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Old 04-08-2016, 13:36   #1
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Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

Was just thinking about this today. Cats are expensive relative to monos. Monos under 40 ft are quite popular and newer designs make then even more viable as cruising boats given expanded beam and thus interior volume.

So, why so few offerings of really livable and more affordable catamarans 35 feet or under? Surely, Geminis buck that trend...but otherwise all I really see out there is the Broadblue 345 and the Tru32 under current production (maybe the PDQ32 is still being produced)? Neither have any significant penetration into the U.S. market and neither seems big sellers.

I would think that there would be a market for 32-35 ft live aboard catamarans. Understandably, the LOA presents challenges to cats in terms of headroom, hull width, and compromises must be made (never been in love with, for example, the lack of a decent saloon in the gemini to stand around in; other designs have fairly high windage for their size)....but modern design has come a long way, I think a great pocket cat can be made! Just surprised that they are not more popular than they are...otherwise one would assume Lagoon, FP and Leopard would be making them??
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Old 04-08-2016, 14:19   #2
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

It's all about load carrying.

Think about it this way, for a given length cats are far more weight sensitive than monohulls. This effects not just performance, but also crew comfort, bridgedeck clearance, and cost. At some point the lost load carrying becomes too much and the boat simply has to either become a deck boat with no living acomodations, or so heavy it can't sail out of its own way.

Somewhere around 35' is really the crossover where a cat has enough load carrying to really work, without trading too much performance. Conversely somewhere around 45' the natural load carrying of a cat becomes enough to easily handle the normal cruising load, and you can seriously start to switch to a performance design as compared to a more sedate version.

Of course these general points (35' and 45') can be fiddled with a bit. Accept primitive living conditions and build in carbon/nomex and you can go a bit smaller than 35'. Want to go cruising with 10 people and a jet ski for everyone and even at 45' you will be overweight.
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Old 04-08-2016, 14:40   #3
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

Cost. A catamaran requires two hulls, crash bulkheads in the bow, stern - and significant connections between them. Making a smaller mold doesn't dramatically reduce production cost because a smaller mold is just a smaller mold - the labor isn't dramatically reduced.

Most people aren't willing to pay the premium for a small boat. For example, Seawind used to make the 1000/1000XL - then moved on when production shifted to Vietnam. Wonder what happened to the molds.
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Old 04-08-2016, 15:10   #4
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

It also costs very little to make the hulls on a cat longer, but pays dividends in performance, comfort and load carrying.
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Old 04-08-2016, 15:13   #5
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

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Originally Posted by SV DestinyAscen View Post
For example, Seawind used to make the 1000/1000XL - then moved on when production shifted to Vietnam. Wonder what happened to the molds.
They are still in Vietnam, the last of the 1000 series were built ion Vietnam. Sadly the cost of building the 1000XL2 was about the same as building the 1160 - and the public wouldn't buy the 1000 XL2 at the same price as the 1160
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Old 04-08-2016, 15:39   #6
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

The other mistake folks make is to compare a 34' cat to a 34' mono. In terms of space and speed, a 34' cat is more comparable (assuming good design--there are pigs) to a 38-40' mono. Then the cost begins to look more reasonable.

But they are different. I like the fact that the the 34' cat is easier to single hand than a 38-40' mono, and yet is cavernous for a single sailor. Nice an light and easy. On the other hand, it is less forgiving of weight and mishandling.

Cats as cruisers <34' make no sense, as others have pointed out. The math just doesn't work. Thus, they will always be pricey.
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Old 05-08-2016, 09:55   #7
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

Related to that is the rarity of seeing trimarans nowadays. Use to be lots of them in the 70s and 80s.
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Old 05-08-2016, 10:01   #8
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

I think there is a market - its a void at the moment tho'.
Seeing how many people are cruising these in some area's....... I have seen Heavenly Twins that were completing their circumnavigations (one couple were especially elderly, the other couple were especially young), there have been FP Tobago's (35ft), Gemini's, Dean 26's & 365's and a number of Prouts (from 32ft up) amongst those that I have seen. These have all fallen within the budget end of the multihulls but the owners are out there doing their thing. I guess the awareness of these boats doing what they do does not exist.
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Old 05-08-2016, 10:09   #9
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

I don't know about "it takes as long" or "easy to make a hull longer" . "It's all about load carrying" makes no sense either. A pocket cruiser mono has the same issue, but people buy them. You don't expect to put a ton of stuff on a small mono or a small cat.
BTW, my 42 cat carried the same stuff I pulled out of my 47 mono much better than the mono.


Then why aren't smaller monos as expensive as big ones? The bigger the boat the more cost and labor period. Resin isn't cheap, labor isn't cheap.
There should be more small cats, but the thought that they would be expensive for a small starter boat is a good one, cats are more expensive regardless of size than monos. ...and many pocket cruisers can be trailered, which a cat is too wide for.
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Old 05-08-2016, 11:14   #10
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

I sail/cruise/liveaboard a 34 foot Catalac launched in 1987. Although having been labeled a cottage on the water by some I am satisfied with its load carrying ability, sail capabilities ( I average easily 120 to 150 nm per day normal weather), liveaboard space, seaworthiness been in heavy weather off South African and Mozambican coast. In the eigthies this particular cat was a groundbreaker that it had 360 degrees panoramic view from the saloon. The amazing hull design, with crash zones forward in the hulls under waterline, the chines that keep it from diving into oncoming waves making it a safe passagemaker. It seems to me that size of cats is rather an issue of marketting ever more expensive and larger cats making them a status symbol, a dynamic that never affevted the monohull market. Small monohulls were not frowned upon but rather more realistically considered for their quality of make, their seaworthiness. I fear that most catamaran of recent make do not have the resilience of my Catalac. Imagine the leading cat models marketted as fantastic because of their many heads, like 4 heads in a 40 foot cat! I know there is the charter market to design cats for maximum passenger comfort, but where did we real liveaboards give in to those less than realistic standards thus burdened on us.
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Old 05-08-2016, 11:26   #11
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

I think it is not very common to call cats 32-35 'pocket'. Then using a sub-40 mono to offset the comparison ... not coherent with a 'pocket' mono definition either.

Pocket mono cruisers are IMHO boats like Flicka or Dana or Havsfidra. 20, maybe 25 feet.

Now why small, but not pocket small, cats could be seen 'not very popular' and where.

Well, I think, to some extent, this depends on where you are. In French West Indies they are immensely popular and a small cat (32 -35) is not easy to buy. All small cats there are nearly immediately picked up by the local market where dozens if not hundreds of local cruisers live aboard. And once they build up a stronger budget, they often step up to the 40'er range.

Elsewhere, people are generally too rich (with their banks' money) to look at small cats. A typical cat owner can afford a bigger boat and so they get the bigger boat (and a cat). The same story as with monohulls. Nearly everyone who can afford a bigger boat, gets one.

People who sail small boats are either those with a smaller budget or else those who got used to their boats and found them adequate for their use.

So, to sum it up, I do not see small cats as little popular. I see them about as popular as anything else.

Price, as you have noted, is always a factor. People who can afford a bigger mono or a smaller cat will often opt for a bigger mono. This does not mean they would not buy a cat if they could afford a bigger one. Hence we are not discussing lack of popularity here, we are talking about lack of funds.

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Old 05-08-2016, 11:30   #12
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

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Then why aren't smaller monos as expensive as big ones? The bigger the boat the more cost and labor period. Resin isn't cheap, labor isn't cheap.
There should be more small cats, but the thought that they would be expensive for a small starter boat is a good one, cats are more expensive regardless of size than monos. ...and many pocket cruisers can be trailered, which a cat is too wide for.
Vinyl ester resin can be had in 500lb drums for about 2-2.5g at unit purchase prices. Vacuum bagging liners don't dramatically increase cost because you need more coverage. If we keep using Seawind as example (since factor is available as the expert) - I'm confident you'll find the weight difference between the 1000XL and the new 1160 is less than a ton. That isn't a lot of materials in the hull considering how much more gear and amenities it has.

We're not saying bigger doesn't cost more, but the cost curve isn't linear. For example, the most labor intensive part of laying starts at the bow, keel, bulkhead junctions (basically anywhere you look where there's significant three dimension junction). A flatter wider larger beam won't be more labor intensive than its smaller cousin. I don't think it's hard to see that geometrically, usable volume increases more rapidly than surface area.

The reason why larger boats cost more? Profit margins. In manufacturing, whether boats, cars or pickups - you'll find that smaller boats and compact cars have slim margins, even after you load the boat with features. As the cost of labor goes up, the harder it'll be to justify offering a smaller cruiser that cost about as much as a larger one.
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Old 05-08-2016, 13:21   #13
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

I wonder if a small 30-34 power catamaran might be a marketable option.
Something simple and light with bare minimum power for maximum 12 knots on flat water.
Galley and head in one hull on other hull accomodations for access to a king sized berth between the hulls. cabin above would have minimal inside steering station and a big u shaped dinette.
Flat roof for kayak storage and sunbathing.
I think the secret would be to perfect the power plants to 12 knots max props tuned for efficiency. For a couple to cruise the waterways. Minimize nav to compass speedo autopilot, gps and depth sounder. Set up cabin with lots of opening windows and low power fans
Outdoor shower spray on stern.
I spend a lot of time on the water and see a number of cats but rarely see any actually sailing.
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Old 05-08-2016, 15:48   #14
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

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I don't know about "it takes as long" or "easy to make a hull longer" . "It's all about load carrying" makes no sense either. .
It's REALLY cheap to extend cat hulls. (At the design/build stage) If you were building a ~ 35' cat to sell, it might only cost a few hundred dollars to make it a 40 footer, and it would be a much better boat to sail, and a much easier boat to sell.

Making mono's longer is nowhere near as simple or cheap.
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Old 05-08-2016, 16:20   #15
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re: Why little popularity in pocket cruising catamarans?

Yes smo I have been Iooking for one of those power cats with a short mast and low cut genoa or parachute to go with the wind when most of those other cats sail.
But as to these huge gin palace cats with apartments in each hull I inspected at Sanctuary Cove Boat show recently, how many actually sail outside the charter business. Maybe they are in lieu of buying a holiday home .
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