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Old 06-07-2017, 10:35   #1
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Desert guy with catamaran questions

My wife and are planning to become offshore cruisers in five years and we have very little experience. I have the ASA certifications and she is leaving tomorrow for a week-long all womans ASA class. When she returns, we intend on joining a sailing club in the bay area to expand our knowledge before we purchase in a couple of years. We have looked at both monohulls and catamarans for future purchase. As I tend to be more of a monohull guy, she is more of a catamaran (39-40ft) gal.

As I have researched both types of boats, I have found (in my little experience) monohulls to be more geared for long distance voyages due to the large tankage (water and fuel) than catamarans. I have not been able to find a 39-40ft catamaran with a fuel tank over 80 gallons. I do like the idea of more stability at anchor and while underway, but it seems as if 80 gallons of diesel would not allow us to motor very far if needed, especially considering the dual engines.

I am sure I am missing something. I am hoping you all could share your experience with me in order to make a better informed decision in the near future.

Thank you ahead of time.
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:45   #2
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Your expectations I think are a bit out of kilter. Most 40' monohulls are going to have around 50 gallon tanks, some very few ones might be bigger but they will be the exception. Second catamarans when motoring long distances tend to operate on just one motor. The top end speed is obviously lower but the fuel burn gets cut in half and cruising speeds are not effected much.

For a 40' Lagoon I would guess (I am not bothering to look it up) that at 6kn you would expect to burn something like .5gallons/hr, maybe up to .75gallons. With 80 gallons onboard that gives you a motoring range of 720-960nm. If you need more range than that you need to spend more time learning to sail.

Really big fuel tanks are really there to run the generator not provide propulsion on sailboats.
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:32   #3
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Stumble thank you for the reply.

Off kilter? Absolutely! It is why I am here.

I do appreciate the lesson as I thought catamarans had to motor with both engines. We recently looked at a Lucia 40 while on vacation in France. My wife fell in love with it. The Lucia has an 80 gallon fuel capacity which is where I am getting that number from.

Considering only one motor is needed to cruise, that would definitely make me more at ease with my concerns. If the motor’s burn rate is that low that would definitely be plenty for us considering we do intend on sailing, not motoring everywhere.

The monohull that I love is the Island Packet 445 which carries 160 gallons of fuel. I guess I have been comparing cats to mono’s too much.

Once again thank you for the response and for sharing your knowledge.
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:48   #4
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Our Privilege 39 catamaran has a cruising range under power of about 1400 miles. Each of our main fuel tanks is about 200 liters. I also carry two bladder tanks in lockers and plastic jerry cans on deck to complete the fuel load when doing a major passage offshore.

Each of our 3 cylinder Yanmar diesels use one half gallon per hour, and we never run both engines except in urgent situations where more speed, more power, or more maneuverability are required. So our fuel consumption under normal conditions is one half gallon an hour.

One engine gets us 5 to 5.5 knots of speed in calm sailing conditions.

Two engines gets us about seven knots, but the increased speed does not merit double fuel consumption when I am cruising.

I have a rule on board Exit Only that whenever the speed drops below four knots, I automatically turn on one of the engines.

If I am going through a high pressure area with no wind, then I will run the starboard engine for twelve hours and then the port engine for twelve hours, and I keep alternating the port and starboard engines until the wind picks up.

When there is no wind, I want to make 150 miles per day using one engine at a time.

I always carried enough fuel for 1400 miles, so that when I am on passage, I can put the hammer down and get out of harms way if we are on a windless sea.

On two sailing trips to New Zealand, we just made it in to port before before gales struck. If we had not motored through the high pressure areas north of New Zealand, we would have gotten clobbered twice by the lows that were coming off the Tasman.

Extra fuel has saved me on multiple occasions. I consider the extra fuel to be part of my safety gear on board.
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Old 06-07-2017, 13:18   #5
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Hi, Desert Rat, just for comparison's sake, our old Nanni (a Kubota based engine) 45 hp engine uses about .65 gal/hr., 2.5 l/hr. Our mono carries ~600 l diesel, which is rather a lot, 157 gal. This boat is a better light air sailer than the IP, and we happily sail her down to around 2 knots boat speed, rather than motor. Our first Insatiable had 18 gal. Jim had a 45 gal tank built for it, but we still doggedly sailed it slowly when that's what the weather gods gave us, and no reason to "hurry". However, if it suits, then we motor or motorsail.

There's no right nor wrong to this, it's actually one of the freedoms, to choose how one does passages. Many cruisers carry jerry jugs of supplementary fuel on deck for long passages. If you search, you'll probably find a thread about the pros and cons of this practice.

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Old 06-07-2017, 14:33   #6
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Rat View Post
My wife and are planning to become offshore cruisers in five years and we have very little experience. I have the ASA certifications and she is leaving tomorrow for a week-long all womans ASA class. When she returns, we intend on joining a sailing club in the bay area to expand our knowledge before we purchase in a couple of years. We have looked at both monohulls and catamarans for future purchase. As I tend to be more of a monohull guy, she is more of a catamaran (39-40ft) gal.

As I have researched both types of boats, I have found (in my little experience) monohulls to be more geared for long distance voyages due to the large tankage (water and fuel) than catamarans. I have not been able to find a 39-40ft catamaran with a fuel tank over 80 gallons. I do like the idea of more stability at anchor and while underway, but it seems as if 80 gallons of diesel would not allow us to motor very far if needed, especially considering the dual engines.

I am sure I am missing something. I am hoping you all could share your experience with me in order to make a better informed decision in the near future.

Thank you ahead of time.
You want a motor boat, buy a motor boat, otherwise focus on a boat that sails well in light airs
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Old 06-07-2017, 15:55   #7
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Are you convinced to buy the cat now?

The wife is always right.

Happy wife - happy life.
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Old 06-07-2017, 17:08   #8
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

The Lucia 40 is an excellent cruising boat.

There are many factors between cats and monos that you don't see on a spreadsheet. The redundancy of 2 engines means more maintenance cost, but also more reliability at sea. Not heeling means a much more pleasant experience for anyone who isn't a hardcore sailor. Many more areas for privacy can be great for not getting on each other's nerves on long voyages. The galley and food storage options on cats tend to make for much more well fed crews with better variety.

There are many advantages with monos, but I love cats so that's my short list to think about. There are no wrong decisions, but my vote is with your wife and the Lucia.
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Old 06-07-2017, 17:27   #9
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Rat View Post
Stumble thank you for the reply.

Off kilter? Absolutely! It is why I am here.

I do appreciate the lesson as I thought catamarans had to motor with both engines. We recently looked at a Lucia 40 while on vacation in France. My wife fell in love with it. The Lucia has an 80 gallon fuel capacity which is where I am getting that number from.

Considering only one motor is needed to cruise, that would definitely make me more at ease with my concerns. If the motor’s burn rate is that low that would definitely be plenty for us considering we do intend on sailing, not motoring everywhere.

The monohull that I love is the Island Packet 445 which carries 160 gallons of fuel. I guess I have been comparing cats to mono’s too much.

Once again thank you for the response and for sharing your knowledge.
At comparable cruising speed the IP is probably going to burn more fuel, probably not double, but more.

Short of some Pacific Ocean crossings like California-Hawaii, or the like you really don't need that type of fuel capacity. Even in light air you will still have the sails (or at least the main) up which will then convert the higher aparent wind into additionally power (it doesn't work on a dead calm day though). It isn't uncommon for people to just use enough motor to get to say 5kn when combined with the sails, which may be far below the hp required to get there on the motor alone. Even a slight decrease in hp used has a huge effect on range.

Boats with truly massive fuel tanks really have them for the generator to run AC at night. We had 500 gallons of diesel for something like a 4,500nm motoring range... or about 60 nights running the AC... Mom required the AC so it was on every night.

Has someone above mentioned the wife is always right?

The other thing is fuel is very expensive. Coming from the US it can be a big of a culture shock to pay $7/gallon for diesel. But on a small island in the middle of the Pacific it wouldn't suprize me. Sail more, motor less, save money, it's a win win.
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Old 07-07-2017, 08:23   #10
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

New Leopard 45 has 182gallons/690 litres of diesel and two 45 HP Yanmars
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Old 07-07-2017, 09:20   #11
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Rat View Post
My wife and are planning to become offshore cruisers in five years and we have very little experience. I have the ASA certifications and she is leaving tomorrow for a week-long all womans ASA class. When she returns, we intend on joining a sailing club in the bay area to expand our knowledge before we purchase in a couple of years. We have looked at both monohulls and catamarans for future purchase. As I tend to be more of a monohull guy, she is more of a catamaran (39-40ft) gal.

As I have researched both types of boats, I have found (in my little experience) monohulls to be more geared for long distance voyages due to the large tankage (water and fuel) than catamarans. I have not been able to find a 39-40ft catamaran with a fuel tank over 80 gallons. I do like the idea of more stability at anchor and while underway, but it seems as if 80 gallons of diesel would not allow us to motor very far if needed, especially considering the dual engines.

I am sure I am missing something. I am hoping you all could share your experience with me in order to make a better informed decision in the near future.

Thank you ahead of time.
The Moorings 4000, Robertson & Caine design has two fuel tanks, 95 gallons or 360 L total
LOA 39,3 ft
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:03   #12
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Different strokes for different folks. We have just completed a circumnavigation and still have fuel on board that we took on in Langkawi Malaysia. But we use solar power and wind exclusively for eletrical power generation and wind for propulsion and we only turn on the motor when on passages if the Autopilot gives up due to lack of speed, less than a knot. Our junk-rigged Gazelle sails well off the wind in light or heavy air and being fully battened she does not flog her sails.

We are also considering a catamaran to 'retire' on in the western Caribbean and either there or on passage, tankage would be one of our last concerns. Sailing in light winds at low speeds is relaxing and fun and one is then not bothered by 'foreign' noises.

I should also correct an impression from one of the other correspondents; diesel is often surprisingly cheap in foreign locations. One of the cheaper ones recently, although we did not need any (-: , was Ascension island!

My vote is with the wife (-:

Jim and Helen
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:16   #13
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Desert Rat,

I would not worry too much about fuel capacity on a cat. You will find that the ability to sail when others are motoring will save a lot of fuel. When I designed our cat I put in the largest tanks I could fit, 80 gallons per side, but that was more so that I can fill up where it is cheap and easy and carry on without having to worry about fuel. Last winter we filled up in San Diego, then sailed down the coast to Cabo and up the Sea of Cortez, which is notorious for light and contrary winds, to Puerto Penasco where we stored the boat for the summer. We still have 1/4 tanks on both sides. When we crossed the Pacific from Japan to Alaska, we arrived in Kodiak with 3/4 tanks on both sides. If you travel the tradewind routes you will use even less fuel. There are times that I regret having put in such large tanks as the boat tends to squat a bit with 1280 lbs of fuel aboard.
In short, don't worry too much about fuel capacity. Buy a cat that sails well in light air and be happy. Consider as well that if your wife wants a cat and you buy a mono, you will never hear the end of it. I recall having some cruising friends over who were in the process of selling their beautiful, 45' monohull and moving ashore because the wife was tired of living in a cave. She stepped into our cabin, looked around and muttered to herself "I could live on a cat".
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:18   #14
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Hi Desert Rat,

Good start to get some sailing training and join a club to sail as many boats as possible. I would add, plan some charters to experience different types of boat that are candidates or similar to candidates for your purchase. Spending a week on board a boat will tell you a whole lot more than you can ever learn reading or visiting boatshows.

I recently bought my first boat, so I think I can appreciate the challenges of the process you are going through. Diesel capacity is an important factor, particularly if you plan to do long distance sailing and want to have the option of motoring through calm to avoid bad weather. But it's just one factor and along the way you'll build your own list of what's important to you and your wife.

Fuel capacity is a very different issue on a cat than a monohull because cats are so much more sensitive to weight. If you buy a cat, you don't want one that's so heavy that you end up being essentially forced to spend a lot more of your time motoring than I'm sure you'd like just because it doesn't sail very well.

One thing I'd suggest you look into is the size of cat you look at. In particular, speak to people who have bought 2 or more cats and find out what size they bought for their second or third boat - I think you'll find many moved up closer to the 50' range if they bought a smaller cat the first time. A larger boat will also support more payload without overloading the boat, but of course the expenses rise rapidly too. It's a challenging problem, which is why there are no one size fits all answers.

Good luck!
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Old 07-07-2017, 17:54   #15
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Re: Desert guy with catamaran questions

Our Manta 40 catamaran has a 100 gallon fuel tank and 100 gallon water tank. You'll likely be more concerned about water than fuel most of the time. Watermaker is a big plus.

If you are cruising as a couple, look for a boat that one of you can comfortably sail by yourself. There will be times someone doesn't feel well or has to leave for some reason.

Good luck with whatever boat you ultimately decide on. The search is a process - enjoy it!
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