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Old 13-12-2013, 09:33   #1
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Balance Catamarans

Another question.. ( I warned you I'd ask alot!!! )

Does anyone have any knowledge/experience, or insight on the "Balance" brand of catamaran's?
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Old 13-12-2013, 12:58   #2
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Re: Balance Catamarans

Scarlet, I have no experience with them, but as I recall the 421 was a 10 plus year old design that was 'upgraded' and had production moved to China. Apart from questions about Chinese manufacture, I note a couple of things about the design:

1. They do not list bridgedeck clearance, nor do they show pictures of the same. The overhead sailing photos show a rather disturbed wake and it is worth noting that the transoms are not raised above the water. This suggests to me that the various 'upgrades' to the cockpit have added more weight to the aft end of the boat than was originally intended by its designer.

2. Speaking up 'upgrades' to the cockpit, I question the utility of an exterior galley in a boat which already has a galley-up arrangement. I also question the safety/utility of a fiberglass enclosure for the BBQ. I certainly question the way in which the lines have been led to the cockpit! Rather than being accessible to the helmsperson, the halyards and sheets have all been led aft of the helm position and on the starboard side, into this small exterior galley area. Hardly convenient and, from what I can see, there is no place to store the halyard tails etc. (except perhaps in the little sink?).

3. The galley is not one I would want for extended living/voyaging: a single sink with a small 2 burner counter-top stove and no propane oven? On a boat of that size?

4. The headliner in the main salon appears to be old style, glue on vinyl with foam backing. Guaranteed to fail over time, leading to a dirty, saggy headliner.

5. I couldn't get the interior layouts to pop up on their site (perhaps blessedly), but it would appear that you may have to shower in the head compartment per se (rather than a dedicated shower stall). It also does not appear to have a seat for the chart table/nav station. Yes, one could fit a fold-out stool (better than nothing), but it appears that this would interfere with access to the cockpit.

6.The diesel/engine room access does seem to be pretty good, however.

Brad
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Old 13-12-2013, 13:24   #3
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Re: Balance Catamarans

The Balance is a Roger Hill (NZ designer) designed cat that started life as a Montebello. Built on Gold Coast in Australia I say the molds being built. I think they built around 4 vessels and then went into receivership burning a fair few suppliers. I guess the overheads such as the cost of developing the moulds caught up with them. Previously the builder had built quite a lot of power cats.

The vessel that was displayed at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show was well equipt (heavy) but seemed to be quite down on it lines. Fairly narrow hulls.

Most of the vessels that were built (at least 3) are currently charter vessels in Whitsundays. If you wanted to try one out you could always charter one there.

Thereafter the moulds resurfaced in China with Phil Berman. Factor has possibly sailed on one.

Cheers
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Old 13-12-2013, 14:01   #4
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Re: Balance Catamarans

Brad, isn't it funny how photos can hide certain things? Good eye on spotting the wake... I'm too new to all this to have noticed, but the Bridgedeck clearance is important to us as we do want to do a lot of bluewater sailing.

The outside galley was one of the features I actually liked. (I know.. us women!! ) My husband and I are planning on doing alot of fishing, and I like that we can take care of cleaning and fileting the fish outside, and put them right on the grill. I also liked the idea of being able to keep the salon doors closed, if we were in a particular hot region..

I'm sorry for being ignorant.. but what is the "headliner"?

Since we will live-aboard... the 'shower in the head' options is a deal breaker... we need to have a separate shower stall.. it's a matter of mental health!! I'd go crazy h aving to shower on top of a toilet!

Regarding the lines... you are absolutely right! what were they thinking? you would have to leave the helm everytime you wanted to trim the sails... horrible...

Thanks for the history, Downunder... it sounds like they have really struggled...

The reason I asked for feedback, is that I've been trying to get a pricelist from them for almost a month... sent inquiries several times, with no responses.. left phone messages. I finally got a live person today.. (Lauren) and she said "Phil" would call me right back.. (I didn't need a call.. I needed a pricelist).. well.. I waited.. 3 hours later Lauren called me again to advise me that Phil would call me LATER.. again.. I don't need a call.. just a pricelist... To tell the truth, they don't seem very interested in selling a cat...

From what I understand, they will be at the Miami Boat show.. with one of their Boats... I will go take a look at them... but, with a very critical eye...
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Old 13-12-2013, 14:10   #5
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Re: Balance Catamarans

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Originally Posted by downunder View Post
The Balance is a Roger Hill (NZ designer) designed cat that started life as a Montebello. Built on God Coast in Australia I say the molds being built. I think they built around 4 vessels and then went into receivership burning a fair few suppliers. I guess the overheads such as the cost of developing the moulds caught up with them. Previously the builder had built quite a lot of power cats.

The vessel that was displayed at the Santuary Cove Boat Show was well equipt (heavy) but seemed to be quite down on it lines. Fairly narrow hulls.

Most of the vessels that were built (at least 3) are currently charter vessels in Whitsundays. If you wanted to try one out you could always charter one there.

Thereafter the moulds resurfaced in China with Phil Berman. Factor has possibly sailed on one.

Cheers
Young Mr Downunder has it pretty spot on. When they were Montebellos they were actually a pretty nicely built boat, I cant comment on the new builders. Thats noyt a negative by the way, just can't comment.

Yeah I sailed one a few times, not for any distance really but did spend half a day taking one from Coomera to Southport to Tweed heads across the bar. Sailed nicely and handled pretty well, sailed not quite as quickly as the Seawind 1250, and the Bridgedeck clearance was lower, but not critically so, The hydraulic steering was all over the place when we were surfing into the tweed bar, but thats not the boats fault. Ergonomically the cockpit could have been a little better, but all in all a pretty good boat.

Now at one stage I did meet the guy from the US who was involved in the plan to take it to China. He did have some ideas of chnaging a lot of internals and moving bulkheads etc, I would want to be satisfied that Roger Hill was okay with any changes (presuming any were finally made).
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Old 14-12-2013, 04:02   #6
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Re: Balance Catamarans

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I'm sorry for being ignorant.. but what is the "headliner"?
That is the material covering the ceiling just like the headliner in your car.

Just so you know:
There is virtually no recreational sailing in China. It has many logistical and official hurdles. You can't really pick the boat up at the factory and set off from there. The French boats got China beat on that one.
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Old 14-12-2013, 06:57   #7
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Re: Balance Catamarans

so.. I guess they just put it on a container ship and send it??
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Old 14-12-2013, 08:10   #8
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Re: Balance Catamarans

Too big for a container. They just point (sail) that sucker east and don't look back.
Kinda ironic that one would buy a cruising boat built in a country that doesn't allow cruising. Think about that.
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Old 25-09-2014, 12:18   #9
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Re: Balance Catamarans

Scarlet,

I know that I'm replying to an ancient thread but thought I'd comment on something you mentioned, " 'shower in the head' options is a deal breaker."

I may be out of step with most here, but I rather like the "shower in the head" set-up. When I'm on such a boat, my head is always spotless as everything gets a free rinse down with any shower.

What's more, underway I'm much more comfortable showering in a tiny head rather than rattling around in a larger shower stall.

Just my $.02
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Old 25-09-2014, 14:42   #10
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Re: Balance Catamarans

Well.. I've never showered whilst underway.. so I guess I can't "knock it till I try it".. but generally speaking, I'd HATE to be the person to use the head AFTER someone took a shower in it as everything would be completely soaked.. and from my experiences in an RV... I can get very claustrophobic in a very tiny bathroom, where I can barely turn around... I need some breathing and moving space. The head's with the separate shower stalls are just bigger overall...

btw.. I'm excited to see this catamaran as I understand they will have one at Annapolis.
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Old 25-09-2014, 18:08   #11
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Re: Balance Catamarans

Scarlett,

Looking forward to your impressions after you see the boat at the show.

The Montebello 421 had a reputation for being down at the sterns as previously mentioned, and if you look at the videos of the Balance launching, I think it looks like it might be a bit down in the bows when the boat was put in the water & that's without mast and rig. But it's hard to judge from just a video & we dont know if the chain was onboard etc etc.

So it would be good if you could check out the boats trim at the show and find out how much fuel and water were onboard at the time. I would think that show boats should have the transoms well clear of the water when they are in lightship display mode.
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Old 25-09-2014, 18:19   #12
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Re: Balance Catamarans

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Scarlett,

Looking forward to your impressions after you see the boat at the show.

The Montebello 421 had a reputation for being down at the sterns as previously mentioned, and if you look at the videos of the Balance launching, I think it looks like it might be a bit down in the bows when the boat was put in the water & that's without mast and rig. But it's hard to judge from just a video & we dont know if the chain was onboard etc etc.

So it would be good if you could check out the boats trim at the show and find out how much fuel and water were onboard at the time. I would think that show boats should have the transoms well clear of the water when they are in lightship display mode.
From my understanding after they launched the boat for the first time in Fort Lauderdale they had to pull it out, and raise the water line a couple of inches.
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Old 27-09-2014, 15:28   #13
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Re: Balance Catamarans

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Scarlett,

Looking forward to your impressions after you see the boat at the show.

The Montebello 421 had a reputation for being down at the sterns as previously mentioned, and if you look at the videos of the Balance launching, I think it looks like it might be a bit down in the bows when the boat was put in the water & that's without mast and rig. But it's hard to judge from just a video & we dont know if the chain was onboard etc etc.

So it would be good if you could check out the boats trim at the show and find out how much fuel and water were onboard at the time. I would think that show boats should have the transoms well clear of the water when they are in lightship display mode.
I'm also very excited to see it. Of course I have reservations regarding the fact that it isn't a "main stream cat". Mostly those reservations come from worrying about resell.

Now my husband? He doesn't like it at all. So, we will see which side we fall after we put our feet on board, and investigate it top to bottom.


btw... I want to make sure I understand you. are you saying that part of the transoms were actually underwater? I had no idea that happened with a cat.. I thought the transoms stayed above water... Do I have a misconception?
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Old 27-09-2014, 19:32   #14
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Re: Balance Catamarans

If a cats balance isn't correct and/or it is overloaded at the stern, then yes it can drag its bum. That causes parasitic drag which can be considerable. Better to ask Factor who has been on the boat.
Be aware the Balance 451 is a stretched Montebello 421so carries more hull length which should help. It will be interesting to see if it actually does help, as was done with the Seawind 1000 being stretched by some owners and it was so successful that it was part of a re-design by the factory.



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Old 02-10-2014, 00:00   #15
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Re: Balance Catamarans

The Montebello was being built in Australia, it was designed by Roger Hill, they went bust and went to Thailand I believe. The Balance catamaran is being built in China by Phillip Berman from The Multihull Company and was also designed by Roger Hill. Obviously using the same designer doesn't mean they are the same boat. No more than the Morrelli and Melvin designed Gunboats and Leopards are the same boat! All depends on the specification given to the designer!
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