As we blasted along Georgia’s St. Marys River in the pre-dawn darkness, I couldn’t really see much of Insetta’s new 45, but I could certainly feel the raw power of the twin Yanmar diesels and the precise handling of the stepped catamaran hull.
This was the beginning of an early-April trip aboard the 47-footer in pursuit of wahoo — an adventure that would take us to the edge of the Gulf Stream, more than 75 miles off the south Georgia coast.
“We want to get out there early, because this afternoon a front is forecast to come through with 25-knot winds out of the northeast and seas to 10 feet,” said Bryan Folsom, vice president and design engineer for Georgia-based American Marine Design (AMD), which builds Insetta boats.
Also joining the trip were Insetta sales manager Jeffrey Spangler and fishing buddy Eddie Vanmeter, a master chief with 27 years in the U.S. Navy submariner corps. Vanmeter knows the waters off this coast as well as anyone. After clearing the mouth of the river around 5 a.m., Spangler and Vanmeter settled into beanbags in the aft cockpit for the long run, while Folsom and I took positions on the helm deck, which featured three-across seating with individual flip-up bolsters, allowing each seat to serve as a leaning post.
Seas off the coast ran 3 to 4 feet out of the southeast. We found a comfortable and safe nighttime cruising speed of 26 mph with the 370 hp sterndrive diesels turning 2,700 rpm with Mercury Bravo Three 26-inch stainless-steel prop sets. A combined burn rate of 17 gallons per hour resulted in 1.53 mpg — impressive efficiency for a fully fueled and loaded 47-foot boat weighing in at approximately 19,000 pounds.
We relied on the twin flush-mounted Garmin 8215 multifunction displays to monitor our course on the chart plotter and to track vessel traffic via the Garmin xHD 4 kw open-array radar. The SeaStar Solutions Optimus electronic power steering and Garmin autopilot eased the task of manning the wheel.
With a full polycarbonate enclosure, extending from the deck to the welded aluminum hardtop, squelching wind noise and the relatively quiet diesels generating just 88 decibels at the helm, it was easy to converse with Folsom about Insetta Boatworks. Insetta’s parent company was founded by Victor Insetta, a successful electrical engineer and inventor with a passion for offshore racing and fishing, Folsom explained. After selling a multimillion-dollar electronic-component company in 2007, Insetta decided to build a boat that combined the qualities of stepped, tunnel-hull racing designs with the features of serious fishing machines.
“The result was the Insetta 45,” said Folsom, who has been with the company since 2010. “We took a go-fast hull design and added features to make it more offshore capable. We widened the sponsons and added freeboard, but kept the sea-taming ride of a racing‑style catamaran hull.”
A pair of steps along each sponson usher a cushion of air to the running surface to boost efficiency. I found that the 45 answers the helm smartly, but corners relatively flat with just a hint of inward lean. I found no tendency for the hull to catch an edge or lean outward during lateral acceleration.
The Insetta 45 also reflects the super-strong construction of a racing hull, Folsom points out. “Each and every molded part is created using the vacuum-infused process,” he said. “We also use high-quality vinylester resin and closed-cell PVC foam core for strength without excessive weight.”
Full-beam bulkheads span from chine to chine and keel to gunwale in each sponson, and then the one-piece deck is fully bonded to the bulkheads with a shoebox fit, turning the hull and deck into a super-strong singular structure, explains Folsom.
AMD custom-builds each Insetta 45 to a buyer’s specifications with a variety of power choices, including twin and quadruple outboards. For 2015, you can order twin diesel sterndrives, a power choice that increases fuel economy and makes the Insetta 45 ideal for the specialized technique of high-speed trolling for wahoo, as I was soon to learn.
About 8 a.m., we found the deep-blue 72-degree water that indicated we had finally reached the inner edge of the Gulf Stream. Here the seas grew large and steep, peaking at 6 feet.Folsom pulled back the throttles to 1,500 rpm and about 10 mph and put the 45 on a down-sea course to allow the crew to set up for trolling. I noted that the Insetta 45 Diesel handled perfectly while running downhill, with no tendency to bow steer.
Spacious and Stable
In the light of day, I could also check features such as the twin 29-gallon livewells within the rigging station abaft the helm seats. Two wells let you separate delicate baits such as pilchards from hardier species like goggle-eyes. The setup also allows a remarkable amount of space for stowing tackle and other gear in cabinets and drawers below.Measuring 9 feet 4 inches wide and 7 feet 6 inches long, the cockpit and 2-foot-4-inch-high gunwales offer a spacious and stable area to rig lines, while padded coaming bolsters protect your knees and thighs from bruises.
As the 80-wide reels on four bent‑butt rods paid out line for high-speed trolling, Folsom advanced the throttles to 2,250 rpm and 17 mph, where the 45 burned 13 gph for 1.3 mpg.The 45 actually planed at this speed and rode flat, a characteristic you won’t find in most outboard-powered boats at this speed, which tend to run bow-high off plane and burn excessive amounts of fuel while high-speed trolling.
Handling proved superb no matter what course we took. I was particularly curious to see if the cat sneezed spray forward from the tunnel (which blows back into the boat) while heading up-sea, but am pleased to report the 45 does not display a hint of this quirk.
’Hoos on First
Within 15 minutes, a wahoo attacked the port line. Vanmeter was now at the wheel and slowed the 45 to about 10 mph as Folsom fought the fish. Rather than gaff the ’hoo, Spangler grabbed the leader and pulled the fish across the full-width swim platform, through the central transom door and onto the deck.
Spangler iced the wahoo in one of four cavernous fish boxes that flank the forward deck, and Folsom slid the clear acrylic transom door back in place. As we used the raw-water washdown coil hose to clean up the diamond nonskid deck, I noted the unique drainage system on the Insetta. Gutters on both sides of the level deck direct water to the aft scuppers, with poly grates over the channels to keep you from turning an ankle while traversing the walkways, which measure 20 inches wide aside the console.
Action slowed after the initial flurry, giving me a chance to explore more of the boat. Forward of the console, I found an expansive lounger with an angled backrest. A roomy locker for stowing gear resides below. Inside the console cabin (accessible via a companionway on the starboard side) I discovered a 6½-foot berth; at 4 feet 9 inches wide, it can sleep two.With 5 feet 4 inches of headroom and a hatch above for fresh air, the cabin also includes a permanent marine head and vanity with a sink and freshwater faucet. An air-conditioning system for the console interior derives power from an Onan 5 kw diesel generator.
We trolled about 5 miles into the Gulf Stream to a ledge that drops from 170 to 200 feet, but could not seem to fool another wahoo the rest of the morning. Around noon, the dreaded front moved in, with seas building to 7 feet in the Stream, prompting Folsom to order lines out for the run home. Once we cleared the confused seas of the Gulf Stream, we picked up the speed to 3,500 rpm and 38 mph, where the twin diesels burned 25 gph for 1.5 mpg. That speed also cut our running time home to just two and a half hours.
Back inside the St. Marys River, we gathered performance data while running the boat up- and down-current and averaging the numbers. The 45 vaulted to plane in 7.5 seconds and reached 30 mph in 12 seconds en route to a top speed of 44.2 mph at 3,950 rpm, where the twin diesels burned 36 gph for 1.23 mpg.
The best fuel economy came at 3,000 rpm and 32.5 mph with a burn rate of 20.5 gph for 1.58 mpg, representing outstanding efficiency and a maximum cruising range of more than 1,000 miles based on the 660-gallon fuel tank.
While fishing was slow, the uniquely designed Insetta 45 Diesel allowed us to run to the distant edge of the Gulf Stream on a rough day when few other boats dared to venture so far. Plus, it did so with outstanding comfort, stability and efficiency. Among all the center-console cats on the market today, this one is a breed apart.
POWER Twin Yanmar ZT370 diesel sterndrives
LOAD 100 gal. fuel, 60 gal. water, four crew
TOP SPEED 44.2 mph @ 3,950 rpm
TIME TO 30 MPH 12 sec.
BEST MPG 1.58 @ 32.5 mph (3,000 rpm)
LOA 47 ft.
BEAM 11 ft. 8 in.
WEIGHT Approx. 19,000 lb. (ready to fish)
DRAFT 2 ft. 5 in. (motor up)
FUEL 660 gal.
MAX POWER 1,400 hp
PRICE AS TESTED $599,000
St. Marys, Georgia