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Stella Polaris 07-04-2007 19:36

Characteristics of a Circumnavigating Cat
I donít have a lot of experience with cats, having been a monohull sailor my entire life. Now that Iím planning a circumnavigation, Iím seriously looking at catamarans. The thing is that I donít have the knowledge compounded by owning and sailing several cats, so I turn to you.

When trying to pick a cat that will be good for blue water sailing and comfortable to live on for a few years what characteristics do you think I should look for?

Here is a list of what Iíve put down, that I hope you will comment on:
1. Size. In order to live comfortably, I think it should be between 35 Ė 44 feet in length. This is from both a safety and a comfort point of view (and budgetary restraints).
2. Visibility from inside when seated. Many catamarans I look at have a large saloon, with lots of light coming in from the windows, but as soon as you sit down on the couch, you donít see the horizon outside. I consider it important not only for safety, but also for the pleasure of looking outside that you should be able to have as close to 360 degrees visibility as possible when seated in the saloon.
3. Good sailing performance. Some cats sail great when they have no extra gear on board, but are sluggish and have poor performance when they get loaded with the gear and supplies necessary for a circumnavigation.
4. A forward facing nav station inside.
5. A good galley up.
6. A comfortable cockpit with good protection from the elements.
7. A high bridgedeck clearance, but how high is enough? Ö How is the trade-off between clearance and windage?
7. A good targa for solar panels, radar, GPS and dingy davits.

Things I donít really want:
1. Daggerboards Ė When you live and sail on a boat constantly in new waters, there is a large chance, no matter how careful you are, that at some point in time you will have ďa-touch-and-goĒ or a grounding. With daggerboards that could mean serious structural damage to the cat.
That's actually all I could think of now, but I'm sure you can think of more.

These are the design things I've thought of so far. In terms of on board things, like heating, watermaker, etc., I have a long list as well, but since these are the same for monoís and multiís, I only want to look at specific design elements on a cat in this thread. If you know of cats that have many desirable design elements or examples of great design, I would love to see them or read more about them.

44'cruisingcat 07-04-2007 20:06

Our preference is for galley down. I can see the arguments for both, but for us the advantages of galley down are more important. Better to use at sea, (reduced motion) generally bigger, and the dirty dishes can be stacked out of view to be done later. Also, one thing we really want on our boat is proper lounge type chairs. Seperate from the dining table. But we want a table to eat at too, and by the time you have the lounge, the dinette, and a nav area, it wouldn't leave much space for a galley.

The consensus seems to be that around 800mm is "enough" bridgedeck clearance. (More is better though) But really it depends a lot on the beam of the boat. Narrower beam boats can get away with a little less clearance.

Running aground with daggerboards doesn't have to be a catastrophy. Many designs have "sacrificial" ends on the boards. I wouldn't eliminate daggerboarded boats from my search for that reason alone.

Kapena 08-04-2007 14:00

Galley down. Lots of cabinets, bookcases and storage lockers. Easy access to decks from the cockpit (this will eliminate a few choices!). No small or sloping side decks. A single helm INSIDE the cockpit and out of the weather. 2 heads with SHORT and DIRECT runs to holding tanks or seacocks. A seperate shower. Easy access to engine compartments and lots of space to work around them. Prefer access to engines from INSIDE rather then outside through a deck hatch. Twin engines, inboard, (no sail drive) each around 30 hp and a small diesel gennie of about 2kw.
A cockpit hardtop you can walk on and solar panels on the hardtop. All lines run to the cockpit. Dinghy davits...not the main boom extension using the main halyard. Pretty hard to single hand the davit down with this method.
A near ratio of 2:1, length to beam, but no more then 24 feet wide (fits travel lifts). A trampoline. Large anchor locker and large bow and stern lockers. Sufficient bow bouyancy.
A large open cockpit with a fold down table and lots of space to walk around.

Pretty much leaves the african cats out of the picture.

Lodesman 08-04-2007 15:55


Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat
advantages of galley down ... Better to use at sea, (reduced motion) .

In what way is the motion reduced? I definitely see the other benefits of having the galley down, but I would have thought that being closer to the vertical and longitudinal axes, a galley up would have less motion.


Stella Polaris 08-04-2007 19:34

I think it's interesting to note that both of you have a preference for galley down. I'm actually a bit suprised, because I though it would make for a more social atmosphere and make it easier to avoid seasickness to have it up.

Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat
Our preference is for galley down.


Originally Posted by Kapena
Galley down.

Like Lodesman I'm also curious about what you meant about reduced motion.

Originally Posted by Kapena
Pretty much leaves the african cats out of the picture.

I agree with almost everything you say in the list of things your find important. Which cats would you say fit your profile?

db8us 08-04-2007 22:13

-All controls should be run into the cockpit.
-Good visibility (thats what i like about lagoon), the dark windows of a FP for example are not optimal at night.
-In the lagoon 380S2 the inner helm seat is round, so you can look forward and outside very good while leaning against the door.
A look to the side and i see my interior plotter/radar etc.
I like that setup.
-2 strong engines. (often they offer smaller engines like 18HP instead of 27). I would always go for the bigger one.
-Personally i like the beds in the direction of the hulls, means i sleep with feet forward. So at night i do not have to climb over someone and it think i just prefer this way of sleeping in a multi.
-Good around visibilty from the outside helm
-storage space can not be enough
-big Dieseltanks. my 2x100Liter seems to be too small.
-a downwindsail is a must. i use a Parasailor2
-Radar is a must here (Northsea and english channel)
-i added another depth transducer. The original one is in front of the keel on the backboardside and i added a digital fishfinder on the starboardside after the keel. So in shallow waters i can see the depth below both hulls and one rather in front and the other at the back. Also i use them for wreckfinding.

Some more things not so limited to multihulls:
-I would use a VHF with a second handset in the outer helm in the future.
-big primary anchor and bigger fenders and ropes
-good Dinghy with 2 stroke outboard ( i use a Caribe 9 with a Yamaha 5HP due to weightissues)

These are my 2 cents.
For me all the above boiled down to a Lagoon 380S2 even though most other cats look more "sexy" :-)


Stella Polaris 09-04-2007 00:18

Broadblue 385, Manta 42 and Lagoon 380S2
The Broadblue 385 and the 435 for that matter have interiors I like, I don't like the low visibility from inside when looking aft, but other elements please me. They are a bit on the heavy side (in good Prout tradition) and I'm unsure about bridgedeck clearance. They do however come across to me as being catamarans made for serious voyaging. Does anyone know how they sail? If you've come across reviews of them online, I'd love to read them.

I also like the Manta 42. It has a good feel to me, though a worrying low bridgedeck clearance of only 61 cm (23"). Like the Broadblues, the Manta doesn't offer a great view aft from inside. In addition I'm worried that from the saloon you'll also have limited view forward and to the sides (due to few and relatively small windows). So maybe it's not such a great choice after all?


Originally Posted by db8us
For me all the above boiled down to a Lagoon 380S2

Thanks Michael, I also like the layout of the S380S2, not to mention the great visibility from inside. I think that makes it a very attractive cat. It weights slightly more than the Broadblue 385 and the Manta 42, making it a quite heavy cat. Since you are an owner of a 380S2, I'm very interested in hearing about how it sails. How do you think it would do as a circumnavigator?

Stella Polaris 09-04-2007 00:32

Charter Cats

Originally Posted by Kapena
Pretty much leaves the african cats out of the picture.

What exactly rules out the African cats? (I forgot to ask you this question when you posted). Are you thinking about a maker in particular (e.g. Leopard) or SA makers in general?

Why is it that a lot of people seem to distrust the typical charter cats: Lagoon, Leopard and Fountaine-Pajot?

I think the Fountaine-Pajot cats have some appealing features: they are light (so they should sail well), have a high bridgedeck clearance and good lay-outs ... In many ways they seem like good cats for circumnavigating, but a lot of people slam them for inferior quality, so that's kind of put me off.

In general I get the feeling that people bad-mouth the typical charter cats as being "fat and slow", on top of seeming flimsy and not made for "proper use". Proper use being voyaging and not chartering. Since I'm looking for a good design for a circumnavigation, I'm very interested in this.

When I look at their designs on paper and pictures, they look very nice (anything can look nice on paper), but in real life it could definitely be something else, especially when you start looking at the fine details that will make sailing it practical, safe and enjoyable.

44'cruisingcat 09-04-2007 03:14


Originally Posted by Lodesman
In what way is the motion reduced? I definitely see the other benefits of having the galley down, but I would have thought that being closer to the vertical and longitudinal axes, a galley up would have less motion.


The closer you are to the water, the less you move. To take it to the extreme, imagine being at the top of the mast, compared to down in a hull. The bridgedeck is around a metre above the water, so any rocking motion will be greater there than at sea level.

Kapena 09-04-2007 03:52

Africans...Narrow side decks and slope at the edges, no toe rail. I dislike it immensely and consider it unsafe. JMO. I hate the cockpits and trying to get in and out of them, especially when there's a dinghy mounted on the transom. It's a real nuisance. You're crawling all over stuff to get on and off or to go out on deck. Sloping front deck (I have that problem also). Low bridge deck clearance. Water is hitting against the bottom on a calm day. Insufficient bow bouyancy (JMO). Berths have a shelf at the edge of the mattress. Way too easy to fall out of and it would be better with the mattress right to the edge. Sanitation system is very poorly designed with very long runs of the hoses. You'll spend a lot of time unclogging these. No accumulator on the water system. No brake for the helm wheel. Engine access is through deck hatch's. A large cockpit but the table eats up the whole space leaving small room to walk around in. Saildrives. Main halyard-main boom extension, dinghy launching system. Give me davits any day.

Nice things...seperate shower compartment. Well arranged galley with good stove/oven and sinks. Very nice seperate refrig and freezer. Good fuel capacity. Very nice saloon. Two anchor lockers, a solid platform to get to the bow from the front deck. A heavy duty trampoline. Well designed stern steps. All lines to the cockpit. Good sailing vessels if not too heavy. Very good deck hardware. Easy to reef. Possible to single hand but access to and from the cockpit would make docking a pain for a single hander. Good motoring vessels.

All this is MY OPINION and what is important to me. You choose what is important to you. All boats, monohulls or cats, have nice features and lousy ones. The things important to me would keep me away from these boats, also Gemini's, PDQ's, Prouts, and a host of other boats. Other people like them immensely because they have a feature that is important to them.

Gordon 09-04-2007 03:54

Hi SettingSail2009,good luck and enjoy the decision voyage,half the fun is learning more about the great choices out there. We were making the same decision as you and with similar requirements and have ordered the Fountaine Pajot ORANA 44 a new model , to be launched the end of May/July. Just a note on cabin finish and wear and tear, we were recently on board a FP Belieze 43 built 01 one owner Swiss, they have been cruising full time for three years from the Med. to east coast Australia and the quality and finish looked as if new and owners could not speak highly enough of this boat,no major problems.

Kapena 09-04-2007 04:09

PS...I have a Lagoon (owners version), cruising it and like it. Some things I don't like about it but it is a good cruiser, especially if you have a hard top, put the traveller on the top of it and run all lines to the cockpit.

schoonerdog 09-04-2007 08:30

Since you are looking at round the world cruising capability, I would look at having dedicated reserve bouyancy seperated by bulkheads going forward to protect you in a collision. Though it would be out of your (and my) price range, step into the forward lockers of a PDQ 42/44 and see how they've done it. Every foot of trapped air is extra bouyancy that keeps your boat floating in the event something bad happens. I would also look at sacrificial keels. A boat with minimal frontal aspects being presented forward to reduce your windage in large seas and wind storms (something with a more stream lined appearance) would present less tension on a sea anchor and ride more smoothly. Definitely protected helms. Finally, I would take a good look at what is actually out there being cruised from different ports all around the world. We had your list except for lines being led to the cockpit (it's easier to bump from the mast, but that's personal choice). I would add to your list good rub rails, though these can be added after the fact as we did. Insane that they aren't put on more boats for esthetic reasons. Privilege has good clearance and load carrying capabilities and are routinely circumnavigated. The new models have good visibility out the windows by raising the cabin top. Finally I would look at how the boats age. Do owners of boats 5 or 10 years old still like them or have they started to have serious delamination problems? Talk to boat brokers who are independent as well such as Phil Berman from the multihull company. Some honest brokers have seen what happens to boats which have been sailed hard and can warn you off models which might have issues doing 3000+ mile passages and riding to heavy storms.

schoonerdog 09-04-2007 08:36

oh, galley up, hmm, for us we spend 30 - 50 minutes a day cooking in the galley and 4-7 hours in the central settee area as mingling area and as play space. Were we to have a galley up our 2 year old son would literally have half of the play space we have now. But if I didn't have to worry about kids and my wife wanted galley up, galley up it would be!

LtBrett 09-04-2007 09:01

Originally Posted by Lodesman
In what way is the motion reduced? I definitely see the other benefits of having the galley down, but I would have thought that being closer to the vertical and longitudinal axes, a galley up would have less motion.


Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat
The closer you are to the water, the less you move. To take it to the extreme, imagine being at the top of the mast, compared to down in a hull. The bridgedeck is around a metre above the water, so any rocking motion will be greater there than at sea level.

Well, you're both right. Vessels pitch and roll around their centers of gravity (G), which can be thought of as the pivot point of the pitch and roll axes. The point of least motion is approximately centerline on the roll axis and nearer to the stern on the pitch axis. Now the question is if you are galley up, are you closer to G? Perhaps. You are at most 5' above G in the salon. Each pontoon is perhaps 12' away from G, even if there is no vertical separation. So unless your galley is more than about 9 feet off center in the salon, it will move around less than a galley in the pontoon. Either galley up or down could be closer to G, depending on exactly where you locate the galley.


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