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Old 10-07-2007, 08:52   #1
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Safest Multihull's for Ocean Passages

I was just wondering what everyone's opinion is for the Safest, most reliable & trustworthy Cat for Ocean Passages? This post is strickly for safety purposes, Comfort will be addressed at a later date. Right now I just want to know what Cat would offer the most peace of mind in rough weather. As far as price range, low to moderate and around 36-48 feet is what I am looking to buy however I am looking for info on all sorts of Cats, Production line cats and custom cats, low priced and expensive, new and used, etc. You never know when you could come across some extra money. I would appreciate any info you could post about this subject.

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Old 10-07-2007, 10:13   #2
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Originally Posted by Lundy
I was just wondering what everyone's opinion is for the Safest, most reliable & trustworthy Cat for Ocean Passages? This post is strickly for safety purposes, . . .
The safest vessel, multihull or monohull of any size, is one with an experienced, knowledgeable, capable captain at the helm. Any person with those attributes is capable of sailing most any vessel safely. There isn't really a definitive answer to your question, as far as "Safest Catamaran, 36'-48'," any more than there is a definitive answer to what is a "low to moderate price range." Relative to what?

Any vessel built to ABYC standards, or similar standards elsewhere in the world, is "safe," insofar as integrity of construction goes. The variable is the person commanding the vessel. Think of it this way - there are any number of "safe" cars built all over the world, but if the person behind the wheel is inexperienced, or impaired in some way, or just nervous about whether his car is the "safest" one in the "low to moderate price range," then that person is the weak link in the safety chain.


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Old 10-07-2007, 10:45   #3
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Rather than a specific model I would look at features like dedicated reserve bouyancy in the bows and transom which are large enough to be able to float that hull should any one compartment become breached (it should be such a big water tight compartment that you should think of it as a closed off empty room rather than just a small space (ideally these would be behind a water tight bulkhead and have a crash compartment comprising their floors), sacrificial keels, metal rub rails, large flat walkways going forward, good quality nonskid, emergency tillers. If you want a good model to compare against, go to the annapolis boat show this fall and look at the PDQ 44, it has all of these. Tell Simon Schoonerdog sent you and you're interested in the safety features of the PDQ and he'll spend a long time showing you his boat. While Tao is correct, some boats are more forgiving of mistakes and unavoidable accidents than others.
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:04   #4
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I consider Catana to be the safest: unsinkable (as most cats), watertight crash compartments, built from TWARON (Kevlar-like fiber) - much better puncture resistance than fiberglass, bulkheads enforced with carbon fiber, sacrificial daggerboards (could be raised in heavy weather to allow side-slip), bulbed and tulip shaped bows (prevents bow burrying), simple automatic reefing system from cockpit (no need to go to the mast), fast, reportedly behaves very well in heavy weather, etc. But, many people do not like helm placement. Also, it probably does not fit in low-to-moderate price category, although you can get older 47' for around 500k.
Just my opinion...
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Old 10-07-2007, 17:44   #5
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Prouts have done more circumnavigations than any other cat. They're out of business now, but the damn things are nearly bullet proof. buy one used and sail it forever.

She took my address and my name
Put my credit to shame
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Old 10-07-2007, 18:55   #6
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One that will stop me from doing stupid things.

I'm afraid it hasn't been built yet.

Seriously, though, there's lots of great cats and they are not always the latest, most recent designs, either. As George says, many people have done it in Prouts (check out: New Home. Dave, on Maxing Out (Welcoming to Maxing Out) has lots of great advice on safety issues (search for him on the forum). Several of the books out there talk about safety on multihulls.

More than anything, though, I think it will boil down to keeping a good boat in good shape; making reasonably good decisions about keeping away from bad weather; being properly geared to take it on when you can't keep away from it; and, a dash of luck.

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Old 10-07-2007, 22:12   #7
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I did my circumnavigation in a Privilege 39 Catamaran, and I can honestly say that I always felt extremely safe when sailing offshore. I have sailed in winds to fifty knots on three occasions in my catamaran, and in all three instances, there was never any reason for concern because I sailed the cat in a conservative manner.

I have never been in winds over fifty knots on my cat, and so I can't comment on how the boat would behave in those conditions, but if there was more than fifty knots of wind, I wouldn't be sailing. I would be lying to a parachute sea anchor. I have used a parachute sea anchor only once sailing from New Zealand to Fiji during the winter when we got caught in a squash zone with fifty knot winds. The Privilege 39 behaved extremely well when lying to a parachute.

After the tsunami, we sailed through the debris field south of Sri Lanka and we encountered many logs floating in the water in the day time. At night, we slowed down or stopped the boat. The few times we ran into some tsunami debris in the dark did not result in any real hull damage - only chipping of the gel coat. If you want to see some of the trees that your cat could meet up with, check out this URL: DEBRIOSAURUS* REX* THE TREE THAT WANTED TO EAT MY BOAT* Once upon a time there was a tree that wanted to eat my boat

I trusted my Privilege 39 with my family's life, and I never felt any reason to be afraid during our 11 year circumnavigation.

But let me tell you the rest of the story. I know of two Privilege 39 catamarans that capsized. One got picked up at anchor during a hurricane, and I am told that it was a tornado that flipped the boat while no one was on board. You can see pictures of this catamaran at the following URL: CATAMARAN CAPSIZES IN 170 MILE PER HOUR WINDS*** For the past fifteen years

I know of a second Privilege 39 catamaran that capsized off the Pitons on the south end of Saint Lucia. Willwaw like winds come down off those tall peaks, and I am told that a charterer was sailing close to the pitons with full sail up and the lightly loaded catamaran underwent a capsize during a blast of wind that was well over fifty knots.

The hurricane capsize at anchor was unpreventable in my opinion. The Piton capsize was a charterer who probably wasn't paying attention and didn't understand what was going on in the area.

Our cat was well behaved, and I can honestly state that there was never a time where any of us were really afraid even in rough conditions. But the reason we weren't afraid was because of how we sailed the catamaran. We sailed in a conservative manner, and we always arrived at our destination relatively unscathed.

There are some poorly constructed cats sailing the seven seas, but most of the time when an accident or problem happens, it is pilot error that is the single greatest factor contributing to the disaster.

Most cats are inherently safe yachts when sailed in a safe manner - just like most monohulls.

That being said, if I do another circumnavigation, it will probably be on board my Privilege 39 - Exit Only. I took care of her, and she took care of me, and that's the way it should be.


Dave -Sailing Vessel Exit Only
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