The who's who of South Africa's most popular sport fishing boats
Boating in South Africa is unique in some respects to the scene in more established parts of the world. The boats look different, are built differently, and operate in typically brutal sea conditions. In this blog post, I’ll give you a who’s who of the most popular boating brands in South Africa. We’ll look at some of their most notable fishing boat models that you’ll be sure to see around the notoriously wild waters around South Africa.
Two Oceans Marine
Two Oceans Marine is based in Cape Town and manufactures some of the most popular sports fishing boats in South Africa. There is quite a variety of boats to choose from amongst the Two Oceans stable but the most popular boats by far are their ‘Magnum’ range. I’ll highlight their two most popular models – the Magnum 32 and the Magnum 2750.
The Magnum 32 is in my opinion the most popular deep sea sports fishing boat in South Africa, but particularly in Cape Town.
The sea around Cape Town is notorious for its unforgiving conditions that are a challenge for even seasoned mariners. The coastline is littered with the wrecks of hundreds of ships lost to the infamous ‘Cape of Storms’.
Two Oceans therefore has designed its range of boats specifically to deal with the sea conditions around the Cape. The hulls are incredibly strong and filled with high density foam. This makes the hull so buoyant that the boat will continue floating even after getting holed.
The Magnum 32 is a catamaran hull powered by twin outboards up to a maximum of 350hp each. This makes for a smooth, capable ride regardless of whether it’s a head sea or a following sea.
The front half of the boat is a fully enclosed cabin, protecting the crew from the elements on the way to or from the fishing grounds. The (main) lower helm station is also located there, as well as a heads, a double berth in the bow, and some basic galley facilities.
When fishing in the deep off Cape Point, it would be unusual if you didn’t see several Magnum 32s in the area with you. With their bulletproof hull, comfortable ride and deep-sea credentials, the Magnum 32 is an extremely popular choice for serious fishermen in Cape Town.
Next up is the Magnum 2750 walkaround power catamaran.
This is actually one of the newest additions to the Magnum range. According to Two Oceans, it was first launched in February 2018. In my view, it seems to have been a huge success given the number of these boats going out of Cape Point every day.
Aside from the difference in length, the big change on the 2750 versus the 32, is the walkaround hull design. This means that crew can walk all the way around from the stern, to the bow and past either side of the cabin area. For deep sea fishing, this kind of mobility for the fisherman can sometimes make the difference between catching that yellowtail, and losing it.
The facilities on board the 2750 are strictly focused on taking a group out for a day long sports fishing trip. There is no galley and no berth, however there is a heads with standing height head room, in the Port hull.
Power comes from a pair of outboards to a maximum of 200hp each.
Mallards Marine is a veteran of the South African boating market. Based near Durban, they opened their doors in 1989 and today manufacture a range of boats purpose-built for South African waters. Two of their most popular boats, judging by the volume of these trading on the market, are their Citation 900 and their Cobra Cat 900. Let’s take a closer look at both.
The Citation 900 is an extremely popular monohull sports fishing boat. With a length of 9 metres (about 27 foot), it is a highly capable craft able to navigate South Africa’s waters safely and comfortably.
Its (main) lower helm station is enclosed by a full cabin, offering complete protection from the elements when things get unpleasant, or just as an escape from the sun. There is seating for several crew members
The bow houses a cuddy cabin with a seating area that can be converted to a V berth. A heads is included as well as the surprise addition of a shower. That’s quite unusual for boats of this size here in the South.
Mallards boats tend to find their way mainly into the hands of customers on South Africa’s east coast. That stretch of coastline boasts warm tropical water, and a really popular sports fishing market. The famous Sodwana Bay beach boasts excellent fishing opportunities but requires that your boat be launched off the beach directly into the surf. It’s an experience that is not for the faint-hearted with many capsized boats captured on Youtube.
Mallards says that the Citation 900 was introduced as a sister to their Cobra Cat 900, because ‘not all people like cats’. I hope you aren’t one of those people because there are more cats to come!
Cobra Cat 900
If you think the Cobra Cat 900 looks similar to the Magnum 32 featured higher up, you’d be right. Both are power catamarans built for sport fishing, both have a small flybridge and both have an enclosed lower helm station.
The Magnum is slightly longer than this boat (32 feet versus 27 for the Cobra Cat) but both benefit from the smooth, dry ride and large beam of a catamaran hull. In this case, the Cobra Cat 900 also boasts a foam-filled hull, making it perfect for a safe day of boating in the wild seas of the East coast.
For all of those reasons, the Cobra Cat 900 is a favourite amongst the East Coast fishing fraternity. A few have even made their way to Cape Town and elsewhere.
Butt Cat Boatbuilders
Based in Port Elizabeth, Butt Cat Boatbuilders is one of South Africa’s oldest boat yards. The factory has been in the business for over 60 years and in that time has amassed an extremely passionate and vocal customer base.
One of the defining features of most Butt Cat boats is their highly angular/geometric designs. Where other builders emphasise smooth curved lines, Butt Cat has tended to favour a more squared-off approach. This is very evident in one of their most popular sellers – the 750 XL.
As the name of the company implies, the 750XL is a catamaran hull. And, just like most of the best manufacturers, the 750XL’s hull is foam-filled for ultimate safety and buoyancy.
The 750XL is designed to be a rugged sport fishing boat that will get you safely to and from the fishing grounds. You’re promised a dry, soft ride all the way.
Power comes from a pair of outboards with your choice of between 90hp and 140hp each.
If you’re looking for the Swiss army knife of boating, Magson Marine based in Strand, Cape Town, has to be it. Their catalogue boasts a wide spectrum of boats that will appeal to any customer whether you’re into fishing, waterskiing, or simply having fun out on the water. Let’s take a look at two highlights from their boat catalogue.
Titan 300 Express Cabin
The Titan 300 Express Cabin (or EC as they call it) is Magson Marine’s biggest boat on their catalogue. I’ve seen it and boarded it in person and it is an impressive sight.
The 300 EC includes a double bed sized berth in the bow, a heads with standing headroom, and a fully enclosed helm. A set of glass and aluminium doors enclose the helm area and provide protection from the elements if needed. Also within the helm area is lovely upholstered seating. The demo model in the photo above that I boarded, had luxurious cream coloured upholstery. It really looked fantastic.
If you would prefer a walkaround version, Magson offers such an option as well. Although personally I think the EC option is way sexier, and still has more than enough deck space.
The hull is once again filled with high density foam and power comes from twin outboards ranging in power from 150hp each to 300hp each.
Although quite small, the Fusion 21 has become a popular choice amongst South African boating families. It’s relatively affordable, easy to manage and can be trailered around to your favourite boating spots.
The Fusion 21 is manufactured by Knysna Yachts – Magson is a main reseller for this boat. Knysna is a small coastal town built around a beautiful lagoon. Its most well-known landmark is the ‘Knysna Heads’, which are two massive rocky outcrops that flank the narrow, perilous inlet connecting the lagoon to the open sea. Anyone boating in Knysna will tell you of the dangers of heading through the ‘heads’, a task for only the most capable craft. No doubt the Fusion’s handling characteristics and features have dna inspired by the heads, as they’ve been praised by reviewers. Although it’s not a deep-sea capable boat, not every boater needs a boat like that and that’s fine.
Judging by the amount of Fusion 21s I’ve seen on the water, the public agrees. The boats appear to have been a good hit for Magson.
We’ve had a look at some of the most loved sport fishing boats in South Africa. Two Oceans Marine, Mallards Marine, Magson Marine and Butt Cat represent some of the most respected and popular boating brands in South Africa.
I’ve now covered power boats but there’s a huge sailing fraternity in South Africa as well. That’ll be covered in a future blog post, so watch this space!