of Wefing's Marine in Apalachicola for opening my eyes. www.wefings.com