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Old 26-09-2010, 08:49   #1
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Under-40' Cats with Outboards . . . Why Not More ?

Hello everyone

My deployment over here is ramping down and my family and I will hopefully be enjoying a sailing 2011. Due to my research, the wife's feedback and that our son is 8, we have decided to purchase a smaller catamaran and travel a little until he's in college. That being said, the size range will be < 40'. The styles we like are like FP (smooth flowing curves, less wood, no fabric hangin on walls and ceiling). The Mahe 36, Tabago 35, Lagoon 38, Lagoon 35ccc, Admiral 38 & Victory 35 are all that I've looked at online that are at the top of our list. We like galley up and I like engines outside the living area. This brings me to my thread question, why truely are there not more outboard driven small cats? I've seen Tomcat9.7, Seawinds, PDQ's, even older Gemini's (and one newer 105MC in the Keys with a custom dual outboard!!). I am a big fan of less maintenance and more sailing fun (I think MOST would agree with that). I also think most would agree outboards have greater benefits than deficiencies compared to Yamars and DS saildrives. I under stand larger cats may not be able to be equiped..but below 38-40 can and have been. I would like to see more smaller cats offer that option.

Thanks for any feedback on the topic. I'm sure the builders are not going to accomodate, and I will have to buy older and remove the powertrain, reinforce the transom and do all this myself...but the thought just erks me.
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Old 26-09-2010, 10:48   #2
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We had a seawind1000 for approx 5 yrs. It had 9.9hp outboards that worked fairly well. They were easy to maintain. The biggest drawwback that we found was that they were pretty noisy and they tended to cavitate if the water had any chop to it.They also reguired carry large amounts of gasoline that always made me a little nervous. That being said, it was great to be able to hoist them up and eliminate all drag when sailing. If I remember right there is a large cat on the west coast that had 50hp outboards for power. I think it was called Huamuhu or some such thing.
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Old 26-09-2010, 11:04   #3
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Stacey, appreciate the response, you are helping me make a point. Other than carry gasoline (which can still be carried in a boat - yes, more flammable..but design correctly can be near as safe)....outboards have no drag, less maintenance, MUCH easier (even more economical) to repair or find a repairman. If it is non-repairable can be replaced easily.
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Old 26-09-2010, 11:11   #4
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Hi ArmyChief,

I work for West Coast Multihulls in San Diego. I''m also a delivery person who has sail just about every Cat there is. (Don't take that too literal). Anyhow, we carry FP, Seawind, Lagoon, Corsair, Gemini new and used as well as other cats.

You mentioned the Mahe 36. I brought one over from France to La Paz Mexico (3 months). I've also delivered the Gemini to most parts of California.

If your interested in hearing my opinion please feel free to email me.
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Old 26-09-2010, 13:36   #5
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A nice quote from Mr. Sandy Daughtery

"Fear not the lowly gasoline outboard, they want only to serve, not to rule your life.
Fear not the storage of gasoline. You cannot use all the fingers on one hand to count the number of gas boats that burned when the builders and owners followed the minimum standards of care. Count instead the number of diesels awaiting the pernicious whims of the prima donna Diesel Mechanic. You can pull out this outboard engine and repair it on your lap, using common hand tools, and count on it starting when you're thru. Only the truly ordained can say that about a diesel. Further, you can go buy a new one for less than the price of a good sail. So you have diesel fuel in your tank? Thats nice, but you also have a molotov cocktail for your dinghy. You are no safer than anyone else. Not enough juice from the outboard alternators? Think Honda EU2000i and say yuuuuuuuuum....."

Says a lot about outboards and gasoline !!
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Old 26-09-2010, 14:05   #6
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I believe that you probably underestimate the power requirements of Cats bigger than 35 feet. You'll notice that most outboard powered cats are smaller than 35 feet. Windage starts to become a big problem on larger cats. There are two specialty outboards produced at 8 and 9.9 hp that produce high thrust at low speeds and are intended as sailboat auxillaries. There are none produced with this feature above this HP as far as I am aware. 9.9 HP is just not enough HP for a boat above 35 feet, even two of them. I'm sure it would be possible to build a bigger high thrust outboard, but I suspect there's not a big enough market for them. Most sailboats are under 30 feet and many of them use outboard auxillaries. I just don't think that the 35-40 catamaran market is big enough to justify a production line for a 20hp+ ouboard. Owning a pair of 40hp Yanmar diesel's with saildrives I have often considered that I might be better off with an outboard. By the way I have a friend with a Mainecat 30 which is outboard powered. I find it surprisingly roomy and comfortable. The open bridgedeck is quite comfortable and bugproof when all zipped up. You might want to add it to your list.
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Old 26-09-2010, 14:13   #7
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Armychief, how do you plan to generate electricity and heat water?

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Old 26-09-2010, 14:14   #8
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Capt Bill,

Good points...most of what I mentioned are under 36' (PDQ 32 & 36), Gemini 32 (was a 3200 when equipped with outboards I believe).

Gemini actually used a single 40HP at one point.

I've also read where changing the carb on a Yamy 9.9 HT with a 15HP can make it a close 15HP HT.

Since my intent is to sail (I see some here with that intent...but I see many with the "how fast can I get from annapolis to Florida..or Tampa to the Keys")...so I hope motoring is not as prevelant..I am aware there are certain instances where it will be needed.

It is my opinion that we have the technology to make it....it also appears to be more economical (you yourself said you have thought you might be better off with outdrives). Why not think outside the box....we used to be a people of invention. As I stated..there is a gentleman down in the keys who ordered a new Gemini and put two Honda 15 HP on the back..looks great and he's been nothing but happy!
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Old 26-09-2010, 14:17   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Armychief, how do you plan to generate electricity and heat water?

Pete
Electricty when needed will be by Yamaha/honda portable gen, wind generator and solar panels (500 Watts with a MPPT controller)

Heating water by propane instant-hot (tankless heaters)

Can also use the hang bags for hot water.

Just out of curiosity, what do Seawinds and PDQ's with outboards do?????
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Old 26-09-2010, 15:27   #10
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Chief, our older seawind had 2- 7 amp solar panels on the Bimini and the outboards generated 10 amps apiece if I remember correctly. the hot water was taken care of by a on-demand propane heater and we also used sunshowers. The seawind came with a great eutectic(sic) refer and freezer. This was very quiet and very efficient. The solar panels would supply all the electricity for the boat. We never had to plug into shore power to charge the batteries. This was in the S.F.Bay at Alameda so the ambient temps are not like Mexico or the S. Pacific.
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Old 26-09-2010, 15:28   #11
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Gasoline. Worse mileage.

Gasoline storage. Most of the cats mentioned carry fuel in the bridge deck, in an isolated compartment that drains overboard. This is much different than monos that carry it in the bilge. That is also where I store the dingy gas and the propane for the grill (there are also separte propane lockers). Break a fuel line, it simply goes in the ocean, not the bilge.

Outboard charging. Stinks.

Outboard starting with a dead battery. Takes only moments.

Bigger HP outboards. The 40hp Geminis aren't much faster. Also, must larger outboards stink in reverse, while the 9.9 Yam is quite good (special prop exhaust deflector).

Power. I have twin 9.9hp Yamahas. It is plenty, but I'm sure at about 10,000 pounds it would become inadequate. I can run on one engine, but am underpowered (below hull speed).

Maint. I could pull and engine while afloat with a few simple tools and pulleys, and do most things in the cockpit. I have.

Cavitation. Depends on placement. If far enough forward, not a problem at all. I've motored the PDQ in terrible stuff (the PDQ 32 wells are ~ 8 feet forward). If near the transom, bad.
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Old 26-09-2010, 15:41   #12
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Thanks thinwater...I think outboards win for the reasons I stated and people like you and Stacey above...so why are not more builders of < 36' Cats offer them?

They have got to be cheaper than twin Yamars and SD saildrives on initial cost. Less plumbing and weight...so WHY NOT?
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Old 26-09-2010, 15:59   #13
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There is a reason, and its not pretty. Outboards are fine for racing machines and cruising cats under 37 feet. At 38 feet, more power is needed (unless you can find a PDQ 32 with a 38' waterline.)

Builder's know that they can build a 40+' cat for about the price of building a 36 footer. There is very little extra labor, and the larger rigging is still within the sweetspot for material costs. People will pay more for a 40' boat. More profit (or a few pennies profit in some cases), means no more boats in that size range. Roll your own!

unabashed plug: There is a used PDQ 36 at the Annapolis Show (or pretty near)

p.s. Why aren't there more outboard cats? Because old wive's tales die hard.
Count all the engines in an large Coastal Marina, and ask yourself, "Didn't they know Gasoline always blows up?"

If we weren't so hidebound and tradition oriented, there WOULD be a true High Thrust 25 HP longshaft, with more than a decal saying its good for slow boats. The Yamaha 25 sure isn't. Our Chris White Atlantic 42 has a pair of 27 hp diesel saildrives, that spend most of their time pushing out about 11hp. My partner might not agree, but I would be happier with retractable outboards, instead of dragging around those saildrives!
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Old 26-09-2010, 16:14   #14
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Sandy,

Thanks..I truly thought it was more about their profits then our needs and what is best for us. A shame though...some of us do not want to break into the higher price margins larger boats hail. Insurance, dockage and just plain up-keep. I know one above said moving the outdrives forward of the rear helps diminish cavitation, but at what cost in tradeoff of owner room and ease of maintenance. Everything in life is a trade-off. I guess in this point of my life, I would prefer no large diesels, sail drives, diesel fuel storage issues, higher weight and maintenance and the room they take up that could be utilized by the boat owner.

I hope there is someone out there when I get back and if I can get back to Florida that will assist me in what appears will be a custom project.

Wish PCI would offer a outdrive option for the Gemini again. Would be a nice coastal cruiser and a proper price-point.

BTW, your boat is very nice

Addition: Sandy....I agree...I am very mechanically inclined. Back in the U.S., I teach automotive diagnostics, engine repair/rebuilding and electronics. I no little about outdrives, but feel in no time I could be a proficient outdrive tech..if needed. I'm sure with the correct lower unit, pencil, paper and calculator..a 20-25 HP TRUE high-thrust could be developed or fabricated with current off-the-shelf parts. Maybe if the people yell loud enough??
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Old 26-09-2010, 16:15   #15
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Chief

The cavitation issue that Stacy mentioned has been reduced somewhat on the Seawind 1000XL over the 1000. As thinwater mentioned the closer to the middle of the boat the better. Whilst the outboard position on the XL hasnt changed, the length of the boat has, effectively making the outboards closer to the centre.

Like stacy - we have never connected the boat to shore power or battery chargers etc, LPG hotwater, efficient refridgeration, LED lights and just being careful means we have never run out of power.
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