In the interest of full disclosure, I own a St Francis 44 and it is for sale
, although that has nothing to do with any dissatisfaction (we very much enjoy the boat), but simply a change in life circumstances such that long distance cruising isn't in the picture for awhile.
St Francis is not out of business and never has been. It is still owned by Duncan Lethbridge, who started the company and continues to build 50 footers. The molds for the 44 were sold to Knysna, which continues to build them. Angelo Lavranos designed the 44. 43 hulls were built by St. Francis. Many of them have circumnavigated and almost all of them are still out there, cruising. (We just returned from 3 weeks in Desolation Sound, BC.) There is an active owners group on google
The mid-ship engines are different, but they have a number of advantages. Engine access is great (takes me 5 minutes to do my daily checks and I don't have to tear up any beds or crawl down through a transom, either). The placement optimizes weight distribution. The transoms are slender and maximize water
exit, which enhances performance. With the props on the inside of the hulls, you are highly unlikely to ever catch a line in a prop, since there is the entire hull
between the prop and where the line is likely to be dangling. Since the props are about 18 inches higher than the bottom of the keels, they are very well protected from groundings and never come out of the water in even the lumpiest of seas. There are two disadvantages: You have to walk around the cowlings (you easily get accustomed to that), but you also gain the space in the aft cabin
, and the engine noise
is a bit higher (though not by a lot) than with engines under the aft berths.
St. Francis 44's are wonderful cruising boats that sail very well. Very few keeled cruising cats can point up to 35 while maintaining 50%+ of windspeed. Plus, they are also excellent light air boats. In 6 to 7 knots of wind
, we're still going 4 to 5 with just working sails
, with a spinnaker
up, we will be doing 5 to 6.