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Boat Test - Magnum 23 — by Two Oceans Marine (July/August 2004)
Tel: +27 21 448-7902 • Fax: +27 21 447-6668
E-mail: 2oceans@mweb.co.za • www.2oceans.co.za

Tested by Erwin Bursik

ROD and Mark Delany of Two Oceans Marine in Cape Town introduced the Magnum 25 in the late 1990s to complement their Magnum 780. They also wanted to expose their boat-building and design skills in a top-of-the-range trailerable craft that could be launched through the surf. This craft proved to be highly successful both here in South Africa and also in the export market.

As a result of this, Two Oceans Marine have recently expanded in two directions, the Magnum 32 — reviewed in the previous issue of SKI-BOAT — as well as a 23ft trailerable centre console, the Magnum 23. The latter is a craft that embodies the expertise, proven characteristics and ingenuity that this company has always displayed both in its craft and after-sales service.

By the way, this craft is a new design, not merely a scaled down Magnum 25.

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
Through photos that were sent to me, I watched the development of the Magnum 23 with interest. I have been particularly intrigued by the styling and its centre console format.

Striking as she is, I was curious as to the reasons for the direction Rod and Mark had taken. However, having subsequently discussed this with Mark and listened to his explanation, their direction makes a lot of sense. In a nutshell, it was the importance of the export market and its demand for a larger, open style, centre console craft with all-round fishability — and that is easily trailerable — that brought this craft into being.

A forward console version for rough water fishing is currently in the design stage.

CONDITIONS FOR TEST
Sun was what I wanted and sun was what I got, but along with it came a south-easter of note — 35 knots — that’s over 70km per hour, not a gentle breeze by any standards.

Fortunately, the run out to the open sea from Two Oceans Marine’s moorings in Table Bay docks, with the south-easter gusting and swirling from behind, was relatively easy. This run does, however, require a swing to starboard for a short distance where the chop was heavy in a beam sea. By using the various breakwaters we eventually ended up in the lee of the V&A Waterfront’s breakwater where we could find reasonable conditions in which to photograph the boat and eventually test her.

One advantage was that we could venture out into the really rough stuff as far as I needed to go to experience this craft’s capabilities in a very bad sea.

LAUNCHING AND TRAILERING
As most launch sites in the Cape offer well-designed slipways, Two Oceans Marine use a double-axle trailer that has disc brakes and submersible lights for their Magnum 23.

I inspected the rig on its return to the factory, as this craft was loaded onto the trailer at the Oceana slipway while I was busy reviewing the Magnum 32. The trailer is sufficiently robust to handle the majority of work required of it, from high-speed towing in and around South Africa, to slip launching. For beach launching Mark would make a number of modifications to assist in this type of situation.

A Toyota Hilux double cab is used as a tow vehicle for this craft in and around Cape Town, but for longer trips, like to Knysna, Mark uses his Land Cruiser which, he says, tows the rig extremely well at an average cruising speed of around 90-100km/h.

Personally, I had it easy — we used the moorings in Table Bay docks.

MOTORS AND CONTROLS
Twin Yamaha 115hp Enduro outboard motors were provided for the trial. Two Oceans Marine, a Yamaha dealer, had chosen these motors because, even though the craft is rated for twin 85hp to twin 150hp, the 115hp Yamahas provide all the performance necessary, regardless of whether the craft is to be launched from a slipway or through the surf.
These conventional carburetted motors have a reputation as outstanding work horses and provide a lot of out-the-hole performance. Both of these aspects are essential for the type of boating ski-boaters traditionally undertake.

A stainless-steel steering wheel operating a hydraulic steering system has been provided on the Magnum 23. The system proved to be very smooth with sufficient lock-to-lock movement for a complete range of manoeuvres.

A binnacle-mounted throttle/gear lever, while not conveniently positioned, was practical and smooth in operation, even when executing tight turns. The additional trim button, positioned in the binnacle mounting, activates both motors simultaneously and is also really good once one gets used to it.

HANDLING
I purposely tested the Magnum 23 before riding the Magnum 32 in the prevailing conditions because, like it or not, comparisons are inevitably made when one is playing with two craft on the same day.
Just moving from the protection of the sportfisher to the open centre console and into the howling wind was realisation enough that the time ahead of me was going to be interesting.
Two Oceans Marine usually design their craft to ride in a very prone position across the full range of their performance, using the motors’ trim facility to provide lift, if required. However, on the Magnum 23 they have designed its hull to provide for quite a bit more lift when coming out of the hole, as well as while running.
This is one of the aspects I particularly enjoyed while testing the boat, primarily because, when travelling in the rough stuff, the natural bow lift — together with marginal additional trim assistance from the motors — kept us surprisingly dry.
The only time we didn’t manage to miss the wind-driven spray was while executing the critical bow-quarter beam-sea test at a troll speed of 5/6 knots. However, while standing behind the console, my trousers didn’t get damp enough to necessitate a change of clothes for the flight back to Durban. Wind-blown spray is totally different to water being blown back over the craft.
After concluding my high speed trials in the protected water, and all the time gaining confidence in the craft’s ability, I struck out into the deep, taking a line so that the wind and sea were on my aft beam. After all, if conditions got really bad I could turn with the wind and, with it on the port aft beam, take a line towards Sea Point in the protected water.
She was riding so well at about 18 knots that I got brave and swung her to starboard in a progressive turn until I began to pick up spray. Up until then she rode the choppy beam sea extremely well, needing only the occasional lateral trim to even out her ride.
When a gap in the big, short sea allowed, I shot around very quickly to take it head-on. I backed off on the throttle quite a bit, and trimmed her bow down a fair amount, as I figured that I required an attack angle as prone as I could get while running into the white capped big chop and a 35 knot wind. While we maintained an SOG of about 10/12 knots, and could have kept it up for a long run if required, it was not a nice sea to be in.
I increased the revs, trying to get her to run on the wave tops, but it wasn’t possible until we got into slightly more protected water. However, in saying that, I was amazed at just how well she did force her way into the teeth of a sea she should not have been out in.
Running with this big stuff, even though there was no swell below it, required a lot of bow lift and a good amount of throttle to run comfortably with the wind and sea. I experienced no tendency for the boat to yaw or drop a sponson during this exercise.
When we reached conditions that I determined to be fishable for a craft this size, I put her through fast (6 knots) and very slow (1H knots) trolling trials, which she handled well. On one motor at 600rpm she battled when trying to troll into a forward beam sea — which was expected — but otherwise, even into the wind, she maintained her track.
On the drift she settles well into the water and I found her to be very stable. When I first saw this craft her beam looked rather narrow, but the Magnum 23 is all of 2,3 metres wide. It’s just her length of 7,1 metres that gives one this impression. However, this false impression only lasts until one is on the boat and moving around her deck — especially when passing the centre helm console. It’s then that you realise she has a great deal of deck space.
Finally, if this craft is to be used in the surf, I had to judge her ability to run into a tight turn and assess how quickly she could be pulled out of it and onto a plane. It’s not all that easy to pull a boat this length around in a very tight turn unless it’s trimmed to perfection and has motors that do not cavitate in the period prior to pull-out. At this stage they must really bite and have the torque required. The Magnum 23 and twin Yamaha 115hp motors did this well — both into and with the wind.

DECK LAYOUT
In a craft of this length it’s amazing just how much more room is available, even while providing a large centre console helm station with ancillary seating and hatches. The Magnum 23 is largely based on the American centre console designs that are traditionally much larger craft than what South Africans have become used to.
This size boat allows a manufacturer to incorporate in his design not only a practical and substantial helm station, but also adequate and comfortable forward seating and, in addition to the skipper’s bench-style seat, a comfortable aft seat and enough fishing deck between the hatch and full transom.
Two Oceans Marine have designed the deck moulding to allow for an inner gunnel moulding that incorporates a number of side hatches in this neat layout.
The stainless-steel framed T-top is stylish in design and solidly constructed. In addition to having a very tightly stretched and secured canvas cover, a pod situated above head level carries all the electronic equipment and protects it from any spray.
The transom configuration provides two substantial hatches on each side of the walkthrough access to the stern that can, no doubt, be custom designed for livebait tanks, if required. Battery hatches are housed in the side of the motor wells. A good-sized fish hatch and a fuel hatch are located in each sponson. Each fuel hatch can carry four 25 litre fuel cans.
Designed with Cape fishermen in mind, the deck surface tread is incorporated into the deck mould. The gumboot brigade of the Cape, with their cold water and slipways, don’t think of carpeting their craft, but Mark assured me this can be arranged as an optional extra.
Above all, what I liked about this craft’s deck layout was the ease with which I could move around the deck, and the easy access to all the hatches one needs during a day’s fishing.

FINISH
Two Oceans Marine have always taken two specific aspects of their business very, very seriously, the one being the finish of their boats and the other being providing excellent support to their customers once a craft has been delivered. I am acutely aware of their attention to the latter from chatting to numerous Magnum owners.
Over the years I have also seen and closely inspected a great number of their craft, including many that were not going to be given to me to inspect. Indeed, their finish is not merely skin deep. The Delanys have been around for a while already and are in the boatbuilding business for the long haul — so they build their craft with that in mind. In addition, the quality and degree of finish expected within the big boat market — and which they have achieved — has been replicated on the Magnum 23.

CONCLUSION
The Magnum 23 is a craft for all seasons. For fishing — be it for tuna, billfish, light tackle gamefishing or even flyfishing — it’s a craft that will meet a wide range of demands. As a leisure boat it has the looks, the comfort, the stability and the performance that will satisfy even the most demanding playboys. •

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