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Old 06-08-2015, 18:26   #1
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Opinions on Catamaran configurations

I would like to get some opinions on how we should rank key considerations on a new boat. This is our first request for opinions.
We are looking to sell our Hunter 30 monohull and move to a larger boat that we can live aboard. We are strongly leaning towards a catamaran. There are several options that we are considering and would like to get some opinions
About us
We (Patty and Robert) are an empty nest couple expecting to retire in 3-6 years. We have two dogs that sail with us. Our plan is to purchase the new(er) boat this year and be out of our house when the lease expires next May. We will live in Florida until we are fully retired. Then we would like to sail thru the Caribbean for a year or more. Eventually we are thinking about settling in Panama.
We have 3 children each with a spouse or significant other and one grandchild (so far). We would like to have a guest cabin so that we could have one of the couples and/or grandchildren occasionally visit for a week or so.
Sailing experience.
I have a good bit of sailing experience both racing and cruising in coastal waters as well as powerboat experience in my younger days. Patty is willing, but less experienced. She has sailed our previous boat (a Precision 18), but was never fully comfortable. She is still getting used to the Hunter 30. We have had several weeks chartering together. Most of them have been aboard a Lagoon 440/450 catamaran. Patty is more comfortable on a cat than a monohull.
Considerations
Our budget is about 100K. We plan to take out a loan for part of it which we will pay off before we finally retire. So, the more we spend, the longer we have to work.
We have been looking at several catamarans with the following configurations:
A 34-40 single diesel straight shaft in the 70-100K range
A 30-40 with an outboard in the 70-100k range.
A 30-40 with twin outboard in the 70-100k range.
A 30 with twin diesels and saildrives for about 80k
A Lagoon 37 with twin diesels straight shaft about 150 K.
Our questions are in the following areas:
How difficult will it be to maneuver a 30-40 cat with a single engine? Our current monohull is a challenge to back into a slip with a couple of feet on each side. I am concerned that the wider cat will be hard to handle with a single engine. This is especially true for the smaller cats that are designed to (barely) fit in a regular sized slip.
My understanding is that some outboards are a bit easier to handle because the engine and rudders work together. Is this a big help or a nice to have?
Some of the boats have twin outboards. Is it safe to assume that they will be more maneuverable?
I get nervous with a gas engine. I helped pull people out of a lake after their boat went up (they forgot to run the bilge fan) and it left me worried about gas onboard. Is this a real concern, or is it handled by keeping the gas in a special compartment.
Since we expect to be traveling for a few years in the Americas, reliability and maintenance is a concern. Are there concerns with the reliability of gas outboards compared to diesels? Would it be harder to get parts?
Likewise, am concerned about reliability on the Volvo saildrives. I have been told that it can be hard to get saildrive parts if you have a problem while you are in the islands. Is this a big enough concern that it is worth working an extra year to pay for a more expensive boat?

We appreciate any advice you might have.

Robert and Patty Thompson
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Old 06-08-2015, 19:38   #2
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Hi guys. First off centrally. Mounted ob is easy To maneuver. Our endeavour cat 30 Was even easier To dock w the steering to the ob disconnected. Twins are easier unless One is not running. Gasoline np on pdq. As its a sep compartment
In your price range I would look at
Pdq 36 most are yamaha powered amd parts easy to find
Fountaine pajot athena 38
Or tobago 35
Solaris sunrise 36 or sunstar
Maybe Gemini 35 if your ok with their quirks
Maybe victory 35 or endeavour 36
Not lagoon37
Maxim 380 nice but more $

Things to consider
Galley up or down
3 or 4 stateroom
Ob vs diesel w shaft vs saidrives
The yanmar saildrive / sd 20s on the athenas. Are very rugged and simple.
Hard or soft top
Full enclosures or no
Helm position
Head set up
Tankage and watermaker
Load capacity. Note lots of variables here our leopard 38 showed a 7600lb load rating our athena 3800 and our athena. Handles the weight better ...
Storage also a consideration




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Old 07-08-2015, 01:11   #3
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

"Likewise, am concerned about reliability on the Volvo saildrives."


Volvo saildrives are usually very reliable. It is the Yanmar SD50 that has a bad reputation.


Also, yes, Volvo spares can seem very expensive but you probably won't need many of them. The MD2040s in my boat had over 8000 hours on them when I sold the boat. The only parts I remember other than oil filters (generic filters from anyone who made them) were a water pump">raw water pump, lots of impellers (generic) and some gaskets. So, over 11 years the amount spent on Volvo parts was minimal.


On your other questions... I'd go all out to get twin inboard diesels and at least 35 ft. Personally for 100-150 I'd buy a Privilege 37 ( Privilege 37 for sale )because I love Privileges but the Lagoon 37 is a very good easier to obtain alternative.
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:47   #4
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

A single diesel with a straight shaft is going to be great if you are turning in the favorable direction and a problem if you are turning against the favorable direction (tight quarters manuvering...at sea the rudders should easily overwhelm the turning force of the motor). Unless it's a heck of a deal, I would avoid it.

Twin engines have the best manuverability but a central stearable leg (outboard or outdrive) are almost as good.

Gas depends on where the motor is mounted. An outboard with fuel tanks in the bridge deck and bottom vented, it's largely a non-issue. Same as you aren't paraniod about driving a gas powered car. If it's an inboard or the tanks are down in the hulls, it's the same issue with needing to be careful, check of leaks and run the vent fans.
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Old 07-08-2015, 04:29   #5
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Priviliges and lagoon 37s are nice but plagued with water leaks and greenhouse effect issues and the water leaks from the bad designed salon windows causes all kinds of other issues. Its why I didn't recommend them. We had made offers on 3 over the last few years and 2 priveleges and 1 L37 all miserably failed surveying well.

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Old 07-08-2015, 11:13   #6
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Get a catalac 10 or 12 meter spacious, best ventilation, two inboards with sd20 yanmar saildrives most reliable. You have experience with what can happen with the gas. I am sorry but a cat or yacht bounces around in the waves and even bottom ventilated gasoline smells all over boat.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:38   #7
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

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Originally Posted by Goosebumps View Post
Get a catalac 10 or 12 meter spacious, best ventilation, two inboards with sd20 yanmar saildrives most reliable. You have experience with what can happen with the gas. I am sorry but a cat or yacht bounces around in the waves and even bottom ventilated gasoline smells all over boat.
That's odd. We have both an outboard powered Gemini and and just purchased a Catalac 10m (no Gemini's to be found in Europe which is to be our next cruising ground).

8yrs with the Gemini and almost 10,000miles. Never smelled any gas inside the boat. Nor on any of a number of Gemini's we've been on.

The motor situation is our biggest concern with the Catalac. They aren't nearly as convienent to service being down in deep hatches and the drives are always subject to saltwater and corrosion if you don't keep up on them. The outboard is next to nothing in terms of maintenance and you can comfortably sit next to it on the back deck. It just pulls clear of the water when not in use so no corrosion issues. Not a big enough concern to scare us off from a Catalac but the concern expressed here are not borne out by our experience.
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Old 07-08-2015, 14:53   #8
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Don't forget the weight factor in cats. The more palatial the heavier the cat. The heavier the cat will mean a larger stick with huge roached sails. These can be a handful for even experienced crewed boats. You will always be motoring in light winds on heavy boats or at least motor sailing.

Pick the right boat for your cruising grounds will be said many times by the experienced sailors. There is a reason for that. You wouldn't buy a deep full keeled boat for the Bahamas due to draft. You wouldn't want a 25 foot day sailor if you were crossing the Atlantic unless you were thinking you like it rough and tuff.

If you can, there are many boats down island throughout the Caribbean for really good prices compared to Europe or USA. Not knocking the American based boats. There is a reason they are cheaper. Many skippers simply didn't want to make the slog back to Europe or East coast...or divorce or illness or.....take your time and spread sheet the different boats and winnow it down to a handful and weigh the pros and cons...
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Old 07-08-2015, 15:26   #9
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Robert and Patty, good-day.
I built a Shionning Wilderness 1100 in Oz over the last 10 years and as time goes had a lot spare to look into no aerodynamic propulsion systems. I decided upon twin Nanni 21 horsepower diesels with Saildrives. My reason being that they were compact as well as reliable and were diesel whic enabled me to build integral fuel tanks during construction.

I also had high performance regulators fitted to each engine and also had an individual start battery for each engine. The engine electrics was wired up with a couple of emergency parallel switches so that I could start either engine from either battery as well as another emergency parallel on the house bank so I could also start either engine from the house bank. I also had a voltage sensitive relay (VSR) installed on No1 engine after the parallel switch so that after charging the start battery of that engine , switched over to charging the house batteries.
With the emergency parallel switches I could isolate No1 engine and run No2 alone and the VSR would then allow charging of the house with No2,... Thereby sharing the load.
Also had a hot water tank plumbed into the heat exchanger of No1.
So,.... My preference was twin Saildrives for charging ease and reliability as well as manoeuvrability.
Whichever way you go will be right for you. Main thing is ,...keep doing your homework!
Gary on AnamCara heading through the Whitsundays!
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Old 07-08-2015, 16:23   #10
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

My PDQ32 with two 9.9 Yamaha engines does not have any gas smells and the engines are extremely reliable. The PDQ36 with a similar engine set up is an excellent boat that would serve you well.

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Old 07-08-2015, 17:14   #11
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goosebumps View Post
Get a catalac 10 or 12 meter spacious, best ventilation, two inboards with sd20 yanmar saildrives most reliable. You have experience with what can happen with the gas. I am sorry but a cat or yacht bounces around in the waves and even bottom ventilated gasoline smells all over boat.
Only time I ever have fuel smell is if I overfill a tank, or spill some when fuelling. Inboard mounted diesels will also smell if you spill fuel when changing filters etc, but diesel is a stronger smell, and will pretty much last for ever, petrol will evaporate away eventually.
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Old 07-08-2015, 19:03   #12
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Hi Robert,
The only things that I would like to say is that motor choice is dependant on how you use your boat. I have twin Nanni 14hp straight shafts with folding props that return 0.75L/hr each in 38ft Crowther Windspeed which is fantastic when motoring. This is the first time (I have owned Kinta for just on 4 years) that I have had inboard motors and while you cannot go past Diesels for economy and performance they do have disadvantages, 1. They can only be serviced in place if a major problem arises(an O/B can be taken to a repair shop) . 2. The drive goes through the hull below waterline so somewhere for a potential leak. 3. Because the props are under the hulls they have to be watched if you want to dry out, it also means that the props usually can't be cleaned or antifouled without a haulout. 4. And this is a big one for me because I bought my boat to sail and not to motor. The props (even though they are folding) can knock off up to 2 knots when they are not clean and I am not talking about a huge buildup of growth. With O/B's, pull them up and the bottom of your hull remains clean and unturbulent so personally I would now go for O/B's but I am a bit of a fanatic on sailing and do not understand why so many people motor when there is wind available.
On another subject, I am also a live aboard and would suggest that if you can afford it I would go to a 42' for a couple as the difference in room and load carrying is significant and will be appreciated. My only other advice (and this is personal) would be to stay away from Lagoons if you are planning any heavy weather sailing. If you are in protected waters they are fine and a lot have done bluewater crossings but personally I don't trust them. I know I will get shot down for this comment but this is just my opinion, just do your homework before you buy your boat and you will be fine and remember as you are living aboard all extra weight will slow you down under sail.
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Old 07-08-2015, 22:34   #13
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

Quote:
My only other advice (and this is personal) would be to stay away from Lagoons if you are planning any heavy weather sailing. If you are in protected waters they are fine and a lot have done bluewater crossings but personally I don't trust them.
Hello Kinta Ray,

As a totally neutral observer with no bias.....would you please explain in more detail. Thanks.
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Old 07-08-2015, 23:17   #14
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

There's a HUGE amount of information on catamarans here Shuttleworth Design - Articles covering all of the questions which you asked, & a lot more which you didn't.
- Some on boat performance, & what governs it. Or rather, enhances or takes away from it.
- A few on safety, & what goes into a boat's design which influences such.
- Thoughts on engines; number, type, location, etc. & the pro's & con's of various configurations.
- Also, there are some great (short) cruise logs, written from the perspectives of both halves of a few different couples. And they also cover issues of space, including bunks & cabins. Plus needs vs. wants in terms of boat size, & the handling issues which go hand in hand with same.

And Kurt Hughes has some excellent boat introspective questions, starting with this page Kurt Hughes Multihull Design - Catamarans and Trimarans for Cruising and Charter and also by following the links highlighted on it.

On the docking thing, keep in mind that with a cat, windage is the biggest issue. And 2nd is the fact that you don't have a lot holding you in place in the water. Both in terms of foil size, & also lead. So my vote's for either a single steerable OB, or twin engines of one sort or another.
~ And to be blunt (I'm sure I'll catch some heat for this), but sometimes, due to weather conditions, docking a multihull is like getting a car up an icy hill. You have to make an educate guess, momentum wise (how much speed you need) in order to "throw" it up the hill. Or in this case, into the slip. At least such is the case with light to moderate weight multi's.

As to the type of engines, consider what you want to run as far as electrical items onboard, especially refrigeration/freezers. Because OB's aren't known for their overpowering alternators.
Although for the most part, any more, most people are relying primarily on solar for their electrical needs, knock on wood.
Still, do some homework on projected electrical draws & how to best feed such... There's no lack for information on such a topic here on the forum!

Finally, one other great resource is Richard Woods site (he's a catamaran designer), Sailing Catamarans And he also happens to be a member on here.
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Old 07-08-2015, 23:36   #15
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Re: Opinions on Catamaran configurations

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Only time I ever have fuel smell is if I overfill a tank, or spill some when fuelling. Inboard mounted diesels will also smell if you spill fuel when changing filters etc, but diesel is a stronger smell, and will pretty much last for ever, petrol will evaporate away eventually.
I am happy with peoples choices when they are. I however own a Catalac 10 and liveaboard it since 2007. My experience, never diesel smell, my inboards are easily accessable even 3 adults fit right around the engines down there, lots of space. Great advantage is that engine compartments are outside of living area on Catalac 10m. For me simply not possible to have cat with outboards, when you cruise in areas without fuel access, little support, the diesel motors simply use less fuel and charge better the batteries. I know we can put solar panels, I have 3, but recharging with high rate alternators is basic necessity.
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