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Old 20-09-2005, 09:37   #1
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Question Catamaran Recommendations?

Hello all,

We currently have a C&C 27 MKIII that we use for daysailing & a few overnights in Chicago. In the not-too distant future, we are considering buying a used catamaran for use in the Caribbean. Ideally, we would be semi-retired, probably doing some charity work down in the islands or maybe even doing some minor home remodeling for people with vacation homes in the islands. This way we could stay on shore part of the time, work with our hands (not just in sales like I do now!), and generate enough income so that we don't have to constantly tap our retirement funds. We might spend 6 - 8 months a year down there, then return home for the summer & fall.

We don't have kids, though if I am going to be doing some minor home remodeling, I'll probably carry more tools than most. I would like to stay with a boat with a beam of about 16 feet or so - that way it will fit into standard slips and not require more expensive end-docks. We would not require tons of bunks, as we may have guests but we could always use a fold-town table or smaller bunks for them, or they can always stay on shore. A reasonably roomy head & a queen size bed for us is a must.

Budget for the boat in good shape is probably between $75K - $125K, and it looks like the Gemini 105M or the Prout Snowgoose 37 are in the running. What other boats would you recommend looking at, and why?

Doing some reading, here's what I think we will want to include as features:

1). Reasonable windward performance. It doesn't have to be top-of-the-line, but we don't want it to be a dog, either.

2). Relatively low amount of under-deck slamming. Again, it doesn't have to be perfect, but we don't want to end up hating the boat over it, either.

3). Decent storage space with decent load carrying capacity. I don't expect us to be gadget crazy (we're not now), but we both dive, so we would bring dive gear and tanks as well as various tools & such.

4). Capability to make enough water to take decent showers, and enough room in the head to do this comfortably.

5). An LPG fridge is OK, if not preferable to reduce electricity draw. No A/C should be needed. We would want to be able to run a microwave, and my wife will insist on using a hair dryer.

6). I've heard that the Yamaha outboards can actually make enough electricity to be useful by comparison to other outboards. If this is true, then going with an outboard-powered 4 stroke is OK with us. We of course would utilize solar panels as well. I don't know if this combination will provide enough electricity, given the need to power a watermaker & such - any opinions?

7). I like the idea of a hard foredeck rather than a net for maintenance and ease of use issues.

8). On the surface, I like the kick-up centerboard and rudder concept of the Gemini 105M, though if the performance of the Snowgoose isn't bad, I can't fault a solid keel arrangement either.

Any thoughts given what our goal is? Anything I'm massively overlooking here?

Thanks so much in advance!!!


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Old 20-09-2005, 10:28   #2
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PDQ looks a nice boat if you can get one for the money.

Fontaine Pajot at that price is likely to be worn out so best avoided.

I have seen a Woods design Flica selling for silly money in Florida probably cause nobody realised what a good boat it is.

The smaller Prouts would also be in that price range (Event 34 ft - early Snowgoose 35ft - Quest 31 ft)

Heavenly twins Mk 3 would be well inside that budget but I personally dont like the layout.

Catalac 9m - lovely layout, but not so good to windward.

happy to discuss further.

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Old 20-09-2005, 11:06   #3
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Generally, with a Catamaran, “storage space” is no problem; but "decent load carrying capacity" (weight) is a significant concern. Tools being dense, they’ll impose a heavy load/volume ratio.
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Old 20-09-2005, 12:14   #4
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I have a single diesel outboard with a 10 amp charging circuit- this is obviously insufficient for serious cruising. However, I also have a 180 watt solar panel.

I did my energy budget and worked out for a serious autopilot a12v fridge and a seperate freezer, but using LEDs in tricolour and wherever else practical.

I planned to also fit a Duogen towed/air driven generator (very successful in last ARC) and reckoned that the solar panel and the duogen would provide surplus power, thus no need for engine charging, and a certain amount of DVD watching allowed.
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Old 20-09-2005, 12:22   #5
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Some thoughts and experiences after being on our cat for the last 9 months:

1. Windward performance.... Hmmm.... I have been sailing lately with friends 27 - 35 foot monohulls. I don't think you'll be able to compare a CRUISING cat to their performance both on an off the wind. My cat can outrun must monohulls of comprable size(37') on engines, but the weight make it a realatively slow sailer (7-8 knots). I guess I could through out the watermaker, extra anchors, boarding ramp, dinghy,wind generator, ssb, radar, blankets, food stores, sewing machines, tools, etc.... to make it lighter and sail faster, but I NEED those things! I tell you what though, nothing like setting the sails, turning on the autopilot, grabbing a cold tea, book and laying on the trampoline and watching the ocean go by. Doesn't really matter if I am not going that fast!

2. The slapping/slamming of the bridge deck when sailing quartering seas is at first alarming! Then after the first couple of times you realize it is only the waves and nothing is breaking. You get somewhat use to it. The way to lessen this is to get a cat with more bridge clearance. That brings its own problems. I'd probably relagate this issue to the bottom of my list and live with what I get.

3. Okay, maybe I have a lot of gadgets! Watermaker, radar, ssb, refrigerator, food, water, clothes, tools etc... But the space goes fast in a cat, don't believe that you have all that space! Now, compared to a mono it may be spacious, but you rapidly run out. I am still trying to figure out where the best place to carry my dive equipment is. I am probably going to make mounting brackets on the bimini/davits and store them there. I would love a compressor, but I am not sure where I'd put it? If you have two heads, I guess you could give up one of them for wet storage. I have seen folks just hang their gear from the bimini until it is dry then fold and store it. If you have an extra cabin, many of those issues are resolved. Just can't have as many guest!

4. Water making creates its own issues. Mostly power related. Engine driven, 12 VDC, 24VDC or 120 AC? All have their advantages and drawbacks. All cost $$$$. I installed my water maker in 4 different locations spread throughout the boat. The prefilters and pumps I mounted in the engine room. The hydraulic intensifier and filters I located in a storage space located under the freezer compartment. The RO membrane I located in the bilge under the kitchen. The control electronics I mounted on the navigation console and underneath it. Quite an installation "challenge" I guess the key here is $$$ if you have enough of them, you can make enough water to have showers and not worry about it. Just make certain you have adequate power to drive it all.

We love our shower, it is roomy enough for the two of us to sit down and shower. It is seperate from the toilet so thats an additional plus. But I think you start talking about additional $$$ and length.

5. Power consumption. Our microwave (1700 watts = 140 amps )can't be running if any other AC load is on and the batteries aren't topped up. It doesn't matter when we are on shore power, but on anchor we have to be VERY aware. The same to just a lesser extent applies to my wife's hair dryer and electric water heater. They draw GOOBS (1500 watts each = 120 amps each). I had to upgrade our inverter from 1500 watts to 2500 watts to make certain it could handle it. You also should be aware that microwaves can be sensitive to the type of inverter you plug into them. The square wave types might not work.

Notice also the draw. You'll have to have a big enough battery bank to support that kind of discharge, then of course, double it. we have a bank rated at 750 amp/hours (20 hour discharge). BIG, HEAVY suckers. Where do you put them? Then of course putting the energy back (charging system). The point is more $$$$ and weight. Getting rid of the microwave could save some significant $$$$ and weight. If you get a smaller microwave, you probably can make due with less issues. Don't know what to tell you about the hair dryer?!? They all appear to draw about 15- 18 kw. But, they are not sensitive to the type of inverter!

Compared to the above, the refrigeration is a cake walk. We have a DC refer and DC freezer. They both consume about 28 amp hours in a 24 hour period. Just make sure the installation insulation is good. The only problem we have with our propane is we run out! We use it for cooking and the grill. We used to run our Mosquito Delito, but that would go through a 20lb container in 2 weeks. Way to much hassle.

We try to keep most things electrical because our wind generator provides a decent amount of juice when we are out. We intend to install solar panels to make up for the windless days.

6.) I don't like having to run any kind of engine to generate electricity. Wind generators cost about the same a high output engine alternator, and it just doesn't make sense to me to use my expensive motors to do something you could get less expensively in a variety of different methods.

7. Nets are REALLY cool to lay own. Yes, that's a pun. They don't get as hot in the tropical sun. They are also softer and mold to you. Almost like a hammoch! We love ours for lounging. Additionally, from what I have read, you don't have to worry about them digging the front of the boat in as you're surfing down a wave. Cats tend not to capsize, they have a greater tendency to pitchpole. Anything that keeps you lighter in your bows is usually a plus.

8. I have solid keels, I am really glad for that when I run aground. But, I guess it is better just not to run aground then it is not an issue. But, make sure you have them up when they are supposed to be.

I think the biggest thing you're going to find is that there is no boat that is going to give you everything you want. Make sure you set asside some funds for making it as you would like. If you can do most of the work yourself it is only going to be $$$$ if you have to pay someone, whoa!!! Now that's some big bucks!!! Additionally, people say keep it simple because of the hassle, $$$$$, and reliability issues. I always think of anything I am doing, or adding as an enhancement that if it goes away, I would just go back to doing it the simple way. Don't let it stop you from sailing, or indeed going in the first place.

Good luck.

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Old 21-09-2005, 09:20   #6
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With your budget and needs you might be better off looking at monohulls.

The smaller older cats (you are looking at 15-20 years old) do not sail very well while loaded (neither do big new ones...). They also do not point nearly as well.
And the slamming can be unerving at best....
The hard foredeck is IMHO a hazard....

On the other issues I will point out that the watermaker is not absolutely needed in the Caribbean as water is readily available in most places at a decent price (unlike the far Bahamas). A good rain catchment system can go a long way..... but the watermaker will make you more independent (and cost you probably a bit more per gal than buying your water).

Solar panels take a lot of space and do not produce nearly as much power as a wind generator...if you have the budget I would do both but wind should be first.
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Old 21-09-2005, 10:37   #7
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Solar panels take a lot of space and do not produce nearly as much power as a wind generator
If you are sailing downhill, then a wind generator is not very efficient. I would reckon my solar panel would provide at least as much as the average wind generator (its rated at 180watts). The most effective downwind system is a towed generator, that can then be turned into a wind gennie when at anchor, by far the best is the duogen.

A Catamaran provides lots of nice deck space for solar panels

Prout snowgoose has a hard foredeck and is undoubtedly the boat that has carried out more circumnavigations than most classes. That solid foredeck and knuckle is there for a reason - to improve the buoyancy when running down a big wave and hitting the bottom. Other designs allow a finer water entry and then require a netting foredeck cause the bows go much further into the next wave - personally I would rather the boat minimised the amount of penetration into the next wave, buts its really only a design issue.

If you want a fast cat with good load carrying look at the Wood's Eclipse - the designer crossed the Atlantic with a heavy load (including 200 books) but was still having to work to reduce speed to 12 knots.

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