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Old 30-07-2020, 17:04   #1
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Light weight cruising catamaran

Hi guys. Still hunting for catamarans, very hard to get anything atm, with the current situation. I am set on an Outremer 50 or 55, Danson design, no other production cats appeal to me, as my preference is for sleek, dagger board designs. I came across a very interesting 46 ft John Hughes design very well finished and built in NZ.
She is a very interesting boat, however, I have a few doubts/questions which maybe some of you can help me to clear.
She is 14 m by 8 m built in epoxy with kevlar bellow waterline. Looks exactly what I want, but, I am a bit put off, or I should say intimidated by her lightweight, 5.5t light displacement.
So provided that her construction is very solid, how do you see this boat behaving in heavy weather, if for some reason you can't outrun? Forgot to mention she's got dagger boards.
Thank you.
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Old 30-07-2020, 17:40   #2
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

I've never heard of John Hughes. Are you sure it isn't a Kurt hughes, or John Marples? John Marples was primarily known for his trimaran designs. Though he may have designed cats too.
John shuttleworth designed a bunch of really light Cats.

Do you have a link to the ad?

5.5 ton light displacement. If you read that in the design brief, you'll probably find it weighs much more than that, right off the bat.

Our design brief showed a 5.5 ton light ship weight. Though it seems nobody has been able to make one that light. I made mine with resin infusion, and though we stretched the boat by 4 feet, once we had the engines installed, and half the gear, it came it at 6.3 tons. Edit: Sorry, that was tonnes, without the mast or rigging.

Cheers.
Paul.
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Old 30-07-2020, 17:49   #3
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

He is a local designer in Far N NZ. Surely not many people heard of him. The seller temporarily withdrew her so no add links sorry.
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Old 30-07-2020, 17:53   #4
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

Well, 5.5 tons for a 43 footer is light. That's about the weight of an Oram 44, and they are reputed to be quite comfortable boats. I don't know what they'd be like in a real blow, with steep seas, but at that point comfort doesn't matter as much as safety. At 5.5 tons, with the right sail area, you'll get out of the bad stuff earlier than a heavier boat would.

Someone with more multi experience, hopefully in a light boat, will chime in.

Cheers.
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Old 30-07-2020, 18:25   #5
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

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Well, 5.5 tons for a 43 footer is light. That's about the weight of an Oram 44, and they are reputed to be quite comfortable boats. I don't know what they'd be like in a real blow, with steep seas, but at that point comfort doesn't matter as much as safety. At 5.5 tons, with the right sail area, you'll get out of the bad stuff earlier than a heavier boat would.

Someone with more multi experience, hopefully in a light boat, will chime in.

Cheers.
Paul.

I keep seeing references to lighter catamarans being "safer" but I still am not understanding if that is i) because they are faster or ii) because they handle the rough weather better.


Is everyone working from the same "safer" definition?
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Old 30-07-2020, 18:35   #6
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

Yeah, got the same dilemma. I think on a lighter boat the loads on rigging are less than on a heavier cat. I would like to know which one is safer in big seas and high winds, the lightest or the heavy?
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Old 30-07-2020, 19:19   #7
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

The 47 foot and 5.5 tons sounds about right for a well built performance cat. But comparison I sail a Maine Cat 38, light ship 4 tons with dagger boards. The boat you are considering is about 25% longer and a little over 25% more weight, sounds comparable. So your boat is of a weight sufficient to be strongly built, as the Maine Cat is quite robust.

The question then becomes a matter of how comfortable might the boat be, as you have already discerned. The answer is really a matter of seamanship.

I have sailed the Maine Cat in the ocean in force 7, with very tall waves. These are not conditions I go out seeking but they happen when voyaging. We get some jolts and bumps, but overall manage fine. Sleeping has not been a problem, but cooking gets difficult. Your longer waterline will help. You might even make better weather decisions than I, completely avoiding any discomfort.

With waves forward of the beam, a 20 ton monohull will put her shoulder down and press forward. But the light weight cat is going to decelerate and accelerate with each wave. Hand holds are helpful when moving about, and the coffee cups can no longer ride on the table. We get along by reefing deeply to keep boat speed modest, which significantly settles the ride. Avoiding close reaching also helps.

Wind aft of the beam the boat surfs easily. Your longer waterline will encourage this. At higher winds than I have experienced fast surfing can become a concern, I carry warps for this which I have never needed. It is great fun to roll along at speed.

Waves on the beam will increase pitch and yaw. Playing the daggerboards to help smooth out the boat. I have used everything from daggerboards full up to both daggerboards full down, depending on conditions. Again longer waterline will dampen pitch and yaw.

In summary, the light cats are going to have more severe motion in tall seas than heavier boats. That is simply conservation of momentum. I think 47 feet and 5.5 tons could be a sweet boat.
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Old 30-07-2020, 19:36   #8
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

Thank you, boat is 17 years old with original paint, it's been to Fiji and back 7 times. No cracks or any other stress signs anywhere. 900 mm bridgedeck clearance. I found a link to an website they have, https://nzcatamaran-catenza.weebly.com
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Old 30-07-2020, 21:24   #9
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

Just some random thoughts. While I am a Maine Cat fan I never considered them to be light weight boats, but they are a very solid build.

Looking at the pix in the link it seems to have a very conventional rig, not a performance rig. I would at least expect a big fat head elliptical and really it needs a square top to maximize performance.

Everything looks OK and I do like the outboards. I do wonder about how things like electric heads and holding tanks are affecting the 5.5 ton weight.
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Old 31-07-2020, 00:00   #10
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

Quote:
Originally Posted by alsail View Post
Hi guys. Still hunting for catamarans, very hard to get anything atm, with the current situation. I am set on an Outremer 50 or 55, Danson design, no other production cats appeal to me, as my preference is for sleek, dagger board designs. I came across a very interesting 46 ft John Hughes design very well finished and built in NZ.
She is a very interesting boat, however, I have a few doubts/questions which maybe some of you can help me to clear.
She is 14 m by 8 m built in epoxy with kevlar bellow waterline. Looks exactly what I want, but, I am a bit put off, or I should say intimidated by her lightweight, 5.5t light displacement.
So provided that her construction is very solid, how do you see this boat behaving in heavy weather, if for some reason you can't outrun? Forgot to mention she's got dagger boards.
Thank you.
Have you thought about Dazcats? They make some very nice performance oriented cats.
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Old 31-07-2020, 00:15   #11
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

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Have you thought about Dazcats? They make some very nice performance oriented cats.
No, I'll check them out, but it will be very difficult to find anything in these times..
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Old 31-07-2020, 04:26   #12
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

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Originally Posted by NaClyDog View Post
I keep seeing references to lighter catamarans being "safer" but I still am not understanding if that is i) because they are faster or ii) because they handle the rough weather better.


Is everyone working from the same "safer" definition?

‘Safer’ is like ‘Prettier’ or ‘More comfortable’; it depends.

Lighter, performance oriented catamarans (and for that matter monohulls as well) can use much smaller sails for a given wind strength than their heavier sisters. This means less power, less pressure, less stress, less risk of gear (assuming properly sized) breaking, etc. This can be considered safer.

A lighter boat requires less effort to slow down, which makes everything more comfortable. In extreme conditions that means a smaller, less loaded drogue for example. In less extreme conditions it means sailing along at a decent speed with minimal sail area.

However, the motion of a lighter catamaran will be faster and more abrupt, though more waterline will help, and that motion can be considered less safe. Certainly more tiring, which is also less safe. The lightweight cat dances on top of the water, while the heavier cat or monohull plows through the water. After the third day of close reaching in 30 knots of wind on our cat we were all thinking how nice it would be on a large heavy monohull healed at a steady 20* and just shouldering through the swells.

Heavier cats generally have higher static stability than lighter cats; higher is considered safer. But the lighter cats will usually have better dynamic stability, partly due to daggerboards vs keels and also lower centres of effort. So who really knows?

The adage of a lighter performance oriented boat being better able to outrun bad weather is I think a myth, since unless you’re on a boat that can average 20+ knots you’re not outrunning a typical system.

But, as Hobie Alter put it, then Bill Lee stole, “fast is fun”. And while the Dashews stuck to monohulls, they made a great case for long and light performance oriented boats for cruising.
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Old 31-07-2020, 04:38   #13
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

5.5 tonnes (light ship?) likely means only an additional 2 tonne or so of load capacity. For long term cruising, unless you like cutting toothbrushes in half, using ereaders to keep paper books off, and minimising the toys to keep the weight off, that’s really not much.

Monohulls joke about raising their waterline a cm or two for every additional year of cruising. That would be deadly for a super lightweight catamaran.

Smaller tanks, less ground tackle, smaller provisioning, smaller tender with smaller motor (or no motor at all, healthier); all of these may be just fine for the kind of cruising you want to do, or not.

Of course, the other issue of a lesser-known non-production boat is resale value and difficulty.
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Old 31-07-2020, 06:15   #14
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

Alsail,
Much depends on what you intend to do with your boat.

My wife and I have crossed the pacific in an Island Spirit 400 which is really 39' LWL by 22.5' beam. Bare displacement is 15,500 lbs but loaded for blue water cruising I think we are closer to 9 tons. I plan on seven knots for long passages.

We sailed her across the Tasman and were caught out in 42 knot winds and 4 meter seas and never felt it unsafe.

Good luck.
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Old 31-07-2020, 07:58   #15
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Re: Light weight cruising catamaran

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Yeah, got the same dilemma. I think on a lighter boat the loads on rigging are less than on a heavier cat. I would like to know which one is safer in big seas and high winds, the lightest or the heavy?

Less is more where catamarans are concerned. Higher technology materials and more advanced engineering and design are required to produce a lightweight catamaran. Cats that are less well engineered or that use cheaper materials tend to be heavier.


It is very expensive to produce a lightweight performance catamaran so they tend to be custom builds because such techniques are not conducive to budget constraints of mass production.



Good engineering and design is clearly evident in Catenza.
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