New Muddy Water 38-foot catamaran adds to tour boat fleet

A dream that started eight years ago smoothly sailed into reality in August.

Last month, Muddy Water Adventures introduced the newest addition to its fleet: A 38-foot-long catamaran dubbed Island Cat. The new boat is the realization of owner Zach Taylor's nearly decade-long dream.

"About eight years ago, I got passed by two of these boats that are smaller than (my new one) in front of town," Taylor said. "I was slogging along in five-foot waves in a jet boat, and they passed me, and the (pilot) had an open cup of coffee in his hand."

Taylor said that moment was an epiphany. "Whatever that is, I need one of those," he said.

After researching, Taylor discovered the double-hulled catamarans have a much smoother ride than single-hulled boats, cementing his decision to get one. He finally placed his order in July 2021 with Brix Marine in Port Angeles, Washington. The aluminum vessel, originally slated to be finished in May this year, was completed a couple months later due to a delay getting outboard controls and electrical panels.

The delay led to Taylor shuffling some tours around and leasing his father's jet boat to fulfill tour obligations with higher passenger counts than his six-passenger jet boat could handle.

Along with a smoother ride, the Island Cat can accommodate 21 passengers, has an onboard bathroom, a small galley, a front deck, back deck, top deck and enclosed cabin for plenty of viewing options, something the passengers on the inaugural trip to Anan Wildlife Observatory took advantage of.

"It was a nice day, so I had people on the top deck, as well," Taylor said. "On the top deck, because it's behind the top house, it's like being on the back deck of a ferry. There's just a little gentle swirling wind back there. They were sitting in the sun, drinking coffee and chatting all the way down to Anan and back."

Another feature Taylor is happy with is the boat's ramp. "We pulled right up to the beach at Anan, dropped the ramp and everybody walked out."

Taylor's favorite aspect of the boat is how it performs in any type of weather.

"In my jet boat and other jet boats I've driven, if you hit two-foot chop, you're instantly getting beat up. You have to slow way down," he said. "This boat, it actually speeds up when you hit two-foot chop. The ride and performance actually improve if you get a little bit of chop, so that's my favorite part."

And because the catamaran has dual 425-horsepower Yamaha outboard motors, Taylor said it's much quieter than his jet boat, registering at only 60 decibels (a normal conversation) in the cabin while driving.

The Island Cat is the ninth vessel in the Stikine River Jet Boat Association's member fleet, said SRJBA executive director Caitlin Cardinell. "The Island Cat has some strong advantages to it that a jet boat can't compete with, so we hope to play to its advantages when it comes to tour offerings."

Beyond tours, Taylor said he hopes to keep the catamaran in service all year as a water taxi, filling the void left by the reduced number of state ferries coming to Wrangell. He cannot pilot the Island Cat up the Stikine, but he can use it for more extensive trips.

"I can go to Banana Point, Coffman Cove, Fort Protection, all the way to Petersburg," Taylor said. "I plan to do a regular taxi service, just like the state ferry used to be, more on a schedule."

Though Taylor would like to have a set travel schedule over the winter, he's not opposed to chartered taxi service on an as-needed basis.

Cardinell said the addition of the catamaran is one of the ways the tour operators who belong to the SRJBA are constantly working to make improvements and create a better experience for passengers.

"SRJBA member companies are always thinking of ways to diversify our boat tour offerings," she said. She hasn't had a chance to take a ride in the Island Cat, but she's "heard from multiple folks who have that it is a very comfortable ride."


Reader Comments(0)