World Cat 266SF

 

Fall 1998 --- After spending a lot of time on the Grady-White Sailfish during the summer of '98 (I took a 3 1/2 month summer vacation), I decided that it really didn't meet my basic requirements.  I wanted much greater range, better fuel economy, and a much better ride in rough water.  After looking at and test driving many boats, I decided that the best boat to meet these requirements is a World Cat 266SF.  It's a 26 1/2 foot catamaran. The requirements for the new boat were as follows:

  • Center Console (Much easier to fish alone in a CC)
  • Range : Ability to run from Port Canaveral to Walker's Cay and back without refueling (Gas is around $3.30/gal in Walker's). This sort of range also will also allow trips to the 120 mile weather buoy east of Ponce inlet.
  • Much better ride than the Grady Sailfish in steep 3-5 foot seas (common from October to March).  The Sailfish had a tendency to want to SLAM the bow down when slogging along in steep 3-5 foot seas.
  • Reasonably trailerable.  When I say "reasonable to trailer", I mean what I consider reasonable.  I know one guy who occasionally trailers his 32' Mirage CC, twin diesel, 11 ft beam boat with a Ram 1500.  Be very afraid.  I have two other buddies who regularly trailer their Contender 31 and Century 30.

I looked at many boats (Contender, WhiteWater, SeaVee, Conch, Albemarle, World Cat, Glacier Bay, and more!).  I chose to purchase a World Cat 266SF rigged with Optimax 150 engines. I sea-trialed a 266SF with Honda 130s, but the Hondas just did not have nearly enough power to push the boat at an acceptable cruising speed. 

I ordered a 1999 World Cat 266SF in late September, 1998 and I took delivery of the boat in early November. It took one week to get the T-top built and installed and then about 2 weeks for the "cradle" to be delivered. I was able to really start using the boat around Thanksgiving 1998. I have about 160 hours on the engines at this point (Aug '00).


Since so many people are interested in the real world performance of a catamaran, I have written my subjective observations about the World Cat.

Ride

Great ride into steep seas up to about 5-6'. It has never stuffed the bow into a big wave. I have not had the cat out in seas bigger than 6'. Unlike the West coast of the US, we don't normally get the big (10' plus) ocean swells here in Florida except during hurricane season. The most common adverse conditions we have are steep 3-6' seas (and bigger seas out in Gulf Stream whenever the breeze comes from a northern quadrant). I've had the cat out in steep (breaking) 5-6 footers and had no trouble cruising along at around 20 MPH. You have to hold on tight, but there was no slamming, just going up and down (whooosh). I wouldn't want to fish on a day like that, but I felt very comfortable driving the boat through it. My Grady-White Sailfish would have to "slog" through and would absolutely beat you to death on a day with steep 4-6 footers. In steep 3-4' chop I routinely run the cat around 24-26 MPH. On those sloppy/choppy real 4' days, I pass the Makos, Whalers, and Gradys like they are standing still.

The boat has no problems running straight into the seas, quartering them off the bow, or running straight down seas. The only significant ride anomaly I've experienced is when running _almost_ straight down a decent sized (5-6') sea. Occasionally as the boat "steps over" the wave top, it will "catch" a hull and want to make a fairly sharp turn. Now that I know this, I make sure everyone is holding on tight when we encounter these conditions. As with any center console, it's not a dry ride in all conditions. With a quartering breeze and choppy conditions, you'll get some spray in the cockpit.

The catamaran is not as maneuverable when running at speed as a monohull. You can't just nimbly dodge around things that "pop up" right in front of you like you can in a mono hull (As one poor sea-gull found out. It went straight down between the hulls and flopped out from the wake behind the boat). The cat also runs "flat" in turns. This can be disconcerting until you get used to it. I always warn the crew if I'm going to make a sharp turn when running at speed.

The cat is much more sensitive than a V-hull to weight distribution (ie, the crew) when running at planing speed. Usually this can be controlled by trimming the engines appropriately, but I sometimes request the crew to trim themselves to even the load rather than trimming the engines so far out of wack. The weight distribution sensitivity is both side to side and fore/aft. This load sensitivity is only apparent when the hull is planed off. I suspect it's because the twin hulls have a small footprint in the water when planed off compared to a monohull. When at rest or trolling, the whole crew can line up along one side without noticeably affecting the boat's attitude.

People who fish with me for the first time on the cat almost always remark how much better (not beat to death) they feel at the end of the day as compared to fishing on a monohull boat.

Design/Layout

It's obvious that the World Cat manufacturer really did their homework when laying out the cockpit and designing the various features. If you compare the '98 and the '99 models you'll see many subtle (and really nice) improvements which shows the company responds to feedback from dealers and customers. After I had my boat for 2 months, I sent them (World Class Catamarans) a list of the minor issues I had with the design and manufacturing process, and they've already incorporated several changes into the current production line.

I've got the center console version, so yes it's a very open layout. World Cat makes a cuddy cabin version which would definitely provide more protection from the elements, but here in Florida, cold temperatures are very rarely an issue. I don't have a wife or kids, so that's not an issue either. If you're interested in a cuddy or walk-around boat, I think that the Glacier Bay boats have a better cabin layout than the World Cat. I had vinyl "curtains" built which run on 3 sides from the outside of the T-top to the gunwale. This should provide enough protection from the elements for next "winters" fishing season.

The boat has tremendous amounts of lockable storage and fish box storage. The 266SF has 6'x2'x2' compartments in the cockpit deck on either side of the console. One is built out as rod storage (I fit 6 trolling rigs and 4 7' spinning rigs), and I use the other side to store 5 gallon buckets, coolers, etc. Up in the bow is a storage locker which could hold several _thousand_ feet of anchor line if desired.

The only significant design problem I have encountered is that the transom ice/fish boxes were not adequately insulated.  I added insulation (1" foam board and closed cell spray foam) which seems to have helped a lot.

Construction/Finish

The biggest concern I have with the boat is the long term durability of the hull since it's a brand new design with brand new construction techniques. I have no reason to suspect there will be a problem, but it's not like a Grady-White where they've been building them exactly the same way since before the beginning of time. So far the boat feels absolutely solid and I have had only one real problem with the boat (A livewell drain plumbing line split open and was spilling into the bilge).

The fit and finish are as good as either of the new Grady-Whites I bought previously.

Performance

My boat is rigged with Optimax 150s. I test drove a World Cat rigged with Honda 130s, but the boat was a real slug relative to my performance requirements. All the test reports and reviews indicated that the Optimax 150s would be able to push 17" pitch props. That turned out to be not true. I had to drop to 15" props (Mirage Plus). I've got the Floscan Twinscan instrumentation package.

With a 200 gallon load of fuel (5/6 tankful), fresh water (20 gallons), full fishing gear, 200 lbs of ice, and 3 guys, I've noted that the boat's performance as:

RPM   SPEED MPG

3800     26     2.2

4000     28    1.95

4200     30    1.80

5600     42     1.3  (WOT)

With one engine pulled up, the other engine pushed the boat 20-22 MPH when running at 4200 RPM (this was into 3' seas). WOT on a single engine was 5000 RPM. The boat has no problem getting up to cruising speed on a single engine as there is no significant "planing" point with the World Cat hull.

My normal gulf stream fishing day would burn 80-100 gallons with the Grady Sailfish, and now I burn 40-55 gallons.

Fishing

The boat drifts very nicely with little roll. While drifting/trolling it is not at all sensitive to shifting weight in the cockpit (like 4 fat guys running to one side). While trolling, it does not have great "alleys" of clean water behind the boat. The problem is the engines are spaced so far apart generating prop wash and then the froth generated between the hulls generates white water down the middle as well.

Misc Notes

I keep the boat in indoor (rack) storage at New Port Marina in Port Canaveral, FL. The World Cat hull cannot be safely lifted by most marina fork lifts. Therefore as recommended by World Class Catamarans, I purchased a "cradle" ($1250) from Float-On trailers in Vero Beach. The cradle is basically a very simplified version of the normal aluminum Float-on trailer (same bunks, no axles, wheels, tongue, nor winch posts). Until recently, the boat was kept on the cradle on a rack in the boat barn, but recently the marina moved my boat so that it sits on the floor in the barn. When I want to work on the boat, the marina just sits my boat/cradle on the ground out in their yard.

Trailering the World Cat is more of a chore than I anticipated.  The loaded World Cat/trailer weighs in the neighborhood of 9000-9500 lbs and stands about 12' 6" high.

In summary, I would definitely recommend a World Cat to someone as long as they aren't looking for a race boat. My buddy has a 31 Contender and I can't possibly keep up with him in seas less than 3 feet, but once you hit about 3' seas, my World Cat provides a much more comfortable ride for a given speed. Other people must concur with me as my dealer has sold at least 14 World Cats this year already. About half have been rigged with Honda 130s, the rest with either 150 or 200 Optimaxes.

And finally, I paid $63.5K out the door (with dealer prep/tax/tag/title) for the boat with World Cat options, engines, props, and trailer (with disk brakes on both axles). List price for this setup was around $74K.  Adding the T-top, custom rocket launcher, outriggers, electronics, and 3-sided curtains increased the cost to over $75K.

The electronics include:

  • Lowrance Global Map 2000 with maplink
  • Magellan DGPS receiver
  • Lowrance LMS-350 Sonar with 50/192 khz transducer
  • Icom M59 VHF with Shakespeare 5225 antenna
  • Navico PH-500 Autopilot
  • Raytheon RT-74 4kw radar (crt)

Here's a picture of the World Cat on its way down to Fort Pierce to have a T-top installed.  Capt Brown added the caption.  Thanks to Capt Mosley for lending me his Suburban to tow the boat while I waited for "truckZilla" to be delivered.

wc.jpg (56547 bytes)

Here's a picture of the boat after the T-Top had been installed.  It's sitting on the trailer at the marina because we were waiting for a cradle to be built which would allow the marina's fork lift to pickup and "dunk" the boat.  I will have removable front and side canvas added at some point in the near future to provide some relief from the elements.

t-top.jpg (155800 bytes)

While the T-top was being built/installed (TNT Custom Boat Works, Ft Pierce, FL), I also had TNT rebuild the helm seat to work as a rocket launcher.  We usually keep the 2 outrigger rods in the outside rocket launcher holders and the shotgun rod in the center holder.  This keeps the rods out of the way when a fish is hooked up.  

wc1.jpg (67086 bytes) 

I mounted the sonar transducer (Lowrance 50/192 khz) on the starboard hull to the right of the outboard lower unit (on the side of the descending prop blade).  It usually has a pretty good bottom lock out to around 200 feet (deeper if take the LMS-350 out of auto mode) while at cruising speed (25-30MPH).  At trolling speed, we have clearly marked the Marathon "humps" come up off the bottom from 1400 ft deep.

wc3.jpg (34336 bytes)wc4.jpg (38413 bytes)

Here is the helm area showing the electronics. Note the Floscan Twinscan instrumentation package and the teaser reels (Penn 49L) inside red circles at the top.

wc2.jpg (79164 bytes) 

The cradle has arrived and the fork lift can be used to move the boat....

fork1.jpg (54350 bytes)fork2.jpg (55841 bytes)

Pictures of the World Cat cruising along through some sloppy stuff. As you can see, it has no bow pulpit or bow rail which I believe improves the looks greatly. In the past, I thought that most of the power catamarans were pretty ugly.  And who wants an ugly boat sitting in the driveway?   I think the World Cat turned out looking ok.....

copter1.jpg (110342 bytes)copter2.jpg (96424 bytes)

About 2 weeks before I ordered the World Cat, I ordered a Ford Super Duty Super Cab V-10 truck to tow the boat. The boat arrived on schedule, but I had to borrow Capt Mosley's Suburban whenever I needed to tow it.  After waiting over 4 months without a scheduled build date for the truck, and being unable to find a suitable Super Duty at any of the truck dealer's in the state, I began investigating alternatives.  I found that the "all-new" GM Silverado/Sierra 2500s with a Vortec 6 liter would handle towing requirements of the World Cat.  I called the local GM truck dealers and happened to find a GMC 2500 configured how I needed.  They gouged me considerably on the price, but it was a very hard to find model, so I bought it. Here is a picture of the new truck with the boat in my driveway.

boat.jpg (116735 bytes)

Here's a picture of the boat at the Coral Lagoon Resort on Marathon in the Florida Keys during May '99.  I highly recommend Coral Lagoon for people who bring a boat with them.  The rooms are reasonably priced, have full size refrigerator/freezers, stoves, grills, hammocks, etc, and very fast access to open water on either the ocean or bay side.   We fished 3 days and unfortunately the fishing was fairly slow except for small schoolie dolphin.  We kept about a dozen schoolies and one 15 lb dolphin.  We hooked up the largest sailfish I've ever seen but the hook pulled when he started dogging me right under the boat.

coral.jpg (98902 bytes)

I finally got around to putting the name on the boat....

boatname.jpg (45326 bytes)


The World Cat is a great boat, but obviously I have a very bad habit of "finishing" a boat, and then starting over on a new boat. After I got the World Cat rigged to perfection (got the 3-sided curtains installed), I started thinking about what I would do differently if I were to get a new boat.  I had to get really picky to find significant faults with the World Cat (at least faults that couldn't be fixed by repowering with 200HP engines).   

 

Next Boat

Home