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Old 17-03-2010, 18:47   #1
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Gemini or TomCat ?

For a variety of reasons we have narrowed our search down to two boats, a 2001 or newer Gemini Mc, or a TomCat 9.7. We have found very comparably equipped versions of both, recently. Both with their standard power setups, i.e. the Westerbeke diesel/Silletto drive leg on the Gemini and two 9.9 four strokes on the TomCat. All the other stuff is basically the same, as far as options. Both have the stern seat/davits and neither have the screecher setups.
They are almost exactly the same money.

All you Gemini detractors out there...do you like the TomCat better? If you could sail away with one of them, which would it be?

And why?
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Old 17-03-2010, 19:18   #2
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Gemini or TomCat?

Canibul,
We spent almost two hours on each at the Annapolis Sailboat Show in 2006. While we were still focused on looking for our present boat, there were really none yet available so we decided to weigh the advantages of a new boat.

You are absolutely correct--they are extremely similar in a number of ways; I even think they look alike. I actually was impressed with the TomCat for a new boat. A couple of the unique features included:
  • Foldup/removable doorways to open salon to cockpit area
  • Twin outboard motors with a unique lift system. I actually liked the idea of two motors, though they do hinder stern step access somewhat.
  • Single Centerboard. I have been on a Stiletto and had the centerboard break. Enough said. While I am not a fan of cranking up the centerboards on the Gemini, I would prefer that to the single CENTERboard.
  • Rear lounge seat above the davits like the Gemini.
I also liked the trampoline rather than the solid foredeck of the Gemini. As I recall another plus is the head and shower might have access from the main cabin, which is in the same position as on the Gemini.

I was surprised, though, that the TomCat was at least the same price as the Gemini and maybe a little more. While this is subjective, it just did not feel as "solid" to me as the Gemini. Now I am not a sailing traditionalist in that I'm not a big fan of a lot of wood in a boat's interior--I just want to be able to wipe it down and go sailing--but both my wife and I felt the TomCat interior absolutely did not measure up to the Gemini interior.

Probably in an effort to increase interior volume, it also appeared that TomCat left very little deck area to walk fore and aft--certainly not as much footing as the Gemini.

As far as the Gemini, we didn't care for the Sonic leg, though liked the large diesel. We prefer a trampoline to the solid foredeck, prefer galley up to galley down, prefer the wider decks on the Gemini than the TomCat, and the overall finish of the Gemini. Again, not crazy about going below to crank up the centerboards in each hull on the Gemini.

So as we see many times on this forum, all boats are compromises. But, if we were to choose, it would have been the Gemini.

Marshall
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Old 17-03-2010, 19:54   #3
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Consider a PDQ 32?

Canibul,
Just an afterthought--have you considered a PDQ 32? I might have considered that before either the Gemini or TomCat.

Marshall
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Old 17-03-2010, 20:24   #4
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I test-sailed both the Gemini and the Tomcat before...

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Canibul,
Just an afterthought--have you considered a PDQ 32? I might have considered that before either the Gemini or TomCat.

Marshall
... buying a PDQ 32. Better helm visibility (I put a VERY high value on 360 view), bigger cockpit, better build quality, better value retention. Please visit the PDQ forum and my blog.

IMHO.
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Old 18-03-2010, 01:31   #5
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Thanks for the insight, SS. I am tending to lean toward the Gemini myself, but agree there are things I like about the TomCat. One of the things about the Gemini is the support network. With a thousand boats out there, and a nice Yahoo group, just about anything that comes up relative to the Gemini's is something someone somewhere has already experienced or repaired, modified, or dealt with. That's hard to beat.

Drive leg seems to be an annoyance for many, but others say if you keep up with the maintenance it's no worse than anything else, and easy to work on. I do like the twin motor idea, and the convenience of using standard outboards,but am not crazy about storing a lot of gasoline. Also not a big fan of four stroke outboards, but could live with it.

In the end it could work out to be something as simple as what boat is available when we decide to sign the check. Or the fact that the Gemini bunk is six inches wider and not athwartships.

Oh, re: the PDQ, nice boat but there's no way we want a 3' 2" draft. If we could live with that kind of draft we would be buying a bigger boat. Shallowest draft we can possibly get is key to us. Gemini 18 inches and TomCat 16".
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Old 18-03-2010, 05:46   #6
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I wouldn't hold atwart ships berths against a cat.

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Thanks for the insight, SS. I am tending to lean toward the Gemini myself, but agree there are things I like about the TomCat. One of the things about the Gemini is the support network. With a thousand boats out there, and a nice Yahoo group, just about anything that comes up relative to the Gemini's is something someone somewhere has already experienced or repaired, modified, or dealt with. That's hard to beat.

Drive leg seems to be an annoyance for many, but others say if you keep up with the maintenance it's no worse than anything else, and easy to work on. I do like the twin motor idea, and the convenience of using standard outboards,but am not crazy about storing a lot of gasoline. Also not a big fan of four stroke outboards, but could live with it.

In the end it could work out to be something as simple as what boat is available when we decide to sign the check. Or the fact that the Gemini bunk is six inches wider and not athwartships.

Oh, re: the PDQ, nice boat but there's no way we want a 3' 2" draft. If we could live with that kind of draft we would be buying a bigger boat. Shallowest draft we can possibly get is key to us. Gemini 18 inches and TomCat 16".
We have those on the PDQ. I had fore-aft berths on a Stiletto. Either was comfortable underway. Not much difference. The issues are different than on a monohull. The motion is more up-and-down than leaning. I will say that aft is much better than forward; less motion.
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Old 18-03-2010, 06:09   #7
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I agree with Thinwater, fore/aft or athwartship orientation of berths makes very little difference in a catamaran, whereas the position of the berths does: while underway, aft is definitely more comfortable than forward. If you are looking for shallow draft, then either is an excellent choice. Personally, I prefer the appearance of the Tomcat (a more modern design), and while I have not sailed one, am quite confident that the increased bridgedeck height and the lack of a solid foredeck will substantially reduce the pounding that Geminis are notorious for. On a boat of that size, I would also prefer the simplicity of twin outboards to a sonic drive, even while recognizing the dangers in storing gasoline (and after all, not many of us will be storing diesel for our inflatables!!!!!). On the other hand, I agree that the interior fit and finish on the Gemini is superior.

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Old 18-03-2010, 06:13   #8
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Over a 40 year career working on and under oceans I think I have slept in just about every orientation I can imagine on boats. Including stacked four deep on Navy tugs, and in hammocks on deck.

But in this case, we are really not concerned about sleeping while underway. In an honest assessment of what we will most likely be doing with the boat, I can't see either of us sleeping on the rare overnight passages we might undertake. Our cruising area will be centered around where we live here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. from as far north as Harbour Island Bahamas, to as far south as Trinidad. The first few years we will be exploring some underwater stuff around here and in the western Bahamas. Well off the beaten path. Probably never get to Barbados to the east, and while we do hope to cruise the Carib side of Central America at some time, all this will be day trips with maybe an overnight thrown in here and there. And I imagine that we would both be up for those overnights, and then crash when we got where we were going. If one of us wanted to nap I think it would be in the salon, a few steps from the helm. So really, the sleeping-while-underway aspect of it is of low priority. Have absolutely, positively no desire to cross oceans on a small sailboat.

(When we want to cruise distant places we will fly there and charter locally)
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Old 18-03-2010, 07:47   #9
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Well then it seems we are in agreement, the orientation of the berths won't matter. What may make a difference, however, is that the Gemini has been known to pound in a chop even when anchored. In those circumstances the increased bridgedeck clearance on the Tomcat would make the forward double far more habitable than on the Gemini.

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Old 18-03-2010, 09:58   #10
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Ah, but you in the 40 ft. Solaris probably don't take into account that with a foot and a half of draft, we should be able to minimize chop tied up to a palm tree in the lee there on the sandy side of the cay....out of the wind, only a few yards of fetch, cursing the bugs....
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Old 18-03-2010, 10:47   #11
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Just a couple thoughts about the sonic drive vs. outboards:

A sonic leg connected to a diesel is probably much more fuel efficient than two gas powered outboards. How much this matters will depend on your hours under power.

Sonic drives are complex and finding mechanics to work on them can be difficult. Outboard mechanics are more readily available and you can even take off one of the outboards and deliver it yourself without tying up the whole boat.

If you may carry extra fuel in jugs, diesel is safer. Going with gasoline outboards means you may have one single fuel system for your dinghy propulsion and boat engine.

Outboards require no through-hull fittings. One can replace a lot of outboards for the price of an inboard diesel. I did many trips to the keys and Bahamas with an outboard powered boat. It was clearly more economical than re-powering with an inboard. (though I personally much prefer inboards)

I'm not familiar with the specifics of the outboard system on the TomCat, but generally, outboards are more exposed, easier to steal, more prone to damage, more prone to the prop coming out of the water or the engine itself getting submerged.

Many outboards can be hand started if you don't have enough juice to crank the engine over, but typically they produce much less power. My 9.9 4-stroke outboard produced 15 amps at full throttle, probably more like 10 at my normal cruising speed. (That's only a fraction of my current inboard alternator). No way that's going to power a fridge, autopilot, etc. It may mean spending much more on solar, wind or generator power production.
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Old 18-03-2010, 11:25   #12
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Fear not the lowly gasoline outboard, they want only to serve, not to rule your life.
Fear not the storage of gasoline. You cannot use all the fingers on one hand to count the number of gas boats that burned when the builders and owners followed the minimum standards of care. Count instead the number of diesels awaiting the pernicious whims of the prima donna Diesel Mechanic. You can pull out this outboard engine and repair it on your lap, using common hand tools, and count on it starting when you're thru. Only the truly ordained can say that about a diesel. Further, you can go buy a new one for less than the price of a good sail. So you have diesel fuel in your tank? Thats nice, but you also have a molotov cocktail for your dinghy. You are no safer than anyone else. Not enough juice from the outboard alternators? Think Honda EU2000i and say yuuuuuuuuum.....

You say you can't deal with a 3' draft. Did you think you could sail in those waters with either of those boats? Think again. You CAN sail a PDQ 32 in thin water.

Is this your forever absolutely last boat? No? then think resale value. That means PDQ. And (haunting both regularly) I think the PDQ owners forum is more helpful that the Gemini group. Every one still loves their Cat there!

My 32 was entirely self supporting with solar panels, and had a perfect place to mount them, so .....
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Old 18-03-2010, 11:47   #13
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"Call your mechanic"???

I AM the mechanic. As for the local outboard dealers....well...let me put it this way. Tried that. and the end result of that is that I am the mechanic. I didn't start life wanting to be a mechanic. I don't particularly like working on motors, I much prefer the clean smells of woodworking. But whether I like it or not, over the years when I have had to have outboards, motorcycles, aircraft, and automobile powerplants repaired correctly, I have had to do it. I couldn't name a single mechanic I trust to do a better job than I do. When I hear people start singing the praises of "their mechanic" I just feel sad for them. It must suck to be clueless in a mechanical world.

And no, a PDQ would not work well here for where we want to sail. Not sure why one would say we couldn't sail a Gemini or TomCat here. Either would seem to have a much higher potential survival rate than anything that sticks down three feet into the uncharted water.We presently are running a 25 ft. Contender with a 300 HP two stroke. It draws 34" at idle, and we want to sell it. Not because we don't like the boat, its a great offshore fishing boat, but because it draws too danged much water to be able to go where we want to go with it.

PDQ is not on the option list. Too much draft. I think coral head country is a bad place for mini keels, in general.

I still have mixed feelings about the gasoline on board issue. I mean, our present boat has a 180 gallon gasoline tank on it. Our last boat carried a 38 gallon tank, and we were both smokers back then, too.

One factor here that many other forum members probably don't have to consider, but we have no clues as to what the composition of our next gallon of gasoline might be. Over on the Hull Truth forum there is an extensive thread from last summer when I was troubleshooting our 300HPDI, because the local Yamaha dealer refuses to work on, or even stock parts for, this Yamaha. One of the things I had to deal with was fluctuating gasoline quality. Does your gasoline have lumps in it? Ours does, sometimes.

Hard to believe these two samples of gasoline came from the same little town on different days, eh?



Apparantly some feel diesels are a mystery. They are pretty simple, actually. And one of the nice things about them, they basically run on oil. You can dump Crisco or filtered MacDonalds grease in a diesel, and it will run just fine if you keep the lumps out. Try that with an outboard.

We also pay $ 4.30 a gallon for the stuff down here right now, and it's not particularly expensive for us at the moment. So, while I am not looking forward to the care and feeding of a Sillette leg, I think the diesel has the edge.

I don't like the holes in the hull, but hey, what can ya do.
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Old 19-03-2010, 11:00   #14
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"And no, a PDQ would not work well here for where we want to sail. Not sure why one would say we couldn't sail a Gemini or TomCat here. Either would seem to have a much higher potential survival rate than anything that sticks down three feet into the uncharted water."

Niether of your selections can sail, or even motor with their boards, rudders, and motors up. To sail well, they need those appendages sticking down into deeper water than a minikeel. If you step out and push they do offer a clear advantage.

But I understand now, you weren't asking anything we can answer to begin with. No one here seems to have had experience with both boats out side a boat show, or a 40 minute ride in light air.

A thousand people own Geminis because they meet their needs. At least here on CF we have been educated not to sneer at anyone's choice; our best purpose is to share our experiences with new sailors so that they can make an educated selection. This is not the forum for duelling egos.

We are, I admit, a little quick on the trigger to respond to out-dated "conventional wisdom" when actual experience has put those "old salt's suspicions" to rest.
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Old 19-03-2010, 11:13   #15
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I'm very intrigued by the TomCat and look forward to hearing some hands on experience.

I did read that one buyer put 2 diesel outboards in his instead of gas.
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