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Old 22-03-2016, 01:45   #1
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Choosing a cat

Hey folks,

Need some thoughts from those with more knowledge. We're about to pull the trigger on a performance cat, having finally decided that our steel monohull was no longer fitting the bill, and it's down to two options. I can't give specific models yet, but here's the general rundown.

NB. Both are about 12.5m, 7m beam, 1m draft and need internal refits / sails / rigging / etc

Boat #1
- circa 2003
- carbon rotating mast
- synthetic rigging
- daggerboards
- twin outboard helms
- minimal below decks accommodation (we'll need to build a hard dodger and accommodation into the current HUGE cockpit area)
- SA/D: 26
- "new" hull design, 4 trans-atlantics & a number of other races
- faster with less accommodation and more complexity

Boat #2
- circa 1986
- ally mast
- stainless rigging (can do synthetic)
- performance mini-keels
- single hydro bulkhead helm
- bridgedeck (5 8" max headroom - but plenty of seating)
- SA/D: 26
- "dated" design, but proven with 3 trans-atlantics
- slower (than boat #1 - has still been clocked at 20+kts though), more accommodation and less complexity

Plan
Our plan is to stay local for the time being, coastal cruising to build miles on the new boat and putting money back into the kitty, then taking off back to rum & palm trees next year.

I'm looking for thoughts from those of you who've owned a cat and cruised extensively. What worked, what didn't, do daggerboards v mini-keels really make a difference (weight saving being key), is less complex easier when clocking off huge miles, or will cats in general just tick along nicely, etc?

n
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Old 22-03-2016, 07:28   #2
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Re: Choosing a cat

Ausnp84, quite a change from a steel schooner! I assume that both of these boats are one-offs and while there is nothing wrong with that, the design and construction are key factors. If either is epoxy coated marine ply that would be a turn-off to me. Since they were intended for racing, I also worry whether the scantlings are appropriate for long term cruising.

If performance is your goal, keep in mind that adding weight for additional accomodation/stores will have hugely deleterious effects. No doubt the hulls are rather slender for performance and as a result, they will be especially sensitive to weight.

When you say 'performance keels', I assume that they are deep draft rather than the typical LAR keels on cruising cats. If that is the case, then boards will provide mcuh more flexibility in terms of cruising grounds/anchorages, but also improved performance.

If your goal is performance, then twin helms is the way to go - far better view of sail trim.

Bridgdeck headroom of 5'8" on a cat of that size would be a deal killer to me - afterall, another 6" would add comfort without detracting from appearance on that long of a boat (and while adding little in terms of overall windage).

If your plans are to sail in warm climates, an open bridgdeck with a solid dodger would work well and at least enable you to have full headroom.

When you say that the older cat (and it is getting rather long in the tooth) is not a modern design, I'm not sure what you mean. A wharram style boat, or.......

For cruising purposes, a rotating mast would be a complication that I would not want - especially seeing as performance will already be compromised by the weight you will be adding with your added accomodation/stores.

Is there a reason you have decided to go all the way from a steel schooner to a former racing cat? The difference in performance will be dramatic, but so too will be the motion, maintenance costs, the ability to carry stores for long-range cruising as well as the attention required to sail safely (racing cats will typically carry high aspect ratio rigs with more sail area and will require pre-emptive reefing!).

Brad
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Old 22-03-2016, 07:43   #3
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pirate Re: Choosing a cat

On the existing info boat 2 would be my choice.. sod rotating masts in outa the way places.
Here's something I like and available for around 50K for a good example.. but it is only 35ft.. this particular boat sold for 40K
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Old 22-03-2016, 07:46   #4
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Re: Choosing a cat

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On the existing info boat 2 would be my choice.. sod rotating masts in outa the way places.
Here's something I like and available for around 50K for a good example.. but it is only 35ft
Is that a Beneteau Blue II? We should have it by the time you bring Calypso up as well; just depends if we can fit the two in the same boatyard....

nathan
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Old 22-03-2016, 07:47   #5
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Re: Choosing a cat

Hey Brad,

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

It is somewhat of a jump up from a steel mono - we've been talking about moving to a cat for some time, and with long distance cruising off the cards for the next couple of years, it's the perfect time to make the switch and get the cat cruise ready. The boat I owned before the steel one was a GRP cruiser-racer, so I'm looking to get some level of performance back that I've been missing the past few years. Boat #1 is an ex-racer (they also make a cruise model) and Boat #2 is a typically french performance cat - not a huge amount of space, slender hulls, goes like a rocket.

We spent a lot of time looking at Prouts (Escales, 37's), Privileges, older Lagoons, CSKs, etc and came to the conclusion we weren't looking for a heavy weight cruising cat, instead we'd be looking for a good mix of performance and cruise ability (storage space, tankage, etc).

Both boats are production models - they were made in low volume by well known designers (one's french, the other's english) so I'm comfortable they've been designed well.

With regards to "performance keels", I'm just taking what's been written on the 'net about them. They're mini-keels but don't seem very large... hence I assume performance...?

Noted on headroom, although I wonder how often I'd be standing in the salon? There's only the couch & table in there, the galley's down below and the hulls have plenty of headroom.....

nathan
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Old 22-03-2016, 07:59   #6
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pirate Re: Choosing a cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ausnp84 View Post
Is that a Beneteau Blue II? We should have it by the time you bring Calypso up as well; just depends if we can fit the two in the same boatyard....

nathan
Yes.. its a Blue II.. are you still looking at the same marina..??
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Old 22-03-2016, 08:03   #7
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Re: Choosing a cat

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Yes.. its a Blue II.. are you still looking at the same marina..??
Yep - we'd like to sell Calypso at one and keep the catamaran at another (long story). The marina have advised they'll know in the next couple of weeks when space will be available - just gotta keep pestering them every few days.....

n
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Old 22-03-2016, 08:13   #8
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Originally Posted by ausnp84 View Post
Yep - we'd like to sell Calypso at one and keep the catamaran at another (long story). The marina have advised they'll know in the next couple of weeks when space will be available - just gotta keep pestering them every few days.....

n
Keep up the pestering.. got to be in SMX end of April.. annoy MarkJ..
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:19   #9
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Re: Choosing a cat

I like fast cats, I love my rotating masts, I absolutely wouldn't own the first boat as a cruiser.

My concern is that any appreciable cruising load is going to massively impact performance. This isn't just a speed issue it is also a safety one. Where mono hulls blead off excess power from the sails by heeling cats need to accelerate to burn the power. Take a really fast cat and add cruising loads and the excess drag prevents appropriate acceleration and will start to load up the boat it ways never intended by the designer. Rigging issues, fitting issues, bulkhead issues would all be on the top of my concern list.

A good conversation with the designer may assuage these issues, depending on what he said.

The rotating mast would also be a concern. Because they are so efficient at converting wind to propulsion the area of a rotating mast actually counts as sail area for race boats. On my A-Cat for instance about 15sq foot of my allowed 150 is actually the mast. It's great underway, but at anchor the mast will be capable of generating real lift, and cause the boat to sail around. It's serious enough that again on the A-Cat we have to tie the boats to the ground to keep the mast from flipping the boat over in gusts. Do you happen to know the chord ratio of the mast? 2:1 is a pretty low powered mast, by the time you get to 3:1 the rig itself can generate huge amounts of power.

Finally, a performance cat designed with a crew in mind likely needs that many hands on ropes to keep the boat under control. Going from 8 aboard to 2 aboard greatly reduces the number of man hours you can spend working the boat and keeping it going. On a pure racer this could be dangerous. Someone for instance needs to be ready to drop the traveler all the time to keep the boat from flipping. Off the wind the boat may demand a spinnaker for safety, are you going to accept that the spin must always be up?

Put simply pure race boats are generally poor cruisers without major modifications, not just to the interior but also to the rig and rigging.
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:25   #10
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Re: Choosing a cat

Thanks Greg - appreciate your thoughts on this.

I don't know the profile on the rotating mast but have read about their tendency to make the boat move around quite a bit at anchor / on a mooring.

We've been advised for both boats, max. load is 1-1.5 tonnes. This certainly limits what we can take cruising, equally, it means we just need to throw out a lot of "stuff" we had on the steel boat (really, who needs 100+ books?).

Both designers / manufacturers have been very helpful with all the questions I've put to them regarding using both boats as long term cruisers; Boat #2 is definitely sitting top of the list at the moment (even if I have to cut part of the bridgedeck cabin roof off to make it 4" higher)....

nathan
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Old 22-03-2016, 12:42   #11
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Re: Choosing a cat

I would ask both designers what happens when the boat is overloaded. Say in 1,000lb increments. Even with very tight weight discipline it's hard to keep a cruising boat as light as a race boat, and while they may have the same nominal load carrying capacity the race boat will probably respond to excess weight much faster.

There is also a real question, do you really want to drive a boat hard enough to hit 20kn or more? At these speeds all boats are riding the edge, small mistakes can result in lots of gear breakages.

Second question. What is the race boat designers feeling of running off in big breeze without a spinnaker? On smaller beach cats the greatest risk is of pitch poling from the main driving the bows into the water. A spinnaker reduce this chance by adding a verticle lifting motion to the bows. It very well may be that in big breeze off the wind you have no choice but to fly a spinnaker to keep the bows up.
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Old 22-03-2016, 14:52   #12
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Re: Choosing a cat

Re rotating masts - I can't see how it's such a big concern. You can always centre it and lock it.
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Old 22-03-2016, 14:54   #13
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Re: Choosing a cat

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Second question. What is the race boat designers feeling of running off in big breeze without a spinnaker? On smaller beach cats the greatest risk is of pitch poling from the main driving the bows into the water. A spinnaker reduce this chance by adding a verticle lifting motion to the bows. It very well may be that in big breeze off the wind you have no choice but to fly a spinnaker to keep the bows up.
Really? How about dropping the main and running under the headsail or reacher?
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Old 22-03-2016, 15:11   #14
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Re: Choosing a cat

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Re rotating masts - I can't see how it's such a big concern. You can always centre it and lock it.
Funnily enough, we had thought that as well. A carbon rotating mast with synthetic rigging is entirely new ground for us though, and whilst I like the idea of moving to a performance cat, we need to also keep things simple for when we start breaking stuff in the islands....

Nathan
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Old 22-03-2016, 15:18   #15
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Re: Choosing a cat

It'll come down to how you choose to sail the boat. If you sail it like a cruiser, there's no real reason you should be breaking much gear. If you sail like a racer, and keep pressing hard in strong conditions, then yeah, you'll break stuff. But you'd break stuff on any boat if you did that.
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