May 052014

Pending Divorce from Cats
Chris catches a marlin
It’s now six months since the maiden voyage of my 6.8 hardtop Vindicator. My journey started in August 2012 when I went to the Brisbane Boat Show looking to replace my old 6.2 Kevlacat with a new hull, I didn’t want new motors as I had only just purchased two new 4 strokes the year before. I made approaches to a couple of cat builders and was told “Ours don’t go out without motors” and the other response was “You remove the motors and looms, forward to us and we will complete the fit up“, due to the remote area I live in, it increased the price by approximately $8k and an additional $10k to freight it back. So I started the search for custom alloy builders, twelve queries later to builders around Australia, I received two replies, one from Victoria and one from Watson’s Marine. Frank Watson followed up the email reply with a phone call and he convinced me to take a leap of faith, I have owned 4 Cats over the past 30 years and was in love with them, from early Markham Whalers, Webster Twin Fisher, and Kevlacat, the love affair was soon to end. I understand the position of the cat builders trying to protect their reputations in wanting to set their boats up, and I thought they would have sold that many, mounting of steering and motors would be a standard process as they would use standard templates to drill holes, however they would not budge on their decision, even the offer of cash wouldn’t sway their decision.
My decision to commission Frank Watson to build my new boat was based on 3 things:

  1. He replied to an online query
  2. He followed up with a phone call
  3. I had the wife’s approval to buy a new hull

I had some ideas which I raised with Frank, like side access, unpainted hull, very defined delivery date and the deal was done, Frank was always positive during the building process, sending photos at every stage. On the agreed delivery date, I turned up at Watson’s Marine in Gympie with a Fridge that I was going to fit under the port side seat box, Frank wanted to ensure that the fridge was going to fit and had to make modifications over night to ensure it fitted, including making sure that it worked and was able to be used for the 4 day journey back to the Territory. While we were going through the fixtures and fittings, Frank said to me “If you’re not happy, I will write you out a cheque right now“, I liked the man, He offered phone numbers to speak to other owners, here is a company that has no worries about their product, and he made a big claim, He believed it to be as good as my old cat.

6 Months on

Rolex on board
I’ve clocked up approximately 100 hrs in 6 months, due to my love of boating and fishing, the only thing I can say is these hulls are awesome. I will admit I was a little uncertain on handling having spent so many years in cats, but the Vindicator hull soon built confidence in all seas. I had to learn to drive a monohull to get the best from it, and I am thrilled with the handling, the build quality, and the ride is superb. The hull looks good, when I first arrived back in town with the boat, the first four weeks was spent fishing in the front yard, with mates, beer in the fridge and dreaming of fishing. I commenced fit out, clear coated the hull and mounted the motors. My wife loves the fact that I can load and unload the boat without her help, due to the heavy duty Vindicator custom built aluminium trailer it sits on, a new love affair has commenced.

Chris & Shelley Andrews – 6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin – NHULUNBUY, NT, 881

6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin and Trailer6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin6.8m Vindicator Half CabinMarlin coming aboard
Mar 202014
6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie" & Aluminium Trailer6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie" & Aluminium Trailer6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin  "Big Vinnie"6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin - "Big Vinnie"6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie"Richard with Catch on "Big Vinnie"6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie"6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie"6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie" & Aluminium Trailer6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie" & Aluminium TrailerRichard's Birthday on "Big Vinnie"6.8m Vindicator Half Cabin "Big Vinnie" & Aluminium Trailer with Catch

We recently took delivery of our new 6.8M Vindicator after involving ourselves in fit-out decisions and being welcomed at the Gympie factory regularly during construction.

The build experience was great from start to finish. These are superbly built boats by craftsman fabricators, overseen by Frank Watson personally, every step of the way. Don’t be fooled by price/length comparisons with other brands. Vindicators are measured how boats should be. You get every centimetre you pay for and more.

The attention to detail is superb. Every item in the boat is double tested to ensure that when it is handed over, everything works as it should. The sea-keeping and on-water performance is outstanding, and well suited to the open and rough water environment in which we use it.

We were sceptical about ordering the custom alloy trailer built by Vindicator to match the boat, as we had problems with other brands’ alloy trailers previously. No problems here. Over-engineered, no flex, no sway, hundreds of kg saved. Decision vindicated.

You do feel part of the Watson family of boat-owners with a Vindicator, and you are treated as such by Frank, Denise, Glenn and the team. Unlike a lot of other plate builders who are no longer around, when you order a Vindicator and stump up your hard earned dollars, you know you are going to receive a superb Australian made product, from a proud family business.

Richard Bernay & John Hamilton-Smith – Bardon, Brisbane
Vindicator Quality Aluminium Boat & Trailer “Big Vinnie”

Mar 202014

My wife and I now sit at home, some 3700 kms from Watsons Marine in Gympie, outside the house sits our new 6.8 Vindicator on a Vindicator alloy trailer.

Not that remarkable except for the fact that we towed the boat 3700 kilometres to our home town of Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, with 600kms of corrugated dirt road thrown in. We managed to cover the last 600 kilometres of dirt in 13 hours with requisite stops for checks, attending to other travellers who had rolled their car and an hour and a half breakfast on the side of the road with friends.

When I first ordered the boat and trailer, I got the feeling Watsons’ tradesmen were a bit concerned that I intended to tow the boat across a dirt road with numerous river and creek crossings. On the other hand Frank was not concerned and was confident with his trailers’ design and build quality. As I drove out of Watsons Marine in Gympie with the boat in tow, I commented to my wife, “If this tows this well all the way we will have a dream trip“. My wife, who has not driven and towed a trailer that much, took her turn and although nervous, made the comment, “you hardly know the boat is there“. By the time we got a third of the way home, she had no hesitation in taking over and driving her share of the way.

Beside the expected minor stone damage, the trailer performed without fault and it has not suffered in any way from the journey, a testament to the design and build quality, I can’t wait to get the boat in the water, if it performs as well as the trailer, we will be happy people. Would I tow the boat across the road again? Of course I would! Would I recommend the Vindicator alloy trailer? My oath I would!

Chris & Shelley Andrews
Nhulunbuy NT

Leaving Watsons Marine Gympie QLDSunrise Central QLDNewcastle Waters NTThe start of the dirt Central Arnhem Road, NT 1 amGoyder River Crossing NTBreakfast NTThe end of the dirt Nhulunbuy NT 1pm