When ageing Hollywood stars have cosmetic surgery make-overs it goes one of two ways. They either emerge with a face like a bulldog licking piss off a thistle, or looking 10 years younger, ready to keep earning exorbitant amounts of money.

It’s the same with boats – a make-over is a risky business – but occasionally you come across a transformation that makes the boat even better than the original. For that to happen she has to have good bones to begin with.

Kokomo is one of those boats. Originally built as a displacement power cat, her striking lines were a feature of Lyttelton Harbour for a few years. Naval architect Dan Leech had designed her as his own boat, but with his boys getting into competitive sailing it was time to move to a RIB coach boat and a trailer full of Optimists.
Charteris Bay locals Glenn and Nicki Wisker saw an opportunity to build on Kokomo’s great bones and convert her from a family displacement cat to a planing coastal fishing and cruising platform. She was shipped to Davie Norris Boat Builders in Christchurch and over the winter began her Hollywood transformation.

Kokomo’s original construction was in 12mm marine ply with an epoxy E-glass laminate inside and outside – reinforced with 12mm frames with 12mm doublers in load-bearing areas.
The configuration had straight stems going into a tight U-shape, easing to a flat U-shape at the sterns. This was converted to a raked bow with a deep-vee, transitioning into flatter sections aft to accommodate planing and an increase in horsepower.

Divinycell foam was used to build up the bow and chines of the hulls while the transoms and the boarding platform were reconstructed to accommodate the bigger engines.
The addition of planing sections in the hulls means the lower chine beams have been increased to suit the higher speeds of the twin 90hp engines. These, along with the distinctive upper chines that run down the hulls, mean there’s plenty of room inside and that the boat is relatively easy to get moving and keep moving.

Boat shop surgery has added some eye-pleasing lines to create a softer look. Raked bows give a nice lead into the reverse sheer and distinctive spray chines that run the length of each hull and terminates at the bows with a step, thus achieving good interior room with a dry ride.
Reverse sheer gunwales allow full standing headroom throughout the entire boat, and also result in the pilothouse integrating nicely with the sides of the hulls.
The bridgedeck is 500mm above the waterline at the aft end which keeps it away from any potential pounding. The addition of a vee-profiled ridge on the underside of the bridge deck means any waves that do make it there are dealt with cleanly.


With the addition of a stainless gate and a cleverly hidden alloy fold-down boarding ladder, the aft deck functions well as a fishing and swimming platform, keeping the main cockpit clear and dry.
A fixed bait board, ample rod holders and well-proportioned coamings equate to a comfortable, fishing-friendly cockpit. A seat at the forward end offers easy storage and access to the controls for the saltwater washdown hose. Beneath the cockpit floor are two lockers that give access to the twin 150-litre fuel tanks bilges and additional storage.
Folding, strengthened glass doors open along the entire aft end of the saloon – the deck and living space now combine into a spacious multi-function living area with settees to port and an ample 2.1m galley bench with Origo hob, Waeco 12V fridge and sink arrangement, usually the preserve of much larger boats.
Thanks to the height of the tinted and strengthened glass windows above the water, the view from the saloon is unobstructed.
The substantial saloon area is complemented by private and well-proportioned accommodation areas with access to a substantial double bunk and single quarter berth to port, with toilet and quarter berth to starboard. The helm station is a central sit-down stand-up arrangement with excellent 360o visibility from the helm position, aided by the raised height of the bridge above the waterline.

At the instrument panel you’ll find the Raymarine Axiom screen for fish finder, plotter and radar, while the twin throttles are to starboard. Two separate start batteries are available – located in the lockers port and starboard in the aft cockpit coaming.
Additional house batteries are mounted beneath the aft settee in the saloon. The dual battery system – along with twin engines – means that there is always a backup without having to resort to any form of auxiliary outboard.
The original displacement hull configuration relied on two Parsun 40hp two-strokes for propulsion. With a few modifications to the transoms, they were replaced by twin Suzuki 90hp four-strokes spinning 13-inch props. Each engine has entirely separate fuel, electrical and steering systems to allow a significant safety factor for offshore fishing expeditions.

On the Water
Under power the new Kokomo has three key modes. With a displacement speed of 8 knots, she is an all-day troller. At a 15-knot cruising speed she is on the plane at an economical 3,700rpm. Flat out at 5,500rpm she is up for around 23 knots.

The SE Sport 400 cavitation plates/hydrofoils help to transfer power to the water and the trim is easily dialled in. Narrow hulls eat up the harbour slop without blinking and it is this sea-keeping ability at cruising speed that is her true strength as a coastal fisher. She’s capable of offshore forays chasing fish.
Stepping aboard the new Kokomo (a few years after the original boat review) I was quickly reminded of the space available on a catamaran platform. With the cabin doors folded back, there is a continuous flow from the helm to the back deck.

While Glenn and Nicki have added more fishing-friendly features, this is a comfortable boat thanks to the well-designed nature of the original. It is perhaps this dual-mode feature that characterises the strength of the new Kokomo. With the indoor-outdoor flow she’s adept at catering for well-appointed chardonnay lunches, but is easily reconfigured as a blood-and-beer fishing machine. A sure-fire way to get the maximum use of a great boat!
After an enjoyable jaunt around the harbour, we head into the calm anchorage of Diamond Harbour. Lounging around the aft deck we watch a powerboat slamming the fillings out of the teeth of its crew as it pounds into building north-easterly slop.

We sip a nice champagne and toast Hollywood stars, good cosmetic surgery and the skipper’s birthday.

Kokomo specifications


loa 8.25m
lwl 7.00m
beam 3.0m
engines 2 x Suzuki DF90A
hull weight 2,500kg