When Alex asked me to go and have a look at the CraigCat®, to be honest, after his description, I was totally flummoxed! — "Two surfboards attached to each other with an engine," is roughly what he said, so I am relieved to report that the CraigCat® is far more than that.
The closest thing I can describe it to, is a peddelo, but that’s where the similarity ends. The hulls are constructed from two one piece polyethylene seamless urethane foam filled pontoons, with the deck carriage made from hand laid GRP. Two bucket type seats sit side by side, aft of which is the double A frame housing the CD player — yes CD player, two watertight storage boxes, NAV lights, docking lights, bimini cover, battery and fuel, oh not to mention the electric start Mercury 25hp outboard. One’s feet sit on a GRP footplate that is part of the deck carriage, where a see through screen is designed to deflect spray.
The steering is achieved by the movement fore and aft of the "Stick Steering" control arm that is mounted between the two seats, a sort of vertical tiller. To say this is a unique looking craft is an understatement, but I think it’s pretty funky. Sitting alongside the Harbourmaster’s pontoon on Lymington river, I first wondered what I’d let myself in for, is this going to work? I found myself asking!
Jon Robinson, or JR as he is affectionately known locally, is responsible for the importation and distribution of these craft in the UK and Europe, an affable and enthusiastic character, JR wouldn’t mind my reporting that he is of a substantial build — 17 stone to be precise! Yet when he hopped aboard, to my amazement far from loosing a hull underwater she sat rock solid, her trim adjustment could only be measured in centimetres. My turn then, and being a more modest 11.5 stone, the CraigCat® didn’t even know I was there. So I jumped into the helm seat and off we went.
Now, in my lounge at home, I’ve got and old armchair where the footrest pops out, but I have to say the CraigCat® now rivals my favorite seat. It’s like being at home with the best panoramic wide screen view ever! And trolling slowly out of the river, stable and dry. I gave her the gun and she popped onto the plane quickly and easily and we shot off across the Solent at 30 knots. The steering is fun and easy to manage, yank the stick and bank the boat, actually her attitude does heel over, but being a catamaran and flat hulled, not that much — one aspect of her steering. As there is literally nothing in the water until the very aft end of the hulls, it’s more comparable to driving an air boat, but a great laugh. Jumping over swells she felt well balanced and following the swells didn’t result in the stuffing I’d expected — and dressed for! Instead she just drove up the back of the next one. This really is a unique ride — a motorized armchair that can nip you around safely and cheaply. In fact the 25hp outboard, only burns four litres an hour at full chat! Which I think for thirty knots is pretty good. The CraigCat® comes in a number of guises all with differing roles in mind. Starting with the basic package with electric motor at $2499, up to the model we tested the E2 Elite which comes with everything, including a beer — sorry drinks cooler that straps onto the footplate.