Did I charter a Chris White before I chose one? Nope.
How did I choose an A57?
I was thinking about that in the shower
this morning. My boat and most of the decisions were made in collaboration with this forum. Thank you Cruisers Forum.
I like to contemplate many different options and my basic design criteria was that I wanted a boat with the ability to cross large oceans with comfort and the ability to outrun really bad stuff as well as comfortably sail the rum
line in strong gales. Of course, it had to be able to be sailed short handed, fun, strong, low carbon footprint, good resale value and a bunch of other stuff.
My first love was based on all the Catana
47's that I saw on the water
when I was cruising in the Med and Caribbean. I really liked that boat and I really liked several of the owners.
472 was my first love but then they came out with the 52. I liked this one but it didn't seem to get much traction in the market and so I broadened my horizons.
My dad had a small FP so I looked hard at them. The Eleutera 60 seems like a really nice boat but once I took a hard look it was way more volume than I wanted and seemed too big. I never got to sail one but that led me to the Lagoon line. I really liked the Lagoon 420
hybrid for a long time. The ideas behind the hybrid propulsion
got me excited but the more I read the more concerns I got about the new technology. I keep that lust of electric
motors for another year or so and Chris finally convinced me that hybrid tech was not the best place to be a pioneer for a circumnavigation
. I also got comfortable that if the cat was light enough and well canvassed that I could sail her harder and faster than another could motor
so why bother. I still like the 420 and checked them out at boat shows but the sailing characteristics left me wanting a little more. I checked out the 440 and the Lagoon 500. I really liked the 500 for a while. More than you could ever need, very comfortable, quality brand, etc. I stood on top of the raised cockpit
and felt like I was on a 747. It's a bit strange sitting up there, some really cool aspects but ultimately it seems much more like something for an extended vacation
than living aboard
. For chartering and partying in the BVI the Lagoon represented a full on boat orgy, but once again I got wandering eyes after spending some time in and on top of one.
I had a quick exotic affair with African Cats
. From a design perspective, it had everything I really wanted. I still think there is great promise in their design but I won't comment on other potential issues as that has been covered extensively. I also didn't like being with a virgin built and it seemed a long way away from the US.
I considered the Alibi as an interesting innovation real head
turner but again, early design for a circumnavigation seemed too risky and while very cool, it was very early in their life so hard to know what I would get unless highly involved in the design process.
I then went to my third Annapolis boat show
with the goal of seeing the new Catana 50 and the Chris White A55. I wasn't really thinking the A55 was sexy and I didn't research
them much but heard from a few folks on this forum that it was a cruisers cruising catamaran
I went to the show, disappointed with the Lagoon 420
because it wasn't working and they were not going to be available for sea trails. (Maybe that was the year before). I did however get an appointment to ride the Catana 50 and the A55. The Catana was like a pin up girl, a really lovely lady. My wife also really like the interior
and the commodious layout. During the sail we took a slow ride in very light winds but I had a couple issues that turned me off. First, there was a story about the big genoa
busting loose on the delivery
. The sails
looked huge and not as shapely as I had hoped. The performance was OK but the helm was also a bit sluggish and it felt like a really big lady. That was all OK but when sitting at the aft helm the visibility was poor. You have to get up to see 360 degrees and we almost ran into another boat. I really don't like to have to stand and walk around to see 360 degrees.
I sailed the A55 the next day and it reminded me of sailing a beach cat. The helm was feather light. She accelerated on small puffs of wind
and while sailing next to the Catana we literally blew by her. Before sailing we sat in the salon
with the doors open and felt a cool wind tunnel of "air conditioning" on a hot day with relatively little wind. I could go on and on about the pure joy I felt sailing the Chris White Design but needless to say I was in love and this time it was for real. Chris took me to the Aquidneck yard the next day and having read his book on cruising catamarans I felt very comfortable that I understood the build process so I decided building a cat was really not more risky than buying
a production boat. I choose the Alwoplast yard because they had really made a commitment to the A57 having built molds and had a bunch of hulls under their belt before starting mine. They have made numerous small improvements in each build and I'm confident that mine will be the best boat yet.