Black Watch 36 Sportsfisher

From the sketchpad of a trainee naval architect to the rough and tumble of the Great Australian Bight, the Black Watch 36 Sportsfisher is making a splash wherever it ventures.

Black Watch 36 Sportsfisher
Black Watch 36 Sportsfisher

They say in Australia that Black Watch boats enjoy a cult following. This is not altogether surprising given that Australians have an insatiable appetite for speed. Power is good and when it comes to production sports fishing boats the more grunt the better.

Black Watch build boats with big horsepower, big cockpits and an underwater hull form that is widely regarded as one of the best in the sports fishing business.

The combination of sizzling performance and sports boat handling is a recipe the company has stuck to like glue since setting up in Australia in the early 90s, producing the Black Watch 26 and Black Watch 30 models from imported moulds from the US.

The Black Watch 26 and Black Watch 30 designs are from the design board of Raymond Hunt, who many consider to be the pioneer of deep vee hull configurations with sportsfisher designs such as Haines Hunter and Bertram to name a couple.

By the mid-90s Black Watch Boats had launched its new Black Watch 34. The new model received glowing reviews from the powerboat press and sent a message to the competitive Australian marine industry that Black Watch was in business for the long haul.

In 1997 the company further cemented its roots with the launch of its first Black Watch 40, the company's flagship that was lauded at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and signalled the company's plan to further expand and export into the lucrative North American market.

Closer to home, Black Watch extended its dealer network across Australia and tapped into New Zealand and the South Pacific markets. Turnover increased five-fold and Black Watch staff numbers swelled from five to 85 as export orders rolled in.

In March 2000, the company moved to larger premises on the banks of the Tweed River at Chinderah in New South Wales to accommodate future plans to build an all-new Black Watch 50. Construction began in July last year and the first boat is scheduled to make its debut at this year's Sanctuary Boat Show.

The first Black Watch 36 was launched in January 1999, but the design was penned years earlier by promising naval architect Trevor (Chucky) Manwarring who was then completing his PHD at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. Manwarring is now the principal designer with Black Watch.

In keeping with convention, he drew a deep-vee hull form with an 18.5¡ deadrise at the stern - deeper than the Black Watch 40 and closer to the spirited Black Watch 26. He added wide full-length planing strakes for lift and prominent chines for stability. Manwarring gave the 36 generous topside flare to tame the spray, but not so much as to impede internal volume.

The 36-footer (which actually measures just over 40-foot) was designed to plug the gap between the day-boat orientated Black Watch 30 and the top-of-the-range 40-footer. It also provided an opportunity for Black Watch to demonstrate a commitment to passenger comfort with a quality internal fit out.

While the 36 is loyal to its sportfisher heritage with a large and open cockpit, it provides an accommodation plan that includes two full-size double berths and two single berths in a two-cabin layout. Add to this a full-size walk in shower and head, practical galley and saloon seating for seven and you have a serious game boat that seamlessly transforms into a comfortable weekend family cruiser.

Black Watch has not forgotten that the 36 is primarily a sportsfisher and has equipped the boat with everything required for blue-water fishing right down to the tackle centre, fish bins, tuna tubes, live bait tank and base for a heavy-tackle game chair.

There are various options for finishes, layouts and engine packages, although every Black Watch 36 is built to a proven formula for catching fish. As if to prove as much, New Zealand importer/agent Craig Torckler and crew have an enviable game fish record, landing a number of prize-winning billfish on the Black Watch 26/30/40 demonstrators.

Comfort factor
The Black Watch 36 owner's cabin is in the bow and has an offset double berth on the starboard side with ample room to spread out and star gaze through the overhead Weaver hatch. The bed is higher than some boats of this size, but there is plenty of room to sit up and read Zane Grey classics. There is standing headroom and enough space to slip into something a little more comfortable with the door closed. Creature comforts include chrome reading lights, padded shelving, drawers beneath the bed and a big hanging locker to port. The headliner is white padded vinyl with Cherry trim on the doors, cupboards and bed and rounded moulding on all interior edges.

The kids or crew quarters is on the starboard side of the companionway and, while not large, is fitted with two full-size single bunks with a hanging locker, reading lights and storage holds beneath the lower bunk.

The 36 has a very spacious head on the port side with a fully-moulded liner for easy cleaning and maintenance. There is a separate shower with full headroom and stylish chrome and gold fittings. The head compartment has a Granicote vanity top, large mirror and storage under the sink. The boat is fitted with a Lectra/San on-board treatment system and an overhead hatch for ventilation.

Savvy saloon
The Black Watch 36 cabins and head are set three steps below the deckline, but the saloon, galley and bar area are on a single level. This single-level living area is part of Black Watch efforts to make the boat more family-friendly while making maximum use of volume. There is a down side, however, and this is the size of the galley that can only be described as small. That said, it is a galley that could be worked with confidence in a seaway. It features a single stainless steel sink, hot and cold water, Granicote bench top with cupboard space and drawers below and a two-burner electric stove. There is also a microwave oven set into the main bulkhead. On the port side opposite is the bar area. This includes an electric fridge, L-shaped Granicote benchtops and a colour television, VCR and sound system mounted in the bulkhead - all fitted as standard equipment.

Aft of the galley on the starboard side is the dining table and L-shaped settee with comfortable seating for four. Seating can be increased with the addition of a couple of occasional chairs that can be stowed away when not in use. Opposite to port is a full-length settee berth that pulls out to provide a large double berth giving the 36 the capacity to sleep two couples and three singles. The standard of finish is first class with highly polished Cherry timbers and crisp white headliners. The polished teak and holly floor adds a touch of class to an all-round classy package. The saloon/galley area is light and airy with forward-facing hatch and tear shaped picture windows giving unobstructed views. Storage is further catered for with a large underfloor lazarette that is used to house items such as the shore power battery charger, 2500-watt inverter, hot water system and battery isolators.

Let's fish
The Black Watch 36 cockpit is a shining example of the company's thinking behind no-holds barred sportsfishing boats. Amenities include a purpose-built bait station to port with cutting board, sink, six tackle drawers and a general storage area. When not being used to prepare baits or burley, a lid folds down to provide a seat to watch the action behind unfold. To starboard is the freezer with eutectic plate and built-in twin tuna tubes. The cockpit sole hides two large lift-out fish bins with hinged lids. A roto-moulded live bait tank is built into the aft combing. Cockpit lockers house bilge pump shut-off valves, plumbing and hardware. Other goodies include a hot/cold shower, padded survey-height coamings, stainless steel scuppers and hawse pipes and hinged transom door. There is also a large dive platform for easy boarding access.

Access to the foredeck is a no-fuss affair with large-radius handholds strategically placed around the cockpit All deckgear is through-bolted and the raked stainless bowrail makes moving about a breeze. The 36-footer has a deep anchor locker with a Muir automatic rope/chain capstan and deck wash pump.

With the ladder to starboard, the 36 flybridge is the nerve centre of the boat and is securely fenced by large-radius stainless steel rails and rocket launcher with outriggers poles on heavy-duty bases.

The 36 flybridge welcomes you up top with twin pedestal seats and a lounge forward of the helm station that can seat up to four people. The test boat, number 21 out of the mould, was even fitted with an electric fridge under one of the seats in the flybridge for happy hour drinks. The 36 bridge is crisp and clean and fully moulded with a place for everything, including moulded foot rests and a large dry storage area that houses circuit breakers and switches for nav gear. The view from up top is impressive and the boat is delivered with clears for those winter gamefishing tournaments.

Power play
If scintillating performance is close to godliness then say a wee prayer, because it is here that Black Watch Boats have set a benchmark for others to follow. The standard Black Watch 36 is fitted with twin 350 horsepower 370B Cummins diesels swinging four-blade props on two-inch stainless shafts. The standard package, according to company literature, gives a cruising speed of about 24 knots and a top speed of 28 knots. While that sort of performance would suit most - not so for importer Craig Torckler, who elected to install twin Yanmar 440 diesels as an optional extra. Torckler says the extra grunt is better suited to New Zealand conditions and continues a long and rewarding association with Yanmar. Independent performance tests carried out in Tauranga show the Yanmars give a 28-knot cruise at 2900rpm and a top speed of 33.5 knots at 3350rpm.

Heading out of Tauranga Harbour into a short one to two-metre sea, I found myself instinctively braced against the alloy flybridge frames as we powered across the face of the seas at full speed and out into a low ocean swell. Clear of the influence of the harbour entrance, we ran at a fast cruise of 28 knots, the fine bow cutting a deep swathe through the face of seas for the rest of the hull to follow. There is no suggestion of any tendency to thump and nor should there be with a displacement of approximately 20,000lb (10.5 tonnes dry). Back into the chop and it was evident that the 36 is an exceptionally dry runner as the pictures show - the planing strakes and topside flare taming any wayward spray. Performing for the camera, Torckler showed no hesitation in throwing the boat into tight, high-speed turns of the sort that might find lesser designs digging holes or dragging a hesitant chine. Not so the Black Watch 36, proving more than a willing partner and rising to the challenge every time. But rough water is where Black Watch Boats shine and there are many testimonials as to the boat's ability in conditions that might ordinarily be called marginal. Perhaps the boat's most endearing quality is its forgiving nature and the way it inspires driver confidence whether trimmed down into a seaway or surfing home on a long swell. As the company says, it could well be that Black Watch boats are indeed "the ultimate off-road vehicle" if not production sportsfishing boat.

Words and pictures: Steve Raea.

Black Watch 36
Length Overall: 12.38m / 40'6"
Beam: 3.75m / 12'4"
Draft: 0.80m / 3'.0"
Displacement: 10.5t / 20,000lbs
Deadrise: 18.5 (variable)
Fuel: 1600lt
Water: 350lt
Headroom: 6'3"
Accommodation: 2 x double/2 x single
Price as tested: $565,000
Priced from: $525,000 (inclusive on current exchange rates)
NB: Additional items and upgrades on the test boat include 440hp Yanmars; a 5 KVA Mase genset; flybridge fridge; game poles; tuna tubes; remote-controlled spot light and Lectra/San. Boat supplied by Black Watch NZ Ltd and marketed by Torckler Marine Brokers, tel (09) 416-5800 (0274) 729-729, e-mail Web:

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