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Old 16-08-2015, 11:39   #1
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Big Cat vs Little Cat

First post here. If this has been asked multiple times please guide me where I can find something similar. I did a quick search and could not find anything.

We are planning to set off in the Fall of 2017 for our circumnavigation. We have three kids (3, 4 and 6). So far we have not sailed much as a family but we do tons of RV travel so we are not worried about how the kids will do home schooling, sailing experience, etc.

My question concerns the type of boat to use. We have settled on a catamaran so we can all have cabins and still have guests. We plan to do the milk route and stay near the equator for about three years. We have a budget of up to $350,000 all in for the boat.

What is better: a smaller newer cat or a larger older cat?

With our budget we can get something like an ex-charter Fountain Pajot 38 that is almost brand new or we can get a 12 year old Lagoon 45. I see advantages of both but would like some opinions on what you guys think. These boats are only two examples but I think you get the idea. We do HAVE to have a kitchen up design. With the three kids we can't deal with the kitchen in one of the hulls and still keep an eye on them.

Thanks for any ideas


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Old 16-08-2015, 11:52   #2
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

It's really about your final cost (how much you have spent when ready to cast off) not the purchase price. An ex charter cat is not typically equipped the way you might like it for a large trip. An older fully equipped cat may need some equipment replaced. With a 350 all in price you will most likely be in a smaller cat but not necessarily a newer one.


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Old 16-08-2015, 12:37   #3
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

We will have additional funds coming in if we need to do some upgrades every year. The question was really based on how important size vs age is for a trip like this.

I know that newer is better and larger is better (up to a certain size). We will have an adult crew of two at all times and sometimes four.

I know that we will have to spend extra money to upgrade an older cat and money to upgrade an ex-charter cat. In your experience is one easier to do? Are there advantages to a newer cat vs a larger cat that I may have missed?

Heading to ft lauderdale next week to do some shopping and some test sailing. Just wanted to have the right questions to ask.



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Old 16-08-2015, 12:46   #4
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

I can think of worse dilemmas to be had

3 kids plus you and the wife is a pretty big crowd. It sounds like you have a concrete budget, so I might be inclined to go with the bigger boat. 38' even in a catamaran isn't that big for 5 full time live a boards.

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Old 16-08-2015, 12:54   #5
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsideworld View Post
We will have additional funds coming in if we need to do some upgrades every year. The question was really based on how important size vs age is for a trip like this.

I know that newer is better and larger is better (up to a certain size). We will have an adult crew of two at all times and sometimes four.

I know that we will have to spend extra money to upgrade an older cat and money to upgrade an ex-charter cat. In your experience is one easier to do? Are there advantages to a newer cat vs a larger cat that I may have missed?

Heading to ft lauderdale next week to do some shopping and some test sailing. Just wanted to have the right questions to ask.



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You seem to have a good grasp of things. A larger cat will be your most comfortable ride but will eat into the money quicker. Large or small old or newer the point I am trying to make is the best value will be the one that needs the least money spent after the purchase as those cost are always a lot more than you anticipate. It's usually better to buy something that's closer to being ready to go as the money spent after you buy it is hard to recoup.


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Old 16-08-2015, 13:00   #6
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

With that budget you could probably opt for the best of both worlds. A new lagoon 400. I'd be pretty happy doing a circumnav with a family on one (lots do). Not so much on the smaller models though.
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Old 16-08-2015, 13:22   #7
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

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Originally Posted by Outsideworld View Post
With our budget we can get something like an ex-charter Fountain Pajot 38 that is almost brand new or we can get a 12 year old Lagoon 45.
The FP38 has been out of production for 10 years. I can't imagine that you would find a 10yr old (at best) ex-charter boat in like-new condition.

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Old 16-08-2015, 14:17   #8
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

Yeah i meant the fp 39. But same idea remains. Other than ability to carry more gear and just more room what is the big advantage of the larger cat? Do they really ride waves and heavy weather that much better? What are the other advantages?
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Old 16-08-2015, 14:36   #9
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

Unlike a mono, a cat really does get its stability from size, the bigger the boat, the greater the beam the longer the stance and the longer the leaver. Imagine a cat with a 30' beam would be able to have a hull on wave tops with an interval of 30', rather than one hull on the crest and the other in the trough. There is definitely an advantage .

Greater length will allow you to sit on the crests and there for more upright for a longer wave period as well. This is also trued of Mono's.

Of course a bigger cat will be harder to maneuver in tight spaces, but cats are an absolute dream to maneuver vs a mono, so even a very large cat can be handled quite nicely.

The only disadvantages I can think of is the more complex and larger systems of a bigger boat will be harder to maintain, but I doubt there would be much of a difference in complexity on 38-45 ft. It will be a bigger anchor, bigger sails, bigger rig etc. though.

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Old 16-08-2015, 18:08   #10
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

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Originally Posted by Outsideworld View Post
Yeah i meant the fp 39. But same idea remains. Other than ability to carry more gear and just more room what is the big advantage of the larger cat? Do they really ride waves and heavy weather that much better? What are the other advantages?
Primary advantages of a bigger cat IMHO are:

Longer water line length for more boat speed potential. Potential is the key word here...if you overload it, speed will still suffer.

Longer water line length, all other factors being roughly equal, also gives you more load carrying capacity (important for cruising in general and for family cruising especially).

Less tendency to hobby horse.

I don't think for most cruising use a much larger cat, say 50'+ is a great idea. My concern is that for most aging cruising couples, if those power assisted winches common on most bigger cats fail, then handling the extreme loads in heavy conditions is more than most could handle. The base winches are usually undersized for the potential loads if used manually. A Winch Right or similar would be a good backup.

For $350K I think you can find lots of good options in used cats. For example, there are a number of used Manta 42's on the market now for around $250K. Great boats, but maybe not the best layout for a cruising family (only you can decide that). Also, some of the slightly larger FPs would be a good fit too...more of a charter layout with more cabins.
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Old 16-08-2015, 20:47   #11
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

Waterline length is everything. Mono, cat, or tri. Sail or power. Cruising or commercial.

It would be tough with 3 kids on a Manta, although doable. You have better choices in your price range for your situation.

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Old 17-08-2015, 05:45   #12
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

Thanks everyone for your answers. I will respond back when we get close to an exact model/size and see what you guys think.
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Old 17-08-2015, 08:41   #13
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

We've owned our Admiral 38 for nine years, crossed the Atlantic from Africa with our then 3 year old daughter. We've been living aboard sailing between the Bahamas and Maine each year. We've run charters with a family (2 adults and 2 young kids) 7 total aboard as well as with two couples as guests. Our layout is an owners version with two separate berths on the port side with a head between and the starboard side having one berth and head. Our daughter often has sleepovers with several kids, as many as 4. It's nice having our own head and 20+ feet between our berth and our daughters. Our boat is very comfortable to live on, water maker, genset, AC, freezer, fridg., owners head, huge galley and excellent overall layout. My wife and I can comfortably handle sailing/docking/anchoring and having a vessel with a mast less then 64 feet is a plus if cruising the US east coast. At times a bigger boat would be nice, but not currently as we are in the process of waxing and painting and I wish my boat was smaller!
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Old 17-08-2015, 10:51   #14
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

IMHO bigger is going to be better with 5+ people aboard. I assume you have chartered something similar to what you are asking about? If not, I would strongly suggest it. Unlike an RV, with kids, you can't simply step outside and go for a walk. While an "up" galley may make watching kids easier it isn't nearly as safe in a sea way. Up higher with a group of people in proximity to hot grease, steam and flame can be dangerous when you're getting slammed around, ( another big difference in RV'ing). I applaud your reaching out for advice and this is a great forum for it, but experiencing it first hand will tell you more in a week than a years worth of others suggestions. There is a tipping point between what is big enough and wishing that the parts weren't so big and expensive. In my experience handling a 38' or a 45' isn't a deal breaker and with twin engines you can out maneuver monohulls any day. In the 50' category the cost of rigging, sails etc. goes up significantly. While boats like leopards and such out of charter are appealing , I would think buying a fully set up cruising cat will make a better move.
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Old 17-08-2015, 13:56   #15
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Re: Big Cat vs Little Cat

We have a four-year-old and a five-month-old, my husband, myself and our nanny living aboard our 38' Leopard catamaran. It is a 4 cabin/2 head config and in all honesty I would vote that you go with the Lagoon 45. Those beasts have so much more living space, storage space and every other kind of space.

Another thing that we didn't see the value in when we bought our ex-charter boat was the additions and upgrades that had been made to other boats we'd looked at. We added so many things to make life more comfortable (and safer) for our family, from synthetic teak on the back deck, solar panels, cushions and pillows, USB ports in every cabin, upgraded GPS, EPIRB, TV in saloon etc. and it all added up. I guess the nice thing was that at least everything was new so we would know the history of each item, but still there is definitely something to be said for boats already outfitted. Saves time, money and, depending who you get doing the work/installation etc, potential headaches as well!

We're already talking about our next boat (and we've only been on this one since May this year) and it will likely be a Leopard (we do like them!) 44' as it all comes down to space (both Leopards and Lagoons are distinguished in their handling and maneuvering capabilities so from that perspective it's purely personal preference - and whilst the Lagoons have space that goes in for days, I prefer the overall features and lines of a Leopard (despite their atrocious after-market response to some upgrades we had arranged for a new hardtop from them).

I wish you and your family all the best for your upcoming adventure. We bought our boat in Croatia and have begun our own sailing adventure (with very little sailing experience) with the hope to circumnavigate as well. Our 4-year-old is having the adventure of a lifetime so far!
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