Andreas, I agree with your stated preference for a production cat, not only because the 'bugs' will have typically been worked out, but because of the significantly better resale value for established brands/designs. Having said that, I have some concerns over the emphasis you are placing on visibility from the interior
, keels and a 'galley-up' design in a boat that is intended to be sailed offshore.
line of cats have a well-deserved reputation for solid construction and for making safe offshore passages, but seem to have been excluded by you due to the lack of visibility while seated below. Understand that offshore, forward visibility will be greatly limited by large waves/swells; indeed, often you will only be able to see past the next wave when on the crest of the last one. And at anchor
you will generally want to spend the best days on deck
, so even here it will prove much less of an advantage than might at first be expected.
44 was built by a company with a great reputation for quality and, even though it was only on the market for a short time, has proven to be a solid performer in offshore conditions (aided in part by bridgedeck clearance of 30" while laden). It too would be rejected by yourself because it has a galley-down arrangement. You must understand that for an offshore boat, there are a large number of significant
advantages to placing the galley
down in one of the hulls:
1. as already mentioned, there is less motion.
2. there will be athwartship bracing, making it a much safer environment
in which to cook in a seaway.
3. it places the heaviest part of the accomodation down low in the boat, lowering the center of gravity and increasing the resistance to capsize
4. it opens up additional space in the main saloon
for a proper size navigation
station - something which, in an offshore boat, requires not only adequate size for full-size charts
, but proximity to the cockpit
. You may want a galley
up, but you decidely will not want an afterthought for a nav station (or worse still, a nav station down and separated from the cockpit).
5. there is typically more space for storage
Catana also produces boats with a great reputation for quality of build and offshore capability. These appear to have been rejected by you because of the use of boards rather than keels. Let me say that my own boat has keels, and I appreciate the added simplicity in both use and maintenance
. However, let me also say that my next boat will definitely have boards: although a cruiser, I am like many also a closet racer
, and there can be no denying the performance advantages to boards. I should also point out that for offshore purposes, there is also significant support for the proposition that they are safer
than keels: raised boards will not provide the lateral resistance of keels and hence, will minimize the tendancy of the boat to 'catch' on the keels if hit abeam by a breaking wave. Keels increase the risk of capsize
over a similar vessel with boards raised.
In sum, if you are truly looking for offshore capability, you may want to re-prioritize your list. All of the boats mentioned above have earned reputations for offshore capability far in excess of either FP and Manta. Indeed, i would expect that even owners of these boats would acknowledge the same. Yes, they tend to be more expensive. But there are sound reasons for that, often directly related to their capabilities offshore. You may wish to consider a used boat
by one of the above builders recognizing that, while it will be used, it will be better suited for offshore sailing. In addition, it will also likely have an equipment
inventory appropriate for cruising (and far better than brand new boats by any manufacturer).
For whatever it is worth, here are some thoughts concerning a few of your questions:
vs. propshafts - Saildrives have been in use both reliably and efficiently for over 30 years. Yes, they create a slight increase in drag and yes, there can be problems with corrosion
if the attention is not paid to the anodes. On the other hand, they permit installation
of the engines virtually anywhere, they do not require stuffing - box maintenance
, and even prop-shafts will suffer corrosion
due to the dissimilar metals in the shaft and props, particularly if attention is not paid to the anodes. I wouldn't let saildrives deter me from any design.
placement - My boat has diesels beneath the aft berths and therefore, I can speak from some experience in saying that odour will not be a problem any more than it is in a well-designed monohull
(which typically also has interior access to the engine). Although it can be trickier to initially access the diesel
(the cushion and bedding must be removed), there are also some real advantages:
1. they allow the engines to be mounted further inboard; as you have already heard, keeping weight out of the ends of a cat is critical to performance and in order to minimize hobby-horsing.
2. there is amazing access to all sides of the diesels once the cover is off.
3. I can sit inside my boat while performing maintenance. This reduces the risks of losing tools overboard
and also ensures that the engine
will not be swamped if hit by a boarding sea during emergency repairs
(at minimum, it keeps the electricals from being rained on).
4. it places the props between the keels and the rudders, providing some additonal protection and improving the steering
performance under power.
fractional rig versus masthead rig - the current
trend is towards fractional rigs, with their proven performance advantage in light to moderate winds. However, for an offshore boat I would not write-off a masthead rig, especially one set up as a cutter
1. permits a dedicated staysail stay for heavy weather sails
2. the currently popular, huge mainsails in fractional rigs often require a power winch/windlass in order to raise the main. Reliance upon any piece of electrical equipment
, especially one with such huge current
draw, may be unwise for performing basic functions on an offshore vessel.
3. the currently popular 'flathead' mains are useless when reefed - they have way too much sail area up way to high in the sail.
4. the cutter
rigs used by Prout (and their successor), Solaris and others typically places the mast
aft by the companionway
- this ensures that all lines run to the cockpit
, even without turning blocks etc. Safer in heavy condtions than climbing up on the rather high houses on most modern cats.
Anyway, if you truly want to sail your new boat offshore, I would suggest that you consider its funcionality for that purpose first and foremost. Galley-up designs are wonderful when under anchor, but.... The flying bridgedeck on the new Lagoon
44 would also be wonderful under anchor (and in light conditions), but consider the impact on the center of gravity and the center of effort on the sails
: in the wrong conditions, it looks like a capsize just waiting to happen.
Anyway, just a few (actually, more than a few) thoughts.