1987 - Quickcat

First of the big cats

After George Hudson (who had previously built up a successful bus tours company) bought the ferry company in July 1981, the priority was upgrading the feet.

In a Gulf News interview, Hudson said the big problem would be “capital outlay for new vessels.” He also admitted that this was “not the best business investment in town.”

Hudson did his research and decided a fast cat was the way to go. He contracted SBF Engineering in Freemantle, Western Australia, to build a 600-passenger, 20-knot aluminium catamaran.

Quickcat began service on Tuesday 10 March 1987. She covered the inaugural trip to Waiheke in 30 minutes.

From The Waiheke Ferries of Auckland, by David Balderston, 1991:

“…Waiheke residents have had to endure more than the normal hardship over the transport serveice, and it has required a great deal of fortitude to live there.

"Nowadays, though, the smart catamaran Quickcat provides them with probably the best service that they have ever had. The new ship has provided a good service attracting more speculators which in turn has increased the island’s real estate prices. Bulldozers are now very active tearing up the island for more housing and projects and the whole character of the island is changing, lamented by some and welcomed by others. The change is bringing benefits, but it is bittersweet. It remains to the future to see if they are right.”

Vital stats

Length: 33m (later lengthened to 35m)

Beam: 13m

Designer: Lock Crowther

Builder and date: SBF Engineering, Fremantle, Australia, 1986

Hull material: aluminium

Engines: 2 V16 MWM

Speed: 33 knots

Passengers and crew: 650 passengers, 1 Master, 1 engineer, 1 Service Supervisor, 5 x OBS ( 8 total crew).

  • <p>Quickcat berthing at the wharft, Matiatia, packed with holidaymakers. <em>Gulf News, 30th October, 1987.</em></p>
  • <p>The catamaran. <em>Quickcat</em> began her Waiheke service on Tuesday 10 March 1987.</p>