The way the Senator behaves gives the impression it would be completely unflappable – easily capable of handling whatever long-range offshore adventures Dan has in mind.
- Good stability, at sea and on land
- Tropical hardtop has applications for Kiwis
- SeaDek looks very sharp
- Built for fun and versatility
- Adventure and camping credentials
Auckland boatbuilder Stryda Marine has just released a centre-console variation of its popular 6m 600C (Cabin) go-anywhere amphibious cat. Equally adept at taking owners to remote destinations, the S (Sport) model’s even more tailored to sea- and land-based adventures.
Giving clients exactly what they want in a new build, says Stryda co-owner Warren Farr, is a major part of the company’s ‘service ethos’. The 600S is a ringing endorsement of this philosophy.
“The S-concept was born in response to an Australian client’s request for something a little different from our standard 6m cat. He’s a family-oriented chap who likes extended camping trips. He loved the cat’s stability, its centre foil for performance and efficiency – and of course its amphibious capabilities – but he wanted a walkaround vessel with room to carry camping gear as well as water-toys like kayaks. He lives in North Queensland, so he also wanted plenty of protection from the region’s fierce sun.
“Though we’ve used the identical 6m hull, we’ve completely changed the interior configuration, adding an extended roof and using the opportunity to introduce a few technology upgrades.” The result is a unique cat that will probably find a ready following among boaties in its home country.
We reviewed the Stryda 600C in last year’s February issue, and by way of comparison the 600S’ most obvious difference is the hardtop roof that extends almost all the way to the transom. It’s a clever and very solid piece of design, with its aft support structure also functioning as a seriously robust ladder – a useful aid for getting the adventure gear onto the roof. It’s equipped with solid grab rails for lashing everything down securely.
The centre-console is the other obvious difference – and the 600S has a good one. Where many centre-console vessels of this length/beam offer relatively modest protection from the elements, this one’s structure is more generous, wider and fully-integrated into the roof with a three-piece windscreen. It should keep most of the wind and rain away.
It’s unclear what sort of fishing Mr Aussie intends to do with this vessel (there are plenty of rod holders), but I’d guess the walkaround was specified for keeping up with panicking barramundi doing high-speed laps around the boat. Hopefully the fish tires before the angler suffers a cardiac arrest. The bow area is particularly spacious – a good spot for casting and nicely secure behind the sturdy rails. It’s also a great space for simply relaxing with a cold one at dusk.
And speaking of space:
One of this vessel’s overwhelming ‘first’ impressions is the expanse of SeaDek used on most surfaces. The tan colour’s a nice contrast with the alloy and charcoal carpeting – it accentuates the sense of space and softens the overall ‘feel’ of an alloy boat. It’s super-comfortable, secure underfoot and has been installed with geometric precision. Great job whoever did it – give the man an increase!
Another notable feature of the interior layout is the number of storage lockers – installed in every bit of usable space – and flat surfaces. The dash, in particular, is surrounded by a large, carpeted area – ideal for phones, sunnies and sandwiches. Alongside are conveniently-located Railblaza mug holders.
Of course, with the centre-console you lose the accommodation (two full-length berths) and the overnighting capability that comes with the Cabin version. But I like the seating arrangement in this new boat.
Your butt sinks into padded seats riding on Shark suspension pedestals – they’re designed to absorb any shocks your spine might suffer from ham-fisted drivers. Both offer clear views of the dash and its instrumentation, and everything (Garmin MFD and VHF, Fusion stereo, leg control module, drive joystick, Zipwake control module and Yamaha’s super-smooth electronic throttle shift) is within easy reach from the helmsman’s (port) seat.
Behind these seats is another smart piece of engineering – a fold-down bench seat. Occupants are protected from the sun, but in adventure mode (diving, fishing, kayaking) it can be folded up out of the way, to create more space in the cockpit.
Though the boat’s not designed for overnighting, anyone who forgot to go through the motions before leaving home will be pleased to discover there’s a chemical toilet forward, under the starboard squab. There isn’t a privacy curtain, but you are with mates, after all. They might elect to go kayaking while you’re engaged.
Stryda uses Orion Marine’s leg technology on its vessels, and one advantage this offers the cat is the 4-wheel drive feature: the front leg’s equipped with twin wheels for added traction. The cat configuration also enables a neater installation – that front leg folds away, pretty much out of sight, between the two hulls.
Farr points out that this vessel is fitted with Orion’s Generation 2 technology: the legs have been beefed up and fitted with bigger hydraulic cylinders and motors and bigger brakes. The vessel’s ‘wheelbase’ is also a little narrower which delivers a tighter turning circle – useful when negotiating rocky beaches or driving the vessel through a crowded carpark to its trailer.
This technology is also a lot easier to use than the earlier generation gear – it’s more user-friendly, equipped with auto-up and auto-down functions (great for absent-minded skippers) and has a self-diagnostics feature. All in all, far more intuitive.
I really like the way Stryda has modified the rear port leg – it’s equipped with ‘steps’ to help you climb aboard, through the transom walkway. Though the twin hulls sit fairly low on the beach with the legs raised to facilitate boarding (they make a very stable platform), I suspect your aging father-in-law would favour a dignified walk up the leg rather than a risky, one-handed vault over the gunwale.
The 600S’ 4-wheel drive is hydraulic (road speed is 9km/h) and the pump is powered by a 40hp Briggs & Stratton V2 four-stroke engine which lives in a ‘housing’ at the rear of the cockpit. It’s a neat installation – plenty of ventilation for cooling and an unlimited run time – and the insulation does an excellent job of muting the engine noise. But it’s also a pragmatic bit of design. The hinged cover’s adorned with more SeaDek – and it serves as an additional seating area or table – or as a useful surface for associated activities – fishing tackle preparation, for example.
A dash-mounted joystick operates the Stryda on land (forward and reverse, with a diff-lock button on the joy-stick activated for tricky terrain) but steering is via the main helm. This single steering system makes beach-water transitions much more intuitive – one less thing to think about.
Two LED light fittings mounted at the bow help to illuminate the beach if you’re a little late returning from a day’s fishing. There’s also a bow-mounted camera (interfaces with the Garmin MFD) to identify any hurdles ahead.
On the dash you’ll also find the Zipwake trim tabs control module – another bit of automation to simplify and improve the ride – as well as a screen which provides all the health stats for the 300hp V8 Yamaha on the back. During our visit there was only one Garmin 12” MFD – its twin was on order and was to be fitted prior to the vessel being shipped across the ditch.
PLCs interface with the legs’ brakes – another auto function designed to keep the boat secure – it won’t roll away if left unattended on a steep incline. Brakes engage after five seconds of inactivity.
This 600 range of amphibious cats is designed by Auckland’s Christian Stimson, and signature features include the asymmetrical hulls and the central foil fixed between them. Together these deliver an impressive ride – nice and flat – with the foil helping to reduce drag, increase lift and boost fuel efficiency. The hulls knife neatly through the waves.
The Zipwakes do a fine job of maintaining the boat’s attitude – they minimise the ‘outward leans’ you often experience on cats during high speed turns. The 300hp Yamaha V8 is more than adequate for this 2,000kg vessel – it pushes her to a top speed just shy of 40 knots. A mid-20s cruise speed is more sensible and fuel-efficient. With her built-in 200-litre fuel tank there’s plenty of scope for extended fun.
Stride aboard and let the adventure begin./>