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A FISHING MACHINE OF NOTE!
Tested by Erwin Bursik
OVER the many, many years that I’ve had dealings with the Delany family who own Cape Town-based boat builders Two Oceans Marine, I have learned to expect nothing but the best when I’m presented with a new craft for review. As I stood on the sloping walkway at Atlantic Boat Club’s Hout Bay Marina and caught my first glimpse of Cloud 9, I instinctively knew that during the time I was to spend with her, that was exactly where I was going to be — on cloud nine.
Mark Delany, who is now CEO of this company, is not the type to rave about his boats. “The new Magnum 36 is ready for a review,” was all I got out of him in the lead-up to my trip to Cape Town. I had no mental picture of the Magnum 36 prior to seeing her, yet I already knew she would be special.
Seeing the new craft’s name, Cloud 9, emblazoned on her side, immediately told me her new owner was Kevin Hodgson, one of Cape Town’s top tuna anglers and an international billfish angler. Kevin’s previous craft bore this name, hence the tie-up. Kevin is a perfectionist with what he wants in a boat, and puts an enormous amount of effort into ensuring that his craft meet his requirements and are top-notch.
From the outset I could see the new Magnum 36 was designed with out-the-box thinking. Cloud 9 is designed and built to be a “fishing machine”, and as I write this review I expect the reader to bear in mind that this boat is precisely that — a fishing machine, rather than a pleasure boat. Her owner will be seriously fishing the tuna-rich grounds off Cape Point, and will also be taking her to the northern Zululand coast to fish for marlin, which is Kevin’s second greatest passion after tuna.
The 36ft (10.97m) craft with her 13ft 2in (4.02m) beam incorporates all the space, facilities and protection that anyone could desire when hunting tuna in the rough water that the Cape is renowned for. According to Mark, they designed her to maximise the deck area for fishing, as well as provide a wide walkway past the helm station to the very fishable forward area.
In addition, because she will be a day boat, they have dispensed with the luxurious interior cabin sleeping and bathroom facilities, apart from a spacious heads. This not only provides more fishing area, but also reduces overall cost.
We had a prolonged photo shoot due to the cloudy Cape weather and the northwesterly wind which forced us to search nearly as far as Slangkop for patches of wintry sun where we could take photographs. Eventually I was able to climb aboard Cloud 9 and experience first-hand the niceties of the Magnum 36, a craft that had captivated me from the moment I first saw her.
I had eagerly anticipated taking command of this large sportfisher, and ensconced as I was in the captain’s chair at the downstairs helm station, I enjoyed the privilege of the moment and took in the full array of instrumentation and controls I was about to use. As I started-up the twin Yamaha 350hp 4-stroke V8 motors and engaged the electronic binnacle controls, this craft came alive as I pointed her seawards and headed out of the protection of Hout Bay.
Both the size of the craft and her feel as the sponsons took on the increasingly choppy sea added greatly to my appreciation of her performance.
Running at 17/18 knots on a course towards Slangkop, Mark and I were relaxed and talking about Cloud 9, quite oblivious to the twin V8s revving at 3 800rpm behind us. Not only were these two mighty machines very quiet, but they also seemed to be far back because of the extended fishing deck. As a result, their presence was hardly noticeable.
However, what was evident as I edged forward the electronic controls, was the surge of power that was unleashed. As the revs moved up to a tad over 4 000rpm, the Furuno GPS showed an SOG of 21/22 knots, yet her ride under the prevailing conditions was brilliant. It allowed us to maintain the course we were on without this big craft wanting to take off every time we overtook incoming swells.
The power-assisted hydraulic steering fitted to this craft was an additional pleasure as it made an incredible difference to skippering the Magnum 360 throughout my time with her at sea. Fingertip effort was all that was needed to turn the helm.
Readers might by now be wondering why outboard motors had been chosen for Cloud 9 instead of twin 275/300hp shaft-drive inboards. The Magnum 36 has been designed to accommodate both types of motors, but Mark believes outboards are more practical, especially for craft that go up the west coast or the east coast of Africa for charter purposes. For the price of a pair inboards, one can buy three similar powered outboards, as well as allowing for the flexibility of replacing a motor within about six hours, should the need arise.
You would then be able to continue charter operations fairly quickly, as opposed to the delays that would arise should you need to repair an inboard engine. In addition, fuel consumption benefits, which used to be greatly in favour of inboard motors, have been largely negated with the advent of modern 4-stroke outboard engines when one compares equal distances covered at the same speed.
Kevin has chosen outboards for the above reasons, but also because it allows him to have very large below-deck fish hatches to hold ice slurry and fish. Obviously, an above-deck hatch would have to be incorporated if the below-deck area was used as an inboard engine compartment.
Back to the Magnum 36’s performance ... During the sustained run, as if heading out to the deep, I maintained an SOG of around 20 knots which was more than adequate and extremely comfortable in the quarter beam sea. When I pushed her up to 25 knots and above, I felt that the comfort factor was compromised to some extent: this large craft was just beginning to be thrown about a little more than she needed to be. In my view, speed works against comfort and enjoyment of the ride for the skipper and crew, and it greatly reduces the water’s hydraulic action on the craft herself.
Out in the rough, heading her bow directly into the prevailing wind, I was most surprised at how I could just about maintain the same speed and comfort levels mentioned above. At about 18 knots she ran beautifully, seeming to glide over the choppy crests with minimal hydraulic action within her tunnel, throwing the little water spray she generates wide and far aft.
Throughout these trials I noticed that the bow-up/down motor trim has a marginal effect on this craft’s ride, and this was again noticeable during the long run I undertook in a straight following sea. Where motor trim does have an effect is in lateral trimming, and I put this to use both in the following sea and a direct beam sea.
Cloud 9 ran beautifully in the sea conditions we had to play in and from what I experienced in the way she held her course, without any tendency to yaw or dig in her forward sponsons. I’m sure that even with a huge swell-driven sea on her transom, her ride would be just as perfect.
Once out in the open sea, I put her thought a full array of trolling trials — from a little over 1 knot on one motor to marlin lure trolling speed of 7/8 knots — and I found all to be practical. During the single-motor slow troll, even with her substantial superstructure and with two of us up on the flybridge, she settled well in the water and the pendulum effect of a craft of this size and style was largely negated. This pendulum feeling disappeared totally as the troll speed was increased to 7 knots using two motors.
With the big outboards I expected a good deal more white water wake to be generated than I witnessed during these trials. In effect, the wake only really spread wide at 9/10 knots which is above the speeds traditionally used for trolling big konas.
When comparing outboards and inboards, the only aspect where I believe inboards are superior is when it comes to manoeuvring during backing-up exercises at sea and when coming into moorings.
For a straight backup the motors on the Magnum 36 were more than adequate. I trimmed up the motors quite a lot and put her into reverse, and then, using a fair amount of throttle, got her backing-up very nicely without too much water being forced up onto the fishdeck through the boarding platform. The sideways swing — for example, when following a fish — was a little more difficult.
I must make special mention of the superb performance of the twin V8 350hp Yamaha motors, right from the push-button starting (no key) of these big brutes, to their quietness both at idle and through to 3/4 000rpm levels. Their power generation was most impressive and consistent, right through the power curve.
I did not push them right to the top, but Mark says her top speed is over 30 knots. I got her to 25 knots and that was fast enough to impress me. On one motor, with the dead motor trimmed right up, I had her planing at close to 17 knots — very impressive when you see her size and length.
The Magnum 36 has combined Two Oceans Marine’s proven hull design with the deck layout requirements of her fastidious new owner and the vast expertise of the Two Oceans Marine workforce. They have gained immense experience building super yachts and powerboats to the highest standards demanded in the yachting and pleasure boat markets with regard to finishes and practical onboard user requirements.
On this craft, Burmese teak has been used extensively for gunnel tops and decking, adding a most beautiful touch. This has been exquisitely fitted to give the Magnum 36 an opulent look and feel. It certainly adds significantly to the overall stunning look of the craft.
As I said earlier, Cloud 9 is a fishing machine. As such her aft deck has a large central work table mounted on the fighting chair base. This can be easily removed and replaced by a substantial fighting chair to transform the craft from a tuna boat to a marlin hunter. The rest of this large deck area is free of obstruction and is practical for sportfishermen to enjoy their sport while harnessed to big fish. The wide walkaround will allow an angler fighting a big fish with stand-up gear to do a 360 degree walk around this craft safely and with ease.
Inside the cabin/downstairs helm station there’s comfortable seating, a tackle station and facilities to stow all the paraphernalia sports anglers take to sea. This ensures that all the goods are stowed safely and kept dry, and it also leaves the cabin interior free of clutter during a day of high action in rough seas.
As mentioned earlier, the skipper’s domain is comfortable with a full array of top-of-the-range instrumentation and gauges. Kevin has chosen to fit Furuno equipment, and the 3D Navnet system combining a Furuno 1150 echo sounder (commercial standard) and a 6 kilowatt radar open scanner provides instrumentation in both the main saloon and on the flybridge.
Up on the flybridge the skipper’s position is situated sufficiently aft to allow him to have a full view of everything that happens on the fish deck.
A solid roof covers the flybridge, giving maximum protection from the elements for both the skipper and the two or three other people who may be comfortably seated up top. It also allows one to mount certain instrumentation at eye-level for the skipper’s ease of observation.
Some of the extras included on this craft are a heavy-duty deckwash pump that can be used to keep the deck clean during hectic tuna fishing, or it can be coupled into a twin Luna tube or livebait console that can be fitted between the transom gunnels on the aft walkway. There’s also a port gunnel sidespray to use when tuna fishing, and a mounted camera to view and record everything that’s happening aboard. For the return journey there’s an impressive sound system to soothe weary anglers after a long day spent working the craft’s fish deck.
Need I say that the Magnum 36 I reviewed has been immaculately finished to standards only seen in the top leisure/yachting market? Indeed, she’s a credit to Two Oceans Marine’s work force. This no-nonsense fishing machine, whilst designed and laid out to the requirements of a very serious fisherman, will also satisfy owners who want to party aboard this craft in addition to taking her fishing.
Do yourself a favour and have a close look at the Magnum 36. I’m sure you’ll soon also be on cloud nine too.•