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Old 09-10-2012, 17:27   #1
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Annapolis Boat Report

I looked at every multihull I could last Sunday, though my time was very short: A quick report:
(note I do not recall all the names and models correctly, I apologize I was not more organized. I didn't expect to see so many and didn't have time to check them all out properly.)

1) Lagoons
This is what I went to see, and was sorely disappointed. The interior fit and finish just seems to keep getting worse every year. The larger models were a bit better, but not by very much. The core design does not appear to have changed an iota.
The 380 is a much larger boat than I realized. I can hardly imagine needing or even wanting a 40+ lagoon, except for reports that cats under 40ft are not as smooth at sea.
Quality aside, Lagoon still remains king in the layout and liveability realm, but the others are quickly catching up - mainly through flat-out imitation

2) Leopards
The leopards are quickly gaining share through a combination of evolving design (becoming more lagoon like in many ways), a slightly better fit-and-finish than their competitors, and being picked up as the catamaran of choice by the huge Sunsail and Moorings organizations.
The newest leopard has a very spacious deck, very large open windows in the main salon, and an easy comfortable layout borrowing much from and improving slightly on the layouts of the lagoons.
The larger models are featuring a forward deck, entered through a swinging door in the main salon. I think time will tell whether this is a forward-thinking feature that becomes well loved, or a great marketing idea wrapped in a terrible sailing design. I'd be interested to hear from sailors living with this design.
Leopards have a beautifully integrated solar design from the factory which is nearly invisible to the eye, and easily expanded for more capacity. In general, I found many of it's features to be supremely integrated and carefully considered compared to it's direct competitors. Though the salon is slightly smaller, I find it a superior choice in liveability to the Lagoons and FP's, all else being equal (though I'm not sure that all else is equal - I have not carefully compared pricing)

3) Gemini - The big news in this lot is the newly designed Gemini. Retaining the original Gemini's core features, this new Gemini is larger without being wider. It is taller with larger, clearer windows. Though I still love the Lagoon/Leopard layout, I can see this new Gemini as a true cruiser's boat without compromise. The "lookthrough" design is still present, but with much better visibility and with the option to step and "lookover". Larger side windows make the salon area more open and bright with a view to three sides of the boat.

4) Catalac
Still in production, to my surprise, the Catalac was a very nice boat. Unfortunately I came upon it by accident, and only had a few moments to peek aboard. It looks like a highly liveable design, perhaps a bit more affordable and possibly a little better quality than it's bigger-name cousins. If anyone is interested, I'll rack my brain a little harder for details of the boat and post the results. Actually, I probably need to do that anyway because this boat is heavily used in a certain cruising program that may meet my very specific criteria, which I have so far been unable to match. This may well be my future home.

5) Fountaine-Poujout
My first time viewing this boat, I was disappointed. I expected it to be far superior to the fit and finish of the Lagoons, but it didn't really appear to be. Sporting similar features, and a slightly better contrasting color scheme, it appears to be a fair alternative to the Lagoon design

6) Other cats
I saw a few others, names are escaping at the moment. I did not have much time, and did not expect so many unrecognized names and so didn't allocate time properly to see all of them. One stands out in design in that all of it's interior features were finished in contrasting fiberglass, Corian, and other artificial materials. While not having quite the warmth of a wood interior, it clearly appeared to be much more durable and capable of standing many years of hard usage.

7) A trimaran (Dean??)
A nice liveable design. I'm not sure the performance of this boat is sufficiently great to justify the purchase compared to a cat, but the layout was definitely clever and oriented toward long-term liveability. I heard snippets of conversation about performance that suggested it might do something like 25-30% better speeds than a comparable catamaran.

8) Shannon (??) monohull design
I'm including this here simply because it has many of the livability features of the catamarans - large above deck cabins, spacious living and galley quarters, and relatively shallow draft for a boat of it's size. However, they are extremely expensive, being custom built out of what appear to be the very finest materials. A gorgeous boat, a true sailing yacht in the classic sense, but very very costly and (perhaps) more of motor sailor than a true sailing yacht.
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Old 09-10-2012, 17:33   #2
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

I totally missed that Catalac. (darn) where was it?
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Old 09-10-2012, 17:40   #3
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

There always seems to be a conflict with the allure of the catamarans. They offer such great performance with light weight, speed and shallow draft, but most of the people I know that shop for them are looking at the great space and they expect to fill them with all the baggage they bring from a house. It takes great discipline to enjoy the big space and not turn it into a overweighted slug. I think the Catalac starts a little heavy for the potential performance of a catamaran so the loss is already done,- load her up!
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Old 09-10-2012, 17:50   #4
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

Comfort-Speed-Inexpensive

Pick any two.
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Old 09-10-2012, 17:53   #5
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

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Comfort-Speed-Inexpensive

Pick any two.
The Gemini's seem to be trying to strike a balance of all three - though it's a twisted world I've entered into where $200,000 is considered "inexpensive".
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Old 09-10-2012, 18:39   #6
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

The thing that struck me at Annapolis is the addition of height and freeboard to the larger cats. They go so far as to put flying bridges on the top of the already towering bridge deck cabin. The windage on those things must be enormous, and they are so ugly I would be embarrassed to own one. I'm not exactly sure how one is supposed to get onto a lot of low floating docks--it would be quite a jump. Even the Gemini has gained volume by raising the deck significantly, though by comparison to the bigger cats it looks positively streamlined. Another thing I heard from folks with the big cats is that some owners never considered how high the masts are and they can't clear the 65-foot bridges over the ICW, so going outside is their only option. One wife was not too happy about that.
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Old 09-10-2012, 19:25   #7
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You've got more than one wife and can still afford a cat? Wow I'm jealous.....
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Old 09-10-2012, 19:40   #8
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

We love the Leopard Cats and after seeing what we saw, that opinion hasn't changed. I think they have a good balance between looks and ease of maintenance. We saw a couple other boats with wood in the head - too much! The Leopard's are all fiberglass in the heads aside from the door as I think they should be.

I also think the forward cockpit is nice - not sure how it impacts sailing performance if much at all, but it is nice having yet another place to sit, especially in the islands when the sun is often off the stern at the end of the day.
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:31   #9
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

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You've got more than one wife and can still afford a cat? Wow I'm jealous.....
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:30   #10
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

"Fit-n-finish" is a good starter "measurement," but systems also tend to be very important. Size of engines, vendors or pumps, fittings, etc. Any input?
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:47   #11
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

For me, the value of seeing a boat in person is understanding it's liveability from a cruising or liveaboard perspective.

Hard specs are readily available elsewhere. The "onboard experience" is only possible in person, and is all I had time for. If I had known there would so many models present, I would have allowed more time.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:33   #12
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

I like the Leopards but correct me if I'm wrong, and I'd like to hear it: Is there any storage on the aft deck besides the two small areaas under the seats? A boat that size needs a garage both forward and back.

I like the boat and it wouldn't be a deal breaker..

But...

I see myself using that forward cockpit as a place to store stuff.
Will it end up looking like a balcony one sees at apartments, filled with bikes and junk?
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Old 10-10-2012, 14:48   #13
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Re: Annapolis Boat Report

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I like the Leopards but correct me if I'm wrong, and I'd like to hear it: Is there any storage on the aft deck besides the two small areaas under the seats? A boat that size needs a garage both forward and back.

I like the boat and it wouldn't be a deal breaker..

But...

I see myself using that forward cockpit as a place to store stuff.
Will it end up looking like a balcony one sees at apartments, filled with bikes and junk?
With two complete hulls and a minimum of 3 cabins, I'm not imagining storage to be an issue, at least not for me. My philosophy is that if it doesn't fit in the storage compartments, you've got too much stuff. A person doesn't need that much to live comfortable and stylishly. Unless you have a large family or plan to charter, that second hull is nothing but storage.

If you have a lot of dive and swim gear, then I can see that front area becoming a storage compartment. It's the right size and shape, for sure. In that case, I'd rather it were covered storage.

I'm not that happy about that extra sitting space, though I might really appreciate it once I have it. These boats have an excess of sitting spaces already. I can hardly imagine using that swinging door during a strong sail.

OTOH, I can imagine that, in the tropics, it may be a lifesaver at anchor, since that's where the breeze would be.

Bikes are a trick. If I'm going to spend $200 grand or more on a boat, I won't skimp on the bikes. I'll buy a quality folding bike and pay the premium to ensure I'm not hauling around a couple of rusting ugly hulks on my top deck.
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