In 2013 we purchased a 2008 model Seawind 1160
. Our catamaran was equipped with a Achilles 3.1 m dinghy
20 hp 4-stroke outboard
when we purchased her. We found the arrangement heavy and cumbersome, and we weren't impressed with the performance or stability in big seas or by the top end speed. As we were preparing the boat
for cruising, I was adding weight in the form of solar panels
and support structure, etc. As I spent my career in the prototype helicopter development business, I became infinitely familiar with SWAP (size, weight and power) principles as applies to all mission oriented, weight sensitive vehicles. Believe you me, there isn't an ounce of spare weight available in the type helicopters I worked with. It better either be fuel
, bullets, pilot armor, or the machinery necessary to haul all that around.
The Achilles weighed around 162 pounds. The Honda outboard
was around 104 pounds.
The Takacat Explorer T340E weighs around 130 pounds. We equipped it with a Yamaha 9.9 hp 4-stroke outboard that weights around 88 pounds. The smaller outboard is new and not only does it use a lot less fuel
than something twice as powerful, it has a really kick ass feature - you can hook a fresh water hose to a fitting on it and flush the salt water
out without even running then engine
, and you don't have to screw with one of those clampy things.
So we didn't lose a huge amount of weight, but we did lose some and we don't have to carry a lot of gasoline to keep it fed. As we have only limited vented locker space, there isn't an infinite amount of space to store gasoline, and I don't like fuel containers on deck
What we really got from the deal is a dinghy
that will absolutely scoot with the two of us on board, with only 9.9 hp! While I haven't measured the performance side to side, I'm pretty darn convinced that we're going faster with half the horsepower. Reason being, the Takacat hull
remains clear of the water and even though the pontoons are larger in diameter, overall the drag is much reduced. The Takacat is ridiculously stable in very rough conditions and ingress/egress is much easier. It's also a good platform to stand up and spin cast from. (do me a favor and don't go off on that old "end the sentence with a preposition" joke). Altogether my wife feels a lot safer operating the Takacat in rough conditions. As we all know, if our wife is happy, we get to go cruising; although oddly enough my wife was the impetus for going cruising. Single
hander crusty old guys refer to me as "lucky bastard". . .
I'm mission oriented. Isabel and I gross out at under 300 pounds. We might have 100 pounds of parts
and beer/wine to hump back from a shore excursion. That means for about 95% of the time I want a dinghy that will haul 400 pounds at planing speed. If we have two additional passengers on board we do slow down a bit, and when heavy we do need to be more careful in bigger chop to avoid taking any water over the bow. The Takacat does not have the same bow buoyancy as conventional inflatables, but for the most part rearranging the load - i.e. having folks move a little more aft - cures the problem pretty well. I recently noticed during a very gusty day in 0.5 - 1.0 meter chop in La Paz
- if alone in the dinghy and trying to be aggressive with speed while strong winds are on the bow, one senses a risk that the dinghy bow could fly and cause the boat to do a back flip. That may or may not be a risk - but the bow did feel extremely light in high head
winds and just me on board. Certainly something to consider. I was also warned by the US salesman that if I had put 15 hp on the T340E I would have to consider it a "sport boat" at lighter gross weights and be a bit thoughtful about how aggressively I applied the throttle.
The Achilles/Honda arrangement was good kit, and the new owner is happy.
The Takacat/Yamaha is the kit that works best for us - it satisfies our mission requirement. We love our Takacat, and were very happy with the gentlemen that demo'd and then sold it to us. Apparently they sell mostly PVC ones in SOCAL, and we bought the only hypalon one they had. We're planning on enjoying a bit of sunshine . . .
We did have an opportunity to row the smallest Sport series - rowed fine in smooth water.
We also had an opportunity to row for a bit a Lite T340L (was quite satisfying). Properly inflated, the floor on that one is absolutely rigid. I suppose it is similar in structure to our inflatable
stand up paddle board - that thing is amazingly rigid once inflated to about 11 psi; can't tell it from a wooden plank of the same dimensions (unless you pick it up).
We went with the Explorer over the Sport simply because of the perceived robustness of hypalon and our plan to be in very sunny environs, as well as the dinghy living on davits
where it would roast.
It may be that the latest generation of PVC used by Takacat, combined with some good quality chaps would result in an economically acceptable product life. The Lite model is just that - likely the two of us would be able to drag it up the beach much easier than our Explorer model -
Folks in Australia
and New Zealand
commonly operate in conditions that might be considered rare in many parts
of the world. They are a great proving ground for what works, and what fails. Oddly enough we've ended up with Beach Master dinghy wheels - again from New Zealand
. We did our research
, and simply couldn't find comparable equipment