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Old 27-03-2011, 13:30   #1
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Choosing 50-60ft Cat vs a 40-45ft Cat

Hi there, I could really use some seasoned advice here. As a preamble, I am a competent mono sailor / racer, and have sailed own Catalina 42 from BC, to Mexico, and off to Hawaii. I was double handing with my wife, which meant I was mostly single handing except for watch keeping.

We're in the market for a catamaran now and have been mostly looking in the 40-45 ft range for an open ended offshore cruise. So far, we've been quite interested in Manta, privilege, and St francis.

But, I believe that there is no replacement for waterline to give added comfort, load carrying capability, etc. Because, of this I am also considering something like the FP Marquises 56.

My concern is can I handle the boat on my own and deal with the significantly increased loads, etc? I would really appreciate feedback from parties who have a cat of this size, especially anyone who has made a similar transition. Any and all suggestions and opinions are welcome. Thanks in advance for your assistance!
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Old 27-03-2011, 13:45   #2
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

I learned on 42-47 foot multihulls. ASA 101,103,104,114 etc.. Was looking for something in the 50 foot max territory and ran across the FP 60 that I eventually bought. Got it for a great price. But it is magnitudes of order more difficult to handle. Two skilled sailors can run it but I prefer to have 3-4 if doing any length of passage. We've been from Trinidad to Rhode Island. Sailed probably 80% of the time. Motored the restRaising and lowering the main is quite a bit more difficult. even with elect winch.

Docking is quite a bit more difficult than any boat I handled before. My boat will sail sideways at 3 knots in a 20-25 knot blow. Huge freeboard area. Getting onto fuel docks etc is a trip. But you really don't do that all that often.

But once you get it all set up and running..... its sailing heaven. I wouldn't discourage you from going for the larger boat, and I am learning all the time, but it is more difficult to handle.

Good luck with the quest.

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Old 27-03-2011, 13:53   #3
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

As far at if you should look at a 45' vs 55' boat, it depends on how many people you are going to have with you when you travel? For us, we will have a minimum of 4 and up to 10 almost all the time. So, I started out looking at a 46' Bahia and decided it was too small. I also have the financial resources to purchase a larger boat. The SF 50 would have been my number 1 choice but at the time they where selling for $800k plus outfitting. I ended up with a 2002 FP Marquises which hadn't been chartered and was fully, and I mean FULLY outfitted for half the price of the SF.

Can you handle a 56'er. Absolutely, without a doubt, 99.5% of the time. When the .005 comes around, 4 people may be too few.

I had my parents who are in their upper 70's and another couple who are younger 60's go with me for a week. They had no experience and didn't help much with sailing and rigging. There wasn't any problem. I have a power winch for raising the main and one power winch at aft to adjust the main sheet and raise my dingy. So, really, there isn't much that's difficult.

FWIW, I really like the Marquises. It's a slow boat - thats a fact. But for comfort and layout and for the price, their great.
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Old 27-03-2011, 15:11   #4
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

we are in our early 60's and have no problems handling our 50' Voyage catamaran. I, like you apparently , like big boats. Once you spend some time on your new purchase you will wonder what all the worry was about.
Go for it!
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Old 27-03-2011, 16:27   #5
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

We bought or cat last fall and I still hesitate docking when I've been sailing solo. It is an easy boat to sail solo but our slip is kind of tight and juming from the wheel to the dock lines about 15 ft and 5 steps up and down makes me a little nervis not to hit the dock box with a stearn breeze.

We looked at bigger 44 ft cat's and for just the 2 of us most of the time we settled for our Gemini 105MC. It has 3 state rooms that get piled up with my wifes work stuff mostly. I like the looks of the 44 & 47 ft Catana's with it's dagger boards for sailing ( beating ) up wind on the USA's west coast where we live but our cash budget would not allow one.

One thing to think about is moorage, you should get singed up before you buy or you'll waite a while. Unless your going off shore as soon as you buy.
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Old 29-03-2011, 01:55   #6
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

Cats for the most part are very easy boats to handle, most of them have twin engines, as such are much easier boats to dock, with my mono I wouldn't dare try and dock it without 3 other people onboard, a well designed cat on the other hand I wouldn't have any hesitation doing it single handed.
My parents are no spring chickens now, the two of them have no issue handling their 50 foot Crowther designed cat, be it at sea or docking it. I think when you switch from a mono to a cat for the first time, it is just a matter of gaining confidence with the new boat.
Personally I would be looking at 45+ every time you step up 5ft the characteristics of the boat change, how they handle at sea most of the time longer waterline = better stability.
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Old 29-03-2011, 07:35   #7
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

I previously had a St Francis 44, mostly single-handed/short handed.
I have no problem docking etc single-handed.
Now have 58'. I would say it is not much difference. powered winches etc, make it easier, when necessary.
I have docked the 58' singlehanded 3 times now. That is only me on the boat, and nobody on the dock. no problems -no issues.
the maneuverability of the cat is the same with one or more on the boat, and only one can handle the controls at a time...
the Catana has far more relative windage than the sleek St Francis, but I am very happy with the high payload of the Catana 58. I would recommend the Marquises 56 for the same reason.
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Old 29-03-2011, 08:33   #8
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

I think it really boils down to your personal comfort with the risk/benefit ratio. There is no doubt that bigger gets you more comfort, more payload (and, of course, that means more stuff), etc. Under the vast majority of circumstances, with power winches, sailing won't be any different. The risk part comes when unplanned things happened. When something breaks and you can't or don't have power assist, will you have the strength to handle those gigantic sails?

What if something happens such that you become disabled? One of our rules when shopping was that my wife had to be able to raise the main without power assist. She didn't have to do it quickly, or even all the way, but at least to the first reef point. That meant that we topped out at the mid-40's range. Of course, if you're always going to have 3 or 4 people on the boat, that becomes a non-issue.

The thing is, at any given time, those events are going to be quite unlikely. However, the longer you are planning to cruise, the more likely such an event will happen, at least some time. We encountered it when barely beating a tropical storm into port and having to strip the sails before it hit. We did get the main off with just the two of us, but it was a real struggle!

I really wouldn't worry much about the docking issue. Reasonable care and good seamanship will take care of that. Marinas will be happy to see you ($$) and send someone to help.

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Old 29-03-2011, 15:34   #9
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

I fully agree with drifter, 45 feet is more then enough for a couple cruising the world.
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Old 30-03-2011, 12:23   #10
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

Just to repeat what ID says. To strip off the mainsail would require two really straining people for a SF 44. We're replacing our main now and it's everything for the sailmaker and I to lift it off and carry it to the yard. But the SF 50 probably has 50% more room than the SF 44 and is far more luxurious. I'd say that the biggest difference is not one of need, but desire. A 44 will fulfill your needs, a 50 something may fulfill your desires.....
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Old 30-03-2011, 12:47   #11
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

Cats require much more massive standing and running rigging than monohulls that ease the loads by leaning. That works out to two sizes bigger than a monohull of the same length for winches, windlasses, turning blocks, lines and shackles. Every four feet of additional length requires the same step up, so prices skyrocket for initial purchase, and everytime you need to replace something. Those costs are often overlooked by boat buyers, who might even have thought they were just getting some nice extras on the boat of their choice.

On my PDQ 36 I can easily carry the spinnaker with one hand, and replace the main halyard for $120. On our Atlantic 42 the main halyard had to be synthetic, cost 10 times as much, and the chute fills a bunk and weighs over a hundred pounds. I can singlehand the PDQ into a slip with an adverse wind, and hold it there with the engines long enough to get some docklines set. I want someone at all four corners when I park the 42.

The 42 is more seaworthy due to its waterline, but the PDQ is more relaxing to sail. If I could be totally honest with myself, I could put a value on each of the differences between these to cats, and tell you which is best for me, but I'm afraid I'm still governed by juvenile LWL envy!
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:15   #12
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandy daugherty View Post
The 42 is more seaworthy due to its waterline, but the PDQ is more relaxing to sail. If I could be totally honest with myself, I could put a value on each of the differences between these to cats, and tell you which is best for me, but I'm afraid I'm still governed by juvenile LWL envy!
Funny.

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Old 21-04-2011, 03:27   #13
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

My wife and I have been sailing a Leopard46 for few years now. We are closing in on 50 Years of age, and are planning to spend 10+ years cruising around the world in this. The boat handles easy singlehanded, but I have made a few improvments; singel line reefing in cocpit and electrical genoa beeing the moste important.
When parking it is dificult to see all four corners of the boat and it is a long way from the cocpit to the cleats. On a calm day or when wind is pushing to the key I have no problem docking singlehanded. Otherways it is good to bee two. Anyhowe we mostly stay on anchour.
We have a full batten Mainsail and even with electric winches it is my job to put i t up. It takes some time to set, and it is advantages having my wife on the helm during this. The autopilot does the job, but not like a crewmember. The chute is mutch easier to set up and handle.
Tacking singelhanded in "racing-like" condition with any boat sailing roughly same direction, is easy, fun and rewarding.
We tend to take down the sail longer from shore and motor the last 15 minuts to shore to avoid unwanted stress.
The Lacybag and lines works perfect.

We have been discusing geting a bigger cat to have more WL. I think more WL gives more stability and a wider weather rang to sail in.
In that case I would consider furling boom and thrusters to assist in ports.

In the end; bigger is better!
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Old 21-04-2011, 04:16   #14
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft catamaran, vs a 40-45 ft cat

Bigger than 45 you'll need more people.
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Old 21-04-2011, 06:26   #15
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Re: Choosing 50-60ft Cat vs a 40-45ft Cat

The larger the boat. The more costly for repairs, and replacements. Only you know if you are capable of handling a larger vessel. Not6hing wrong with having doubts. I went form a 30ft. mono to a 46ft. cat. I had my doubts, but nothing was going to keep me from sailing the animal. Everything has worked out fine. Patience, and some thought will get you through.........i2f
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