Newt, it appears that you are looking into performance-oriented cats in the 40 foot plus range. If that is so, you might also wish to consider the Dazcat 1195, built by Multimarine Composites in England
. Quality construction and terrific performance.
On the issue of cat versus tri - even Farrier (who until recently were only associated with performance trimarans) suggest on their site that once past 40 feet, cats have the advantage in terms of the performance/accomodation balance.
I guess the real question is - what do you want from your next boat? I note that your current
boats - a Valiant 40 and a Compac 23 are relatively traditional cruising designs with, at least in the case of the Valiant, decent performance considering her seakindly hull
shape, heavy construction and her ability to carry a great deal of stores. Are you really now looking to move that far towards the performance side of the spectrum? Or in the long run, would you be happier with a multihull
that is spacious and comfortable for cruising, if less performance oriented?
I too was a lifetime monohull
sailor who had a preference for relatively heavy, traditional boats with a sea-kindly hull
shape. I owned a Continental 25 fiberglass folkboat
, an Alberg 30
, a Bayfield 32 C and a Cartwright 36 Pilothouse cutter
prior to purchasing
my cat. I did not make the move for reasons of performance (although my cat is certainly quicker and more stable running and reaching); rather, I believe that the following favor the move from mono to cat, even for certain former 'traditionalists' such as myself:
1. I have finally come to realize that I intend nothing more ambitious than, at some point, a dual crossing of the Atlantic with the prevailing trade
winds (in order to change cruising grounds). My boat's main use will be leisurely cruising in the Caribbean
(and the Med, once in Europe), with considerable time at anchor
- and I vastly prefer the stability and resistance to rolling of a cat over a monohull
2. I prefer the bright, airy cabins of a catamaran
to the more 'cave-like' interiors in most monohulls.
3. While I prefer the upwind performance of a monohull to that of the typical, heavy cruising cat, I no longer enjoy the heeling and bashing associated with a long beat to windward. As a result, I intend to plan my passages to minimize the need for significant upwind sailing. Where it cannot be avoided, I am happy to bear-off a bit in order to increase comfort, recogniziing that it will take a bit longer to get to my destination
. Indeed, on short upwind passages where time is important, I have no problem motor-sailing (and cats make perfect motorsailors). I guess in my case, as I get older the adage that 'gentlemen don't sail to windward' has become more than a cute saying.
4. I prefer the performance, comfort and yes safety
when sailing a cat off the wind
: they are virtually immune to broaching and I can fly a symmetrical spinnaker
without a pole.
5. I prefer the expansive deck/sunning space on a catamaran
to the fordeck confines of a monohull. Indeed, there is nothing nicer when underway on a pleasant day than to put the boat on autopilot
and lay down on the foreward trampolines. Not only is it comfortable, but it provides a proper look-out for other boats or approaching squalls.
6. While underway, I truly appreciate the lack of heeling - it makes meal preparation easier (and safer). In addition, you will never again have to climb an angled companionway
ladder with drinks, food
, tools etc. in hand.
7. When I have guests aboard, I love the fact that the 3 cabins in my boat are truly private. The two aft cabins are separated by the cockpit
sole, a landing and the saloon
and not merely by a plywood
bulkhead. The smaller, seldom used forward cabin
is separated from the other sleeping cabin
in the same hull by a landing and two head
compartments, albeit there is a plywood
bulkhead to the main saloon
8. While underway, I prefer sleeping in a boat with virtually no heeling.
9. I love my galley-down - it is 10 feet long with counters on both sides (except at the landing where there is only a counter on one side). It provides excellent bracing in a seaway, a great deal of counter and storage
space, double-sinks, a range and oven
(that does not need to be gimballed!), two refrigeration
units (a top load and a front load) and a microwave oven
. It is much larger than the galley
in a monohull anywhere near 40 feet (or most current
40 foot cars with a galley
10 I love being able to set down a wine glass in all but boisterous conditions without worrying about it falling over. I love being able to eat without the plate (or worse still, the food
on the plate) sliding over the table.
11. Although for offshore
passages I still intend to remove the inflatable
from the davits
, I like the fact that the hulls behind the bridgedeck provide some additional protetction for the inflatable
when it is on the davits
. Even when cruising in the relatively protected confines of the Caribbean
, things can get a bit boisterous between islands!
12. I love the fact that most cats can be beached in order to clean the bottom, put on anti-fouling paint
, replace anodes etc. Yes it is a cost saver, but it also means that you are far more apt to keep the bottom clean and keep your real-world performance close to optimal.
13. I love having twin diesels. Yes, they provide built-in redundancy, but they also improve maneuverability under power when docking
in close quarters. There is nothing like being able to do a 360 in virtually the boats own length to take the scare out of narrow channels!
14. The relatively shallow draft
opens up harbours and anchorages
that would be unavailable to many deep-draft monohulls with similar accomodation. It also, of course, permits anchoring
closer to shore in harbours with relatively decent depth
upon entry. What about shoal keel
monohulls? While they are still apt to have deeper draft
than a cat, many shoal draft
monohulls suffer performance compromises to windward, the only area where monohulls typically have a performance edge over the typical accomodation-oriented cruising cat.
15. My wife loves the fact there is much more storage
space for clothing
on a typical cat. Yes, one must be careful not to overload a cat, but clothing
is not that heavy. Put another way, it is also nice for me in that I no longer hear complaints about the space limitations forcing her to 'gut' her wardrobe and leave behind dresses, jackets, sweaters, shoes and sandals etc.that would be nice to have when going out ashore.
These are advantages to a cruising cat that IMO, may appeal even to persons who in past have preferred more traditional cruising, rather than performance monohulls. They are also advantages that exist even on catamarans without boards and which are oriented towards anything but upwind performance.
I, of course, know nothing of your intended use for your next boat. It may be that performance on all point of sail is your key interest. However, unless your situation/plans have changed dramatically, it strikes me that the type of monohull you now sail may define, to some extent, the type of mulithull you would ultimately want to own in the long run. Keep in mind that while heavier cats are typically slower than lighter ones, nonetheless they are also tyipically less effected by the added weight in carrying the amount of stores/spares/tools that most cruisers like to carry (and which you were able to carry in your Valiant). Keep in mind also that a lighter boat must be built with more high-tech (read expensive) materials if it is too have comparable accomodation.
If you are looking for a dynamic change to a very fast boat with minimal load-carrying ability and less creature comforts, then yes a performance cat or tri would be an excellent choice. And lets face it, we all relish the thought of a boat that can attain high-teen speed figures. However, I suspect that there was something that attracted you to your current boats - which are relatively heavy, but solid cruisers. Has that changed? If not, then maybe you should consider boats such as St. Francis and Antares
, which appear to be more along the lines of your Valiant, than the Farriers and Dazcats of the world.