BOAT REVIEW Marco 950 Sou’wester Resolute

September 2018 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim, photography by Geoff Cox
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Marco 950 Sou’wester
DESIGNER Jarrod Hall
BUILDER Marco Boats
CONSTRUCTION 8mm bottom plates
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 10M
LENGTH (Waterline) 9.5M
BEAM 3M
DISPLACEMENT 4800kg
ENGINE Volvo Penta D6 370hp
FUEL CAPACITY 580L
WATER CAPACITY 140L
Weight on Trailer 6500 kg
Passenger Capacity 8 people
DEADRISE 18 degrees
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Big and comfortable
  • Customised for sportfishing with live-aboard option
  • Impressive custom details
OBSERVATIONS
  • Trailerable
  • Fitout reflects the experience of owner and builder

The award-winning Marco 950 Sou’wester Resolute is the Tauranga company’s third custom aluminium build for Hamiltonian Mike Callagher – and the second to bear that name.


Mike is a fanatical fisher who loves chasing game fish and all his boats were set up to indulge this passion. He seriously considered buying a launch this time around but again opted for a trailer boat because of the flexibility it gives him to fish anywhere in the country.

“If I had a launch, I’d be stuck on one coast.”

From his Hamilton base Mike can access east and west coasts easily enough. Raglan, a regular launching spot, is only an hour’s tow away and a vessel like Resolute allows him to work the sometimes-treacherous bar with confidence.

Resolute impressed the judges enough at the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in May to win Boat of the Show in the Specialist Fishing Boat – Open category. It’s not hard to see why.

A team effort
This is an impressive rig from whatever angle you look at it. Designed by Jarrod Hall, responsible for custom and production boats for many of New Zealand’s leading aluminium boat builders, Resolute is 10 metres long with a dry weight of 6500kg on the trailer.

The boat was built by the team at Marco Boats under the careful direction of Dayne Horne. The interior fit-out is a collaboration between owner Mike and Dayne’s team. “Dayne and the guys at Marco are super-talented. Whatever ideas I came up with, they would figure out how to make them happen,” says Mike.

Mike is always busy with projects and there’s nothing he enjoys more than working with talented people to make something special happen.

As an example, a 1969 Holden Monaro Mike built some years ago featured on the cover of NZV8 and has remained on that magazine’s People’s Choice Top Ten list for the last 10 years.

“I just love the opportunity to work with really talented people – to get the best out of them. With the Monaro, the skilled team at Rocket Speed Equipment brought my vision to life,” explains Mike. “This project [Resolute] was just like that. The guys at Marco Boats gave it their all – nothing was too hard or too far out of left field to consider, and I was always happy to defer to their knowledge and experience. I can’t speak highly enough of them and the contractors they work with.”

The tandem-axle custom aluminium trailer underneath Resolute was designed by Dayne, built to COF standards by certified alloy welders at Marco Boats and approved by Bevan Olsen, the director of Transport Solutions Group. The trailer is an integral part of the rig, allowing Mike to safely tow Resolute behind the truck he bought for the purpose.

“Actually … I imported a 2016 Chevy pick-up from the US with a six-tonne pintle to tow the boat, but when Resolute was delivered she weighed 6.5 tonnes – so, I had to buy the truck!”

The trailer features air brakes and air-bag shock absorbers. A large water tank strapped to the truck tray not only provides weight over the rear wheels for improved traction, it also feeds a high-pressure pump for washing the boat and trailer anywhere, anytime.

“That way we can wash the boat down with freshwater wherever we might be,” explains Mike.

Fisherman’s friend
Resolute ticks all the boxes when it comes to fishing. The Perma-Teek covered cockpit is massive. The engine box is fully walkaround, so there are no issues moving around the cockpit with a large fish on the line.

Game-fishing is a priority, so unsurprisingly Resolute is properly set up for trolling baits and lures. Reel Rods game poles mount high up on the wheelhouse, so you can still duck under them to walk to the bow. When they are not required they stow out of the way in a tunnel between the hull/cabin and cabin liner.

The removable game chair mounts aft of the engine box and there’s no swim platform to snag lines or complicate backing up in pursuit of a rampaging marlin. For similar reasons, the duo-prop leg is tucked back under the transom.

Resolute backs up very well, as Mike found out on the boat’s maiden voyage when the crew tagged and released a potential Raglan Game Fishing Club record marlin. They tagged another marlin on the second trip out, bill marks in the paint on Resolute’s port side bearing witness to their success.

A second game chair mounts on the roof, not for playing fish, but for spotting game fish and watching lures in the wake.

The vessel’s wide coamings and high gunwales offer security in a seaway and good support when fishing while the double-hinged transom door opens outwards for safety. Its double-acting latch is a clever piece of engineering from Tony Northcott.

Side lockers house the batteries, gas bottles (two) and provide some storage, though the largest lockers are also the air intakes for the engine, so they can’t be over-filled. There’s also a fully functional helm station in the cockpit.

Resolute’s cockpit drains to sumps in the corners, each with an automatic bilge pump. Two more bilge pumps along the keel line deal with any water that finds its way into the hull. Cleats are mounted internally, the lines passed through holes in the coamings.

The fishing cockpit’s centrepiece is a large bait/rigging table on top of the engine box. Another clever bit of design, it has a pivot point between the two halves of the engine box cover. The table swivels forward or aft to open one side or the other of the engine box cover and the bait table can be removed to completely expose the Volvo Penta D6 engine.

Vertical rod storage around the perimeter of the engine box can accommodate up to 16 rods, there are nine flush rod holders in the gunwales and transom, plus storage for another 12 rods in a double row in the rocket launcher. The underfloor wet lockers either side of the engine box are sprayed with Rhino Liner. This reduces vibration noise from objects stored in them.

A transom live bait tank and a pair of tuna tubes take care of live baits, while a smaller Icey Tek icebox for dead baits fits under the table when needed; the large Icey Tek bin aft of the engine box is reserved for the catch. For longer-term cold storage, there is a double freezer and seat against the wheelhouse bulkhead.

For night use recessed Hella floodlights illuminate the cockpit and there’s a light bar to light the foredeck as well. Underwater lights are Bluefin. Up forward a Muir winch does the heavy lifting and there’s a double fairlead to accommodate a second anchor and rode, perhaps a Danforth or a grapnel, though the Sarca anchor fitted is a good all-rounder.

Big boat comforts
Resolute is a trailer boat with all the comforts of a launch. There’s a cockpit shower, the shower head recessed into the cockpit overhang and the hardtop’s tinted glass and aluminium folding doors providing a modicum of privacy, and a custom interior.

On the starboard side of the wheelhouse the galley sports a three-burner hob and gas oven. The ceiling is vinyl-lined and custom cabinetry is used throughout.

A drawer refrigerator under the helm seat keeps food and drink cool, there’s seating around the table on the port side, with plenty of storage in the seat bases (drawers) and underfloor.

Bifold doors and an electric cavity window, both by Sandbrooks, ensure unobstructed views of any lures in the wake, while sliding side windows and large, opening skylight hatches provide ventilation and light. The hatches are hinged on the inboard side to allow access past the radar dome to the observer’s chair on the roof. Sightlines from all of the boat’s seats are good.

A separate plumbed toilet, with a blackwater holding tank, was one of Mike’s requirements. The heads compartment is squeezed into the bow between two tiers of bunks. There’s sleeping forward for two children and up to three adults when the infill is in place. The wheelhouse table and seats convert to another generous berth if required.

The boat’s custom helm seat is positioned so that Mike can turn it sideways, recline the backrest and put his feet up on the seat opposite. It’s his favourite position while trolling. One of the armrests has been modified to better support his arm while scrolling through menus and screens for the pair of 12-inch Raymarine MFDs. The toggle and rocker controls just behind the throttle lever are easier to use in a seaway than the touchscreens.

The MFDs also display video feeds from an infra-red engine room camera and FLIR bow camera, along with radar, sonar, navigation and engine data. Resolute boasts serious fish-finding power with a 2kW through-hull CHIRP transducer powered by a 4kW sonar module, plus a transom-mounted 600W 3D CHIRP transducer.

Communication is handled by two VHF radios in the overhead console, providing built-in redundancy for safety, while sounds are courtesy of a Fusion head unit, a serious pre-amp, 10-inch sub-woofer, plus four six-inch and two four-inch speakers.

In some respects, though, Mike has kept things simple. There’s no CZone or similar digital switching. Instead, Mike has opted for simple push-button light switches and circuit breakers for the main switchboard – no fuses.

A DCM panel monitors water and wastewater levels, fuel, house and start battery voltage and there’s a built-in inverter-charger that he plugs in to shore power via a domestic three-pin plug.

Performance too
Driving this boat, it’s obvious designers and builders have got the hull profile right. While she feels more like a launch than a trailer boat – Resolute is nearly six tonnes and 10 metres long after all – she’s still pretty nimble. Throttle response from the 370hp Volvo-Penta D6 is good and the duo-props get plenty of purchase on the water while Humphree self-levelling interceptor trim tabs keep the boat on the level.

Top speed is around 35 knots depending on loading, but what’s more important is how well the boat travels in a seaway. We had a bit of slop outside Tauranga Harbour, which demonstrated that the 950 Souwester rides very nicely.

According to Mike, who has clocked up quite a few hours already, Resolute is very composed in most sea conditions: he can maintain an economical 22 to 25-knot cruising speed even when it cuts up rough. In the conditions on the day, we could maintain a comfortable 30-knot cruise.

Mike reckons the 950 is pretty cruisey in most conditions: “She’s a heavy boat, which inspires confidence, especially crossing west coast bars.” Three wipers (with freshwater washers) keep the windscreens clear.

With 8mm transom and bottom plates and 5mm sides, she’s solidly built. “There’s lots of underfloor structure,” says Dayne, “including full-length stringers, frames, bulkheads and sealed buoyancy chambers either side of the fuel tank.”

Resolute carries 580 litres of fuel under the floor, giving a range of 318 nautical miles at 25 knots, plus 140 litres of freshwater, heated through a 20-litre califont.

The right owner
To build a custom vessel like this you need the right owner, reckons Dayne. Marco Boats has been building large custom Sou’westers alongside its production boat range for several years, but this is the company’s biggest and most complex project to date.

“We would never have built this boat for anyone else – but we’d worked with Mike before. Resolute is the third boat we’ve built together, so we knew Mike and he knew us. Consequently, it was a great project all round.”

Mike is clearly the right owner, because he loves his new boat.

“I get to benefit from all the fantastic work by a bunch of really talented tradesmen and others who had input into this boat. Between them, they made it happen,” says Mike.

His only regrets are that he took possession right at the tail end of the game-fishing season and that inclement weather quashed a planned southern bluefin tuna expedition to Waihau Bay in June. Now he’s hanging out until the water warms up and the marlin start running!

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