IF you want a serious "cruiser", and not just a marina bound condomaran, then you will need to be able to handle considerable amounts of going hard to windward, often in a gale. Survival storms will eventually be served up as well! I've been through more than a dozen hurricanes for example...
MOST, (but not all) FRP production cats are/were built to a design that does NOT fill these requirements, and they were NOT intended for this service
. You need to pick from the <10% that were, NOT a belly dragger! ALL sales propaganda and claims from biased owners, that fly in the face of good naval architecture, should be ignored.
A true "cruising cat" has really good wing clearance for one, (enough to drive a high bow RIB
through the wing tunnel). It needs to be wide as well, for stability.
(I know of Prouts for example, that I surveyed and found to be rather flimsy in construction. Due to their low wing clearance design flaws, they were driven back to the boatyard for months of repairs
, after the first attempt to drive them into 35 knots of wind, and 8' seas)! The Gemini is similar... They and their type, are NOT the boats for this! Getting lucky only works for a while...
A good SEA BOAT would have JUST enough head
room in the main bridge deck cabin
, that you don't hit your head
, and a cabin
that is small, leaving GOOD visibility forward, (UNDER a high clewed jib), AND good walking space on its side decks.
It is thus designed to have relatively low windage, and applying these parameters, light but STRONG construction techniques & materials, AND low down locations for tools, tankage, engines, and all heavy items. This keeps the COG low. Remember... BRIDGE DECK CABINS SHOULD BE STREAMLINED AND RELATIVELY SMALL!
This stable, low COG, low windage, good visibility, minimally pounding platform, is combined with light weight, so that a small but easily reefed rig will drive her, EVEN hard to windward.
With skill, experience, and good judgment, she could easily take you around the world... with safety
, speed, and relative comfort.
Many of the best "designs" are older ones, for the custom "one off" builder
. (Back in the day when, IF you wanted a multihull
, you built it)! It is how I got all three of mine...
These "better designs", were better because they were not designed to sell boats, they were designed to sell plans to build boats. The priorities of the experienced multihull
, were generally "wanting the more serious cruising type of vessel", for real world cruising. We didn't expect as much of an "apartment at sea".
IF you look carefully, there are still some great, still seaworthy
examples of these craft out there. A few production cats qualify as well. Of all the characteristics that one must look for, they are ALL important, in just the right measure, but good wing clearance is #1. Pounding is not just noise
. If it is bad enough, for long enough, it is the sound of your boat coming apart!
Good luck in your search!
P.S. This is a shot of the wing clearance of our Searunner
34 Tri., for example. Although we haven't, "yet", sisterships have circumnavigated safely. We have driven her HARD to windward, in 40+ knots of wind, and 13 to 15' waves, ALL day long, with minimal pounding or complaining.
The Cat, is also a "one off". It is the 34' long "Magic Carpet", and took our Australian friends, (a retired couple), around the world, over 10 totally safe years. They kept the overall cabin height, as well as windage, VERY low, AND wing clearance high, by living with just 5' head room in the small bridge deck cabin. HEADROOM
can be sacrificed, but in just 34' LOA
, the tall cabin, belly dragging alternative, is no longer a "round the world" boat. The same applies in larger boats as well, but they can have a bit more headroom
and keep the same excellent proportions.