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Boat Test - Kosi Cat 17 — by Natal Caravans & Marine (November/December 2009)
Bill Harrison Tel: (031) 702-7291 • Fax: (031) 702-7209
E-mail: info@natalcaravans.co.za • www.natalcaravans.co.za

SPECIFICATIONS
Length – 5.15m
Beam – 2.3m
Dry weight – 695kg
Min hp – 2 x 50hp 2-strokes or
2 x 50hp 4-strokes
Max hp – 2 x 90hp 2-strokes or
2 x 70hp 4-strokes
Power as tested – 2 x 60hp 2-stroke Yamahas

THERE’S yet another new deep sea craft on the market. These days it seems that dealers have to go the extra mile to impress their customers in order to get a sale. They also have to be one step ahead of their competitors to gain that little edge to do business. Natal Caravans & Marine know all this, hence the introduction of their new Kosi Cat which Bill Harrison recently asked me test. I was surprised to hear that they had a new boat on the market, and even more surprised when Bill told me that she is a 17-footer.

GENERAL IMPRESSION
A brand new boat with awesome looks awaited me when I got to the Durban Rod and Reel Club in Durban Bay. The boat had already been put into the water and was waiting for us to go out to sea. Unfortunately, we had to wait at the harbour mouth for nearly an hour before we were allowed out as there was so much mist we could hardly see 20 metres in front of us.
I had some time to waste so I took the opportunity to have a good look at the new design and interior. I have to say that I really liked what I saw. She’s very simple, neat and spacious, with no fancy gadgets like fridges and other unnecessary equipment on the boat. She looks as if she has been designed to suit fishermen.
The new Kosi 17 looked broad and bulky, but she ran like a dream in the bay. I was also impressed to see that the designers didn’t fit the centre console right in the middle of the boat, but rather a little bit further back. I believe this gives the boat a smoother and much softer ride.

CONDITIONS
As I mentioned, we experienced very heavy mist on the day of the test. In fact, it’s the first time in the 12 years that I’ve lived in Durban that I’ve seen mist like that.
When we eventually got out to sea there was not a lot of wind, but the sea looked like a washing machine. There was not a particularly big swell, but it was all over the place. To some extent, these were ideal conditions to test the New Kosi 17 to her full capability and see what she was made of.

LAUNCHING AND TRAILERING
Bill and his crew had no problem offloading the craft into the water from her galvanised breakneck trailer. Towing her behind the car was also easy, and she doesn’t swing around which is a good indication that the craft’s weight is correctly balanced on the trailer.
When we got back, reloading her was even easier. She ran straight onto the trailer, and was driven onto the rollers right to the front, with her keels perfectly positioned in the vees.

MOTORS AND CONTROLS
This test boat was fitted with 2 x 60hp Yamaha two-stroke motors with trim-and-tilt. The controls were normal cable controls with hydraulic steering. The motors were well-suited to the boat and the controls were smooth. Even though they were cable controls, it was still easy to slip her into and out of gear.
In the two-stroke range, this craft could be fitted with twin 50hp up to twin 90hp motors, and in the four-stroke range, from twin 50hp up to twin 70hp motors.

PERFORMANCE
This boat’s performance certainly impressed me. I’ve tested both the 16ft and 18ft Kosi Cats and I have to say that for me the 17ft is the best by far, cutting through the water like a knife through butter.
She rides very proud in the water and often when this happens the boat experiences cavitation, but not with the Kosi Cat 17. I took her into the swell and didn’t experience any pounding either. In that upside-down sea, I swung her around in all directions, making circles and accelerating after the turns, and didn’t experience any cavitation then either. Also in a following sea she performed awesomely, with no broaching. I think even Bill was really impressed with the way she handled the sea.
The Kosi Cat 17 has an impressive turning circle, one of the best I have been on with no feeling of leaning to one side or making you feel that you are unsafe on the boat. I haven’t experienced this type of performance with a 17ft boat in a while, and I have to say this is the type of boat I would trust in a big sea.
I put her through her paces until eventually Bill asked me to test her with just one 60hp Yamaha. This is going to be interesting, I thought ... Well, within five seconds we were on the plane. I couldn’t believe the incredible performance. Indeed, she ran very comfortably on just one engine.
Even though the sea was terrible, I proved to Bill that the way they’ve fitted the console slightly towards the back has given her a much smoother and more comfortable ride.
She was running so proud that I didn’t have to fiddle with the trims at all. Out the hole she climbed quickly onto the plane, and as mentioned, in a full 360 degree turn and out the hole there was no cavitation. All these characteristics make her ideal for surf launching.
Because of the way she sits and rides in the water, the ride was very smooth and dry for these conditions. She was also very stable at slow trolling speeds, and in general the handling of this craft felt very simple and comfortable.

LAYOUT
There are a couple of features on the new 17ft Kosi Cat that particularly impressed me. They have raised the height of the gunnels and have also padded them so that they’re more comfortable to lean against. The designers have also made space in the gunnels where you can store tackle.
Upfront they have made seats on both sides of the anchor hatch with tackle drawers on both sides too. The layout upfront also gives you easy access to the anchor.
The console is smaller than is usual with centre console craft, and this makes for more space on the boat. Fitting the console further back than usual also makes it easier for the angler to get to his fishing rods. The console is also fitted with a stainless-steel T-top with rodholders on top.
Another great feature is the very handy livebait well which has been fitted in the transom — ideal for mackerel when ’cuda season comes. It looks like a lot of thought has gone into the development and design of this boat.

FISHABILITY
Personally, I would be happy to take this boat out in all weather conditions and fish with her for marlin as well as any other gamefish. She is very stable and is suitable for all facets of fishing. With the high, padded gunnels, I think it would be easy and comfortable to do vertical jigging, dropshot fishing and bottomfishing from this craft.
She is very stable at a slow trolling speed and would be ideal for the type of gamefishing we do in KZN, the Eastern Cape and Moçambique. The amount of open space on this boat means she’s also well-suited to flyfishing. Yes, I believe that this craft is going to surprise a lot of people.

FINISH & CONCLUSION
It’s clear that the people at Natal Caravans & Marine have come a long way since they first introduced the 16ft and 18ft Kosi Cats to the market. It is also very impressive to see that they have learned from their previous experiences and have vastly improved their product. The finish on this boat is of the highest quality and could easily compete with the top boat builders around.

It’s high time that other builders took note and realised that they can’t just sit back and rest on their laurels — they have to continually improve on products and service. These days it’s all about quality and customer service — before- and after-sales service. I have to compliment Bill and his staff at Natal Caravans & Marine on their impeccable service and products.

The 17ft Kosi Cat is a lovely boat that will go a long way and is well worth having a look at. Whether you’re a novice or a more experienced fisherman, this is a boat you ought to take for a demo ride. If you’re in the market for a new boat this size, I’m sure you’ll put this one at the top of your consideration list. •
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