Although I rarely do so (and am as opinionated as virtually anyone on this site), in this instance I am taking the middle ground. As the owner of an older British-built cat (1994 Solaris Sunstream 40), I tend to agree with Rick's comments concerning the quality of construction of cats done to Lloyd's 100 A1 unlimited offshore
standards. That being said, I can also appreciate that they tend to be both heavier and slower than their more lightly built counterparts. As Sandy rightly points out, different horses for different courses.
Are there reasons to buy a Gemini
, new or used? Many.
1. The performance in all but heavy conditions will tend to be superior: she will sail faster on all points of sail and she will point higher than older British cats of a comparable size. (Especially if one uses the boards effectively on different points of sail).
2. The accomodation will be superior to comparably priced, but older British cats.
3. She will have a more modern and, to many, more attractive appearance.
4. The newer ones had a molded headliner
, doing away with the glued on vinyl that was used in the earlier models (and in the typical older British cat). These will inevitably need to be replaced as the glue fails and they start to sag.
5. There is undoubtedly a larger demand for used Gemini's, at least in the USA, than there is for older British cats. This should help when it comes to re-listing the boat.
Are there negatives associated with the choice of a Gemini? Of course.
1. The Gemini will be more lightly built without resorting to exotic materials. The result is an increased tendancy to develop stress cracks (and not just in theory, as witnessed by many including yours truly).
2. The boards, while tending to improve performance, require increased vigilance and maintenance
. Something, by the way, which I would have no hesitation in accepting in exchange for the resultant performance/shoal draft
3. She will have less of a reputation/history as an offshore
boat. Indeed, even the manufacturer calls the earlier ones coastal cruisers.
4. She has very little bridgedeck clearance aft - the result will tend to be increased pounding over some of the earlier British boats.
5. The plexiglass windows will need sporadic replacement, unlike the typical tempered glass portlights
on the British cats.
6. The visibility forward is compromised by having to look through the interior
of the boat (and this is especially true as the windows start to age).
7. The side-decks tend to be narrower, making movement fore and aft a little more challenging, especially in heavy conditions.
8. The standing rigging
, stantions, bow pulpit and pushpit all tend to be of a lighter guage than the British boats.
In the end, however, one cannot fail to recognize that the Gemini has been a huge success because it offers a great deal of boat for the money
. If someone is interested in a boat on a budget
solely for inshore/coastal/Bahamas/Caribbean cruising with a limited number of crew/guests, she would make a fine choice (assuming, as with any boat, that she undergoes a rigorous survey).