Lightning Marine’s Fatcat 4000 sticks with the ‘simple is best’ small boat ethos.
- Strong performance
- Amazing soundtrack
- Top end electronics suite
- Handsome looks
- Heavy-duty construction
- Beautifully finished
I always look forward to reviewing an Extreme, but this one is something special – an 885 Game King fitted with Yamaha’s awesome new 425hp XTO Offshore V8 outboard.
I travelled to Whangarei for this review, where Northland Marine operates a trailer boat rigging and retail business, Yamaha Service Centre and a successful trailer manufacturing operation. Jonathan Barlow and his team specialise in supplying large Extreme trailer boats to discerning customers who demand high-end electronics and top-quality fixtures. Northland Marine supplied 15 large Extremes in 2018, all of them carried on the company’s custom-built aluminium trailers.
The trailer isn’t a bad place to start when describing this rig. The Custom Alloy Marine (CAM) aluminium trailer is engineering excellence, both functionally and aesthetically. With the whole rig weighing in at 3,400kg on the road, the trailer needs to be properly engineered. According to Jonathan, it’s over-engineered, like all his trailers, and uses only high-quality components.
Benefitting from the latest CAD (Computer Aided Design) technology and built from 6mm folded alloy plate, it’s a heavy-duty triple-axle configuration. Smart-looking polished alloy wheels with stainless steel discs and calipers on two axles are braked electro-hydraulically, controlled from inside the vehicle. The braking pump, battery box, Trail Maxx electric winch and back-up manual winch are housed on the drawbar and there’s a stone guard to protect the boat’s paintwork. A Fusion Leisure Boat Catch system secures the boat when driving it onto the trailer.
Make no mistake, this is a big trailer boat. Measuring 30 feet in old units, it only just squeaks in at under the 3.5-tonne limit on the road, and that’s before you fill it with fuel and gear. Towing trailers heavier than 3.5 tonnes (or whenever the combined gross vehicle mass is over 6,000kg) requires a Class II licence. The rig tows well, though, and a VW Toureg SUV managed the towing duties when we launched into and retrieved the boat from Whangarei Harbour.
This fine-looking boat boasts clean lines, subtle curves and pleasing proportions. It is unmistakably an Extreme.
The 885 is an open-backed hardtop that prioritises cockpit space and usability. The hardtop roof overhang provides shelter but doesn’t extend so far back as to interfere with the boat’s fishability, while the eight-position rocket launcher is sensibly angled so that rods don’t get in the way of the fishing. A drop-in, moulded bait table with four stainless-steel rod holders, top-quality Ocean Blue outriggers and a powerful washdown complete the boat’s fishing features.
The cockpit is generously-proportioned and floored with grey SeaDek. SeaDek is also used on the swim platform and, in a softer grade in black, on the gunwale tops, side- and foredecks. Under the sole a 450-litre fuel tank is supplied from a fuel filler outside the transom. The boat also carries 50 litres of freshwater.
The 885’s cockpit is nicely uncluttered, as befits a sport fishing vessel. Two-tier side pockets are perfect for storing rods, poles and other long items. There are six properly positioned through-gunwale rod holders and LED flood-lighting for night use. Floods complement the vessel’s blue under-coaming, hardtop and cabin lighting and there’s soft white lighting through the middle of the boat. Interior and flood-lighting are by Hella marine; underwater lights are Blue Fox.
Access to the rear platform is via two step-throughs with drop-in doors. The live bait tank is under the starboard-side step-through and the platform cage features drop-down gates/boarding ladders either side of the engine.
Somewhat unusually, the vessel’s batteries are positioned under the aft-facing, two-tier bench seat on the starboard side – to better distribute weight around the boat, Jonathan explained. The new Yamaha XF425 weighs in at 432kg so positioning the batteries forward rather than in a transom locker benefits the vessel’s trim. Extreme does this with several models, especially centre-consoles.
The seat base on the starboard side also provides a locker for the gas bottle, a couple of pullout drawers and a gas hob and sink combo under the removable squab. Opposite, a larger drawer contains an Ingol refrigerator/freezer, which can be removed to make room for dive bottles. There’s also a good-sized underfloor locker between the seats and additional side pockets inside the hardtop.
The forward cabin provides full-length v-berths with an infill, side pockets and an electric toilet under the centre squab. A zipped canvas screen provides privacy and there’s access to the bow through a large cabin hatch. The anchor locker is accessible through a collision bulkhead hatch and a Maxwell winch, operated from the helm, raises and lowers the Rocna anchor.
There was a fair amount of anticipation on my part when Jonathan and I slipped this boat into the water. The 5.6-litre direct-injected V8 burst into life with a satisfying snarl and idled with an unmistakable V8 burble. This is a high-tech engine (see sidebar) and very refined. It’s relatively quiet, though probably noisier than Yamaha’s 350hp V8, but the auditory signature is a big part of its appeal. As the revs build the soundtrack becomes ever more engaging and while never super-loud, at full noise the XF425 XTO sounds glorious.
As reviewed, the boat was running a 19-inch XTO stainless steel propeller, which allows a top speed of 46 knots at 6,000rpm, a slight improvement on Yamaha Motor’s test results when the boat was launched. The Extreme 885 Game King is a large volume, beamy, deep-vee boat with an 8mm hull that takes some pushing through the water, so it’s never going to win prizes for outright speed, but Jonathan and Yamaha Motor are considering a 17-inch propeller for slightly snappier hole shots and a potential top speed of 50 knots. That’s not bad for a 30-footer!
As reviewed, performance was impressive enough, particularly acceleration from pretty much anywhere in the rev range – bags of torque to draw upon. Even tooling along at 40 knots, putting the hammer down results in a satisfying shove in the back. At 30 knots, fuel consumption is around 55 litres per hour; at best cruising economy (4,000rpm, 26 knots), range is around 360km.
Jonathan will probably drop the engine one hole for a bit more engine trim range, but even mounted on the top hole the propeller hung in just fine in sharp turns.
Conning the rig is a pleasure. The Yamaha has electric-hydraulic steering, which is effortless and very smooth. In operation it makes a distinctive noise – very sci-fi. Vision through the windscreen is good. All the windows are large, the side windows sliding open for ventilation. There’s a single windscreen wiper and two overhead hatches delivering light and fresh air.
This boat is fitted with over $40,000 worth of electronics. The suite includes a pair of 12-inch Simrad touch-screen MFDs, Simrad HALO radar (with an open array aerial), a Simrad S5100 sounder module, Simrad 3D Structure Scan, Simrad autopilot, twin GME VHF radios mounted overhead (but with the handsets beside the helm), a JBL multi-speaker stereo system and more. The big dash accommodates the MFDs, as well as a Yamaha digital display, four switch panels, Maxwell anchor switch, Lenco trim tab controls and JBL head unit.
The vessel’s two bucket seats offer good support and plenty of adjustment. They’re fitted with fold-away bolsters for standing room and back support. Footrests are substantial. On the passenger side, a grab rail over the open bulkhead is welcome, while fore and aft grab rails under the hardtop roof and vertical rails at the rear provide security for standing passengers and anyone moving about while underway.
Impressive in every way
Whichever way you look at it, this is an impressive trailer boat rig. Jonathan and his team at Northland Marine have carved a niche for themselves supplying large, highly-specced Extreme trailer boats. The 885 Game King featured here is among the largest, and with the new Yamaha XF425 XTO Offshore – at the time of testing one of only two in New Zealand – without doubt the most impressive.
Such a rig is not for everyone, but for someone who appreciates the best in technology, build quality and performance, it could be just the ticket.
Jonathan has already found a buyer for this one./>