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Old 06-03-2021, 18:09   #1
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Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

If you have owned or sailed extensively with a Catana on long journeys, can you give me your experience with the helms located near the transom of each side? In my research, the Catana's are built and designed well. I imagine that the helm stations are in place for both racing and as well make for a lower cost and simpler steering system. But, can you give your experience and review of your longer term use of this on open ocean adventures? And last, comment on you using autopilot and not having to be at the helm. Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-03-2021, 21:54   #2
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

Ask for a comment from both owners.
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Old 07-03-2021, 02:25   #3
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

Wait till late April, I will email you.


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Old 07-03-2021, 06:21   #4
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

I can answer as a non-Catana owner buddy boating with a Catana. While sailing through an inlet area where eyes on deck were needed (i.e. using the autopilot from the salon would have been very imprudent) we watched our friend Carl stuck at the helm of his Catana with just a small bimini overhead that was doing nothing to keep the wind driven rain off him while we sat in comfort at the helm of our Antares. Sometimes you have to be at the helm, and the weather is the weather.

Another thing to think about is even if you could sit inside the salon what sort of visibility do you have at night. Most cats' windows are fairly tinted and we have mesh sunshades on top of that which stay on nearly all of the time. Visibility from inside the salon on a dark night is very poor. We could go to the trouble of taking off the sunshades but would still have the tint cutting visibility.

Lots of pros for a Catana, but IMO helm position (for cruising) is not one.
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Old 07-03-2021, 07:11   #5
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

I often wondered about the exposed helms on the Catanas because I used up my lifetime allotment of UV rays long ago. There was a member here who had a big one, maybe a 582 that was converting to or thinking about converting to a single cockpit helm. There is an old C41 that had the conversion done that was or still is for sale in Florida.
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Old 07-03-2021, 11:03   #6
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

An interesting fact. The catana 45 one off was built for the in the time Catana designer Christophe Barrault. Barraults Cat was built with one helm just behind the saloon bulkhead. May be liked strong sailing in more shelter....
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Old 07-03-2021, 14:36   #7
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

I can't add anything as to the helm location, but it appears that Catana might be moving to a single raised helm if their upcoming boat is any indication: https://www.catana.com/en/catamarans/ocean-class/ I wonder if the change is due to feedback from customers or just more of a one-off design from them. Regardless, I rather like it - if only I had an extra $1,000,000+ laying around maybe I'd consider getting a build slot...
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Old 07-03-2021, 17:57   #8
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

I also have used up all of my UV ration and can't rationalize being that exposed.

This is a question repeatedly made to Catana owners and their gathering interweb sites.

These are the kind of answers I've read after reading all the Pros:
  • We place a West Marine folding chair with arms on the cockpit table and that is the position for the on watch person – who has an iPad and handheld VHF radio
  • As for Catana modifications, I believe one man added a bulkhead helm, but I myself would not recommend it. You need a backup autopilot if you want a Catana and fear sitting at the helm for long periods in bad weather or sun.
  • Although I never used it we also had a snap on full enclosure for the STB helm which perhaps might have found use in cold and rainy climates.
  • we have added a stout bimini at the starboard helm station. We find it useful in some areas like coming into port, or dodging lobster pots in Maine or crab pots in the Chesapeake. It is collapsible, and we fold it down when the boat is laid up, or when we are doing a day-sail with friends and want to watch the sails.
  • I've never heard a Catana owner say they don't like the helms. That said, as already mentioned, some have fashioned small sun shades for that one compromise.
  • Since the scoops are the more tender part of a cats hulls, I believe that having the helm in full view is a serious advantage and should be considered.

Is the helm hydraulic or mechanical?
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Old 07-03-2021, 19:41   #9
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

This question comes up every now and again on here and all the pros and cons have been done before.

Like all things dual aft helms are a compromise and in cat land there are plenty of naysayers usually short on actual experience but its worth noting that the vast majority of sailing boats are aft helm.

Most monos are single or dual aft helmed and they seem to get on just fine.

The cons usually have work arounds like most things on boats eg exposure can be limited with a bimini or a hat and use of autopilot, fear of falling out can be eased with time on the boat or in extreme conditions clipping in etc etc Just like monos.

For me as an ex owner it came down to the fun of sailing. Dual aft helms are way more fun to sail hands down. You are connected to the boat much like when you are in the groove on a decent mono. Especially when the wind and waves are up.

If that floats your boat then definitely consider one. None of the drawbacks cant be dealt with.

PS on the autopilot question we used the raymarine hand held one and could use it anywhere on the boat. on passage it was whoever was on watch wherever they were. Fond memories of laying on the tramp spinnaker flying making course adjustments with the remote.
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Old 07-03-2021, 19:46   #10
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

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...Dual aft helms are way more fun to sail hands down. You are connected to the boat much like when you are in the groove on a decent mono...
Yeah. The option on the Outremers seems nice for those who want the best of both worlds, where you can have an inboard wheel as well as tillers and helm seats aft and outboard for when you want to feel more connected.

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Old 07-03-2021, 20:13   #11
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

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Yeah. The option on the Outremers seems nice for those who want the best of both worlds, where you can have an inboard wheel as well as tillers and helm seats aft and outboard for when you want to feel more connected.

Yeah I used to think that too and looked closely at the O49 but think it actually isnt as good as you think it will be.

Tillers get tiring after a short while compared to a wheel so talking to owners they found they didnt use them that much after the novelty wore off.

Add to that the bulkhead helm is really just a watch station 95% of the time on most cats and you can do that from anywhere. One 049 owner i met used the tiller seat as his watch station but with a handheld autopilot like i mentioned.
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Old 07-03-2021, 22:42   #12
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

I recently purchase a Catana 41 in French Polynesia and sailed it home to Hawaii. I'm in the process of fixing it up and haven't cruised on it yet, but I'll tell you that we spent almost 0 time at the helms on the passage. We had the wind at about 60-70 degrees true for 90% of the trip. The windward helm took lots of spray, the leeward helm would have been fine but is still exposed to the sun. We ran the autopilot pretty much the entire time and pulled watches sitting on the seats under the bimini occasionally walking to the other side of the cockpit to check our blind spots.

When day sailing, the helms are great. I have mechanical steering, and it's very responsive. My biggest problem is the 70 degree blind spot caused by the cabin. There are a few gaps to look through, but I find myself often walking to the other helm and back to check for traffic, but it's really not that big of a deal.

For me, the big advantage of the outboard helms is the amazing space you get in the cockpit. Not having a bulkhead helm allows everything to be open, on the same level and have really good flow.

When the weather gets bad and I'm in a situation where I have to hand steer, I'm sure that I'll be wishing for a protected helm up under the bimini, but everything on a boat is a compromise and the outboard helms work for me the majority of the time.
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:00   #13
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

A feature available on Catanas and Outies is the self tacking jib. One could order the boat set up this way. The upside is it's way easier to tack but then you have less power in light wind compared to a big genoa. Many install an (upwind design) Code 0 to compensate for that issue.
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:42   #14
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

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I recently purchase a Catana 41 in French Polynesia and sailed it home to Hawaii. I'm in the process of fixing it up and haven't cruised on it yet, but I'll tell you that we spent almost 0 time at the helms on the passage. We had the wind at about 60-70 degrees true for 90% of the trip. The windward helm took lots of spray, the leeward helm would have been fine but is still exposed to the sun. We ran the autopilot pretty much the entire time and pulled watches sitting on the seats under the bimini occasionally walking to the other side of the cockpit to check our blind spots.

When day sailing, the helms are great. I have mechanical steering, and it's very responsive. My biggest problem is the 70 degree blind spot caused by the cabin. There are a few gaps to look through, but I find myself often walking to the other helm and back to check for traffic, but it's really not that big of a deal.

For me, the big advantage of the outboard helms is the amazing space you get in the cockpit. Not having a bulkhead helm allows everything to be open, on the same level and have really good flow.

When the weather gets bad and I'm in a situation where I have to hand steer, I'm sure that I'll be wishing for a protected helm up under the bimini, but everything on a boat is a compromise and the outboard helms work for me the majority of the time.

Jason, First the story of working your way through the covid restrictions in order to buy a boat would be a lesson to all of us about determination. You wanted to get to that boat. Tell us about the story.

The comments about the helm being exposed and in the sun that people have made are valid. It appears by me looking at pictures and videos that these are helm stations more exposed than, for example, one at a monohull center cockpit or a spot at the back with twin helms on a Beneteau. Most of the boats I have been on in those instances have had either a hard top or most an aftermarket bimini. I have not seen any pictures or designs for a bimini for the Catana (that don't look like some small enclosure, temporary in design)
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Old 08-03-2021, 07:12   #15
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Re: Owners of a Catana - The two helms exposed and your experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonBRose View Post
I recently purchase a Catana 41 in French Polynesia and sailed it home to Hawaii. I'm in the process of fixing it up and haven't cruised on it yet, but I'll tell you that we spent almost 0 time at the helms on the passage. We had the wind at about 60-70 degrees true for 90% of the trip. The windward helm took lots of spray, the leeward helm would have been fine but is still exposed to the sun. We ran the autopilot pretty much the entire time and pulled watches sitting on the seats under the bimini occasionally walking to the other side of the cockpit to check our blind spots.

When day sailing, the helms are great. I have mechanical steering, and it's very responsive. My biggest problem is the 70 degree blind spot caused by the cabin. There are a few gaps to look through, but I find myself often walking to the other helm and back to check for traffic, but it's really not that big of a deal.

For me, the big advantage of the outboard helms is the amazing space you get in the cockpit. Not having a bulkhead helm allows everything to be open, on the same level and have really good flow.

When the weather gets bad and I'm in a situation where I have to hand steer, I'm sure that I'll be wishing for a protected helm up under the bimini, but everything on a boat is a compromise and the outboard helms work for me the majority of the time.

Those Dream Yacht Catana 41s sure looked like a great deal! Congratulations on the new boat.

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