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Old 01-10-2015, 13:49   #1
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Built Quality

After 40 years of monohull sailing I am considering to change to a catamaran. After a lot of searching on the internet the Mahe 36 is now number 1 on my list.
I have read many of the Mahe 36 threads on this forum (not all of them, I must admit…) and that has given me a wealth of information about the boat and answered many of my questions. Most owners seem to be very happy with their Mahe and its sailing qualities.

I’ve got one big question left: the built quality.
I have never been on one (I don’t know where I could see one in The Netherlands) but I have read comments that they are too lightly or cheaply built. There have been several posts on this forum about the squeaking furniture or floors, about osmosis on the hull, about corrosion under the winch on the mast, about winches being a size too small etc.
And it struck me that several people who write very enthusiastically about the boat have sold it a few years later. Even Cotemar, who I think is one of the biggest experts on the Mahe is selling his boat (and it looks beautiful! Is it already sold? Too bad it is lying so far away). Most people seem to agree that for example the Lagoon 380 is better built, but also a lot heavier and (therefore) slower

On the other hand, Rabbi who wrote on this forum (26-08-2012) “To me the Mahe looks too lighty built. The decks are flexing under my steps. The deck hardware looks on the small side, the hatches look like toys, (… etc …)”, and “Overall I don't really like the Mahe and feel she is very light and small for ocean crossings. (…)” has later bought a Mahe 36. What made you change your mind? What do you think now about the built quality?

I would be very grateful for comments of owners about this issue. Is it a serious matter or is it just details?

Jan Jaap
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Old 01-10-2015, 15:59   #2
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Re: Built Quality

Even older FPs are lightly built, but strong where it counts. The first time I stepped aboard an FP, I had a similar reaction to the deck flexing under my feet, but after years of experience rumning lots of different FPs as a charter captain, I can tell you they do hold up well, despite what would normally be a red flag (flexing deck).
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Old 02-10-2015, 03:11   #3
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Re: Built Quality

Thank you, that helps.
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Old 02-10-2015, 04:03   #4
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Re: Built Quality

Lagoon 400 weight is 10.5 T. I can assure you there is no lead in the boat. If another boat of same length/width & is 3T lighter, and same material, it must be less of it which shows when matters.

If people get annoyed when lagoon has slim hull at certain areas, I bet other, lighter boats would have even less.

There is no magic.

Speedy cat can sometimes be translated as structurally weak cat.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:21   #5
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Re: Built Quality

Hi there,
Some of my statement still is true after owning a Mahe for over a year.

The Mahe's I have been on have all a flexing deck to a certain degree. Different compared to the Privilege and Lagoon I had sailed before. Our previous Lagoon 410 was very stiff, the Mahe is more soft.
Where a flexing balsa-cored deck is an issue a flexing foam cored deck seems to be ok. And this is not just the deck, the complete structure is not as stiff.
This does seem to work, at least I'm not aware of any structural failures in a Mahe. This flexibility seems to be engineered into the structure just like its engineered into skyscrapers.

The difference is weight. The Mahe is a fly-weight compared to our Lagoon. just compare the SAD numbers of a Mahe to a Lagoon 380. Or any recent Lagoon or FP...
The Mahe is much quicker, more responsive, and sails better. She does go to wind very well up to the point when the sea state causes too much banging and vomitting kids. Reefing when beating hard upwind starts at 18kn apparent and that is about the point when it's no longer fun.

Another difference is that Mahes have very little wood in the build. No wood means no rot. The hulls are Solid under water and foam cored above the waterline. No balsa core, so no worries about badly sealed deck fittings and a wet core.
But yes, our Mahe does squeak quite a bit in two places but is silent otherwise. Our Lagoon squeaked a less but in numerous places.

The winches have proved adequate so far. The loads on the Mahe are not that high. The corrosion of the mast winch is easily rectified, thats just the case of a builder cutting corners. Not worse than in any other boat builder.
The little ventilation hatches are toy like. Their seals need replacement from time to time (cheap epdm seals @ 2 euro per meter) and they lack a rainproof ventilation mode like bigger lewmar hatches have. The good thing isthey can be left open with no risk of burglars getting in as they are just too small.
Overall ventilation is good only if we keep the escape hatches open. Later models had improvements like more hatches in the saloon and added overhead hatches in the heads / front cabin.
Overall there is more plain gelcoat surfaces than in Lagoons. Gelcoat floors with wooden floorboards, gelcoat under the saloon settee and table, gelcoated stairs into the hull, etc. The Lagoon 380 and 410 are more wooden comfy if you like that. The first impression on a Mahe is a little 'cheap' compared to the lagoon.

Osmosis is a problem of early boats, 2006-2009 or so. From what i heard this is no longer an issue for 2009 or 2010 builds. For the earlier Mahes my take is either they have already developed osmosis and have been treated or these boats have no greater risk than other boats. The treatment under FP warrantee is regarded as better than new: stripping the bottom, drying and building up it all-epoxy. so basically a lifetime guarantee against osmosis.

As to liveability: we are a family of 4 and have been onboard for 2.5 months now. We still haven't killed each other. Even with family guests for a week or so its still OK but then you need a well planned schedule for the single head!

After owning the boat for a year i would do a tradewind crossing without a second thought. Its small but capable, its buyoant enough in the sterns for following seas, its quicker than our Lagoon and even our small spinnacker makes for tradewind cruising at 6-8 knots.
For crossing both ways in potentially severe headwinds I'd prefer something bigger, like 40ft.

So why have I bought one? First we don't plan to cross many oceans. We just do a few months liveaboard per year in the med. Kids are now in school so we can't go for more than 3 months and we don't need a huge boat. Small boat, small problems, more fun.
Second is of course price. Most Lagoon 380 are asking 50% more than a Mahe of similar vintage. Having sailed both I can't see any reason for that.
We may consider ugrading to a Lipari, a Lagoon 400 or a late 410 but we are not looking into a 380. The difference between the 380 and the Mahe is far too small to justify the hassle of selling & buying.

Our improvements so far:
Replaced the canvas bimini with a hard bimini made of 4mm resopal panels. Lasts forever, much cooler and costs less than a new canvas
Added 320w solar panels on bimini in addition to 240w that were already on the davits
Added 1kw pure sine inverter
Added b2b charger to improve charge of house batteries when motoring
Added Katadyn PS40e watermaker and a 40 liter tank for drinking water, with overflow into exisiting 2x 280 liter tanks for shower & dishes
Added Eberspächer / Espar forced air diesel heater with ducting to saloon, head and all 3 cabins
Added a maximum sized but light dinghy @ 3.1 meter
Added AIS transponder
Added new DSC VHF
Added 10' opencpn tablet to nav station with connection to instruments & AIS & DSC
Added battery monitor
Added asym spinnaker
Plus numerous small things like all LED lighting, USB charge sockets in the cabins

At least right now I can't think of anything else i want to change or add. Except maybe folding props and radar.
We can live at anchor for weeks and have enough electricity and water so we never need a marina. We can even run our breadmaker off solar and battery so we only need fresh veggies and fruits every now and then.
And since the additions are all pretty light sailing isstill a joy!

We are currently in Italy / Sicily until hauling out for winter dry storage in about 3 weeks. You are welcome to have a look!

Rabbi
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:10   #6
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Re: Built Quality

'why sell the mahe'?
It is still a small boat. For us four its OK for a few months in the med.
For fulltime liveaboard with 2 i guess its still ok but for 4 it gets small. Also keep in mind the limited payload. More folks need more stuff for long term cruising.

Plus if you really want to cross oceans its rather small for a cat. Ok for me in tradewind conditions but its not a go-anywhere cat.

I have not heard of someone selling a mahe to buy a Lagoon 380, but typically something 40ft or above
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:48   #7
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Re: Built Quality

Our 2002 FP model is holding up very well. A few spider cracks where previous owner bumped the dock hard (poor placement of rub rail by FP). Decks are very solid. Interior stays clean and not smelly (verified by numerous female guests). Hatches and opening ports don't leak (yet). I did replace seals/bedding and rebidded all of the salon windows to eliminate black streaks. The seal along bottom of each window had let go but no water was leaking yet. I elected to remove them and re-bed with silkflex.
Most important thing about weight in a power cat is the impact on fuel. Our 34ft Greenland cruises at 15knots and averages 4gph. Trawler speed at 7-8 knots and it is <2gph. 80% of WOT and we are doing close to 20knots burning less than 6gph. I doubt Lagoon or PDQs can top that!
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:26   #8
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Re: Built Quality

Quote:
Originally Posted by arsenelupiga View Post
Lagoon 400 weight is 10.5 T. I can assure you there is no lead in the boat. If another boat of same length/width & is 3T lighter, and same material, it must be less of it which shows when matters.
I guess you have some hard facts to support this? Like pointers to some FP, especially Mahe, that have fallen apart because they used too little material where it matters?


One reason why FPs used to be ligther than Lagoons is that Lagoons tend to have more volume for the same length. Or used to, the new FP40 is quite voluminous, too.

Quite a lot of weight is in the fitout and build method. There was no place in our Lagoon 410 where one could see the hull shell. Everything was hidden panels, either wooden like the cabin sides or a second fibreglass shell like part of the saloon. Even the ceiling liners where backed by wooden panels. I think current models are the same.
The Mahe on the other hand has very few panels and no ceiling liners. One side of the aft cabins has a panel, the other side has a glued on textured liner that weights next to nothing.
The full deck and salon is one big fibreglass element with gelcoated & textured surface on both sides. So a Lagoon carries one layer of material across it's full deck area and big parts of the hull sides that adds weight but is not structural.
But it looks a bit better and makes routing cables for solar panels much easier for sure!

Another thing i prefer about the Mahe is its much closer to unsinkability than the Lagoons I have seen. It has truly sealed engine and bow compartments with no holes anywhere near the waterline, sealed and foam filled floation chambers in the bow, under the settee and under part of the aft bunks that provide several tons of floatation plus the lighter foam cored structure. I have no clue if is enough to keep her floating but at least Lagoons 380 and 410 have none of these, i think the other models lack that as well.


Its not my intention to say that FPs are better than Lagoons. I like both and would buy both in a heartbeat,especially a 400.
but to indicate that any cat that is lighter than a Lagoon lacks material where it matters is simply wrong.
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:04   #9
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Re: Built Quality

Wow, what a fantastic forum. You throw in a question and the answers flow in from the Caribbean, Sydney, Germany/Italy and Florida. Thank you very much belizesailor, arsenelupiga, rabbi and Marcsailcat! Good to also have the information from a power cat from FP.

I have noticed from the specifications that the Lagoons are indeed a lot heavier, and indeed not with lead but maybe with a bit more wood, as rabbi says. Maybe it looks a bit cheaper, but it also is a bit (or a lot) cheaper.

I am very happy with your long and thorough reply, rabbi, it’s good that you have experience with both the Lagoons and the Mahe. You say the Mahe does go to wind very well up to the point when the sea state causes too much banging and vomiting kids. Do you think the kids would start vomiting later (that is at a higher wind speed) in the Lagoon 380 than in the Mahe? I will have no kids on board but just as an indication of the difference in comfort.
And would you think that there is a difference in the amount of bridge deck slamming between these two boats?

I sail with just the two of us for most of the time so I assume we will have space enough. And we have no plans to cross oceans, we take a long holidays of about 3 month and we both love the British Isles and maybe cross to the Norwegian Coast later. Or the Faroer? Or Iceland??
Your list of improvements is very interesting, rabbi, it looks like you made it into a pretty ideal boat. The only thing we won’t need is a hard bimini to protect us from the sun, that is one of the reasons why I would prefer the “original” Mahe over the Evolution version.
We also love to anchor and it must be fantastic not to need a marina for water of electricity for weeks. And a good heater would be very important for the regions we sail…
And thank you for your kind invitation. At the moment Sicily is a bit far for us, maybe I can check with the importer in Holland whether he knows Mahe owners in our country.

And uh… keep the comments coming in…

Jan Jaap
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Old 02-10-2015, 15:33   #10
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Re: Built Quality

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingjoy View Post

I have noticed from the specifications that the Lagoons are indeed a lot heavier, and indeed not with lead but maybe with a bit more wood, as rabbi says. Maybe it looks a bit cheaper, but it also is a bit (or a lot) cheaper.
The list prices were pretty close for the Mahe and the 380, i think something like 6k euro difference. But the Mahe takes a much bigger deprecation hit in the first years. One can buy a 7 year old Mahe for the money that is asked for a 15 year old 380.
No clue where the deprecation bottoms, but I doubt prices will go that much further down. Just look at the prices for old Athenas.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingjoy View Post

I am very happy with your long and thorough reply, rabbi, it’s good that you have experience with both the Lagoons and the Mahe. You say the Mahe does go to wind very well up to the point when the sea state causes too much banging and vomiting kids. Do you think the kids would start vomiting later (that is at a higher wind speed) in the Lagoon 380 than in the Mahe? I will have no kids on board but just as an indication of the difference in comfort.
And would you think that there is a difference in the amount of bridge deck slamming between these two boats?
The Lagoons are heavier and are therefore a more stable platform when going to windward. Our 410 sliced through many waves that we are now bouncing over. More stable but also slower. The 380 is somewhere between the two but closer to the Mahe.
The Mahe does hobbyhorse a bit more as the hulls are slimmer. Lagoon's wider stern section dampens the movement bettter.
Overall the movement of a Lagoon is a bit more comfy when beating but then we have the time to wait for a nice weather window.

Bridgedeck slamming is a bit better in the Mahe. Clearance is pretty similar, at least i can just go underneath with the dinghy. But as said the Mahe bounces over the waves more easily so slamming happens a bit less and not as severe. But thats just a general feeling with no hard facts, its a non-issue for both models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingjoy View Post

Your list of improvements is very interesting, rabbi, it looks like you made it into a pretty ideal boat. The only thing we won’t need is a hard bimini to protect us from the sun, that is one of the reasons why I would prefer the “original” Mahe over the Evolution version.
The Mahe looks 'naked' without a bimini. Just like something is missing The original bimini has a walkable hardtop in the center and canvas sides. These sides (actually its one piece that goes over the rigid center part) of course wear and a replacement from the manfacturer is 1300 euro. Plus it sags and is no longer rain proof. The resopal panels cost me around 350 euro plus maybe 50 euros for misc materials. Plus it gives the opportunity to add plenty of solar. The bimini modification was the best modification i did.

The Evolution model has some nice improvements but the bimini in my view is just plain ugly. The integrated helmseat looks like a bathtub and the slope for the traveller on top screws up the otherwise nice lines.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingjoy View Post
We also love to anchor and it must be fantastic not to need a marina for water of electricity for weeks. And a good heater would be very important for the regions we sail…
In fact we have been in a Marina twice this year. Once for a starter repair and once because there was no safe place to anchor (south sicilly is like a 100nm beach). Even then we have not been plugged into electricity but of course we took on water (to save the noise and wear on the watermaker).

Our solar panels produce more electricity than we need, even when sailing. The watermaker runs about 5 hrs per day to produce enough water so the levels in the main tanks are just slowly dropping. Every few weeks we need a good rain shower to refill what is missing (rainwater collection requires just a few hoses). We could choose to run the watermaker longer and produce enough water for all our needs but this seems to be more efficient.
right now the watermaker only runs an hour or so for our drinking water needs. We currently collect more than enough water for showers and dishes

So far i very much prefer this setup to the one that came with our Lagoon 410 (which had no solar but large genset and a plant-sized noisy watermaker). Its quiet, doesn't need any fuel and costs a tiny fraction. I spent more on rebuilding that hardly used huge watermaker than i spent on the new small one for the Mahe.

Installing the heater isn't easy but i guess it never is. You need to find a space for the heater, route the air intake and the hot exhaust and silencer. and of course route the air ducting (for us 60mm plus 10mm insulation). Took me around three days in total.
We have a 2kw heater, which is too small to heat the whole boat at once if its really cold or very windy. In such conditions we can shut off certain outlets and heat ony the saloon or the cabins for example. A bigger unit would not cost much more but draws more energy for the fan, requires bigger ducting diameters, etc
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:06   #11
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Re: Built Quality

Re heating:
As said a lagoon has liners and panels where a Mahe has just the single layered shell.
I guess that a lagoon is therefore a bit better insulated. Two layer with a little air should be better than one.

We do have some amount of condensation everywhere the deck is solid and not cored. That is around deck fittings, hatches and especially in the edge of the topsides. The good point is that this is easily wiped off in the morning and there is not much place where mold could hide.
In a two layered structure the moisture will likely condense at the outer shell where one cant see it and may cause mold. Or maybe not, this is just my concern.
We never heated our lagoon for longer periods but I can't recall any condensation at the few nights we used the AC for heating.
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Old 04-10-2015, 13:40   #12
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Re: Built Quality

It looks like I will have to get used to condensation. At the moment I sail in an Etap 34s. This boat has a double hull with foam between the shells, so it is not only unsinkable but also it is very well isulated and I have no condensation at all.
But good to hear that the Mahe is also practically unsinkable.

Your experiences with the water makers are very interesting, I understand the Katadyn is agood investment. In combination with good solar panels it makes you really independent.

I agree about the bimini of the Evolution model. Funny that the integrated helmseat looks like a bathtub, once you look at it that way you recognise it.
Maybe I like the “naked” Mahe, here we are just happy to be in the sun ;-). Must be very different in the Med!
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Old 04-10-2015, 14:16   #13
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Re: Built Quality

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It looks like I will have to get used to condensation. At the moment I sail in an Etap 34s. This boat has a double hull with foam between the shells, so it is not only unsinkable but also it is very well isulated and I have no condensation at all.
But good to hear that the Mahe is also practically unsinkable.

Your experiences with the water makers are very interesting, I understand the Katadyn is agood investment. In combination with good solar panels it makes you really independent.

I agree about the bimini of the Evolution model. Funny that the integrated helmseat looks like a bathtub, once you look at it that way you recognise it.
Maybe I like the “naked” Mahe, here we are just happy to be in the sun ;-). Must be very different in the Med!
The condensation really is limited to the uncored solid areas of the deck. The hull sides and most of the deck are cored so no condensation at all. Overall that is not too bad, at least we know where the condensation happens and its a 5 minutes job to wipe it off in the morning. Better than having condensation below bunks or behind panels.

I doubt you will find many Mahe without a bimini, most will have this original hybrid bimini with a solid center and canvas sides. In fact i have never seen one without a bimini. So unless you want to cut it away just keep in mind that replacing a worn canvas with solid panels is way cheaper and takes just one day. Ok, plus another day to add topcoat on the otherwise uncoated center part.
The good thing about the bimini in your area is that it keeps away most of the wind and rain when swinging at anchor
Its flush with the saloon roof so no spray is getting into the cockpit area and the saloon door can be left open no matter how hard it rains. Its easy to run some lines to dry clothes under the solid bimini when its raining so no wet clothes inside.

And its the only way to find enough space for solar panels to become truly self sufficient even in your latitudes.
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Old 08-10-2015, 15:59   #14
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Re: Built Quality

Somewhere on the internet I did indeed find a "naked" Mahe without bimini:

You are right, it looks a bit strange and what’s more: how do they reach the end of the boom??
Anyway, It is good to know that you can, if necessary, replace the canvas bimini with a solid one.
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Old 08-10-2015, 18:34   #15
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Re: Built Quality

If you are tall then it is worth considering raising the bimini by 300mm so that you do not bash your head regularly on the port aft corner. this also gives you good viewing out of the front of the bimini through the gap (where you can put clears up to keep the weather out.
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