Tropic cat, SMJ is not only a fan, but a former owner of an older, solidly-built British Cat - a Cherokee 35. Surely you must agree with a couple of propositions that he has put forward:
1. That modern construction techniques and materials have premitted construction of vessels that are extremely strong, but lighter than in the past. Not saying that they will be cheap
(or as light as pure racing
boats), but you surely must agree that boats can be built to be both reasonably light and yet strong enough for offshore
2. That there is at least a debate concerning the utility of boards on cruising cats. Some, such as yourself, conisder them to be inappropriate due to the need for increased adjustments while underway, increased maintenance
and the fact that they typically leave the rudders unprotected when the boards are up. These are all valid points, of course, but consider the following:
i. They typically lead to better performance on all points of sail (to windward, as you point out, but also on a run/reach where by elevating one or both, partially or fully, drag can be reduced). Surely you must agree that decent performance is a plus, even on a cruising boat.
ii. As SMJ points out, there is a theory that cats can 'trip' over their keels/boards in extremis, contributing to capsize
. By definition, boards can be raised to reduce this risk, keels cannot be.
iii. If boards are adjusted regularly (as they should be), barnacles
should not create a problem in terms of jambing in the the trunk.
iv. The amount of effort to trim the boards on a modern cat is typically pretty minimal - often not even requiring one to leave the cockpit
v. Raising the boards reduces draft
compared to fixed keels and expands your possibilities for anchoring
. This can be critical with an approaching storm front - i.e., you may be able to enter a great hurricane
hole that has an entry too shallow for a boat with greater draft
; you will certainly be able to anchor
closer to shore, making it easier to run lines ashore, should that be necessary.
As you know, I too am a big fan of fixed keels for a cruising cat, especially if the keels are fitted with shoes and rudders that are mounted on full, or partial skegs. Having said that, I am also a big fan of Catanas for having achieved an enviable record
as cruising boats, but also for having performance that is well above average for a boat with so much accomodation and such solid construction.
Gunboats? Less accomodation (and less luxurious accomodation) than a Catana
, but with better performance still. While I think that the Gunboats would be a little too far on the performance side of the spectrum for my
taste/needs, nevertheless I don't think that anyone can say that they are absolutely unsuitable as a cruising boat for everyone
As you know, all boats are compromises. Very few aspects of design and construction are win/win and, in selecting a boat, one can only do their best to try to find a boat that best mirrors their own priorities and budget
If someone has the budget
to afford one and their priorties included the ability to circumnaviagate, better than decent accomodation and finish, good performance - especially to windward, then in my view a Catana
would be an excellent choice.
As to FP's, in my view they are stylish and their performance is decent on all points of sail - certainly better than the older British-built cats, like our own. As to suitablitly for offshore
passages, they do have keels (which you prefer) which, if damaged, do not allow water
intrusion into the interior
. For peformance and comfort in boisterious conditions, they often had smaller and higher bridgedecks than Lagoons and Leopards, their largest competitors. Yes, recent models do tend to be noisy in a seaway, although one must bear in mind that the interior
modules are not structural and hence can move and flex without effecting the solidity of the sructure. Many have completed safe ocean crossings and the only real concerns that I would have with them would be long-term durability (and the serious issues with blisters
and the non-transferability of the warranty come into play here), as well as the relatively small nav stations and galleys that were included in many of their boats. My preference is for a more solid and durable boat with better galley storage
(and better bracing for the cook), better standard ventilation (some models are a bit limited on the number and quality of opening hatches). Of course, for cruising purposes I also prefer my cutter
rig (with a dedicated furling
staysail/storm jib), my full-width forward bow pulpit, the shoes on my keels, the partial skegs on my rudders, the solid solid walkway dividing my forward trampolines, my tempered safety-glass fixed portlights
- and virtually none of these are available on new production cats under 50 feet. Does this mean that everyone should consider my boat a better cruising boat than boats without these features? Absolutely not. She has some features that I very much like and she came at a price
that I could afford. Having said that, I will admit to lusting after some Catanas and heck, while also outside of my budget, I will also admit to lusting after the FP Eleuthera 60 when I first saw her!