Just a few years ago, Sea Cat enjoyed the prestige of being the first successful production power catamaran builder in the United States. But its boats still needed refinement to take that next step to world-class quality. A man named Forest Munden took over Sea Cat’s plant, designed new, more hydrodynamically efficient hulls and ironed out all the remaining bugs. He can now stand behind the new company’s name with the knowledge that these truly are offshore boats to be reckoned with.
The night calm hung like a pall over the pass at Sanibel on Florida’s southwest coast. Widely spaced 1- to 2-foot seas barely let you know they were there. My hopes for despicable weather for this outing were dashed. In the spreading dawn, I caught sight of a shrimper tossing out a decent wake on its way to sea. I quickly put us on an intercept course to jump it. But the steep, 3-foot wave turned out to be a non-event. The 266 carved through it unfazed.
Our boat sported twin Yamaha Saltwater Series 200s. At 5,300 rpm we ran a top speed of 53 mph. Being a semi-displacement hull, the 266 doesn’t really get on plane. But its response is quick, reaching 30 mph in eight seconds. It even jumped right up and ran beautifully at 30 mph on only one engine. As you’d expect from a cat, the 266 is fuel-efficient, burning a scant 24 1/2 gallons per hour total running at 36 mph.
The wind increased as the sun came up, and the seas grew to 2 to 4 feet with the boat still riding as steady as a rock. In fact, it reminded me of those cartoons where the characters are on a truck or train going over steep hills and the wheels drop into the valleys, but the train stays at the same level.
The 266 SF displays unusual turning characteristics. With the engines trimmed full-down, the boat starts the turn by leaning outward; as you turn tighter it flattens out, until finally with the wheel hard over, it’s leaning into the turn. The same thing happens when the engines are trimmed up, although then it gets to a point that you lose enough speed for the bow to actually drop into the turn, and it pivots very sharply.
Ask any professional charter captain who owns a catamaran (and a growing number of captains do) why he made that choice and he’ll likely tell you two things. One is that for fishing, you cannot get a more stable platform. And second, cats can handle weather that only much larger boats could handle and do it in perfect comfort and safety.
Bottom fishing in the Gulf proved a good test. As we dropped lines to some wrecks, the 266 drifted exactly beam-to the wind with only minor rolling motion. Moving around couldn’t be easier with the wide-open deck space. Padded cockpit coamings hit this tall reviewer right above the knees.
One thing you’ll never run short of on the 266 is storage space. In addition to the large fish box and bait well in the transom, midship in-deck boxes big enough to sleep in offer secure, lockable space including racks to stow rods and reels. An added fishing detail – a molded toe lip – will keep your center of gravity in the boat while you lean over to wire a fish.
Straight from the factory, our boat could store 27 rods: four on each side under gunwales, two in-gunwale rod holders on each side, four in the leaning post, five in the hardtop and another six in the in-deck locker.
Like all cats, the 266 still suffers a blunt, squared-off bow when viewed from above. However, the profile advances the aesthetics effort significantly. World Class has given the 266 the distinct sheer of a classic offshore center-console.
Significant changes have been made in the most basic areas of the old Sea Cat to get to the level of the 266. World Class trued (and patented) the hull, added a foot more in length, created a less vertical angle on the entry and added a half-inch to the width of each hull. In addition, the tunnel has more roundness in it and has been heightened by 1 1/2 inches. All these refinements have made the 266 a dramatically better boat.
You won’t find a molecule of wood anywhere aboard. The 266 features a solid glass bottom; Corecell-cored topsides, bulkheads and stringers; biaxial, triaxial and stitched fiberglass laminated with expensive vinylester resins as well as a special Hydrex resin; and Magnashield skin-coat that does an incredible job of preventing osmotic blistering.
All the hatches have been reengineered with gasketing and tolerances so close they’ll never make a sound while under way or when you drop them closed.
WCC uses a special metal treatment process that removes all the iron content from the steel, guaranteeing for life against rusting, puddling or discoloration.