I have owned a St. Francis 44 since 2000. My boat is Obelix, and I am well acquainted with most other '44 owners, especially Peter and Tina on Scud.
They are treasured friends of mine. I keep my boat at stocking island, across from Georgetown
, Great Exuma, Bahamas
I would love to trade
off the pros and cons of various catamarans with you, but really I only know the '44. I do know my boat very well though.
Can the boat circumnavigate? Yes, it certainly can. Scud has certainly proved that, and other '44's have gone the blue water route
You should know the '44 is a very strong boat. It is built low to the water, so it does pound in certain weather conditions. I find in less than 2 or 3 feet, it is no problem, and in greater than 4 to 5 feet it is no problem either. I have had my boat out in > 15 foot seas, (I came across the gulf stream
in a gale, but not by choice) and while it was a thrill, the boat had minimal problems with it. All '44's are sailed from St. Francis, South Africa
to the US, so they are really blue water travelers. I was told that the day my boat left SA, the seas were so high that the mast
of the accompanying boat disappeared into the trough of the preceding wave and was lost
from view. The mast
is 62 feet above the water. I was not there. I am not aware of any St Frances 44 that has ever been lost
to structural failure, or to any other reason for that matter.
My boat spends most of the time between the Bahamas
and Fl. I think it is an ideal boat for the Bahamas. It has decadent amounts of room, and is an ideal party boat. It has plenty of sleeping space. My boat is loaded down, so is less speedy and pounds more. I am built for comfort and not for speed, but the boat tolerates my excesses very well. I carry no life raft, I trust my boat. I can motor
in the 7 to 9 knot
range, and motor
sailing I can hit double digits. Sailing I can point up to roughly 33 degrees into the wind
. Cats don't point well. I have no daggerboards to worry about.
Pros and cons:
The boat is very strong. I have been pounded for days at anchor
with no problem. It was uncomfortable, but no problem.
The boat sails
level and stable. I don't have to "put everything away" before setting sail.
It has tons of room (more than you should have, really).
It is a very comfortable boat.
It is relatively fast under sail or motoring.
It only needs 3 feet of water! but it DOES need 3 feet. I have run out.
The boat will not sink unless burned to the waterline. (I have not tested this)
The mid engine design makes the boat highly maneuverable. The placement of the saildrives makes it unlikely that you will damage them on an obstruction. You would have to straddle a coralhead....
The boat is easy to beach if you need to work on the bottom for any reason.
The boat is easy to singlehand. I have taken it to Fl and to the Bahamas alone. You will find that not everyone can drop everything and come be decadant with you on a moments notice. Jobs and families intrude. Not to fear, you can do it alone with just a little practice if you need to.
I have bent my rudders twice, and straightened them out. I can tell you how to do this if you like (both bending & straightening). I have never had a problem with the rudder stocks in spite of bending them. Remember, you have two rudders. The odds of them both failing simultaneously are incredible, so I have never worried about it very much. The rudder shafts are designed to be sacrificial. Better to bend a rudder shaft than blow out the fiberglass
and supporting structures in the hull.
The boat should not be overloaded with stuff. (Do as I say, not as I do.)
The mid-engine design can be hard to work on (Think of doing diesel
repair in your kitchen, galley
suggests replacing the oil
in the saildrives every 100 hours. That is like every week or two while cruising. You must haul the boat to drain the saildrive oil
. There are a limited number of places that can haul you. In the Bahamas, Bradford boat works on Great Abaco
can do it, as can Marsh Harbour Boat yard. Nobody in the exumas
can haul you. In Fl., Cracker boy in west palm can do it, Seminole at the top of west palm can, Rybovitch in west palm could, but won't work on boats this small. Ft pierce can, if they are still in business. The issue is, you need a BIG boatlift. You are not heavy, but a 24' beam requires a BIG boatlift. Finally, most '44 owners I know replace the SD20 oil once per season and let it go.
Be careful to not overprop the saildrives. The engines don't care, but the SD20 saildrives do. They overheat and break down. I have replaced mine twice, but have a handle on it now. Yes, it is a bitch to replace them.
I have also rebuilt my engines recently, and that too is a bitch. Email me if you want to know about that. I can look up my prop specs if you want. As I remember, you must be < 16" and pitched to max out RPM's at 3200. I gave up folding props and run 3 bladed fixed pitch
I feel that the boat will become unmanageable in winds > around 55 KPH. I have had mine out in 50 Kts, and had a hard time getting into West Palm.
The boat is built to South African Standards. It has been no problem complying with US standards so far, but occasionally it catches you up short.
Since I own one, and you are considering buying one, you can email me with any questions you have on the '44. I have pretty much been into every nook and cranny of my boat in the near decade I have owned and enjoyed it. There is no such thing as a perfect boat, they are all compromises. I love my boat, and consider the compromises well worth the strengths she brings to me. I have had more fun on my boat than any person has a right to. Perhaps you will feel the same. I can send some pictures too if you wish. I will be on my boat from early Feb '08 to mid March or so. Regatta
, don't 'cha know!
Owner, SV OBELIX