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Old 23-07-2015, 13:36   #1
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Evaluating A Catamaran

What criteria do you use when evaluating a catamaran? We've already vetted a list of models we like, but when we actually start seeing these models coming on the used market.. how do we decide which one to buy?

Obviously we will have a proper inspection once we get to a boat we think might be "the one".. but how do we get to that point? what are the top things we need to look for?

I can certainly evaluate how well it was taken care of.. how clean it is... is it showing wear and tear.. But, I don't have a lot of experience with things like engines, and sail drives, etc. So, I could use some advice for those items, such as.. "how many hours are too many on an engine"... etc

For those that have bought used.. what were the main things you looked for? what was the deciding factor for choosing one over the other?

I don't want this to become an emotional decision.. I want to focus on buying a boat with good "bones" and systems.. at a price range where the depreciation is minimal. I want it to be an attractive boat for resale... And I don't want any surprises. So, I want to be able to spot the MAJOR red flags myself, before we get an inspector involved...

What's your best advice?
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Old 23-07-2015, 17:20   #2
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

Before you get a survey?
Sail on as many different cats as you can and talk to as many different owners as you can. I think that broadening your knowledge will be the biggest help.
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Old 24-07-2015, 10:50   #3
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

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Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
Before you get a survey?
Sail on as many different cats as you can and talk to as many different owners as you can. I think that broadening your knowledge will be the biggest help.
yes.... we are working on that. We are landlocked here in Missouri, so whenever we get anywhere "coastal" we try to do something related to catamaran sailing. We've been out on several already. We are talking to lots of folks, and reading everything we can get our hands on.. we've gone to the boat shows.. took classes. so, perhaps I'm halfway there already.
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Old 24-07-2015, 12:45   #4
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

Definitely take a hard look at anything that is put under tension/compression by the rig. Look for any subtle deformation/bending in metals.

Examples:
- Mast base (so much compression)
- The entire bow beam structure (headstay connection, connections to the hull, etc)
- Side shroud connections
- Get underneath the boat and checkout the joint of the bridge deck to the hulls.
- etc
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Old 24-07-2015, 13:46   #5
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

There is no such thing as the "right" boat. It all depends on your goals. If you are into racing and performance, you are likely to be dissapointed with a boat geared towards comfort. On the other hand, if you aren't into crusing, you may be dissapointed in the sparten accomodations of a speedy boat.

Imagine all the mundane parts of life while looking over the boat (cooking, cleaning, bathroom, sleeping, etc...) If these don't work, move on.

In general I would lean towards production boats that have been in production for a while (obviously with updates over the years). This is a good indication that the designer got most of the key issues sorted out.
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Old 27-07-2015, 17:05   #6
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

OK Scarlet, I'll take a shot at this.

Two steps:

1. decide on which model(s) you think will meet your needs. Narrow this down to as few as possible dependent on your willingness to compromise.

2. get a survey on the viable candidate(s) that meet criterion 1.

From the surveyor, determine the relative costs of deficiencies of the candidates to bring them up to your desires/expectations. Add this cost to the expected purchase cost while considering the time necessary to correct the deficiencies compared to your desired schedule.

This is not rocket surgery.

Rely on your surveyor if you don't feel comfortable making the system-level, detail-level assessment. Put all the pieces together to arrive at a go/no go decision.

If your question is really about which boats to bring to a survey, this takes a broad based assessment of the advertised features, claimed condition, brand knowledge, etc. This takes experience and can be a crap shoot. Be ready to kiss some toads.....

Good luck,
Dave
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Old 28-07-2015, 07:43   #7
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

Be present when the survey is being done. Have a flashlight and accompany the surveyor and look at everything he does. Look in every compartment look for discollered wood, any odd smells, ask a lot of questions. Your job is to not get distracted and stay with the surveyor. An honest surveyor won't mind. Look at any maintance records and various owner's manuels to get a feeling of how anal the prior owner was. The more malticulas the PO was the better.
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Old 28-07-2015, 08:06   #8
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

4000 engine hours is middle aged to senior citizen and lots of charter cats are over that. I would factor in engine replacement as a deduction in the negotiations. Engine replacement runs about $200 to $400 per 1 horsepower.
I know someone will pop in saying there's has 10,000 hours but that is the exception and not the rule.
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Old 28-07-2015, 09:39   #9
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

Quote:
Originally Posted by scarlet View Post
What criteria do you use when evaluating a catamaran? We've already vetted a list of models we like, but when we actually start seeing these models coming on the used market.. how do we decide which one to buy?

Obviously we will have a proper inspection once we get to a boat we think might be "the one".. but how do we get to that point? what are the top things we need to look for?
We looked at a ton of used.. and if you want good quality used, start looking now, because it's near impossible to find.. and folks wanted ridiculous amounts of $$ for boats that needed a ton of work, and we just wanted to turn key and go. There was only one boat I saw that nearly fit the bill for us in the used market but we didn't like the saloon layout with the mega huge chest fridge/freezer and one of the engines had a bit of a knock in it.

I swore when I started looking for boats I would never buy a charter boat or go in with a charter company but after 2 years of looking I took my "used boat $ budget" and bought new with a charter company.

Now, after almost 5 years with the company, I'm still glad I did.. but also, there is something that I was too quick to rule out when I was looking for used.. and that was to rule out ex-charter boats. If you have an opportunity to get a boat just coming out of charter or going through phase out, and the chance to be involved with the phase out, I think some very good boats can be had.

I believe we will have a good opportunity to be involved with our boat when it is done with it's contract, that's when I'll be the squeaky wheel to get things taken care of.. for now, we have to be understanding of some of the things that go along with chartering and lots of different folks using our boat. For my wife and I, this has been a very good way to get into boating, and all the things that go with traveling from country to country, living on the boat, and to experience what it's all about. In fact, she wants me to sign up for another go around, and get another boat (she has become hooked on using boats at all the available bases without having to sail ours across the oceans).. I'm ready to take over the boat and make it our winter home.
Quote:
I can certainly evaluate how well it was taken care of.. how clean it is... is it showing wear and tear.. But, I don't have a lot of experience with things like engines, and sail drives, etc. So, I could use some advice for those items, such as.. "how many hours are too many on an engine"... etc
The only way to know how many or how much hours/time on those types of things is to be a mechanic or to have grown up around that type of stuff (fortunately for us, we grew up around diesel motors and heavy equipment so can pretty quickly tell what shape things are in). In this respect it's just like cars.. you'll see some with shot engines and trannys with 50,000 miles and others with not a lick of trouble with 250,000 miles.
Our lack of expertise has more to do with if the sails are blown out or not, but we're getting that experience in the mean time.

Quote:
For those that have bought used.. what were the main things you looked for? what was the deciding factor for choosing one over the other?
O.K.. we didn't buy used.. but in a sense, we did.

First off, to get my wife on board, I needed it to be clean and turnkey.. there was no way I was going to turn this into a retirement home on the water if it was trashed and needed a lot of elbow grease.. cleaning and
polishing is one thing.. but sanding, painting, and wrenching right off the bat would have been a big no-no.

so, 1st thing was (after 2 years of homework on what boat) we bought a new charter boat so wife was covered in the "needs to be nice" department. And, I found one that had what was important to me... good access to the helm from both sides, good visibility, fair performance, easily single handed, or at least could easily be made to be single handed. I wanted a small wrap around galley and the galley up, at the most, two heads. Then, because it was to be a home.. it needed a few other things on the list, generator, aircon, electric davits and heads, nice big shower.. (I guess first on the "which boat to buy" list was really that it HAD TO BE an "owners version). Our head/shower on our little catamaran is huge compared to many much larger boats and we love the space in our hull. Being a new model, it had many niceties, LED lighting, electric heads, etc. etc.

Quote:

I don't want this to become an emotional decision.. I want to focus on buying a boat with good "bones" and systems.. at a price range where the depreciation is minimal. I want it to be an attractive boat for resale... And I don't want any surprises. So, I want to be able to spot the MAJOR red flags myself, before we get an inspector involved...

What's your best advice?
As my nick name suggests.. I had 3 model of boats at the top of the list.. privilege, leopard, and lagoon. Now, after being around cruisers over the last years, there are some other brands that could be on the list.. some very beautiful boats.. the older PDQ's, the older leopards like the 42 and 47. They maybe don't have the newest lighting, etc., or the best layouts, but there are some beautiful older boats out there.. I think I was possibly too wrapped up in setting my budget and then ruling out anything that was over 10 years old at the time. There are some good used boats out there, but like I said, start looking, because it's like finding a needle in the haystack from what I'm seeing.

Just one other thing.. I am really glad that we bought a smaller cat, but before I knew what I do now, I was thinking that it would be good to have a smaller cat because of the savings on docking and mooring.. and I don't think that is an issue at all. We spend way more time at anchor than at dock when we travel. My wife does not like being in a marina. Granted, the haul outs and paints etc. will be more reasonable on a smaller cat, so small is a good thing. (but with a huge owners hull) .
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Old 28-07-2015, 19:38   #10
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

One thing I would be concerned about with a charter boat is that the engine life may have been significantly shortened by excess running at idle. The reason? All bareboats I have chartered have had inadequate charging and house batteries and I have been explicitly told to run the engines for at least two hours every day to keep the batteries charged. I try to motor sail so that the engines are run under a load, but a lot of charterers start the engines in the morning and let them idle for two hours.
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Old 28-07-2015, 20:36   #11
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

Read Chris White's "the Cruising Multihull" you will be better informed.
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Old 28-07-2015, 21:11   #12
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

Hi Scarlet,
everyone on this forum who owns a catamaran has gone through everything that you are contemplating at the moment and I can almost guarantee the same angst . When looking we determined what we wanted in a boat, some of it being based on our experiences in monohull ownership and some from experiencing sailing a production cat offshore. I must admit that the offshore delivery of a Fountain Pajot Belieze 43 opened up our eyes to what works and what does not work on some cats in testing conditions. The Belieze is a great cat but some things did not work for us although I would be happy to own one.
Some of the things we had on our list were (not in priority)
1) Known brand with subsequent resale value.
2) High bridge deck clearance. A must for us and our cruising area
3) Reasonable sailing ability - it did not have to be a speed demon but could comfortably sail at 8 knots in 15 to 20 knots of breeze
4) Easy to sail with jus the wife and I and also by either of us alone.
5) Deisel engines. Not concerned wether they were sail drive or shaft or though I did have a preference for shaft drive.
6) Live-a-bility HUGE issue. We live on our boat for 6 months of the year so the layout was paramount to be comfortable inside and outside. In the tropics we live in the cockpit moots the day so the boat had to suite our needs.
7) Storage, tankage (water, fuel and holding tanks)
8) Condition, not a deal killer depending on how much work you can do yourself and cost of bringing it up to standard.
9)Price
10) Construction material. Might sound silly but there are some boat out there that I just would no be interested in. Just something personal from a bad previous experience but just the same something to be considered

These are just a few of the things my wife and I worked out what we thought were important to us. One of the great things about the internet is that you can search the internet and find out the good, the bad and the ugly on almost any boat. A lot of models have a particular fault that is know to that model, the fault we found after research was the possibility of a rotted saloon floor, sure enough on inspection being aware of the problem we located an issue which became part of the bargaining power for purchase.

The bottom line, it all depends on what you and your family want out of a boat. Our boat may well be totally unsuitable for your families requirements but its perfect, well almost perfect for us. We did have to be flexible in a couple of minor things we wanted but as many will tell you the perfect boat does not exist.

Hope this is of some assistance

Greg and Sue
Sunshine
Lagoon 410 S2
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Old 29-07-2015, 10:49   #13
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Re: Evaluating A Catamaran

All of this is SUCH good information.

I wanted to follow up a bit. We went to Fort Lauderdale this weekend, and looked at used. This was in incredibly helpful exercise. We look at everything from 2 yrs old to 15 years old.. loaded.. stripped down.. multi models that we haven't seen at the boat shows... Long story short? it was an eye opener. We now have reconfirmed our previous selection of potential models.. and added a couple to the list.

We've also decided that a boat in EXECLLENT shape is much more important to us that what's on it. We saw some inexpensive boats that were loaded.. and were in such poor (translation, disgusting) shape that I could never live on them.. AS opposed to a house.. I know I can't live with the cosmetic and unhospitable live aboard features. And those aren't easy to fix. I'd rather have a structurally good.. clean.. well taken care of model, and add the quality equipment we want, than have tons of stuff, and poor quality living accomodations.

I'm sure there will be lots of people with an opinion on this... But, as someone who spent years gutting and remodeling our home from hand.. I just don't want to have to do that with a boat.

We were also able to really narrow down our price and age range. Which really makes me feel good.
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