Best Cat Cruiser balancing comfort with function.

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Becaris, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Becaris
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Becaris Junior Member

    I've been playing with my own catamaran designs for a long time, but the fact is I'm more likely to just end up going out and buying a factory boat that is tried and true.

    I'm planning on spending a lot of the year on the boat, and sailing to a lot of destinations, including crossing one of the big ponds every so often. I don't want a racer, and I don't want a luxury slug. I need something in the middle, seaworthy, but perhaps not the fastest since it has to carry some creature comfort weight.

    So, in your opinion, which are the most seaworthy catamaran cruisers that offer at least some creature comforts (in balance)? I'm looking in the 50' to 65' range, probably new (price isn't a current factor).

    Suggestions?
     
  2. captainsideburn
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    captainsideburn Junior Member

  3. Becaris
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    Becaris Junior Member

    I do like the look of the Gunboat 66, pretty nice.

    Are their particular builders that any of you would steer away from in a blue water sailing experience?
     
  4. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    I'd second the Gunboat, as well. You can stop looking entirely if cost if no object and just buy a Gunboat. They don't come better designed and more comfortable than that.

    It's not a matter of steering away from brands or builders in choosing a blue water catamaran. The analysis should come down to seakeeping ability, safety, etc... things to look into are:

    *Watertight bulkheads (you should have these)
    *Slender(ish) hulls on a overall beamy catamaran
    *Bridgedeck clearance (the higher the better)
    *Well thought out rig (all controls run to cockpit/helm)
    *Safety gear such as sea anchor and drogues
    *Kick up rudders or some ability of the boat to absorb impacts and groundings and continue sailing on afterward

    You'll want to avoid boats like these:

    [​IMG]
    http://www.royalcapecatamarans.com/rccfiles/pdf_downloads/Sailing_Review.pdf

    and these:

    [​IMG]


    You do want to choose catamarans like these:

    [​IMG]
    Gunboat 66

    [​IMG]
    Chris White Atlantic 55 (goes up much larger if you need it)

    [​IMG]
    Chris White Atlantic - Pay close attention to the hull shapes relative to the bridgedeck, as well as the bridgedeck clearance. The proper shapes can be seen in the Chris white line drawing or...

    [​IMG]
    ... in the boat I'm building as well.

    [​IMG]

    See the similarity of the hull shapes? Chris White has them, Gunboat has them and Kurt Hughes has them.

    This is the hull type you are after if you want blue water safety, performance and a reasonable amount of comfort.

    It's a very hard balance for a designer to strike, but these guys/company have all done it. Go for those types of designs and you'll be very happy.
     
  5. Becaris
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    Becaris Junior Member

    Though I appreciate all you said, it's not really the question I'm asking. Limit all your choices to yachts that have these features, and THEN pick the builder you would choose. I've read (nearly countless) hours of yacht design features and recommendations. At this point I'm not trying to find the right features, I'm trying to find the right builder to construct those features.
     
  6. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    You are asking us to choose a builder. What is the design you want to build then?

    If you choose a Chris White (for example), you will need to choose a different builder than say, Gunboat, which are only built by Gunboat itself in SA.

    The choice of boat design must be made before you start asking us to recommend builders because different builders have different skill sets and experience. One builder will have experience in a particular design and/or materials while another will not.

    Selecting a builder all comes down to what design you are choosing... so which boat is that?

    **If you are not choosing a builder at all, but are simply choosing from already-built boats, I'd still say Gunboat.
     
  7. Becaris
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    Becaris Junior Member

    Well, in this case I'm not picking a boat and trying to find a builder, I'm trying to compare boats built BY builders. Gunboat (as in your example) builds Gunboats. Of Builders who do NOT build custom yachts, which do people think build the best boat if I'm looking for a compromise between creature comforts and speed, though any boat I might consider would have to have high marks in sea worthiness. So assuming ten quality sea worthy boats, I would pick the one with the most creature comforts with medium speed rather than one that is really fast and has no creature comforts, or one that is a luxury beauty, but is a slug.
     
  8. jamez
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    jamez Senior Member

    Can you please define what YOU mean by a 'custom yacht'? After all thats what anyone not building 'stock' or production designs is doing.
     
  9. Becaris
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    Becaris Junior Member

    In this case I'm defining a custom yacht as any yacht not mass produced by a builder. Or, yachts in their 'line', not brought to them by some other designer to be built.
     
  10. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Do you have any expectations of the location of the builder??
     
  11. Becaris
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    Becaris Junior Member

    None at all.
     
  12. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Ok, so the term "builder" may have been a little misleading.

    I might submit to you that a boat designed by a professional designer and then built by a "builder" is often of much higher quality workmanship than one you can buy off an assembly line. The companies (like Lagoon, Fountain Pajot, etc...) are building somewhat dated hulls and have to squeeze out lots of profit to afford all the advertising and get the most money out of the molds.

    If you go for a very good design, built by a reputable, independent builder, you may find yourself with a much higher quality boat.

    However, if you are just looking to buy stock boats, I'd steer clear of those Fountain Pajots and other common, low performance, boring boats and get yourself a Gunboat. There is no better production catamaran IMO.
     
  13. Becaris
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    Becaris Junior Member

    I have by no means decided on which boat or how I am going to have it made yet. But, as part of my research I'm interested in finding out people's opinions about factory boats that are out there.

    Besides posting here, I have also been reading other people's polls and comments in various forums on this subject. It is interesting to see all the different opinions. In once such discussion Gunboats were the bottom of the desired list, as in "I wouldn't take one if it was given to me". I don't subscribe to that opinion myself, but with all the radical opinions about all the boat manufacturers I thought I would describe my desire for a boat that was a compromise between speed and comfort, but very seaworthy, and see what some of you thought of various factory boats when those are the goals.

    Now, when looking at Gunboats specifically, they seem to be a shade toward the 'faster' category and further from my creature comforts. Or am I mistaken?

    But I don't want to get stuck on just Gunboats in this discussion. What about boats like the Sunreef line? Or the African Cats, or Yapluka, or Lagoon, or any other? Which would you trust, which would you not?
     
  14. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Initial thoughts on Sunreef: What's the hull look like below the waterline on one? They do seem to be nice... however they go on about "shallow draft" in the marketing, then list draft as 5.4'?? Performance looks a little low given the amount of "real estate" you are trying to push to windward and the slightly wider beam of the individual hulls.


    [​IMG]
    FastCats: They have experimented an awful lot, which is great to further new design ideas, but not so great if you are an owner of an experiment. One major flaw I see is this giant "box" toward the sterns, which I presume houses staterooms. Big no-no. It's like a giant braking system when you are in rougher water.

    Lagoon: If you want one of these, you could really bargain for a good price, I think. I've seen several of them just rotting away at The Catamaran Company in Ft Lauderdale because there are no buyers. The Lagoons are fine, but YAWN..... Also, another 5'1" draft?!? Do all of these boats you like have keels? I wouldn't touch a boat with keels for offshore work or for living through the "perfect storm." Keels are for monohulls. One of the great things about a cat is if you retract the daggerboards and rudders, you have an extremely slippery surface which will skate down waves, even sideways in the "perfect storm." Replacing boards with keels gives you less performance as well as more danger in "perfect storm" scenarios. Keels can be tripped over, even on cats, in an uncontrolled sideways slide down the face of a wave. Also, 5' drafts are only "shallow draft" if you are talking monohulls. My cat has a 1'8" draft.

    Bottom line is, you can trust nearly any brand. Although it's hard to do, you must move away from an emotional (fear/trust) based purchasing methodology and move toward analyzing the facts of what you want in a boat. Construction-wise, you aren't going to find many boats that are going to fail at sea. Most of these companies have reputable designers and have built in industry standard safety factors. You want comfort, but look at that secondary. Look at the design of the hulls, then see if you can live with the layout. Since you're ordering a new boat you just might be able to get a semi-custom or custom interior anyway. It's the design of the boat that you need to focus on... forget the comforts at first. You can look at those later on as you narrow down your search to good designs.

    Also, I don't know if this is your first boat or not, but if it is... get out on the water before you order anything! Charter some cats, especially ones you know you want to look at. You can get a much better idea about them by going aboard and sailing them. I can't stress this enough.

    As to Gunboats (I'll stop talking about them now), they seem reasonably comfortable and nice to me, though they are fast boats:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  15. Becaris
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Becaris Junior Member

    I never said I liked any of these boats. I merely listed a few boats off the top of my head and also asked for any others. I'll state again, I am not currently leaning toward ANY boat, I'm just collecting opinions on factory made boats. These were just a few examples. If need be I can list every single catamaran company I have heard of if you want.

    I do thank you (and anyone else) for their opinion, that's what I'm seeking right now.

    I agree with you (Catbuilder) completely about features and about testing boats first. I'm already chartering several different styles of cats. My sailing experience is over 40 years, but all on mono hulls. I'm moving on to Cats now, so I have some learning to do in this area. What I was seeking here is to find if there were certain cat manufacturers with yachts that are less sea worthy, or worse construction, or just someone to stay away from completely. CatBuilder's opinion seems to be that they are all the same. Perhaps that is true. Anyone else?
     
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