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Old 22-07-2013, 07:25   #1
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Blue Water Cruising a Small Catamaran

Hi all, we are mostly lurkers and avidly read this forum.

We (just 2 of us) would like to know your thoughts on the smallest catamaran suited for blue water cruising, and which small cat is best suited for this endeavor.

Thanks to all.
Henry & Elizabeth
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Old 22-07-2013, 07:54   #2
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

Blue water is a nebulous term. Some think of it as 250 mile or less hops in the Carribean. I think of it is any offshore passage 3 or more days out where weather forecasts can fall apart and big seas are then possible. True blue water to me means handling anything short of a hurricane, certainly 60 kts winds.

With that definition, capsize safety which is what you are really talking about, is more related to displacement and beam than pure size. I sailed a 35' Island Packet Cat with a beam of 15' and a really heavy displacement of probably 18,000 lbs loaded. I felt reasonably safe on it, but wouldn't do a 3-5 day offshore passage in it.

Even a 40' cat with an 18-20 foot beam would be problematic if it were light. Cats rarely capsize due to simply heeling too far like you may have have experienced on a beach cat. They capsize when the leeward hull digs into a wave and they pitchpole. Length, beam and displacement are the only remedies for this as well as carrying conservative sails in a real blow like a storm sail.

David
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:13   #3
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

> Length, beam and displacement are the only remedies for this as well as carrying conservative sails in a real blow like a storm sail.

What length, beam displacement gives the greatest safety for the least price?
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:18   #4
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a small catamaran (circumnavigation)

David,

Thank you for your informative reply. Based on the response we are changing our question to smallest length for passages en route to a
circumnavigation.

Henry & Elizabeth (H&E)
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:27   #5
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

BTW, I heard a story in Antigua about a couple who tried to sail to St Martin in a 16 foot Hobie, but never made it and were never found.
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:28   #6
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

I think Catalacs and Prouts do it.

A friend sailed a Wharam Tiki but he gave it up.

Two guys crossed the Atlantic on a Hobbie.

Two other guys crossed the Atlantic, also in a small cat:
http://www.creartisto.com/sansboussole/equipage_en.html

Because many small, less expensive cats are old, you must make a proper full survey before you take one offshore. There are no service points out there.

Search recent threads for that guy who believed he could take a small catamaran offshore. Something with 'zen' in it.

Found it, but read that thread too:
http://zensekai2.wordpress.com/

what a mess: zenamaran

b.
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:38   #7
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

so...
we aren't looking at using a Hobie or super small cat. We are thinking of the 38 to 40 foot range.


H&E
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:44   #8
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38-40 ain't a small cat IMHO. This isn't new territory size wise for a circumnavigation.
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:44   #9
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

travelrookie,

I think you have a lot of research to do before you can ask the right questions.

"Smallest length" is a very subjective term. For instance, 21 foot Tiki's have crossed the Atlantic and further. The Bumfuzzles did a circumnavigation in a 36 foot catamaran with zero knowledge before leaving. The owner of Gemini took one of his smaller catamarans on a North Atlantic crossing with his son (and the rumor is that he said he would never do it again).

Why are you looking for smallest? Is it cost? Or ease of handling? Or the challenge of a small space? Or maintenance requirements?

You have said you want to know for doing a circumnavigation. Is this a trades wind circ or are you going to try and go north seas? Not all circ routes are equal.

For that matter, why a catamaran over a monohull?

Sorry to hit you with lots of questions, but without knowing more there is little usable information that can be provided. You will also find that vague questions like this get little response. A lot of seasoned CFers will ignore some of these questions.

If you are looking for a good place to start some research, I highly recommend Capn Fatty Goodlander's book Buy, Outfit, and Sail. I am about 2/3rds through this book and he gives a lot of great information for someone starting out their planning.

Good luck in your quest.

Fair winds,

Jesse
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:46   #10
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

travelrookie - not wanting to sound like a prat, but if you are thinking 38 - 40 foot why not say so at the start as that is a pretty specific size range.

As it is 38 - 40 foot should be fine if you treat the sea with the respect it deserves and take proper precaution when weather routing.

Many have been round on smaller cats than that.

For my part though I would not want smaller than 44 feet or bigger than 50 feet for a couple.
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:47   #11
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

after re-reading the posts we will look at 42 footers. thx

H&E
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Old 22-07-2013, 08:49   #12
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

Quote:
Originally Posted by travelrookie View Post
so...
we aren't looking at using a Hobie or super small cat. We are thinking of the 38 to 40 foot range.


H&E
At that size there are many, many boats. Lagoon 380s have been everywhere. FP Athenas, Seawind 1100/1160, Manta 38/40/42, and lots more are extremely capable. There are also many great customs and one offs.

Edit: just saw the rewrite by the OP. Just go to Yacht world and type in your size rage in advanced settings/cat and you will see many boats. It is really hard to find a bad boat.
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Old 22-07-2013, 09:01   #13
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

We have been downsizing from 5K+ house with lots of stuff, cars, etc., and don't want to go bigger than we have to in order to sail. Thus the question of smallest/safest size. We don't want to be Spartan, just comfortable.

Lower maintenance costs are a plus but wont kill the deal.

Ease of handling with single crew if necessary is a must.

We aren't necessarily looking for speed, as there is no agenda or time limit in mind.

We want to do a trade winds circ.

E doesn't like the heeling in a mono so we are going with a cat.

Really, any size from 38 to 44 would work, we just want to go small.

Capn Fatty's book has just been ordered.

H&E
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Old 22-07-2013, 09:20   #14
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

I think its not so much a matter of size, you will be no more comfortable in a 42' than a 38 or for that matter even a 32 if the weather turns to crap and you have to beat to windward. A 42 cat will pound and be uncomfortable just as a smaller cat would be trying to beat thru steep close seas. On the other hand a 32-34' cat will be almost as comfy surfing down waves and running with big seas. That is the compromise with a cat, they just arent comfortable going to weather in the nasty, but on all other points of sail are much better than a mono. If your circumnavigating than you want load capacity, simplistic easy to repair systems, and a cat you can handle. Handling sails (both raising lowering, furling and or removing them) may be alot easier on a 38 than a 42. Also the bigger the cat the more power the sails have and more caution needed when adjusting etc, just my 2C.
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Old 22-07-2013, 09:29   #15
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Re: Blue Water Cruising w/a samll catamaran

I suggest you charter a 40' catamaran in the BVI, and sail to Anegada. In a four hour trip you will get a taste of what the Open Ocean is like. A cat that is smaller than 40' would be quite uncomfortable bashing to windward there, whil a 50 footer would seem serene.

I think that experience would show you what size boat you would need. However:

Almost nobody buys their last boat first.* Whatever you get is likely to start out straining your courage, endurance and pocket book, before becoming a guide to what you really want in a second boat. You have just succumbed to a boating malaise called "two-foot-it is". The only cure is to go for a six foot bigger boat. Then you get "six-foot-it is" with a longer gestation period. Observe that there are boats too big for Coastal sailing where you can duck into a harbor, and drift along the Inter Coastal Waterway where water and air draft are limited.

Its true that many people can open a restaurant, but its wise to learn to cook first.

* Okay, Okay. some people head around the world on their first boat ride, and some of them do it in really cheap boats. Some people ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Somebody somewhere played Russian Roulette five times.

The rest of sail for the shear pleasure of sailing.
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