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Old 15-05-2007, 20:06   #1
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Older Horstman Trimaran

I have been looking for information on the older Horstman and Brown Searunner trimarans. I don't seem to find alot of information on the strength of them, particularly the Horstmans.
Does anyone have experience with how seaworthy these tri's are? Would they likely be good for some coastal cruising as far as durability?
Also, what are their weak points? If I were looking at buying one, what would I particularly want to watch for?
I have seen some of these sell for what would seem at first glance to be a reasonable price - but in the long run, would it have really been a good price?
Hmmm.... Alot to think about.
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Old 16-05-2007, 00:10   #2
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The Brown Searunners and Horstman trimarans have many long passages and circumnavigations to their credit. With their shallow draft they would make good coastal cruisers as well. With the Searunners the things to check are the centerboard trunk and bilge area around the centerboard. This is where you don't want any major rot or water damage from leaking tanks or a leaking trunk. This is a big repair job. Check the deck around the wing hatches as this may be a likely trouble spot depending on how the hatches were built. This is usually not a big structural issue and is not a difficult repair if needed. Check around deck fittings for soft spots in the deck due to water leaks. This would usually be a localised problem and not a difficult fix. Many of these boats were built by homebuilders so quality may vary but I also think how well they are maintained over the years is just as important. I would think that with many of these boats getting up there in age the poorly built ones have had their date with the chainsaw and the ones that are left are the better built ones that have been well maintained. I just saw a recent photo of Bacchanal, a very early Searunner 37 built by John Marples around 1971. It looked to be in excellent condition. I was on Oahu recently and came across "Keet" a Searunner 40 built in 1979. It had just recieved a new paint job and was absolutley stunning. So yeah, there is some durability there.
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Old 16-05-2007, 06:39   #3
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Thanks Steve - That is encouraging. I will keep looking at them. That is a good point that you make about the age taking its toll on the less quality built and maintained ones. It will be a whail before we can buy one (hopefully within about a year) but I will continue to keep my eyes open.
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Old 16-05-2007, 11:05   #4
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Hi Clausont. I've worked on both designs. How a boat is built and how it sails are two separate issues. My personal opinion (being a rabid Brown addict) is that the Horstmans don't point as well, don't tack as well, can carry a much greater payload (and consequently, bog down like hogs in mud), are dark and spacious on the interiors (read cavernous and dismal) and, they're ugly. On the positive side, there are quite a few available on the market, and they make great condos and warehouses. Check out Norm Cross tris. They offer some good deals. Older Kantolas can be nice too, but possibly pricey. Go sail a Horstman for starters and make up your own mind. Good luck in your search.
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Old 16-05-2007, 20:14   #5
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Hi Roy. Great to hear from one that has worked on both. It sounds like there are (as is normal) pros and cons of both depending on what I am looking for. The cavernous interior might be just the thing since we have 5 kids. I have to admit that the first impression of the 50' Horstman that I looked at was along the lines of, "My - that thing is not very attractive" - or at least something like that. But looks aside and weighing all factors including (especially) budget, I know that we will not for many years to come have a modern cat or tri. I was looking at a couple of other tri's also - one a cross in La Paz (just looking at the ad for it) and a 31' Searunner. I think the Searunner in that size would be too small though with the whole family.
I will have to do that - sail a Horstman or a Searunner. I have not sailed a tri at all and would love to do so. Anyone in the PNW have a tri that they want to take us out on?
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Old 17-05-2007, 10:59   #6
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Contact Jeff Turner at CROSS Multihull Designs.

He is knowledgeable about Cross tris, grew up cruising with his parents and sisters on one (which is now available for sale). He can provide contacts in your area for a possible test drive. Also, contact ORCA, the Offshore Racing Catamaran Association, in Puget Sound, for other tris to play with. Tell him Hi!
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Old 18-11-2007, 00:39   #7
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Hi Clausont...

I've owned two Searunners, a 25' and later a 31'er, and I've been interested in Horstmans going way back as well. I've worked on both, sailed both, and have a background which includes some yacht design, engineering, etc. Ed Horstman and I communicated a lot years back and I once met his better half when they lived in the LA area.
Both have enviable records of both safety, seaworthiness, and make excellent coastal & long distance cruisers. But they each their idiosyncracies.
Searunners all had/have center cockpits. Very safe place to sale from, good visibility all around, but it chops up the interior plan a lot. The 31 is really too small for a family, but the 37 was exceptionally good for distance cruising. Storage very good for stores, water, and engine placement is below the cockpit. The large centerboard makes for very good windward ability as well, plus very shallow draft if you intend to beach the tri.
Hortsman TriStar tris all use daggerboards, one per AMA (outer hull). These are as good or better than centerboards for windward work, but have one potential weakness... if you ground out or hit something with a board it won't ever pop up as the Searunner CB might, if rigged to do so. It would take a heck of a THUMP to pop a secured CB, and might do more damage than to just the board, perhaps coming close to what a daggerboard might do if it get's hit hard enough to break... possibly bust the DG box a bit. However, both possibilitites are small.
I've sailed a 27-9 with at least 6 adults on it, waiting in knee deep water for the owners son to come aboard, mainsail only, no boards, and it tacked easily. Once aboard, it sailed with main & jib wonderfully... and a modern racer/cruiser monohull at least 34' long with larger sails didn't catch us!
Both designs and their adherents, and you can read the literature. Brown was self taught, Horstman was an aeronautical engineer and applied his background to tri design.
My own preference leans towards the Horstman tris, especially after owning two Searunners. I think the Tristar designs are better for living aboard for one. The Searunners are great for cruising, but are rather "clunky" in terms of living aboard due to the centerboard & cockpit between foreward & aft cabins. Otherwise, aesthetics are largely personal, and the TriStars, up close & personal, can be pretty sleek looking with a good paint scheme. But they can also look boxy, it depends on what's done with them. Searunners allways look like more conventional designs with somewhat boxy cabintops.
I'll just mention that having met and discussed design with the late Norm Cross, and admiring his designs, I still found them not as good for living aboard as the Horstmans, plus Cross designs all have a fin keel which precludes laying upright should you beach the tri. While fin keels work well as lateral resistance & getting lift to windward, they are not necessary and frankly, to my thinking, eliminate one of the major pluses of most multihulls... having the ability to use very shallow water when you want, to beach the boat & even live aboard nicely while beached, yet still go to windward as well as anything, all without the hindrance of a fixed fin or long deepish keel.
Remember too what fast tri designer Dick Newick said about having a boat with low cost, high speed, &/or large accomodation: Pick TWO, you can't have all three.
Hope this long post helps!
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Old 18-11-2007, 01:47   #8
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Trimarans have a great deal of hull area to be painted and antifouled. They also have a large deck area to be maintained.

They also stop a great deal of wind when at anchor.

Having said that--I like trimarans. They have enough living space below decks with bunkage on the wing decks--and the larger ones are comfortable at anchor and under sail. The aft and fore cabins can be used for storeage. They require only moderate diesel power as they are not dragging five tons of lead through the brine. In severe conditions a trimaran is vulnerable to tipping ot pitchpoling--but if a series drogue can be streamed and the vessel be storm rigged she should ride without burying the nose. I have seen the leeward ama submerging and the dorade vent under green water--and it is not a comforting sight!

Trimarans are fast when unloaded, but with a cruising load they will do about half wind speed. As soon as the wind gets up a bit I reduce sail--ten knotrs is as fast as I want to go and I prefer the easy rides at slower speeds.

The early Horstmans look a little like Pivers--except that they employ dagger boards in the amas. I have never sailed one so I can not say how seaworthy the early ones are--but the later ones were excellent according to those who have sailed them. In these the decks go all the way to cover the amas, making them accessible from the main hull under decks. Safer for kids.

I am pleased with my Piver for coastal cruising. However, trimarans need big anchors. My forty two footer uses a sixty pound Manson with two hundred feet of short link half inch chain and two hundred feet of twenty-four millimetre nylon rode. The Manson is just adequate. The previous plough was lighter and it ALWAYS dragged--even after setting it with the motor.

Trimarans try to sail when at anchor, something to do with the slot effect of the hulls. They will quickly un-set an anchor which is too light. Cats do it too. Monos generally lie between the tide and the wind--but tris skate around a bit. I often set two anchors.

Sailed prudently both cats and tris are safe--but it is easier to get insurance on cats than tris.
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Old 18-11-2007, 10:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy M View Post
Hi Clausont. I've worked on both designs. How a boat is built and how it sails are two separate issues. My personal opinion (being a rabid Brown addict) is that the Horstmans don't point as well, don't tack as well, can carry a much greater payload (and consequently, bog down like hogs in mud), are dark and spacious on the interiors (read cavernous and dismal) and, they're ugly. On the positive side, there are quite a few available on the market, and they make great condos and warehouses. Check out Norm Cross tris. They offer some good deals. Older Kantolas can be nice too, but possibly pricey. Go sail a Horstman for starters and make up your own mind. Good luck in your search.
I agree that the Horstmans are generally ugly. But I have seen a few that look pretty nice in the 40-45' range. Do you know what these are? I'm not sure, but they look like sleeker Tristar designs.
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Old 22-06-2008, 13:57   #10
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I agree that the Horstmans are generally ugly. But I have seen a few that look pretty nice in the 40-45' range.
Honestly, I could see people really wanting to live on it, but not going anywhere with it. So the radar just confuses me

Like this one? Yeah pretty, just like a house! Honestly, I could see people really wanting to live on it, just not going anywhere with it. I can't imagine anyone knowledgeable doing it, but I would love for someone to use the word 'bluewater' with this.

The radar dome ... that just confuses me. But at least its aptly named.
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Old 22-06-2008, 14:01   #11
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I agree that the Horstmans are generally ugly. But I have seen a few that look pretty nice in the 40-45' range.
Honestly, I could see people really wanting to live on it, but not going anywhere with it. So the radar just confuses me

Like this one? Yeah pretty, just like a house! Honestly, I could see people really wanting to live on it, just not going anywhere with it. I can't imagine anyone knowledgeable doing it, but I would love for someone to use the word 'bluewater' with this.

The radar dome ... well that just confuses me. But at least its aptly named.

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Old 22-06-2008, 16:23   #12
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That ad was dated 2006?
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Old 22-06-2008, 18:16   #13
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Oh, yes - I had seen that one advertised. I couldn't imagine actually sailing that anywhere myself. It looks something like the house boats that were floating in Sausalito when I was a kid.
Thanks all for their input here. I haven't seen a Horstman in my price range for a while now. I will be going to look at a Piver (42') in a couple of weeks.
I did see a Crowther 39' cat that was interesting and has been for sale for a couple of years. But more than I can afford anyway.
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:49   #14
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Oh, yes - I had seen that one advertised. I couldn't imagine actually sailing that anywhere myself. It looks something like the house boats that were floating in Sausalito when I was a kid.
Thanks all for their input here. I haven't seen a Horstman in my price range for a while now. I will be going to look at a Piver (42') in a couple of weeks.
I did see a Crowther 39' cat that was interesting and has been for sale for a couple of years. But more than I can afford anyway.
I think your talking about Vikki Brock's 45 Horstman. If so, she just sailed it down to San Francisco area from Seattle. My first general impression was the same as yours, but after looking at the Tristar I was impressed with the construction / addition and the profile was merely and extension of the original design not stepping outside the designs parameters.
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Old 17-12-2010, 00:18   #15
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Im giving this thread a bump so as to hopefully reignite any conversations on the designs and take advantage of the vast wealth of experience of the members on this forum. After taking a decent hit in the saving cause to the stock market, i have begun to look at some of the older 2nd gen tri designs. Huge fan of the brown searunner designs but the fiance has never been a fan of the cc that divided the boat. The tristar designs that interest me most are the 35', 36' 38'/39' and the 40'. Would definitely prefer to buy as opposed to build. Intended use is for us to start by doing a few smaller passages with the intention of building up to circumnavigation. I am aware that other cats/tris may offer better tradeoffs but this is the first design that has got the capt as excited as i am
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