Seawork regulars keep Stewarts's rods 'Reel Busy'

'Reel Busy' is the latest in a long line of Cheetah Marine catamarans

Isle of Wight based Cheetah Marine returns to the floating pontoon at Seawork 2009, making the daily commute from the island in one of the most recent newbuilds from amongst its prodigious output.

Cheetah Marine founder and designer Sean Strevens was a commercial fisherman, fishing from a surf beach on the island when his first self designed and built catamaran caught on with his fellow fishermen.Twenty years later, over 240 Cheetah catamarans have been built and the designs have developed for all manner of applications. An ever growing number of commercial and leisure operators are taking advantage of the rough weather capabilities and stability offered by Cheetah catamarans.

When Stewart Ward of River Breeze Sea Charters first went out in Cheetah Marine’s demonstration catamaran ‘Free Spirit’ there was no turning back. Heading straight out into heavy seas off of the southern side of the Isle of Wight, where the Cheetah catamaran concept was first engineered, he recalls, The worst bit was getting onto the boat from the pontoon it was so rough. Once we were out the harbour, she took off the first wave and instead of the expected slam, she hit the sea with a cushion. Free Spirit took the rough weather in her stride’

Stewart Ward will now have the same benefits whenever he wants, knowing that fishing from his new 8.9m Cheetah ‘Reel Busy’ will be comfortable and safe in the roughest sea conditions.

He had looked at various catamarans on the market and ideally wanted a fast craft for fishing offshore wrecks some 20 to 60 miles from his base on the River Crouch in Essex. The Cheetah Catamaran appealed as it also lent itself flexibly to other workboat applications such as being an ideal hydrographic survey boat.

With the 8.9m Cheetah selected as the ideal size for his purposes, Sean and Stewart set about designing the ultimate angling craft. Input from the customer is encouraged at all stages of the design and build process to ensure that Cheetah produces the best possible craft for its intended role.

Following the launch of ‘Reel Busy’ last month, Stewart and Sean took the vessel by sea from the Isle of Wight to its new base in Essex. The journey of some 165 miles took 8 hours. ‘As we were still running in the engines we cruised at 20 knots, said Ward. ‘There was a nasty tide rip as we rounded the corner near Margate but we didn’t need to slow her at all. Cruising back through the Thames Estuary we were able to cut across banks, saving time and fuel as she only draws about 40cm.’

Reel Busy has an extensive internal fit out which will enable it double as a hydrographic survey craft. It has been coded to MCA Category 2, allowing it to run up to 60 miles from a safe haven with six people onboard. The long and spacious wheelhouse has been fitted out with a starboard side workbench complete with a galley, sink, burner and microwave while the port side bench seat has storage underneath. Helm and navigator’s suspension seating is fitted on storage pods and overlooks a wide dash accommodating an extensive range of navigation and angling electronics, including the Olex System, Koden radar and sounder, and a Seiwa Explorer chart plotter.

With a large and stable deck, Reel Busy makes an excellent fishing platform. Eleven rod holders are fitted in the gunwales and to the wheelhouse overhang. Twin 225hp Honda outboards are fitted to moulded engine pods behind the transom. A 200 litre bait storage tank has been fitted into the space between the engines, leaving the deck clear for fishing.

Stewart Ward specified an additional echosounder transducer and waterproof display screen. Both have been fitted at the stern of the craft enabling him to check depths when drifting over wrecks and shallows without having to go back into the wheelhouse.

Cheetah Marine is currently building a new 11m flybridge Cheetah which will be the largest of the Practical Pleasure Range. ‘Ocean Potion’ will be used by a family travelling between their private island and the Irish mainland following delivery by sea next month.

Whichever Cheetah catamaran appears on the Seawork pontoon in June is bound to attract considerable attention.

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