Recreational amphibious craft have been around for some time, predominantly having been applied to mono-hull rigid inflatables and a few other plate alloy monos throughout Australia. So when a plate alloy cat appeared on scene with an amphibious drive system installed, it most certainly caught my attention. For those unacquainted with the system, amphibious classed boats can literally tackle the high seas and drive on land. So, if effortlessly four-wheeling a six-metre cat hull from the water onto your favourite remote beach, or even driving straight out of the water onto your canal home property appeals to you, then read on.
New to the Aussie market, Stryda Marine Australia have just set up base in Redcliffe Queensland (late 2018). Their intentions were quite obviously to provide something innovative to the market, and that they have done with their latest amphibious Stryda 600C. These plate-alloy hulls are manufactured in China and assembled in Australia to keep their pricing competitive, and its worth mentioning that they are one of the better imports I’ve seen in a while.
AT A GLANCE
First impressions, sleek modern lines combined with a spacious layout and of course the ultimate military styled amphibious marine drive system – all together an eye catcher of note, and a good looking one at that. They're something out of the ordinary and having a dual front and rear 4x4 wheel system built in, you most certainly get sucked in for a closer look – regardless of whether you know boats or not.
Our trailerboat tests generally start with a viewing on the trailer at the ramp before launch – instead, the Stryda 600C cruised in off the bay, drove up onto the beach, stopping people in their tracks to see what the hell was going on. You’re going to be noticed in one of these for sure, and they are without a doubt a pretty cool piece of gear.
Now before getting into the Stryda 600C's four-wheel drive credentials, the release of a new trailer-able cat in a manageable size is quite refreshing to see on its own, as they are not common and are frankly few and far between in Australia.
Now, as an avid fan of trailerable cats I’ll be brutally honest in saying that the idea of a single motor installation on a cat hull just didn’t do it for me; cat hulls have two motors, goes without saying in my opinion. (Unfortunately, you cannot install dual motors due to the drive system attached to each sponson).
However, as a kid I was taught not to judge a book by its cover, so the mind needed to be cleared and refreshed before testing the single outboard installation. I also had the problem of these recreational amphibious drive systems playing on my mind as my experience is limited on them - why have it, where you would use it, and what would the actual benefits be versus extra costs? Aside from the big bang X-factor that it portrays at a glance, I really had to dig deep with an open mind on this one, but I am pretty chuffed I did.
Manufactured by heavy-duty amphibious craft producer Wareham Steamship Corporation, there’s no expense spared when it comes to the quality of this drive system. The 600C comes standard with a stern-deck mounted 37 horse power Briggs and Stratton petrol motor, which drives the mother of all hydraulics to the stern port, starboard and dual bow mount wheel system. It’s quite involved when you take a closer look at the mechanics, but a really neat set up and nice and heavy-duty throughout.
Aside from being robust and military grade, the drive system also includes technical features like; programmable logically controlled functions, smart-brakes with standby park engagement, driven dual front wheels for minimum ground pressure and added torque, independent steering with self-centring function, 10-degree incline operating capabilities, and a braking system that can hold on surfaces up to 10 degrees. There’s also slip limiting traction control for challenging terrain, and anti-stall feature for a smooth transition between land and water – just to mention a few.
The hydraulic arms, additional structural mounting and internal structural components are also quite impressive. The complete system weighs in at close to 500 kilograms, so no doubt additional engineering was required to compensate for the added weight and torque. Let’s not forget adding weight in some areas to the hull would require reducing it in others, and overall they have managed to achieve a gross hull weight of 2,000 kilograms while maintaining strength throughout – that’s not bad and sits well within the maximum 3,500 kilogram tow limits of most standard 4x4s.
OFFROAD / OFFWATER OPERATION
Naturally one would presume it’s a technical system to operate on its own, however, I must say that the simplicity or ease of use is impressive on these things. It’s a simple process to start the amphibious main-motor, drop the wheels and use the joystick on the dash for acceleration and manoeuvrability. Exiting the water requires a combination of outboard acceleration to get into the shallows and then a use of the amphibious system once contact is made with Terra-firma. Obviously, you need to remember to switch off the outboard once it gets air. Entry back into the water then requires dropping and firing up the outboard once deep enough, and then retracting the wheels. It really is simple and most effective.
A few things to consider would be selecting a decent entry or exit point – remember, it’s not a V8 LandCruiser begging for mountainous inclines and rock hopping. In saying that, the low-range drivetrain system is super powerful, and it has no quibbles getting on or off medium to flat beaches. Watching it enter and exit the water onto soft beach sand at a fair angle had me a touch nervous and pondering on how we would explain this recovery to the VMR, or would it be the RACQ in this case? Well, I was pleasantly surprised as it crawled effortlessly on and off the beach. Was I impressed? More like blown away, to say the least.
Performance on the water was another big test for me and as previously mentioned I was quite sceptical on a single installation outboard to a cat hull. Fitted up with a BF250 Honda four-stroke, I wasn’t too concerned about power, seeing as they are gutsy motors and should easily push a six-metre cat.
Before knocking the hammer down I was expecting the hull to be twitchy off the sponsons, possibly wandering a bit due to the single motor, possible stability sensitivity, and it would have to be sensitive in the turns. If I’ve ever been wrong in every aspect, this was it. The hole-shot torque was nippy, stability was really good underway with only a slight bit of wandering on the wheel.
Chucking it into turns was bloody amazing, as it held true and even banked inwards slightly in the mid-range, and lastly this machine has one of the quietest and softer six-metre cat rides I’ve been in for a long time. The Stryda asymmetrical hull design does a good job of slashing the mongrel 15-20 knots of south east wind and chop in Moreton Bay. The 2.5-metre beam combined with sharp sponson entry most certainly creates a refined and comfortable ride on the 600C and it even cranks up to 35 knots at the top-end.
Aside from the X-factor all-terrain and ocean-going capabilities, the Stryda 600C also boasts a spacious cockpit layout, considering a fair bit of deck space has been lost to the raised amphibious motor and hydraulics hatch. The gunwales are nice and wide and at a decent lean height for fishing – plus there are big side pockets. The deck is self-draining and finished with Ultralon deck covering, and there are dual rear seats and a live-well. Rather than seeing the big amphibious hatch as a hindrance I visualised the top being used as a nice prep-cum-tackle station and even loading it with a few upright rod-holders. I did notice that there are no deck mounted kill-tanks, however, there’s more than ample room for a few eskys on-board.
The dash set-up is also spacious with plenty of room to load up with electronics, however my only niggle would be the raised gauge panel interfering with my vision; at 175 centimetres I'm not the tallest on the planet, though it shouldn't be a problem for most. I do like the high wrap around screens with one centre split and if anything, they could add a sliding window on either side or a few hatch vents to the hard-top for extra ventilation. Helm seating then consists of top of the range Shark shock absorption bases on pedestals for extra comfort, while driving and up in the bow the open cabin is also spacious and could be customised to suit the odd overnighter.
So, the big question is; who would this type of boat benefit, and how? Firstly, they are by no means a budget boat, in keeping with the amphibious vehicle market. But they are relatively competitive at a starting price of 230k – considering the inclusions. Before you fall over or raise a brow, 100 grand of that goes into the amphibious system alone.
Benefits of the system include access to otherwise inaccessible areas due to tidal issues – particularly areas with massive tides that require high tide launching – you can launch or come home on any tide. Adventure trips to the islands or remote areas would not require the stress of mooring your boat overnight – simply drive up the beach and set up camp, or just sleep on the boat. Canal home owners would never need a trailer or have to store the 600C on a pontoon lift. If you owned a beach house you could simply drive it up the beach and park it in the shed. Lastly, if you’re not the greatest boater and love parking yourself on sandbanks or the likes, well this could be the way to save yourself the embarrassment by simply driving yourself off the sandbanks you have beached yourself on.
Overall, it's most certainly loaded with X-factor in all areas. Aside from the amphibious bells and whistles incorporated, the Stryda 600C would be just as good without them, especially if it was set up with a twin rig of outboards.
Rating the Stryda 600C
Fun factor / Fishability 7
Design and layout 7.5
Quality of finish 7.5
Handling and ride 9
Stability at rest 8
Standard equipment 7
Value for money 7
FACTS AND FIGURES
Type Asymmetric Catamaran
Material Aluminium 5083
Rec. HP 225hp
Max. HP 350hp
MAKE/MODEL Honda BF250
TYPE 4-Stroke, SOHC, 60° V6,
Gear ratio 2.00:1
Propeller Honda 15 ¾ × 15
Stryda Marine Australia
Stryda Marine Australia
1/349-351 MacDonnell Road
Clontarf QLD 4019
P +61 416 346 013