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Old 07-12-2010, 21:32   #1
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Looked at a Cat for the First Time Today . . .

My boyfriend and I are boat shopping... soon to be first time boat owners. Thought we had a decent idea of what we wanted...looking at classic, older fibergass monohulls...and then the broker showed us a Prout 35'.

It kind of turned our world upside down. He wants to liveaboard, and he loved the space. We are unsure of our final plan...but we know we want to spend some time in the islands. All of the sudden...I was filled with images of kids enjoying the deck space, jumping off into beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean, the ease of scuba diving (something we both love) right off the deck, being able to get into the most shallow dockage, etc.

Anyway, just thinking and wondering what motivates sailors to make the switch to Catamarans. Anyone want to pipe in (while I peruse this forum and get opinions), any input will be appreciated. We plan on looking into a cat charter in the islands, check it out, etc.
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Old 07-12-2010, 21:47   #2
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Catamaran

Welcome to the other side!!!!

Not to worry you are normal, some of us did it and don't regret it. The main thing is to find what you like, feel confortable with and make you happy.

Good Luck, the Prout are great catamaran friends have a 37 they have sail all over with it. Across the atlantique with kids onboard.
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Old 07-12-2010, 22:22   #3
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I am pleased to hear you plan to do a charter first.
Lots of people have the dream but find out it is not for them.

Multihulls are more expensive then Mono's but they do offer a number of advantages (in my opinion) they sail flat and have more room "up" which is a big advantage in tropical climates.
They generally have a shallow draft which is also important in tropical climates.
Be careful of any boat made of timber or ply. Fiberglass or aluminium is probably the best.
Prout's are good boats but by modern standards are narrow for a multihull.

Also make sure there is plenty of clearance between the water and the bridgedeck, some earlier designs had the bridgedeck too low to the waterline to get more headroom and the pounding in a seaway can be very severe.

Also remember, when cruising "wait" for a weather window and don't sail to a schedule.
Good luck
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Old 08-12-2010, 05:04   #4
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I think a couple of charters on a cat will be invaluable experience. I've spent some time on boats, never a multihull ( well never sober...don't think a 3 hour Key West booze cruise counts) but never enough time to get a true feel for it. I've always been a "jump in and do it" kind of person, and usually don't regret my decisions. In fact they are usually some of the best times I have. But our little shakeup yesterday made me realize we are really not ready just yet. Still too many options to ponder. The broker mentioned that this boat has been brought over from the Med, so it helps to know that it's gone further than the islands.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:39   #5
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Several thoughts. The best buys BY FAR in older multihulls is in wood / epoxy composite trimarans. In ANY custom built boat, only the design has a track record, so you (or your representative) have to really know what they are looking at. Perhaps the best 10% of custom built boats are vastly Superior to production boats, because they were not built to make a profit and cutting corners was not the goal. (Especially if built by experienced boat builders) Wood / epoxy composite boats last as long as they are cared for. The plywood in my hull is in it's 31st year and when I put in a through hull recently I could see that the wood is bone dry and in perfect condition! Also, epoxy glassed hulls do not get blisters like polyester production boats.

In all respects other than apartment like interiors, a dinghy in davits, and twin engines... Well designed tris are better boats than cats. Their motion is better, as is their windward ability. Having the amas to put stuff like rolled up awnings, empty jugs, scuba gear, OB motor, spear gun, boat hook, spinnaker, ETC. means that the smaller interior accommodation does not get smaller and smaller as the "stuff" runs you out. (I put no more than 150#s in each ama)

If the above advantages of a cat are what you want anyway, the same applies about custom "one offs" of a GOOD design being Superior boats. (I'm talking about the best built and designed 10%) There were a lot (= majority) of cats designed with too low a bridge clearance, or too high a cabin and center of balance, and much of the visibility forward blocked by the cabin or the jib. All of these ruin a boat as a sea boat. (great for marina social life though)

As a bare minimum you should be able to drive your AB or Caribe RIB through the wing tunnel, by just ducking your head. If not, the pounding in a seaway will drive you nuts. LOW WING CLEARANCE IS DANGEROUS!

There ARE some wonderful production cats out there that do not really have the above problems. (perhaps 10% of the designs out there) To be true "sea boats", these cats tend to be half the accommodation as the others, newer designs, and VERY expensive.

Good luck in your choice, Mark J
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:42   #6
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Diverchick, there have been numerous threads concerning the pros and cons of cats versus monohulls. If you have children and are considering cruising the Caribbean, IMO the balance tips decidedly in favour of a catamaran:

1. you will tend to have more private staterooms - and kids really do need their own space.
2. the cabins tend to be separated by more than just a plywood bulkhead, giving some real privacy for mom and dad.
3. as you have already mentioned, there is much more deck space for lounging.
4. sailing flat is safer, both on deck and below decks (especially for meal preparation, coming on deck with snacks etc.);
5. there is typically more storage space for lighter items such as clothing, games, toys etc.
6. it is easier to do homework etc. on a flat table
7. cats tend to be much more stable under anchor.
8. cats tend to have much more space for installing solar panels (and your electricity needs will tend to be higher with children).

I won't get into the now tiresome debate about which is safer, or performs better etc. (and so much depends on the cat or monohull in question and the type of saling intended); however, for cruising with children in relatively protected waters such as the Bahamas/Caribbean, IMO a cat is ideal.

Brad
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:52   #7
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Definetely charter one. I'd suggest the Moorings 3900. It's new and I'm not sure when or what bases it will be available at, but I do know it will be the owners version (3 cabin/2 head) with genset and A/C.

Actually, depending on what boats are in your price range, you may not want to charter this - It may spoil you.

I know for us, the biggest benefits to a Cat have been the space (we've chartered a 46' now twice with 8 and 9 people), the stability (things can still fall off shelves if you are hit with a wave sideways at anchor but it's rare) and did I mention the space? Not only the interior space, but the trampoline and eating area aft are all great too. The elevation you get is also nice - on a mono, you are always going down to get inside but on a Cat, you first step inside at the same level as outside...

Only downside I've seen is the cost.
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:11   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiverChick71 View Post
My boyfriend and I are boat shopping... soon to be first time boat owners. Thought we had a decent idea of what we wanted...looking at classic, older fibergass monohulls...and then the broker showed us a Prout 35'.

It kind of turned our world upside down. He wants to liveaboard, and he loved the space. We are unsure of our final plan...but we know we want to spend some time in the islands. All of the sudden...I was filled with images of kids enjoying the deck space, jumping off into beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean, the ease of scuba diving (something we both love) right off the deck, being able to get into the most shallow dockage, etc.
I know what you mean. We went to the Annapolis Boat Show intending to find out about the Moorings purchase program when we discover catamarans. Take a look around and make a list of what you want in your boat. I second the comment to make sure that the boat you pick has sufficient bridge-deck clearance.

Good luck in your search.

Maje
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:25   #9
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What motivated us to switch to catmarans? You said it well. We're scuba divers. I can't possibly imagine trying to dive off of a conventional monohull. I suppose it could be done on one with a sugar scoop stern but it seems pretty impractical from a conventional design. Then there's the room and you get it with a shallow draft and a easily manuverable boat. To get the equivalent room in a mono you need a much longer boat which usually means a much deeper draft and all the difficulty of manuevering that monster in tight quarters on a single prop. Some smaller cats have a single engine, but most have two, even if they're outboards.

The disadvantages are you'll pay more for dockage in most places, unless you go for a smaller cat with less than 16 feet of beam. There are a few places that don't charge more but most do, at least in the US. In the Bahamas I 've only ever been charged a normal by the foot charge.

Don't worry so much about low bridge deck clearance. Despite what others have said here in most cases it's more annoying than dangerous, and in cats under 40 feet you are very unlikely to get bridge deck clearance you can dinghy under by just ducking your head. I don't see accounts of these boats breaking up or coming apart because a wave hit their bridge deck. If it was really dangerous you would see at least a few accounts in the sailing news. We have 27" of clearance forward tapering down to 20" at the stern. It does slap when we're motoring directly into 2-3 foot choppy seas. Below 2 feet they pass right under and above 3 feet we ride over the top. It's never been a problem under sail since we can't point directly into the waves. One forum member has a 30 foot Endeavour cat which has virtually no bridge deck clearance and he successfully transited the NJ coast earlier this year in 26 foot seas and said it handled it quite well.

Keep in mind when you do your charter that narrow cats that is cats with a beam less than 50% of the their length ride a bit differently than wide cats and most cats in charter are wide cats. When looking for a liveaboard cat, you'll want to look at "owners" configurations. I doubt you'll need 4 independent heads and showers, but it is nice to have two sometimes.

Enjoy.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:33   #10
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Imagine is cold molded, and everytime she is set on blocks at the yard. I get compliments on her strength. The original surveyor said she could break icebergs. I have no desire to test that, but she has seen some ugly weather, and come through unscathed.

She is light which equals speed. She is unique, and when ever we are anchored other cats cruise by to take a look. As [posted above if you do look at cold molded. Make sure the surveyor understands the material..........i2f
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Old 08-12-2010, 13:27   #11
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There is much more to bridgedeck slamming than just height. You have to take into consideration the width and lenghth of the bridgedeck, protrusions on bottom of the bridgedeck and the shape of the bridgedeck, ie large radiuses opposed to large flat areas. I to like trimarans but believe they don't have the ultimate stability of cats.
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Old 08-12-2010, 15:09   #12
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As Captain Bill indicated if our are keen Scuba divers the catamaran advantages over a mono and even a trimaran means the cataraman is the vessel of choice.

It is then a matter selecting the catamaran vessel for your budget.
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Old 08-12-2010, 16:04   #13
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It is true that bridge deck slamming MAY not be as much dangerous as obnoxious, IF it is built like a tank. MANY cats however with low clearance, including Prouts, have started self destructing and had to turn & run. I know of this personally. It is also true that it is not as simple as how high. For example how high where, for what length & width of boat etc. The point is, that most production cats these days are only about 50% of what they should be. (Not all, most)

The larger attached cat was custom built by a friend of mine. It is a wood epoxy composite of 43', is not top heavy, and has palatial accommodations. With almost 3' of wing clearance it doesn't pound, and you CAN SEE forward. With deep centerboards it goes to windward, and being light it really sails! He has since sold it... and now has a similar sized custom Cross tri! Having been around the world, he now prefers tris.

This cat is what I meant by "well designed" and that they are more likely to be custom one offs. (there are however a FEW production versions out there) This cat would sail as well and as safe as a similar sized cruising tri.

In smaller boats however, this is not the case. I am referring to for example a Searunner tri, which having a 34'er myself, I am most familiar. Searunners have one of the best track records in the world. I'd say in the top 5, for number of safe sea miles traveled, number of ocean crossings, circumnavigations, and fewest lives lost. There have been around 1,500 Searunners, most still out there, for over 35 years... There have been numerous circumnavigations, including by a sistership to my little 34, by way of Cape Horn! There have also been countless crossings safely. AND they really perform, go to windward, and have the lowest center of gravity of about any decked over multihull. This is because almost a fourth of the weight of the boat is in the center third, below or at the waterline. (tankage, engine, batteries, spares, tools, gear, etc) This was the thinking behind the split cabin. To have natural ballast in the middle of the boat, in holds on both sides of the CB trunk.

A Searunner of similar length to a cat, has far more ultimate stability, especially if thrown off of a rogue wave, as I have in the Mona Passage. Admittedly with far less interior accommodation. When I raise the centerboard, (held down with a "fuse" line so it can kick up on impact), My 7' draft drops to closer to 3'.

A typical production 34' cat loaded like we are with roll up awning, kayak, scuba tank, RIB, OB motor for it, 4 anchors, etc... would not be nearly as seaworthy as a Searunner 34. It would be top heavy and/or pound like a beast. (NOT a true sea boat)

Just like always there are exceptions. The other attached cat was also a custom one off. It was only 33' long had 2' of wing clearance, was made of feather light weight composites, and to keep the center of gravity low... it had only 4' head room! YOU CAN"T HAVE IT ALL. These folks lived aboard and had a perfectly safe circumnavigation over a 10 year period. (recently returned to Australia)

Don't get me wrong. There are times I wish I had one of these few "well designed" custom cats. Sometimes I wish I had a dinghy in davits, or could turn on a dime in marinas, with twin engines. One thing however that simply is not true, is that a "cruising" cat of similar length to a WELL DESIGNED "cruising" tri is somehow safer. More commodious yes, but not safer. I had a cat before, and never really knew how close to the "edge" I was without looking over the side! On my tri, I just look at the ama depression.

I well understand why so many people buy these slick production cats. They resemble an apartment, the bank will loan on them, and not being a "custom made" helps with insurance issues. Then again it is nice to have a company to go after if things break. I was only trying to let folks know that for half or a third of the money you can get a much better boat, IF you can live through the above problems, and IF you can spend a couple of years if necessary to sift through the "rotten apples" to find a "cherry".

The REALLY best boat is one that's yours and PAID FOR! Then the fun begins... Mark

Attached are: Jeff's custom cat, then custom Cross tri, and the 33' custom cat interrior... As well as my Searunner 34.
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Old 08-12-2010, 18:30   #14
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My wife and I lived aboard a very roomy (for monohull standards) 46 foot monohull for several years in the PNW and the Caribbean and loved it. We now have a 46 foot catamaran which we hope to live aboard soon. As to comparisons between the two boats? Well there really is no comparison.

Our catamaran has about 50-60% more interior and usable deck space than our monohull. There is little to no roll at anchor. Our monohull drew 6 feet, our cat draws less than 4. There is twice the storage space on the catamaran, and we can back right up to the beach and wade to shore off of the sugar scoops. Although heavily loaded with tons of equipment, it still manages to easily average 2 knots faster on a crossing. And with two engines 20 feet apart, docking is a breeze.

The downside? It is much harder to find moorage due to its width. Also if you are a died in the wool, toe rail in the water sailer, a catamaran is not your boat.

Have fun looking!
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Old 08-12-2010, 18:32   #15
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I have a Siamese Cat.
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