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Old 27-03-2010, 11:34   #1
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Manta Owners, or Those Who Know Mantas

I have some questions reguarding Manta's. These boats come from the factory with a lot of systems, solar, watermaker, washer/dryer, etc. How easy is it to maintain these? Is the wiring on the boat in general run well? How do you like the self tacking headsail? I have been told that because of the hull shape amidship under the bridgedeck that the boat tends to "bulldoze the water". Is this true? How well does the boat sail in general? How are the accomodations for living aboard? What would you change if any? We're still on our quest to narrow down the list of possible cats to buy. We're looking to cruise full time starting in the Bahamas/Carib and go from there. Any info, good and bad, would be very helpful in our decision making. Thanks again...Sid
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Old 29-03-2010, 09:35   #2
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Hi Sid,

We have owned our Manta 40 for 7 years now and have been cruising on it full time in the Bahamas and Caribbean for the past 2 years.

It is a wonderful live-aboard cruising boat that is designed and outfitted specifically for single handed sailing and live aboard for a couple or a couple with 1-2 kids. Manta did not build for the charter industry and marketed their boats directly to cruisers.

The electrical system is very well done - probably the best in the industry - and far better than the french cats for 110V use. All wiring is run in dedicated conduits throughout the boat, and no expense was spared in setting up the electrical systems.

The systems are professionally well-installed, but maintenance is like any other well-installed systems. Expect little to no maintenance from the solar panels (I wipe salt off mine after rough passages), and routine maintenance on watermaker, generator, air conditioning and other components. These components aren't really boat-specific other than the quality of the installation.

We love the Camberspar jib. It has a half-wishbone boom run through it with full battens. When raised, it is sprung tight like a windsurfer sail and is very efficient. It is self-vanging and self-tacking and runs wing and wing like a dream because it stays vanged tight and has a built-in whisker pole. It is a small sail for light airs, but it is far more efficient than a roller furled genoa, so this helps a bit. Instead for light air, Manta provided an asymmetric on a roller furl unit. This won't work on a beat, but we can carry ours to 60* apparent.

I don't know what you mean by the hull shape amidship causing bulldozing. The hulls are typical U-shaped - getting fine at the bows and moving to a slight rocker in the sterns. This is how most catamarans are designed.

The bridgedeck clearance could be greater. The boat was originally a 36' LaRouge design that was stretched to 38', then 40', then 42'. And a lot of systems were added (generator, larger engines, AC, watermaker, washer/dryer, 660AH batteries, inverter/charger, 300lb dinghy in the davits, etc), not to mention the large aluminum hardtop. We soda blasted our bottom this year back to gel coat and could see the originally designed water line that was lightly etched into the mold. The original waterline was 3" lower than the standard Manta waterline and 5" lower than our liveaboard waterline.

However, the shape of the bridgedeck is curved and smooth with no protrusions and starts 15' back from the bows, so this helps mitigate slamming by quite a lot as there is very little flat surface to put pressure against.

Ours sails well and we do 50% windspeed up to 8-9kts boat speed (20kt wind) and then we feel the need to reef to keep it in that range. We don't sail well below 10kts unless we are reaching with the spinnaker. Before moving aboard with everything we own, we were much lighter and would readily sail in 6-10kt windspeed and reach 9-10kts boat speed in 15-20kt winds. The boat points and tracks well - at least as well as most cruising monos and better than a lot of them.

As an aside, I have found that all the discussions and debate on multihull speeds are humorous. Offshore, we find ourselves almost always slowing the boat down purposefully to keep it around 6-7kts simply for comfort. Boats become very noising and jumpy when pushed hard at full speeds offshore. We match our speeds to the wind/wave comfort conditions, which usually means 6-7kts. Faster, and we find ourselves lurching off waves or getting slapped in the side of the hull.

I think the accommodations for a couple are fantastic. But keep in mind this is really a 36' boat designed in the early 90's. The gross interior volume will not be anywhere near that of one of the new charter designs from Lagoon, FP, etc for the given nominal length. The volume does compare with the Lagoon 38 and is a bit larger than the FP 36.

The galley and full head are the best you will find in a boat this size. Full cupboards, large work areas, lots of storage, 6cf reefer and 4cf freezer with 9" of foam insulation, full walk-in shower, large medicine cabinet and mirror, large pantry. Two standard queen births that take off-the-self bedding with full hanging lockers and storage drawers in each stateroom.

The hardtop is the best feature bar none, and better designed and implemented than any other catamaran. It is my favorite part of the boat. After owning the boat for one year, I decided that the Manta was worth buying over any other boat on this feature alone. Acres of space for solar panels, complete cockpit sun shading, large rainwater collector, tons of mounting space for antennas, radar, etc, built-in optimal counterpoise for SSB, hoisting ability for up to a 13' 800lb dinghy package - the list just goes on. It does add 600lbs to the boat, though.

I would change nothing about the interior for living aboard. I don't think it can really be improved for our needs. I think the design would be improved with more bridgedeck clearance (wouldn't every boat?) and either fuller hulls, or a longer stern to help carry the load a bit better. Keep in mind that we are overloaded, and Manta did lengthen the boats 2' in the stern since ours was built. Fuller hulls would make for a slower boat. We could also always throw crap out, but we never seem to get around to it. Also, the saloon windows are slanted like a lot of cats and this lets in a lot of heat. We have white textaline covers over ours which blocks all of the heat and still provides some visibility outside, and Manta later added louvers, but I think the Lagoon vertical windows are really the way to go. Ugly as hell, but as practical and functional as you can get.

Lots of discussions with the company always came up with Manta owners, or people looking at Mantas, around "could you change it to have"...a flybridge, big sliding glass doors opening the whole inside to the outside, a wet bar, a big roller furler genoa, etc. I asked a lot of these questions to the factory myself. Manta always responded "live on it for a while and then ask questions". I can tell you that I wouldn't want any of those things after living aboard ours. It is a very well thought out boat.

Mark
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Old 29-03-2010, 15:10   #3
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Thank you so much for the well thought out and well written response! This is exactly what I was looking for. We've narrowed the search down to Lagoon, FP or Manta. We've been on board a Lagoon 380 but have yet to board the Manta. Also have yet to board a FP Venezia or Belize. Other boats we have boarded have not met our needs/wants. So the list narrows thanks to people such as you. Again, thank you for taking time to respond...Fairwinds and Smooth Seas...Sid
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Old 29-03-2010, 15:31   #4
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Aw geez Mark... you left nothing for me to say

Tip of my hat to ya - I could not have said it better.

To Mark's comments I add :
- great engine access
- nice arrangement on the main sail cover (yes I actually LIKE the "pocket" attached to the main... less windage than a 'stack pack' arrangement)
- good anchoring system design (anchors at the bow, windlass at the bridge deck)
- sail plan allows me to single-hand this boat with ease, and the admiral enjoys that from her perch in the sling seat
- oh yes, the sling seat is great for being able to see ahead from the cockpit and catch the cooling breeze. Many cats allow views forward only from the helm seat.
- very active and helpful owners community

Mantas are great boats, well thought-out and fun to operate.

Sid - where are you located?
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Old 29-03-2010, 16:37   #5
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We are on the Cheasapeake in the Baltimore/Annapolis area.
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Old 29-03-2010, 16:48   #6
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Our boat is too old to have the sling seat, although we could retrofit one easily (JSI sells the whole assembly ready to install).

Our search seven years ago also led us to consider the Lagoon 38 and the FP Venezia. The Belize at the time was well out of our range. At that time the L38 was newer on the market and the ones in our price range were all ex-charter and beat up pretty badly for 3-5yr old boats.

The Venezia is a good sailing boat, but getting very old right now. They were old when we looked at them. We really wanted to like that boat, but couldn't get past the head arrangements on them and the miniscule galley with barely a reefer and no storage. Also, the headliners used on these boats at the time are coming down in pieces. Fixing them is doable, but a royal mess. If you find a Venezia in good shape and don't mind the design quirks with the head, galley and storage, this will make a good boat for the price.

By now, the Lagoon 38/380/380S2 are coming into much better price ranges than when we looked at them. We chartered a brand new owners version 380 for 10 days. That was when I gained an appreciation for how the vertical window design was implemented - the cabin was kept very cool and the design gave a superb sense of spaciousness and visibility (even though it doesn't actually give you any more usable space). I don't think the storage, galley or electrical system compares well to the Manta (but better than the Venezia), but its hull design carries weight a lot better than the Manta. If you want a big honking dinghy, the L38 will not carry one like the Manta. If you go for one of these boats, definitely get the owner's version and definitely do not buy one out of charter. The owner's version is a very well done layout. Inside, the 380 has a somewhat lower quality fit and finish on trim work and the like and all of the charter ones I have seen have been torn up pretty badly - ripped out handrails, splintered fiddles, warped floorboards etc. Nothing that can't be rejuvenated, though.

I have been on several Belize's and noticed one feature above all - the sterns are dangerous. One must step onto a sloping curved surface outside the lifelines to access the stern steps from the cockpit. I would not have that on a boat. I haven't sailed one, but have heard from others that they sail very well

One thing to note: selling prices for the L38 and Venezias are now lower than those for equivalent year Manta's, even though they were higher (L38) or the same (Venezia) several years ago. Mantas of our vintage are selling in this market for more than we paid. Of course, there were a lot more L38's made and there are a lot more L38's on the market and most of them are ex-charter, so that doesn't help support the price. There are only 125 Mantas in existence, and only 15 currently on the market. The Venezia is now certainly showing its age, which will lower the asking prices.

In summary, I think in this market you can get a good deal on a L38/380/380S2 and will put a small to modest amount of work to freshen it a bit and add systems you want. You can get a fantastic price on a Venezia, but will put in a lot of hard work to bring it up to good standard and outfitting (unless you find a unique deal on a refurbished one). I don't know the market for the Belize well. The Manta's have held their value more - on average they will be more expensive but better appointed and likely in better shape.

If you are diligent and careful in selecting specific boats, I don't think you can go wrong with either of the three you are considering (I don't have enough experience with the Belize to say).

But you can't have our Manta!

Mark
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Old 30-03-2010, 07:08   #7
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I can not add much more except to say we owned our Manta 42 for 7 years and every year we would go to the Miami show and come away saying there still is not a better boat. Best systems install in the industry. Our 2000 Manta is now with her second owner crossing the Pacific.
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Old 30-03-2010, 07:45   #8
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every year we would go to the Miami show and come away saying there still is not a better boat.
I guess that was only true until the St. Francis 50 came along - nice boat!

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Old 31-03-2010, 09:01   #9
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I have been on several Belize's and noticed one feature above all - the sterns are dangerous. One must step onto a sloping curved surface outside the lifelines to access the stern steps from the cockpit. I would not have that on a boat. I haven't sailed one, but have heard from others that they sail very well
Mark,

I think you have the Belize confused with another FP model, maybe the Athena? The deck from the cockpit to the stern steps is not sloping on the Belize, although there is a ~4" step down.

I agree with all the good comments on the Mantas, I chartered one and found it to be a very good boat. I also know an ex-Manta owner who loved the boat. At the time I was in the market, there was one criteria that I had that led me to the Belize - the separate engine rooms with solid bulkheads. After 6+ years, I still like this design (no oil or diesel in the living space), but it comes with one sacrifice, I can't have a folding prop (saildrive is too close to the rudder). Other boats have this feature, like the Lagoon 380, but the boat is small enough they put the saildrive aft of the rudder. This isn't a problem as long as both engines are working, but with one engine down, steerage below ~1.5 knots is ugly, especially in a tight marina setting.

I don't think one can go wrong with Manta-Lagoon-FP on the buy list. They'll all serve you well if properly maintained. As Mark states, each does have it's own quirks.

-Marc-
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Old 31-03-2010, 15:05   #10
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Some really good info in this thread!
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Old 03-04-2010, 05:48   #11
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I think you have the Belize confused with another FP model, maybe the Athena?
Oops. I just looked and it was the Bahia 46 I was talking about, not the Belize 43. Sorry.

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Old 03-04-2010, 19:12   #12
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Aft Berth

Although I think Mantas are great boats, I do wonder about the size of the aft berth. I've looked at several Mantas (40-42) and it appears to me to be a bit short for a person much over 6 feet. Also, I couldn't figure out which way one slept. With one's head aft or fore or port to starboard?
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:03   #13
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There are two aft berths - one in each hull. Both are standard queen size - 60"x80". The berth faces athwartships in the starboard hull and fore/aft in the port hull. You choose which way you sleep in the port berth - head aft or forward.

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Old 04-04-2010, 07:08   #14
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I'm 6'3" and sleep in the port hull owner's fore & aft berth with no problems. Anyone over 6'5" may hang over.

Also note that the MK IVs had the salon height increased 6 inches I believe. On my boat I have to duck my head a bit when working at the forward end of the nav station / reefer box. I'm about 2 inches too tall for those spots. No clearance issues at all in either hull.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:04   #15
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Manta models

Does any one know the difference btween a Manta II and a Manta IV

Thanks, Don
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