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Old 21-06-2018, 08:11   #1
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Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

All,
So we're evaluating what catamaran would be best for our family. Currently we have 6 kids (oldest is 11), and may have another couple over the next few years. We're already experienced family travelers (50+ countries by air & land) and are looking forward to seeing the rest by sea over several years of full-time cruising. (though no sailing experience yet). Looking at purchasing within the next 3 years. Also, I'm 6'3" tall, so looking for something that will fit our family and that I don't have to duck in constantly.

Currently looking online at the following (but haven't seen any yet in person):

Antares 44e (wondering if I'll fit height wise, if it will fit our big family, and if we'll like the galley down)?

Royal Cape Majestic 530 (wondering how slow it is compared to others & if the bridge deck clearance is an issue?)

St. Francis 50 (Reminds me of the Antares look but bigger - any feedback?)

Lagoon 42

Any others we should take a hard look at?

Would a 50' boat be too much for my wife & I to operate?
What are the port cost differences between a 44' & 54' cat?
How much weight should I estimate per person aboard?
Will I need to get a slower boat to accommodate the extra weight of people, food, fuel, water & toys for 8+ people?

Would also love some pointers as to what we should do to prepare now as non-sailors (besides sailing itself as we're not living in a place we can do that).

Thanks!
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Old 21-06-2018, 09:07   #2
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

Howdy and Welcome Aboard CF!

You have a grand family, and a grand plan!

I am impressed that you and your family have traveled to so many countries so far! Wow! I wish I had that experience when I was a kid...or even now.

I will let the experienced multihull owners answer your questions about the differences between the various models you proposed.
__________

My Observations based on my experience:

I recently (June 7th) finished a 620nm voyage offshore on a 2016 Lagoon 52F catamaran. I was helping the owner move the boat, I was crew.

This 52 foot LOA, 29' beam boat is large, and luxurious sailing for a family. The owner and his wife and two young daughters lived on it for a year, sailing the Bahamas. Because the boat has electric winches and electric bow thruster and two engines, it was remarkably easy to manage when docking or maneuvering it or sailing it.

My impression is that a reasonably fit couple could manage this size boat themselves, in mild weather, and moderate winds, but could use the help of some crew (older children in your case) to help with tossing dock lines and rigging fenders, etc. Having two people on deck tending lines and helping with distance to dock while the skipper maneuvers the boat is a good idea, but one person on deck (crew) could do it too, just running more.

The electric winches, electric windlass, and bow thrusters and properly rigged and new gear were helpful. Everything worked as it should.

Also, I liked the use of the inflatable fenders, which were very large, but also light in weight, and easy to move about the boat. I have worked with smaller fenders that were much heavier (heavy PVC) that would probably be much harder for young teens to manage. This matters if you are storing your fenders and docklines in a deep forward compartment (often at the bow).

Pick appropriate sized docklines too. If your docklines are very thick, they can be very heavy and also hard for some women and children (or anyone with small hands) to handle or manage or carry or toss. I have seen this myself on other boats that had very thick and heavy (especially when wet) docklines.

Overall, I think a large cat as liveaboard would be ideal for a family of your size. The "liveability" and space were very nice. The galley was nice, and each cabin had a shower, and a double bed mattress. It was comfortable.

On this particular boat, I was most impressed by the additional space and comfort provided by the flybridge, which had a cloth Bimini top and cloth and eisenglass enclosures (soft panels that can be raised or lowered). It made for a very nice place to sit while sailing, and was where the entire crew preferred to be when sailing. A flybridge is a somewhat controversial feature on cats, but in this case I could appreciate the appeal they have for some owners.

Finding a berth in a marina can be a challenge. Depending on where you go, it may be hard to find an opening and hard to maneuver to it and expensive. This has recently been discussed in the CF Forums, so look for previous discussions in the forum archives. I will send you a tip on how to do that.

Haul out fees can be expensive too. The owner of this boat was quoted $5,000+ for a haul out.
___________

I am looking forward to getting more experience on large cats, and hope to crew for other owners or captains in the future, especially for longer voyages and cruises. I enjoyed my voyage on this 52 footer and can certainly appreciate why large cruising cats are so popular now.
____________

I hope these comments help.
Good luck on your boat hunt and I hope you enjoy your time on the forum.

Steadman
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Old 21-06-2018, 09:31   #3
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

Having seen most of these boats while our boat was in the show circuit (Annapolis and Miami), of the boats you listed, for the size family you have, I would go with the Royal Cape Majestic 530. The space inside that boat would allow for all the kids to have some good space. In fact, the last 530 we saw, with the fly bridge option, had the forward cabin designed by the couple's eldest daughter. She did an amazing job configuring the space for her and her two (siblings). I have not had the privilege of sailing on the vessel, but the crew I talked to who moved the boat from SA to the US had good things to say.

You might also want to look at some of the larger Privilege catamarans. They are well laid out and also seem to have the space you need.
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Old 21-06-2018, 10:52   #4
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

Depends what you budget is. If it is $350k you will get different answers if it is $500k. If you have $1m that opens up a whole bunch more scenarios - so that you may get a faster cat that can also carry a load for 8.
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Old 21-06-2018, 12:33   #5
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

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Depends what you budget is. If it is $350k you will get different answers if it is $500k. If you have $1m that opens up a whole bunch more scenarios - so that you may get a faster cat that can also carry a load for 8.
Very true, budget is a huge factor.

If you are looking at short term slip, figure around $3/ft per night, so that's $150/night on a 50' cat. If you are stationary monthly rates are significantly less. Of course in prime locations, it's not unheard of to pay $5-10ft/night. The positive side is cats are excellent platforms for anchoring out. With your family, you likely will want a couple of dingies, so everyone doesn't feel trapped on board.

If I was you, I would be looking at one of the boats designed for charter, they sacrifice a bit on storage but they get you 4 cabins, so you are down to 2 kids per cabin. They also are designed for newbies, so a little more margin if you make a mistake.

If you have been RV'ing it and airbnb'ing it, you will likely find the boating life more expensive.

As far as handling the boat, if the 11yr old is responsible and can be taught proper procedures, you've got a 3rd hand (with more waiting in the wings). Most boat handling tasks don't demand brute strength. He can easily handle dock lines or even the wheel if you do run across an issue that calls for brute strength and you must leave the wheel. But it takes some knowledge and teaching. ie:If he sticks his leg between the dock and the boat thinking to push off, a 10 ton cat can easily crush his leg.

If you have the budget available, it's a great option but if you don't have experience, plan on a lot of learning.
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Old 21-06-2018, 13:34   #6
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

No sailing experience?


I don't think you can possibly have the right questions yet, let alone understand the answers. Learn to sail and if your budget will stretch to an Antares, there will be pleanty of easy answers.
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Old 21-06-2018, 15:18   #7
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

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No sailing experience?


I don't think you can possibly have the right questions yet, let alone understand the answers. Learn to sail and if your budget will stretch to an Antares, there will be pleanty of easy answers.
I agree with this 100%. What seems important for weeklong rentals is very different from what is important for long range/circumnavigation. How well can you see all around you from the salon? How well can the helm communicate with the cockpit or salon. How protected/protectable is the helm from bad weather/sun? How well is she set up for single-handed sailing (let's be honest... a dad with small kids will find himself taking the brunt of the day to day sailing duties and you want your wife to be able to easily reef on watch - preferably without leaving the helm).

None of those things really matter for vacation charter, but should be an absolute priority for live aboard.
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Old 21-06-2018, 18:12   #8
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

A great dream. I would advise first learning to sail and see if you like it. Get the ASA certificates for bareboat charter/catamaran. Then charter a cat and take your family for, say, a two or three week cruise on it to see how you take to living aboard. Make sure you like sailing and living aboard life before you get too wrapped up in the hardware end of it. You can see a LOT of cats at the Annapolis Boat Show, and even arrange test sails on some of them there. You really want to approach this safely and methodically. Our vessels generally sail better than we do, and with the safety of your family in mind, you want offshore experience too before planning passages. Best of luck, and keep us posted on your progress. I think you'll love cats, and what a great adventure awaits you!
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Old 21-06-2018, 20:29   #9
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

Check out Sailing Zatara and their new videos about their new to them Privilege 585 catamaran. About that size is going to be necessary to get enough cabins for kids sharing 2 per cabin. Though most beds are doubles/queens rather than bunks or a pair of singles. When young, no problem, but once a tween your children probably wonít want to share a bed.

Once you get to that size (50 plus) in a cruising catamaran thereís plenty of mechanical, electrical and possibly hydraulic aids to handle the boat. Single handing most of the time is the rule. Docking is the most likely operation where you want more than one person, but with twin engines itís not too difficult to manoeuvre in tight spaces and any others are line handlers.

Cruising cats of that size will be able to accommodate your toys etc - another reason beyond accommodation space to look at larger catamarans.

You have a lot of precious cargo there - please train and learn copiously before heading offshore. The sea is an unforgiving mistress - little mistakes provide experience, but more serious mistakes can be dangerous. Unlike land-based travel, you canít get off. Sorry, I donít mean to be a drag, but you need to learn all the unknowns you donít even know about yet, let alone the unknowns you already know are out there.

Everyone should learn to sail. You donít even have a lake or reservoir near where you live? Surely you do within a couple hours of driving?Join a club, sign the kids up to the junior program, and just mess about in boats. Any size, any type, just spend time on the water.
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Old 22-06-2018, 07:11   #10
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

All,
Thanks for all the feedback & advice - much appreciated & keep it coming! My wife and I are looking at how to take our leave to places where we can sail to get experience and then hopefully bareboat the few cats on our short-list.

What's the best boat show in Europe that would have the most cats to take a look at?
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Old 22-06-2018, 08:08   #11
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

I believe the biggest multihull show in Europe (maybe anywhere?) is La Grande Motte, in April. They bill it as the International Multihull show. If you don't want to wait until next year, the fall sailboat show in Annapolis would be a great opportunity as well.
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Old 22-06-2018, 10:44   #12
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

As some already written, you start at the wrong end of the question. First learn to sail (both of you), then charter cats several times of different sizes/makes and see what are the traits and layouts you like/dislike/find necessary etc.
BTW Lagoon 42 and Royal Majestic 53 are not in any similar set of sizes. The Lagoon is about 1/2 size of the RM.
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Old 22-06-2018, 11:07   #13
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
As far as handling the boat, if the 11yr old is responsible and can be taught proper procedures, you've got a 3rd hand (with more waiting in the wings). Most boat handling tasks don't demand brute strength. He can easily handle dock lines or even the wheel if you do run across an issue that calls for brute strength and you must leave the wheel. But it takes some knowledge and teaching.
Indeed. Who is going to handle the boat is a pretty good question. Given several quite small children who will need regular attention, plus a wife who is expected to have a couple more pregnancies in the near term, boat handling is going to be a major concern. As you have no sailing experience, I'd think a training course or two and a couple of charters should precede any serious consideration of purchasing a large cruising cat (or monohull) and departing on an extended bluewater cruise.
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Old 22-06-2018, 11:28   #14
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

What boat is the last question, not first. Get the whole family on BVI chartered cat for two weeks minimum. Make sure your skipper is an ASA instructor. Start with 101 and proceed as far as you can. Do not hire a cook/hostess. Do all the onboard chores as you would on your own boat. Assign all crew some task. Only Anchor out and set up 2 hour watches for everyone as if you were night sailing. Do as much of the work as the skipper allows.

After the cruise, sit down with the family and get everyoneís written opinion of
The ďexperiment ď. Donít call it a vacation. I think you will learn a lot of your self and your family.

Best of luck⚓️
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Old 22-06-2018, 11:28   #15
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Re: Cruising Cat advice for a novice family of 8?

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All,
Thanks for all the feedback & advice - much appreciated & keep it coming! My wife and I are looking at how to take our leave to places where we can sail to get experience and then hopefully bareboat the few cats on our short-list.

What's the best boat show in Europe that would have the most cats to take a look at?
Before spilling a lot of digital ink we need some information.

Budget????????????????????????

Boat for starters

Monthly operating follow up

I met a large family on a 60í mono in Isla Mujeres living on less than a show string. It was abuse, not only to the children but to all the other cruises who stepped in to try to help.

Have met others with large families who did it right and had a blast.

Cruising sounds great but starting from ground zero it can be brutal.

Give us some serious figures and weíll happily give some seriously great advice.

Short of that consider the biggest dang cat you can afford. 8 on a 44í Antares?
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