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Old 01-02-2006, 17:54   #16
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Hi Frank:

Not much has happened in the last couple weeks. I have a short list of a half dozen boats and am now in a holding pattern for a couple more weeks before going to spend quality time on them at the boat show">Miami boat show later this month.

Some of the manufacturers were very helpful with headroom dimensions and some not at all. After some more digging it turned out that the one's who "didnt have that data available" knew what it was and didnt want to tell me it fell short.

As it turns out, all but one of the boats I am interested in will be at the show so I should be able to do a full walkthrough and see for myself how many bumps I get on my head.

For those that might be inverse height challenged I will let you know what I learned after I return.

Bruce
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Old 02-02-2006, 05:12   #17
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The models that you listed earlier as boats of interest would probably make a lot of people's list, so some comment on first impressions and comparisons (both of the boats and the manufacturers) would also be of general interest.
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Old 25-02-2006, 09:00   #18
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OK, so for all of you tall people out there (as well as the other normal height folks), here are some thoughts and impressions from my visit to the Miami Boat Show a week ago.

After 3 boat shows and lots of time spent talking to many people in person and on-line, it all comes down to this....the really isn't a perfect boat, especially when looking at Catamarans. The final decision will come down to a number of compromises. This show was the most productive for me since I had a good feel for what was important to me and what trade offs I was willing to make. I walked away from the Miami show with one big conclusion....at first glance most of the Catamarans look very much the same on the surface. Of course you can find layout and feature differences in all of them but it is often the things that aren't obvious, or even thought about in advance, that really make the difference. The importance of these things will depend on your own priorities.

Being able to identify the things that might not be obvious is to be honest with yourself about what you will be using the boat for. A coastal cruiser might have very different priorities from a blue water passagemaker. I am choosing a liveaboard boat that I feel would serve me best in a lazy circumnavigation and most of the situations I might find myself in. Without going into the length debate, my target size is 38 - 45 feet which would get me in a large enough boat with all the accessories I want within my budget.

I had a short list for "tall people" boats going into the show that included the Leopard 40, Leopard 43, Manta 42, Broadbue 385, Seawind 1160, and Lagoon 410/380.

After arriving at the show, the first boat I looked at was the Leopard 43. On paper, this boat had the best floorplan that I have seen for my needs. I really like the forward/aft facing beds and the ability to even walk around the side of the owners bed. It is spacious and very easy to get around. At 6' 3" I had full headroom throughout. It comes standard with a very nice hard top bimini that can support an array of solar panels. The Leopards are sold exclusively through the Moorings brokerage and their charter heritage lives on with them. Storage space is OK and the fridge/freezer are small. The dinghy davits look and feel weak. The davits are nice visually because they are not metal and probably would be easy to maintain. I asked what was inside of them and was told there was some "supports" but not solid metal davits like I am used to seeing. I do not know how strong they are but if I were to consider this boat I woud take a closer look at them. The engine compartments are accessed from the stern which isolates them from the interior and adds some nice storage under the beds. Many of the liveaboard items I am looking for are not part of the standard discussions, they are "sure, we can find a place to add them" items like a water maker, generator, washer. There are no isolated crash compartments in each of the bows to isolate the rest of the boat if you hit a submerged object. With all this, I still liked the boat until I sat at the helm and tried to visualize sailing her. Unlike the Leopard 40, which I will mention next, all of the lines are not brought back to the helm station. You have a winch on each side that would have to be tended in a tack. OK, with autopilots that do the tacking for you I could leave the helm and go to the winch on the other side to tack, but on the Leopard 43 that was not as easy as it sounds. There were a couple of "what were they thinking when they designed this boat" things I came across and the Leopard 43 had one of them. The winches for the jib sheets were mounted on the cabin roof off to the side and out from under the nice hard top bimini. That wouldn't be too bad, but the way the cockpit was designed, I had to step onto a flat section, find a grab rail or something to hold on to and then duck my head from under the bimini and find a new place to stand before I could work the winch. I even had to do this for the winch just a couple of feet from the helm. Its hard to describe, but I think even for normal height people this would present a problem. Not even being able to use the winch right next to the helm without "leaving" the helm was bad enough, but the contortions I had to go through to get into a winching position was just too much. The Leopard 43 was cut from the short list because of how difficult it would be to sail the boat.

Next, I went on the Leopard 40 which was right next door. Since the Leopard 43 is the successor to the 40, most of my comments about the 43 apply to the 40, except, the 40 did not have any of the helm/winch issues that I spoke about with the 43. On the 40, all lines are brought back to one winch at the helm which is easily handled without leaving the helm seat. For me, it looks like they did it right on the 40 and I can't understand why they did not do this on the newer 43.

The Leopards are made in South Africa by Robertson and Caine who make hundreds of boats for the Morrings charter fleet. The Leopard interiors have a lot of plastic as opposed to the other boats on my list but in general they are priced significantly less. Another observation I made from the opposite dock was that the stern of the Leopards seemed to sit quite low in the water and the bows were high out of the water. I do not know what to make of this other than they might be a bit heavy in the back with the engines moved back and the hard top bimini so maybe some more investigation needs to be done here. Lastly, the anchor location on the Leopards is from the underside of the bridge deck and not the front of the boat. I would prefer to have the anchor fully accessible from the bow to clear it from lines and debris. It is somewhat difficult to access it when it is located under the boat.

A couple of words about the Moorings Brokerage. First, the folks I worked with were very knowledgeable and helpful so the experience was very positive for me. Since I am looking to sail many places I thought there might be an advantage to buy through the Moorings since they have charter ports with Leopards" around the globe. I felt this might be a side benefit when needing repairs. It turns out that the Moorings Brokerage is an entirely separate entity from the Moorings Charter company. In addition, the sales people I spoke with at the Moorings Brokerage were actually independents with their own company that are hired by Moorings Brokerage to do the sales. They were honest enough to say that there is not a direct benefit to be had with repairs at the charter locations, but I do feel that they can help with an introduction wherever I might end up and the fact that the charter locations have repair facilities and folks that have lots of experience working on Leopards would be a big plus.

Next, I wandered down the dock to the Seawind 1160. This is an Australian boat that has a very interesting floorplan and some nice features. First, it had standing head room throughout for me which was nice. It has many windows which makes it feel very open and the overall design is made to have the boat feel very open. It has a galley down design which is one of the compromises I would be willing to make and I might even like. Having the galley down really makes the saloon area large and on the 1160 it didnt seam to take away from general storage, etc. It has some very unique folding doors between the cockpit and the saloon which can be hoisted up to the bottom of the bimini opening up the large cockpit to the saloon area. You feel like you have a large living room when it is all opened. It has a dual helm and all lines are brough back to both sides making sailing the boat very easy. I didn't like the fact that they ran all the lines down the flat walking sections of the side decks. I prefer to have them on the roof and out of the way. We didn't get much further with the Seawind because it also had one of those "what were they thinking" design issues that I could not live with. The dual helms are set low in the cockpit. To see forward from the helm you had to look through a window that was about 2 feet in front of you and then through the saloon and out the front saloon windows. Thats not only 2 windows between you and the bow, but 2 dark tinted windows. If there was spray on the saloon windows, I dont know how you would see where you were going. OK, so the Seawind folks pointed out that the one window at the helm can be removed, I still did not think that I would want to be at the helm in this boat in a storm because I couldnt see where I was going. You cannot even look over the roof if you were standing up. The only way you can see the bow unobstructed was by sitting to the side outside the cockpit and steering holding the side of the wheel. As an ex monohull sailor, this is the position I am used to but not on a Cat. The sales people point out that you are almost always on autopilot and the boat is self tacking but I did not want a boat that I could not see all around from the helm unobstructed. It is a shame, because the Seawind 1200 which was the predecessor did not have this visiblity problem. It has a raised helm with a view all around. They are not making 1200's any more so one would have to look at the used market. It looks like the Seawind is a well built boat but does not have much of a presence on this side of the globe. Seawind sold many many 1160's at the first show down under so I am sure it appeals to an audience looking for something different from me.

Next I went to the Broadblue 385. The new Broadblue 385 is a very nice boat that appears to be very well built. For me there was standing headroom in most of the boat and where there wasn't, I was lucky enough to have a hatch strategically located that would let me stand where I needed. It appears to be targeted at the liveaboard / blue water market. It comes with isolated bow crash compartments and a lot of consideration was put into using the boat for liveaboard passages. It has a large freezer and the equipment list has everything on it that you would ever want. The Broadblue sales folks were very knowledgable about the boat and the sailing characteristics. Broadblue is located in the U.K. and the literature says the boats is built in Poland. It has an option for 2 different rigs. The standard rig has an aft mounted mast just at the front of the cockpit. The mast is higher to give more mainsail area since the boom is not as long as a standard boom. With this rig, the genoa is very large which might make the boat perform better in lighter air. The sport rig is more conventional with the mast located at the from of the main cabin. I am still not sure of the advantages/disadvantages to the aft masted rig but my general thought is that it might be difficult to roller reef that large genoa in a strong wind. Visually I prefer the sport rig because it is what I am used to. Inside the Broadblue, a lot of attention was paid to finish and quality of craftmanship. Lots of wood and excellent craftmanship. The Broadblue folks position the boat as a custom design for you. They will work with you and make chnages to the interior to meet your specific requirements, where the design allows. The list of options is immense and somewhat too big. They show you a book of many many different fabrics to choose from for seat covers. If you want to take the time to go through all of this and customize the boat to meet your needs line item by line item this is the boat for you. I would have preferred it if they had some "packages" to start with. There are lots of windows in the saloon area and they are more vertically oriented so the saloon area feels very spacious. The engine compartments are located under the beds and to the aft but they seem to have adequate access. Since the engines are located to the aft, there is also a nice storage compartment under each bed. The layouts are available in their literature so I will not comment on them specifically. The only item I had a concern with on the interior was the low headroom in the aft master stateroom just above the pillows. In the cockpit all lines are brought back to the helm and the helm has very good visibility. It has a hard top bimini that you can walk on, but didn't appear as strong and well supported as the other hard top biminis I looked at. The 385 does not have trampolines. Instead, it has some nice large flat surfaces and is easy to manuever around on this stable deck. I like this design since it gives me stability every where on the foredeck and I am not faced with replacing expensive trampolines every couple of years from sun damage or wear. One thing that bothers me about the Broadblue rigs is that they require baby stays for support. It is nice to have a baby stay to hank on a custom made storm sail, but having it wear on the genoa every time I tack would reduce the life of my expensive genoa quite a bit. I keep thinking I am wrong about the necessity of the baby stay but I did ask directly and was told that it always has to be there. If anyone knows differently please let me know. In general, the Broadblue 385 seems like a very well made boat that is also attractive and functional. The Broadblue folks spoke the liveaboard language and were willing to work closely with you to configure the boat to your specific requirements. The base price is in the high $300K range but when you start adding all the options to make it a true liveaboard, you can easily add $75 - $100K making it the most expensive option on my list. As I mentioned, sometimes its the little things that aren't obvious that can make a difference. I plan on having a generator and in the Broadblue they locate the generator under the bed in the Master stateroom. Personally, that is the last place I want a genertor to be when I am in my bed at a quiet anchorage and want to run air conditioning or devices that require a lot of power. If you are not looking to use a generator then this is not a consideration.

Next I spent time on the Manata 42. The Manta is the only U.S. built Catamaran that was at the show. The Manta is marketed specifically as a Blue Water capable Liveaboard boat. They make about 11 or 12 of them each year and are willing to work closely with you to customize the boat to meet your requirements. Boarding the Manta was a much different experience than all the others at the show. The owner of the company was in the saloon area to answer any questions you might have, but instead of having sales people on board, he had a few owners there to greet you and answer your questions. These owners were mostly liveaboards who were willing to answer any question honestly from first hand experience. Some of them have been living abord their boats for several years and have sailed them extensively in many cruising areas. For my requirements this was quite refreshing to get first hand knowledge from the source. They seemed very happy with the Manta company and their choice of boats. They all seemed to have gone through the same process many of us are going through in deciding what boat was right for them and were willing to share their notes just as I am doing here. The interior of the Manta offered standing headroom thorughout for me. It was clear that a lot of thought was put into using this boat for the intended purpose of living abord for extended periods. The fridge/freezer is very large and is top loading. Many reviews will point out that you want a front loading fridge/freezer at eye level, but being practical I would prefer to keep the cold in the box every time I opened it and have more room for items than easy access. The saloon area is well laid out. Because the doorway is smaller than some of the larger sliders the other boats have, the saloon area feels a bit smaller, but it is comfortable with lots of storage. The only issue I had with the interior was the headroom going down the stairs on each side into the hulls. I could not go straight down facing forward as in all the other boats. I have to do a little 180 degree spin and land facing up the stairs on the way down. Its not a show stopper, but just something I noticed. The hulls have sealed bulkhead crash compartments and plenty of strategically placed storage. The engines are located under the aft beds but the access is designed so that you can open not only the top bed panel, but even the front panel for unobstructed 3 sided access. Lost of little items are available included a diesel fuel polisher and electric oil change pumps. These are the things that you might not think of in advance but will make a big difference later on. Of all the cats I went on, the Manta had the most accessible and clean electric panel. This could prove to be quite a benefit when trying to trace out a problem in a remote location. On the deck, the first thing you notice is the rugged arch structure that holds the hard top bimini, solar panels, radar etc as well as the dinghy. I am not sure how much weight it adds but it does not look like it will break easily. The cockpit has a unique desgin with lots of storage compartments. There is a large hammock type of seat that sits above the aft section of the cockpit that can hold several people. All lines come back to the helm and because it has a self tacking jib, the Manta can be easily single handed. The Manta brings ALL lines back to the helm including the hailyards and reefing lines so you can do almost eberything including reefing from the helm. The helm is raised and provides good visibility around the boat. The self tacking jib is smaller than most and does not roller furl. Instead it has its own lazy jacks and is handled like a main with a sail cover. This does put the jib's "boom" in the way on the foredeck but the boat is designed so that crossing from hull to hull can be done both in front of as well as in back of the jib at anchor. The anchor is accessible from the bow and it also has a salt water wash available to spray it down. As I mentioned earlier, the Manta folks have designed this boat for liveaboard so the packaging and options are complete and selected carefully. Most all items are higher end and built to last as well as be easily serviced. Although I didn't complete the exercise of pricing, it seems to me that the Manta can be equipped for livaboard for about $25-40K less than a Broadblue 385. Keep in mind that with the Manta you do not have to pay a lot of transportation costs to get the boat "across the pond" to the U.S. By design, the Broadblue feels a bit more spacious, but functionally I think the Manta has given a bit more thought to the systems from a liveaboard point of view. For example, the generator is not located near a cabin bunk. All the Manta owners speak highly of the company and its owner which gives you a good feeling about the company. The owners claim that they were not getting paid to be there (and I believed them). Some of them left their boat in Puerto Rico to come help at the show.

Lastly I went to visit the Lagoons. Although the literature and some of the folks on the boards said I would have adequate headroom, it was clear that I did not fit in the 410's or 380's. The biggest challenges were in the hulls where is did not have the headroom in the heads/showers or cabins. The saloon areas were acceptable but there were still areas that were challenging. The only Laggon that was in my size range that I had adequate headroom in was the 440. The 440 had plenty of headroom throughout, but my interest in this boat stops right at the helm. The 440 has a roof mounted helm that is always exposed at on the highest point of the boat and above the bimini and is also isolated from the rest of the boat. In a charter situation with lots of people on board and a good auto pilt this configuration opens up a lot of cockpit room, but if you were at the helm in rough wether, you are not only exposed to the weather, you do not have the ability to communicate with others in the saloon area. For now the Lagoon is not a consideration on my list but it might be. Laggon was showcasing the yet to be shipped 420. This new design is supposed to have the same headroom as the 440 and does not have the helm on the roof. Other than a new design from the ground up, the Lagoon 420 will be introduced with electric motors as standard equipment. I am not sure if deisels will be available as an option. There was a lot of hype by Lagoon about the electric drives but I would remain cautious to see how they really perform once people start using them. I have heard very mixed reviews on the existing Salomon electric drives both direct and indirect that I would wait to take a close look before betting my liveaboard lifestyle on this new technology. I am sure this electric drive will be a nice debate for another posting. They claim to have already taken orders for 70 of these new boats sight unseen. The 420s are supposed to be available this summer. If my timeframe allows I plan on taking a close look at one once they hit the shores in the U.S.

After my short list was visited I did take a walk on all the other cats at the show. I can confirm that I do not fit on any Fontaine Pajots, Voyage, Nautitech, or Admiral cats that were in my size range.
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Old 25-02-2006, 14:44   #19
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I know a fair bit about the Broadblue, being based in the UK and considering buying one. A couple of observations:

- For sure the Easy sail rig (mast toward rear) has NO babystay. Dont know about the 'sport' rig
- Easysail rig does not need electric winches or other arrangements to lift a VERY heavy mainsail (as do large roached, fully battened mainsail rigs). Something to think about.
- BB have modified the design of the stateroom so the bunk is lower now
- I believe there are alternative locations for the generator
- There are several large 'hidden' areas (behind rear main cabin bulkhead for example) that are great for storing/installing gear that you will not have seen at the boat show

Something you did not mention was the windows are toughened glass, not plastic. I like this, as all 'plastic' windows (what ever variant ) get scratched and/or cloudy after a couple of years.
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Old 25-02-2006, 15:02   #20
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Hi Moby:

Thanks for the comments. Every bit of advice is helpful when making such a big decision. This dialog will also help others.

The Broadblue 385 I boarded supposedly just arrive brand new to the U.S. so I based my stateroom comment on my experience laying on the bunk. I will speak with the local Broadblue folks to see if things have changed.

The last picture on this page is what I am talking about. There is the cross section just over your head, and the section on the right the length of the bed makes it so the person on that side cannot sit up:

http://www.broadblueusa.com/pictures.htm

As far as the baby stay issue, here is a link to the aft rig and sport rig drawing showing the baby stay on both rigs so I guess I need to double check with them on this as well. I also see the baby stay on the aft rig in the 385 photos on the Broadblue UK page.

http://www.broadblueusa.com/new_page_1.htm

A show is always hectic and quite often things said get misinterpreted so I appreciate your comments and will clarify these items again directly with the Broadblue folks.
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Old 26-02-2006, 02:40   #21
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I am quite sure the drawing is a mistake: even the comments next to the photo say 'the new aft rig eliminates inner forestay' and there was not one on the boat I test-sailed.

The lowered berth is a recent change based on custoner feedback: I believe the photo is pre-change.

As it is a new boat, I suggest you check with the manufacturer too: (sails@broadblue.co.uk)

I couple of other things I like:

- Solid laminate below waterline (water ingress and delamination on cored hulls MAY have been solved at last but maybe not. Lets see in 10 years. The 'quality' monohull makers still see to use solid below)

- skeg hung rudders (conservative but bullet-proof)

- Water tight compartments (with inspection hatches)

Pointing ability seems very good, but try a test sail and make your own mind up!
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Old 26-02-2006, 06:56   #22
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Hi Moby:

Thank you for the reply. You are quite helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback. Every little bit helps.

I do agree with you about the list of things you like about the Broadblue 385. It is a great boat and if I put the list of things I liked about it here, the post would be even longer than my show summary (good lord!). I did not have a chance to sail on it at the show but plan on doing so once things warm up here in the spring.

I read your comments about the Leopard 40 davits. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Its too bad that they did not choose a stronger setup for such an important system.

What other boats did you look at?

I was in contact with my Broadblue representative and he did confirm that the aft rig on the 385 does not require the baby stay. He also said that they are looking to put a quick disconnect on the sport rig baby stay to remove it from the deck for light winds and coastal cruising.

The normal place for the generator is under the guest berth as you said. He did mention that it could be put in a forward locker but they do not recommend it because it would be too much weight up front. He also pointed out that indeed the generator was under the owners berth in the boat at the show because the installer put it in the wrong place.

In the newer 385's the owners berth has been lowered 2 inches to add a little headroom. There have been no changes to the deck structures that protrude down above the berth so the only difference in the picture and the boat that was at the show is that the berth would be 2 inches lower.
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Old 26-02-2006, 08:40   #23
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Laser, I have PM'ed (private Message) you if you would like more on my opinion on the Broadblue.

I am more limited in my choice of production cats over here - if I do not want to specially import, then it is BB, the large, french builders or the Leopard (or customised designs from the likes of Dazcat).

I like the idea of the specialised manufacturers for owners (as opposed to charter market) but I guess we should not complain if prices are a bit higher: the market is MUCH smaller. But it should be compensated by a boat more suited to our needs, and a company you can talk to. (It may develop like the monohull market has: Halberg Rassy, Malo, Pacific Seacraft etc on one side and Bennetau, Jennau, Bavaria etc on the other)

I have also looked at Privelege, Lagoon, FP and others in the same size range. At the risk of offending owners out there, my concerns (they all have too many GOOD points to mention!) with each were:

Privilege - could not see out of cabin windows when sat in main cabin (show-stopper). Wood finish not to my taste (high gloss)

Laggon 380 - sail drives behind rudders; engine access on transom; lots of plastic; wood finish unappealing to me ('corporate office' effect)

FP - Feels lightly built; model I saw had translucent head doors (Oh those French!); hose-down interior

That is not addressing sailing performance etc etc of course! Most of this is personal taste, and I am sure they ALL do the job.

The Manta looks interesting from your side of the pond: I wish I could check them out over here to compare with BB.
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Old 27-02-2006, 02:33   #24
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Oh, and I have just checked: the bed has been lowered by a useful 6-7 inches in the main stateroom, not 2" as you were told.
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Old 27-02-2006, 05:52   #25
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Hi Moby:

I am beginning to get concerned. All my information is coming directly from Broadblue employees. I think they need to better communicate internally.

6"-7" would make quite a difference.

Thanks
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Old 28-02-2006, 06:53   #26
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Have you looked at the Voyage range (from South Africa)? They look a nice boat, and SV Makai certainly seemed to be happy with his.
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Old 28-02-2006, 09:18   #27
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Thanks for the Voyage suggestion.

Yes, I did look at the Voyage. It is a very nice boat and was on my short list when I went to the show. They had a Voyage 50 at the shoe and i had some headroom issues in parts of the saloon. My interest was in the Voyage 440 which I only assume would have more of a headroom problem. However, they did not have one at the show docks.
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Old 28-02-2006, 14:48   #28
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Laser, just wanted to say thanks for the thoughtful comparison above. Well done.
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Old 28-02-2006, 17:35   #29
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Have a Logoon 470 (cat) and have something like 6'8" in salon, 6'4-6'6" below. Am 6'4" and have no headroom problems except part of head and master shower which is short for me.

Other issue is that the doors are probably under 6' so I have to duck each time.
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Old 18-07-2015, 05:01   #30
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Re: Catamaran's for tall people

Quote:
Originally Posted by laser View Post
OK, so for all of you tall people out there (as well as the other normal height folks), here are some thoughts and impressions from my visit to the Miami Boat Show a week ago.

After 3 boat shows and lots of time spent talking to many people in person and on-line, it all comes down to this....the really isn't a perfect boat, especially when looking at Catamarans. The final decision will come down to a number of compromises. This show was the most productive for me since I had a good feel for what was important to me and what trade offs I was willing to make. I walked away from the Miami show with one big conclusion....at first glance most of the Catamarans look very much the same on the surface. Of course you can find layout and feature differences in all of them but it is often the things that aren't obvious, or even thought about in advance, that really make the difference. The importance of these things will depend on your own priorities.

Being able to identify the things that might not be obvious is to be honest with yourself about what you will be using the boat for. A coastal cruiser might have very different priorities from a blue water passagemaker. I am choosing a liveaboard boat that I feel would serve me best in a lazy circumnavigation and most of the situations I might find myself in. Without going into the length debate, my target size is 38 - 45 feet which would get me in a large enough boat with all the accessories I want within my budget.

I had a short list for "tall people" boats going into the show that included the Leopard 40, Leopard 43, Manta 42, Broadbue 385, Seawind 1160, and Lagoon 410/380.

After arriving at the show, the first boat I looked at was the Leopard 43. On paper, this boat had the best floorplan that I have seen for my needs. I really like the forward/aft facing beds and the ability to even walk around the side of the owners bed. It is spacious and very easy to get around. At 6' 3" I had full headroom throughout. It comes standard with a very nice hard top bimini that can support an array of solar panels. The Leopards are sold exclusively through the Moorings brokerage and their charter heritage lives on with them. Storage space is OK and the fridge/freezer are small. The dinghy davits look and feel weak. The davits are nice visually because they are not metal and probably would be easy to maintain. I asked what was inside of them and was told there was some "supports" but not solid metal davits like I am used to seeing. I do not know how strong they are but if I were to consider this boat I woud take a closer look at them. The engine compartments are accessed from the stern which isolates them from the interior and adds some nice storage under the beds. Many of the liveaboard items I am looking for are not part of the standard discussions, they are "sure, we can find a place to add them" items like a water maker, generator, washer. There are no isolated crash compartments in each of the bows to isolate the rest of the boat if you hit a submerged object. With all this, I still liked the boat until I sat at the helm and tried to visualize sailing her. Unlike the Leopard 40, which I will mention next, all of the lines are not brought back to the helm station. You have a winch on each side that would have to be tended in a tack. OK, with autopilots that do the tacking for you I could leave the helm and go to the winch on the other side to tack, but on the Leopard 43 that was not as easy as it sounds. There were a couple of "what were they thinking when they designed this boat" things I came across and the Leopard 43 had one of them. The winches for the jib sheets were mounted on the cabin roof off to the side and out from under the nice hard top bimini. That wouldn't be too bad, but the way the cockpit was designed, I had to step onto a flat section, find a grab rail or something to hold on to and then duck my head from under the bimini and find a new place to stand before I could work the winch. I even had to do this for the winch just a couple of feet from the helm. Its hard to describe, but I think even for normal height people this would present a problem. Not even being able to use the winch right next to the helm without "leaving" the helm was bad enough, but the contortions I had to go through to get into a winching position was just too much. The Leopard 43 was cut from the short list because of how difficult it would be to sail the boat.

Next, I went on the Leopard 40 which was right next door. Since the Leopard 43 is the successor to the 40, most of my comments about the 43 apply to the 40, except, the 40 did not have any of the helm/winch issues that I spoke about with the 43. On the 40, all lines are brought back to one winch at the helm which is easily handled without leaving the helm seat. For me, it looks like they did it right on the 40 and I can't understand why they did not do this on the newer 43.

The Leopards are made in South Africa by Robertson and Caine who make hundreds of boats for the Morrings charter fleet. The Leopard interiors have a lot of plastic as opposed to the other boats on my list but in general they are priced significantly less. Another observation I made from the opposite dock was that the stern of the Leopards seemed to sit quite low in the water and the bows were high out of the water. I do not know what to make of this other than they might be a bit heavy in the back with the engines moved back and the hard top bimini so maybe some more investigation needs to be done here. Lastly, the anchor location on the Leopards is from the underside of the bridge deck and not the front of the boat. I would prefer to have the anchor fully accessible from the bow to clear it from lines and debris. It is somewhat difficult to access it when it is located under the boat.

A couple of words about the Moorings Brokerage. First, the folks I worked with were very knowledgeable and helpful so the experience was very positive for me. Since I am looking to sail many places I thought there might be an advantage to buy through the Moorings since they have charter ports with Leopards" around the globe. I felt this might be a side benefit when needing repairs. It turns out that the Moorings Brokerage is an entirely separate entity from the Moorings Charter company. In addition, the sales people I spoke with at the Moorings Brokerage were actually independents with their own company that are hired by Moorings Brokerage to do the sales. They were honest enough to say that there is not a direct benefit to be had with repairs at the charter locations, but I do feel that they can help with an introduction wherever I might end up and the fact that the charter locations have repair facilities and folks that have lots of experience working on Leopards would be a big plus.

Next, I wandered down the dock to the Seawind 1160. This is an Australian boat that has a very interesting floorplan and some nice features. First, it had standing head room throughout for me which was nice. It has many windows which makes it feel very open and the overall design is made to have the boat feel very open. It has a galley down design which is one of the compromises I would be willing to make and I might even like. Having the galley down really makes the saloon area large and on the 1160 it didnt seam to take away from general storage, etc. It has some very unique folding doors between the cockpit and the saloon which can be hoisted up to the bottom of the bimini opening up the large cockpit to the saloon area. You feel like you have a large living room when it is all opened. It has a dual helm and all lines are brough back to both sides making sailing the boat very easy. I didn't like the fact that they ran all the lines down the flat walking sections of the side decks. I prefer to have them on the roof and out of the way. We didn't get much further with the Seawind because it also had one of those "what were they thinking" design issues that I could not live with. The dual helms are set low in the cockpit. To see forward from the helm you had to look through a window that was about 2 feet in front of you and then through the saloon and out the front saloon windows. Thats not only 2 windows between you and the bow, but 2 dark tinted windows. If there was spray on the saloon windows, I dont know how you would see where you were going. OK, so the Seawind folks pointed out that the one window at the helm can be removed, I still did not think that I would want to be at the helm in this boat in a storm because I couldnt see where I was going. You cannot even look over the roof if you were standing up. The only way you can see the bow unobstructed was by sitting to the side outside the cockpit and steering holding the side of the wheel. As an ex monohull sailor, this is the position I am used to but not on a Cat. The sales people point out that you are almost always on autopilot and the boat is self tacking but I did not want a boat that I could not see all around from the helm unobstructed. It is a shame, because the Seawind 1200 which was the predecessor did not have this visiblity problem. It has a raised helm with a view all around. They are not making 1200's any more so one would have to look at the used market. It looks like the Seawind is a well built boat but does not have much of a presence on this side of the globe. Seawind sold many many 1160's at the first show down under so I am sure it appeals to an audience looking for something different from me.

Next I went to the Broadblue 385. The new Broadblue 385 is a very nice boat that appears to be very well built. For me there was standing headroom in most of the boat and where there wasn't, I was lucky enough to have a hatch strategically located that would let me stand where I needed. It appears to be targeted at the liveaboard / blue water market. It comes with isolated bow crash compartments and a lot of consideration was put into using the boat for liveaboard passages. It has a large freezer and the equipment list has everything on it that you would ever want. The Broadblue sales folks were very knowledgable about the boat and the sailing characteristics. Broadblue is located in the U.K. and the literature says the boats is built in Poland. It has an option for 2 different rigs. The standard rig has an aft mounted mast just at the front of the cockpit. The mast is higher to give more mainsail area since the boom is not as long as a standard boom. With this rig, the genoa is very large which might make the boat perform better in lighter air. The sport rig is more conventional with the mast located at the from of the main cabin. I am still not sure of the advantages/disadvantages to the aft masted rig but my general thought is that it might be difficult to roller reef that large genoa in a strong wind. Visually I prefer the sport rig because it is what I am used to. Inside the Broadblue, a lot of attention was paid to finish and quality of craftmanship. Lots of wood and excellent craftmanship. The Broadblue folks position the boat as a custom design for you. They will work with you and make chnages to the interior to meet your specific requirements, where the design allows. The list of options is immense and somewhat too big. They show you a book of many many different fabrics to choose from for seat covers. If you want to take the time to go through all of this and customize the boat to meet your needs line item by line item this is the boat for you. I would have preferred it if they had some "packages" to start with. There are lots of windows in the saloon area and they are more vertically oriented so the saloon area feels very spacious. The engine compartments are located under the beds and to the aft but they seem to have adequate access. Since the engines are located to the aft, there is also a nice storage compartment under each bed. The layouts are available in their literature so I will not comment on them specifically. The only item I had a concern with on the interior was the low headroom in the aft master stateroom just above the pillows. In the cockpit all lines are brought back to the helm and the helm has very good visibility. It has a hard top bimini that you can walk on, but didn't appear as strong and well supported as the other hard top biminis I looked at. The 385 does not have trampolines. Instead, it has some nice large flat surfaces and is easy to manuever around on this stable deck. I like this design since it gives me stability every where on the foredeck and I am not faced with replacing expensive trampolines every couple of years from sun damage or wear. One thing that bothers me about the Broadblue rigs is that they require baby stays for support. It is nice to have a baby stay to hank on a custom made storm sail, but having it wear on the genoa every time I tack would reduce the life of my expensive genoa quite a bit. I keep thinking I am wrong about the necessity of the baby stay but I did ask directly and was told that it always has to be there. If anyone knows differently please let me know. In general, the Broadblue 385 seems like a very well made boat that is also attractive and functional. The Broadblue folks spoke the liveaboard language and were willing to work closely with you to configure the boat to your specific requirements. The base price is in the high $300K range but when you start adding all the options to make it a true liveaboard, you can easily add $75 - $100K making it the most expensive option on my list. As I mentioned, sometimes its the little things that aren't obvious that can make a difference. I plan on having a generator and in the Broadblue they locate the generator under the bed in the Master stateroom. Personally, that is the last place I want a genertor to be when I am in my bed at a quiet anchorage and want to run air conditioning or devices that require a lot of power. If you are not looking to use a generator then this is not a consideration.

Next I spent time on the Manata 42. The Manta is the only U.S. built Catamaran that was at the show. The Manta is marketed specifically as a Blue Water capable Liveaboard boat. They make about 11 or 12 of them each year and are willing to work closely with you to customize the boat to meet your requirements. Boarding the Manta was a much different experience than all the others at the show. The owner of the company was in the saloon area to answer any questions you might have, but instead of having sales people on board, he had a few owners there to greet you and answer your questions. These owners were mostly liveaboards who were willing to answer any question honestly from first hand experience. Some of them have been living abord their boats for several years and have sailed them extensively in many cruising areas. For my requirements this was quite refreshing to get first hand knowledge from the source. They seemed very happy with the Manta company and their choice of boats. They all seemed to have gone through the same process many of us are going through in deciding what boat was right for them and were willing to share their notes just as I am doing here. The interior of the Manta offered standing headroom thorughout for me. It was clear that a lot of thought was put into using this boat for the intended purpose of living abord for extended periods. The fridge/freezer is very large and is top loading. Many reviews will point out that you want a front loading fridge/freezer at eye level, but being practical I would prefer to keep the cold in the box every time I opened it and have more room for items than easy access. The saloon area is well laid out. Because the doorway is smaller than some of the larger sliders the other boats have, the saloon area feels a bit smaller, but it is comfortable with lots of storage. The only issue I had with the interior was the headroom going down the stairs on each side into the hulls. I could not go straight down facing forward as in all the other boats. I have to do a little 180 degree spin and land facing up the stairs on the way down. Its not a show stopper, but just something I noticed. The hulls have sealed bulkhead crash compartments and plenty of strategically placed storage. The engines are located under the aft beds but the access is designed so that you can open not only the top bed panel, but even the front panel for unobstructed 3 sided access. Lost of little items are available included a diesel fuel polisher and electric oil change pumps. These are the things that you might not think of in advance but will make a big difference later on. Of all the cats I went on, the Manta had the most accessible and clean electric panel. This could prove to be quite a benefit when trying to trace out a problem in a remote location. On the deck, the first thing you notice is the rugged arch structure that holds the hard top bimini, solar panels, radar etc as well as the dinghy. I am not sure how much weight it adds but it does not look like it will break easily. The cockpit has a unique desgin with lots of storage compartments. There is a large hammock type of seat that sits above the aft section of the cockpit that can hold several people. All lines come back to the helm and because it has a self tacking jib, the Manta can be easily single handed. The Manta brings ALL lines back to the helm including the hailyards and reefing lines so you can do almost eberything including reefing from the helm. The helm is raised and provides good visibility around the boat. The self tacking jib is smaller than most and does not roller furl. Instead it has its own lazy jacks and is handled like a main with a sail cover. This does put the jib's "boom" in the way on the foredeck but the boat is designed so that crossing from hull to hull can be done both in front of as well as in back of the jib at anchor. The anchor is accessible from the bow and it also has a salt water wash available to spray it down. As I mentioned earlier, the Manta folks have designed this boat for liveaboard so the packaging and options are complete and selected carefully. Most all items are higher end and built to last as well as be easily serviced. Although I didn't complete the exercise of pricing, it seems to me that the Manta can be equipped for livaboard for about $25-40K less than a Broadblue 385. Keep in mind that with the Manta you do not have to pay a lot of transportation costs to get the boat "across the pond" to the U.S. By design, the Broadblue feels a bit more spacious, but functionally I think the Manta has given a bit more thought to the systems from a liveaboard point of view. For example, the generator is not located near a cabin bunk. All the Manta owners speak highly of the company and its owner which gives you a good feeling about the company. The owners claim that they were not getting paid to be there (and I believed them). Some of them left their boat in Puerto Rico to come help at the show.

Lastly I went to visit the Lagoons. Although the literature and some of the folks on the boards said I would have adequate headroom, it was clear that I did not fit in the 410's or 380's. The biggest challenges were in the hulls where is did not have the headroom in the heads/showers or cabins. The saloon areas were acceptable but there were still areas that were challenging. The only Laggon that was in my size range that I had adequate headroom in was the 440. The 440 had plenty of headroom throughout, but my interest in this boat stops right at the helm. The 440 has a roof mounted helm that is always exposed at on the highest point of the boat and above the bimini and is also isolated from the rest of the boat. In a charter situation with lots of people on board and a good auto pilt this configuration opens up a lot of cockpit room, but if you were at the helm in rough wether, you are not only exposed to the weather, you do not have the ability to communicate with others in the saloon area. For now the Lagoon is not a consideration on my list but it might be. Laggon was showcasing the yet to be shipped 420. This new design is supposed to have the same headroom as the 440 and does not have the helm on the roof. Other than a new design from the ground up, the Lagoon 420 will be introduced with electric motors as standard equipment. I am not sure if deisels will be available as an option. There was a lot of hype by Lagoon about the electric drives but I would remain cautious to see how they really perform once people start using them. I have heard very mixed reviews on the existing Salomon electric drives both direct and indirect that I would wait to take a close look before betting my liveaboard lifestyle on this new technology. I am sure this electric drive will be a nice debate for another posting. They claim to have already taken orders for 70 of these new boats sight unseen. The 420s are supposed to be available this summer. If my timeframe allows I plan on taking a close look at one once they hit the shores in the U.S.

After my short list was visited I did take a walk on all the other cats at the show. I can confirm that I do not fit on any Fontaine Pajots, Voyage, Nautitech, or Admiral cats that were in my size range.
Starnge, I have owned two Voyage cats and have had no issues - I am 6'5" !
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