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Old 26-11-2008, 10:00   #1
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Begginer Load Question

first of all please accept my apologies for asking this beginner question. I am looking to buy/build a 50ft CAT and yes I am sadly aware of the cost but I figure 350-500K all inclusive budget should be about right.

I am looking at a fast cat and I know the penalty of overloading on performance but at the same time it's a dive platform so the O2 separator, the rebreathers, the compressors all add weight as to rinse tanks and so on. I want to go pure solar (electric engines and solar panels) + wind backup as I am aiming to pretty much always stay in warm water with the odd Europe outing.

I am looking at the Waterline 1480 or the Spirited 480 but that is not fixed in stone, what worries me is both have a stated payload capacity around 2tons and while that is a lot if that is including everything but the shell (sails, rigging, furniture (includig matrasses and sofa cushions), fridge, freezer, motor, fuel, water, etc..) then that number goes away VERY fast (a single disel saildrive engine weighs about 250KG dry weight).

So let me get to the question am I missing something? The main reason for my state of panick is I want a fast cruiser and I need to be able to handle her single handed and in my experaince 50ft is about the limit, and 500K is about the limit of my budget (over many years as the planned launch date is in 6-10 years)
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Old 26-11-2008, 10:16   #2
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The first thing that came to mind is are you going to have enough amp-hours to charge dive tanks without an engine or a generator? You are going to need to have a lot of solar cells, batteries and probably a wind generator. I understand the reasons for being easy on the environment, but sometimes having a couple engines and/or a genset can get you out of a jam. This does not mean you need to use the engines or the genset frequently. Having them is nice backup insurance because stuff does happen. Besides, boats are not easy on the environment even if you do leave the diesel behind. Lots of energy is burned and resources consumed in the production and maintenance of a boat.

Fifty feet is a big boat for one person to handle. I'm not saying it cannot be done. You just need to make sure you have made special considerations for your rigging so you can single hand the boat. Docking a 50 foot boat by yourself is going to be a real chore and may limit what docks you can safely get in and out of. People tend to get really ticked off when their boat gets hit.

500k seems low for a nice fifty foot catamaran. I was just looking at a nice 50 foot Catana that costs 1.2 million. Maybe fifty feet is not so for a nice catamaran that needs lots of work. Do you have an adequate budget for getting the boat up to good and safe condition? Buying the boat is just the beginning of your expenses, especially if it is a fixer upper.

It may not be possible to have all that gear and have a fast catamaran. Weight kills speed, especially for a catamaran with fine hulls. For carrying stuff, you need the wider and therefore slower hulls.
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Old 26-11-2008, 10:52   #3
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Hi David,


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The first thing that came to mind is are you going to have enough amp-hours to charge dive tanks without an engine or a generator? You are going to need to have a lot of solar cells, batteries and probably a wind generator. I understand the reasons for being easy on the environment, but sometimes having a couple engines and/or a genset can get you out of a jam. This does not mean you need to use the engines or the genset frequently. Having them is nice backup insurance because stuff does happen. Besides, boats are not easy on the environment...period.
The reason for pure electric was not just ecco friendly, it was also weight reduction as once I have reached a dive destination I might be anchored for a week and have loads of sunlight. I looked at a genset but regenerative motor sailing seems to give a large amount of power and using a rebreather gives me 30 hours of bottom time per refill (sadly of pure 100% O2).

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Fifty feet is a big boat for one person to handle. I'm not saying it cannot be done. You just need to make sure you have made special considerations for your rigging so you can single hand the boat. Docking a 50 foot boat by yourself is going to be a real chore and may limit what docks you can safely get in and out of.
Single handed should be the exception and that is one of the benefits of a pure electric system (a remote control) allowing me to be anywhere and have full motor control (Ok I know you can do it with any engine but cool and fun)

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500k seems low for a nice fifty foot catamaran. I was just looking at a nice 50 foot Catana that costs 1.2 million. Maybe fifty feet is not so for a nice catamaran that needs lots of work. Do you have an adequate budget for getting the boat up to good and safe condition? Buying the boat is just the beginning of your expenses, especially if it is a fixer upper.
I am basing my estimate on a kit price that I get to build or a 5-8 year old production model.

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It may not be possible to have all that gear and have a fast catamaran. Weight kills speed, especially for a catamaran with fine hulls. For carrying stuff, you need the wider and therefore slower hulls.
That is my fear and why I am asking the question as a LOT of cats are available in the 10-12 Knot maximum range but very few that are capable of 20+

Peter
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Old 26-11-2008, 13:17   #4
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Well, Peter, you have a lot more research to do. To put it pretty bluntly, you have champagne expectations on a one beer budget. In five years a FastCat will be selling used for $850,000 minimum. No regen is going to power a dive compressor. And 12 knots average or a 280 mile day is not going to happen three days running on anything this side of an all-out record-making machine, far beyond a Waterline 1480, and you are not going to do it single-handed, mainly because you are not going to function well enough to deal with exigencies after 72 hours of sleep deprivation.

Suppose you worked your axe off 24/7 for the next five years, bought all this boat, and discovered you didn't like it, or that the dream that drove you can't happen the way you dreamed it?

Step back, pick a flower, and enjoy it. Start simpler, and master every aspect of sailing, and savor every moment. When you can back a 28 footer into a slip without a motor, then you are ready to move up to a bigger boat. Build a fortune in experience, and love every minute of it. If you don't love every minute of it, find something else that you can.

Do you think I'm just grumbling about upstarts? I'm not; I'm promising you a long and happy journey rather than instant gratification followed by been there, done that.

And there's a difference between doing and just talking about it. In the first case, you will actually know what its like to sit for hours in ice-cold seawater, or to see that first sea bouy come into sight dead ahead of you. In the latter case all you need is internet access.
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Old 26-11-2008, 13:29   #5
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Congrats on your plan and starting early. 6-10 years is a long time in technology terms and things will change, although maybe not as fast as you think.

I am not criticising your plans but am playing armchair Nostradamus for fun and amusement.

Total solar in 6 years will still be somewhat of a dream in boating. We may have plug in cars but it will still be heavy, the batteries will be expensive and to drive a loaded 50 foot cat off a lee shore, you won't have the power available.

I am not sure why you would be single handing a dive boat. You really should have competent crew topsides when you are diving so the single handing question is somewhat moot. I think you will be able to single-"watch" a 50 footer but if the excrement hits the rotator you'll need all hands on deck.

I think your speed desires are optimistic. You state you might be buying an 8 y/o boat. Look around and find a new boat doing 12 knots sustained. Just not happening. Especially if you want to load it up.

Also going back to the all electric technology there are no production boats doing all electric at present so in 8 years are you going to repower one? Add a hundred grand to your used purchase price.

Don't get me wrong. For what you plan to do a 50 foot cat might make sense. Just go with traditinoal, predictable, reliable power and turn down the speed desires.
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Old 26-11-2008, 23:32   #6
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I am aware that what I am looking for might be a stretch in the 500K budget but if you look at some of the kit's out there, you can if you build it yourself get a ready to sail waterline (as an example) for about 300K, I agree Solar is not there yet, and it's actually not the solar that is the problem it's the battery bank weight that is the real issue.

I have done some preliminary testing to see how feasible my wacky idea is and have a slow charging compressor that gives me the 3000psi I need and can run of 250W of solar (so it takes 3 days of 8hr sunlight, here in Ottawa, which should be about 2 in the tropics), but as I am a rebreather diver I only fill every week on average anyways. True I have yet to get a portable O2 seperator figured out

I agree with you sandy daugherty that I may not like it and that would be a real shame so to that end ignoring 10+ years of sailing monohuls in Europe and loving it I am planning to charter a couple Cats before starting construction. My biggest fear is actually not the budget or the enjoyment it's being 55 to 65 when we launch.

The singlehanded requirement is so that I can (and likely wont) sail it alone if I need to the plan is to go with the family and lets be realistic all my diving friends will kill to come and crew.

The speed requirement is there not becasue I think I will average 20+ knots (tried a couple times in racing mono's and it's a LOT of work and not that much fun) and yes I have windsurfed for 4hrs passing those speeds on average but was a fool and lucky to survive (note to self gale means stay home not hit the waves)

The real reason for posting here and talkign to people with the exeraince is if this plan is foolish then I should kill it, I could for all practical purposes just dive outside my front door as I moving to Bonaire in 10 years (was going to base the cat from there) and that is aleady done (ok bank still owns 40% of the place)

So what I guess I am saying is guys (and ladies) does this make sense and can it be done for less than 500K assuming no cost of labour? Becasue if it's going to be 1M I will just go on 3-6 week dive vacations annually (we did the mathc and at 500K it will take almost 10 years to break even, 8 if completely solar driven)

Ok enough rambling
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Old 27-11-2008, 05:05   #7
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I'd say you could certainly build a 48 foot Schionning for $500k materials only. I would have thought considerably less than that. As long as you have a place to do it. If you have to pay rent on a shed big enough for as long as it will take, it could cost a fortune.

Another option is Bob Oram Design 50′ C which would be cheaper to build than either of the above, and have a greater payload, while still being a fast boat.

You'd fit more than 250 Watts of solar on a boat like this with no difficulty. I'm having 440 Watts just on the cockpit roof of a 44C, still leaving plenty of room to walk down beside the boom.
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Old 27-11-2008, 08:08   #8
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I'd say you could certainly build a 48 foot Schionning for $500k materials only. I would have thought considerably less than that. As long as you have a place to do it. If you have to pay rent on a shed big enough for as long as it will take, it could cost a fortune.
I agree, the design changes, kit & material cost for the shell & furniture comes out to approx 200K, electronics 50K, propulsion 50K (electric), add all the rest like plumbing, stove, fridge, freezer and so on and you end up with a 400-500 budget

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Another option is Bob Oram Design 50′ C which would be cheaper to build than either of the above, and have a greater payload, while still being a fast boat.
I agree there are many models and options, I like several aspects on the waterline but may switch as its a couple years away

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You'd fit more than 250 Watts of solar on a boat like this with no difficulty. I'm having 440 Watts just on the cockpit roof of a 44C, still leaving plenty of room to walk down beside the boom.
Using today's panels I can get 6 130W panels in, however I am convinced that in 8 years (as the panels would go in almost last) I should be able to get 2+KW.
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Old 27-11-2008, 11:10   #9
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(Ahem) What, exactly, do you anticipate not being able to do when you're 55?

Seriously consider a kit if you can find a place to build it that's not too far from the water. You can pay as you go, pace yourself, and learn the vessel infinately better in the mean time, providing you are skilled with your hands.

Just don't let life pass by. Keep diving, do some sailing. But a word of advice; build the dinghy first, just to see how you can deal with a self build project.
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Old 27-11-2008, 12:50   #10
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(Ahem) What, exactly, do you anticipate not being able to do when you're 55?

Seriously consider a kit if you can find a place to build it that's not too far from the water. You can pay as you go, pace yourself, and learn the vessel infinately better in the mean time, providing you are skilled with your hands.

Just don't let life pass by. Keep diving, do some sailing. But a word of advice; build the dinghy first, just to see how you can deal with a self build project.

Lifting my silly dive kit, with dual 80's it's getting heave with dual 120's it s a pain. And you are right that building a small project is a good idea, I used to build windurfers as a kid so I am already dreading the sanding aspects, but have a high degree of confidence that I can complete the project (and that is one of the reasons I like the Spirited 480 kit as it significantly reduces the sanding required.
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Old 27-11-2008, 13:43   #11
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Dear Peter
I think anyone with a serious plan on how to go cruising is well ahead of all the people that only go work and hope for a few weeks holiday each year, but if I understand your dreams correctly you expect solar power alone to provide enough power to provide power for a catamaran plus daily consumption.
With 2008 technology most 50 foot cats are struggling to meet their daily electricity consumption. Power for propulsion is a couple of orders of mangnitude above daily domestic consumption.(ie 100X)
Solar power is advancing, but the gains in technology are nothing like the computer or LED technology industries. I cannot see state of the art equipment providing what you envisage in the foreseeable future, let alone something for 500K.
I don't want to discourage you but realistic goals are a much faster road to happiness. Your dream of diving from a boat is fantastic, but base the dream on what is achievable. I don't think 20knots, solar power, 500K,is realistic, but I didn't predict the stock market crash, so what do I know.
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Old 27-11-2008, 13:44   #12
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Sanding and fairing is the worst aspect of boatbuilding - I'm doing it right now. But in truth the spirited 480 will only save you a minimal amount of sanding compared to the Oram 50C. (or a Schionning Wilderness kit) It's really only the bottoms of the hulls where the difference lies, and in reality these don't have to be perfect, since they are not going to be gloss painted or visible anyway.

The Waterline, being strip planked, could be a different story though.

The worst bits to get fair are the cockpit, (particularly the roof) aft beam and the hull steps - bits you will sit and look at every day. These will be similar amounts of work on either of the Duflex kits. I'd very strongly recommend budgetting for some labour to help at that point in the project. It's a huge job on a 44, it would be monumental on a 50.
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Old 27-11-2008, 13:52   #13
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Dear Peter
I think anyone with a serious plan on how to go cruising is well ahead of all the people that only go work and hope for a few weeks holiday each year, but if I understand your dreams correctly you expect solar power alone to provide enough power to provide power for a catamaran plus daily consumption.
With 2008 technology most 50 foot cats are struggling to meet their daily electricity consumption. Power for propulsion is a couple of orders of mangnitude above daily domestic consumption.(ie 100X)
Solar power is advancing, but the gains in technology are nothing like the computer or LED technology industries. I cannot see state of the art equipment providing what you envisage in the foreseeable future, let alone something for 500K.
I don't want to discourage you but realistic goals are a much faster road to happiness. Your dream of diving from a boat is fantastic, but base the dream on what is achievable.

Good point, solar + regenerative prop, but you may be right I need to do some detailed calculations but fear you are right as fridge/freezer=50W, radar 10W, lights 150W (LED) and so on I might be over 2KW and if so I am in trouble, but that will be a new thread as we digress from my load question
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Old 27-11-2008, 23:34   #14
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Peter

I build a 43' cat similar to a wilderness design in 4-1/2 years, the total build cost without labor was a little over $250k I started out with electric motors and used a 14kw genset to keep the weight down since this would allow me to have "only" 250lbs of battteries for a 1/2 hour to 1 hour motoring range depending on the speed and the genset would kick in for longer periods of motoring. I found the power to be insufficient in windy conditions especially in tight quarters and have since repowered with Beta Marine diesels, i think they weigh about 300 lbs each but I ended up loosing some weight in the conversion process. Regen is a nice idea but in reality it does not seem to be very effective plus you are now sailing around with large fixed props.
Electric propulsion seems like a great idea and I tried hard to make it work but in my opinion it is not there yet for large cats with lots of windage.
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