Minimum cruising cat-size & cost

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Alex.A, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    A few more points

    The 40 ft limit was something that seemed to come about here in Australia after the 1988 Round Australia Race. Lock Crowther was writing about the race and detailed the troubles that different boats had. Two tris went over - both about 36ft long. Verbatim and John West had no real troubles and at 40ft Lock wrote that this seemed like a good minimum size. In fairness to the tris that capsized they were both much older than Verbatim (at least 5 years) and designed before large floats and full bows.

    Of course there have been plenty of multis smaller doing amazing things but most designers here would urge builders to go big to go safe.

    As to the roomarans getting all the sales, we have the same thing here. It is pretty normal for people to want lots of room and people who don't know much tend to ask "How many does she sleep?" before they ask about sailing and safety. Well the builders can answer that with "she sleeps lots of people". It may be terrible to take to windward but most people don't do much sailing offshore so these boats are probably good for them as long as they understand the design and its limitations.

    Bob Oram's boats are a good example of a long cat which has the accommodation of shorter boat. I like this idea but for me I think he goes too far. I want my boat to be big when the waves are big, short when it gets hauled out, short at the marina, small when I have to paint it, really really small when I have to buy something for it. After all these compromises I end up with a simple 11.6 metre with a 14 metre mast with nice but not silly accommodations. Everyone will have their different tack. As Richard Woods has to build his boats and sail them he tends to design smaller ones than average. If all designers were forced to do the same I am sure we would see a marked decrease in boat length and complexity.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  2. Dave Gudeman
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    Dave Gudeman Senior Member

    Speaking as one of those who doesn't know much, part of the issue may be that with our limited knowledge, we really have no way to judge seaworthiness. We could ask the salesman, but that approach has some obvious disadvantages. I've been shopping on yatchworld and craigslist, and I see lots of boats that look like great bargains, but are they seaworthy? I don't know, and the truth is that I don't know how to find out.

    For example, there are several old Piver Trimarans for sale. Are they worth buying? Well, they've been floating for forty years, so I guess they'll probably continue to float for a while. That's the extent of my judgment of seaworthiness. I've spent hours googling, trying to find this information (in fact, that's how I stumbled across boatdesign.net) but it's incredibly frustrating trying to pin anything down.

    Now, I know about hiring a marine surveyor, but you have to make a hell of a lot of decisions before you ever get to that point, and there just isn't any good way to make those decisions. So those of us who don't have much boating knowledge have no choice but to make decisions based on what we can see: accommodations, features and gizmos, looks, popularity, factory-provided performance data. That's about it.

    So I propose that what sells isn't necessarily really what people what. Rather, what sells is what emphasizes the things that people both want and can see. If they can't judge it, no matter how much they want it, it's not much of a factor.
     
  3. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    This is an excellent point.

    One can hardly blame designers for wanting to design boats that appeal to the wealthy, since that's where the money is. But it seems to me that by neglecting to get impecunious young sailors hooked on multihulls, designers are failing to cultivate a future market. After all, some of those poor people will grow up to be rich people. Right now, there are very few multihull designs being drawn for those of limited means. There are literally thousands of entry-level monohull designs available, boats that can be built by almost anyone, no matter how limited their means. Where's the multihull PDR? More to the point, where are the low-cost production multis? They don't really exist (or are out of production). All I can think of under 25 feet or so are daysailors, and most of them are not inexpensive.
     
  4. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    Alex, I think you need to tell us what sort of cruising you plan. (Cruising can be defined as "not racing", so could be daysailing or transocean). You didn't mention offshore or ocean sailing in your first post.

    Catsketcher, I may be pedantic, but I think it better to say "most designers would say go big for more STABILITY", for, as you pointed out, bigger boats are more damaging to the crew when things go wrong and are much harder to handle with a small crew so aren't necessarily safer.

    So even if I had an unlimited budget, which clearly I don't as I'm a catamaran designer(!) I don't think Jetti and I would want a boat over 35ft. Too much work to daysail, so we'd motor everywhere, too much maintenance, and as I say a risk of injury.

    My apartment (flat) in the UK has a floor area of under 400sqft, yet is designed to be quite comfortable for 2 people to live in. So why have more space for two on a boat??

    I'm afraid few people build big boats with small accommodations, during the building they nearly always decide to make it a "bit bigger", because after all, the boat length is there.

    You want to be careful about having a marine surveyor giving you advice about multihulls. I had one ask me once how much ballast was in the keels

    I wouldn't advise buying a 40yr old Piver for two reasons. 1) they are very dated designs. 2) They will almost certainly need a lot of work to bring them up to a reasonable standard. Even if the hulls are good you'll probably need new sails, engine, cushions, electrics etc.

    So unless you want a "project boat" or have almost no money and just want to daysail I'd look for a newer boat.

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs on board his 34ft Romany catamaran in the Bahamas.

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     
  5. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    As we all know, length alone is not a very good indicator of size. Hence, commercial tonnage measurements.

    If anyone were willing to design and build a 48-foot cruising cat with the displacement and living space we're used to seeing in a 35-foot production cat, it could be an amazing boat- faster, more comfortable at sea, and with rigging not much harder to handle than the 35-footer.

    But we've come to expect that a boat of a certain length has a certain price tag, a certain level of luxury, etc. And, of course, we can't forget that length and/or beam are heavily penalized when it comes time to pay for mooring or hauling.

    Yup. That would help :)

    A very valid point, Richard. And I tend to agree that, based on what's commonly seen at the boat shows, either a mono or a cat of more than 35 feet gets to be a bit of a handful- above that size you start seeing hefty powered winches, complex tackle setups on the running rigging, etc.

    I think we need to be careful when talking about "big", though- length does not make "big", displacement and interior volume do. Keep displacement the same and stretch the length, move volume from the bridgedeck into the hulls, and you have about the same amount of boat- with about the same accommodations and working loads- in a faster platform, likely more comfortable at sea- IF you don't have to worry about marinas (or explaining to your friends why your 48-footer doesn't have four separate staterooms). Obviously, this approach isn't practical for everyone, but it does have its merits if the negative aspects can be managed.

    There ought to be a real sweet spot for long-range, long-term cruising cats at about 13-15 m and eight to nine tonnes or so, where it's comfortably manageable by a crew of two, has enough living space down below without having to put a condo on the bridgedeck, and can out-sail most boats with comparable living space, both on passage and around the buoys. (The trimaran equivalent seems to be a hair longer- say 15-16 m- although they don't seem too common at this size; the proa equivalent appears to be closer to 20 m on the main hull.) A Lagoon 50 condomaran (15 m, 17 tonnes empty) is, IMHO, far too much boat for most cruisers. The other kind of 50' cat that is commonly seen is the rather impractical adrenaline-junkie racing types.

    For those who stick to coastal cruising and shorter trips, the balance would likely tend to shift in favour of slightly smaller craft, and I think a well-designed cruising cat of 10 to 13 m and 4-6 tonnes or so would be really, really hard to beat for a cruising couple (plus occasional guests) on coastal cruises of a month or three. For longer trips, I know I'd prefer a bit more boat under me.
     
  6. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    How big it too big?

    Matt your 8 to 9 tonnes and 13-15m sounds huge to me - amazingly big. Maybe you have a big family.

    My wife and I went out on the weekend on the 38 foot cat. Its new bridgedeck cabin looks nice but is still modest. I am still changing the boat so that my fit 42 year old wife feels safe. She doesn't like the mainsheet loading (and we have a wishbone with much much lower sheet loads than normal) and the centreboards are a handful for her. When I head off to the states in a few weeks (anyone in the San Fran area willing to take me out for a sail?) I will put in the little trailer cat so that she can still get out on the water. She loves Cats-paw (5.9 metres) as it is a fun boat for her. My boat is probably the only 11.6 metre boat you can throw the winch handles overboard and still go upwind in a blow (storm jib on inner forestay and wishbone on main) and still it is too much for my best crew. She can't really pull the main up easily and it is only a 13 metre hoist.

    Anyway we went out on the boat and its big for two (Then again we did live in a Twiggy). We are used to having the boys with us. We lived on the boat as a family for three years but we need less room now with the boys doing their own thing. The boat is great so we will keep it but many people won't need all that room or length.

    When I first went up on the beach with my 24ft Nugget I was 17 and pushed her off the beach into a 20 knot southerly front. When I was 22 I dragged onto a beach and pushed hard on my new Twiggy - she laughed and wouldn't budge without an anchor led to a powerful sheet winch. The 38 footer is even more boat. I pulled the halyard up on my mates 6000kg 13.2 m cat and it was a workout. Tacking was a workout - I had so much fun but it would be hard to sail shorthanded.

    Then again I have a friend who is selling his 32 footer stretched to 35. He finds it too flighty. I think it is probably the rotating rig (I don't like them on cruising boats, they make you feel nervous) and weight in the ends (he has twin diesels).

    You can emulate the big boat characteristics by designing well. Get the weight into the middle (don't have diesels in the stern, keep the bows light) keep the mast low and have efficient running sails (symmetrical spinnaker and a reacher) to get you going well and reduce pitching. Have large foils so you don't get high induced drag and keep control. Keep the CG low by getting the weight out of the bridgedeck (galley, fridge, radios in hulls, water tanks under the floor), carry the weight well (use good materials and keep the fluff out - doors on cupboards - fairing the interior) By going simple you can save money and make the boat sail better and easier.

    Sounds like a manifesto

    cheers

    Phil
     
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  7. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Yes, it does sound huge- we all think of cats in the 40-50' range as being really gigantic beasts. For long range, long term cruising, though, I think this size range can make a lot of sense, if the boat is kept light and simple. Cruisers always load up with far too much gear and supplies (and I always quote displacements at full load- so for a cruiser, that's maybe three tonnes of fuel, food, water, spares, dinghy, loose gear, etc. on a boat that weighs five or six tonnes empty.)
    I have a lot of respect for any designer who can make a standing-headroom bridgedeck look good on anything under 45' and still have the boat sail well.

    It seems the halyard and sheet loads are going to become the limiting factor as a cruising boat gets larger- unless we want to spend $17k on powered winches and such, which defeats the OP's request for minimum size and cost.

    This would be especially so on cats, which often seem to have remarkably heavy and hardware-laden mainsails.

    If I ever build a big cat, it'll have relatively simple, low-stress rigging and multi-part tackles so that my wife can handle things independently. I don't know when or why a tackle on the main halyard became "unseamanlike", it's such a simple solution...

    I concur with the recommendation for simplicity. Saves money, saves build time, saves on maintenance costs. Phil's design advice here- proper weight distribution, efficient rig, efficient foils- should be taken to heart when coming up with any sort of cruising boat.
     
  8. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    Catsketcher

    I agree with you on all points.

    We leave here (the Bahamas) and sail back to Florida 1st April. Haul the boat in Ft Pierce and fly to Oakland in the Bay area about April 10. I'll be there for 2 weeks or so, so if you are still there then it would be great to meet up

    I think there are a few readers of this forum who are Bay area multihull sailors.

    ==================

    Back on topic.

    Water ballast was mentioned in the first post. I don't think that is a good idea especially on a small multihull which struggles with load carrying. It has been suggested in the past as a way of increasing boat weight and thus stability in a gale, but you'd be a brave sailor (foolhardy?) to flood your boat in bad weather. And as free surface effects have a major impact it may do more harm than good.

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     
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  9. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    I've never understood the appeal of water ballast in multis. I'm no expert, but having been out in big breaking seas, I would think you'd want a small cat to be as light and high in the water as possible, in order to slide with the breaking crests.
     
  10. Milan
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    Milan Senior Member

    Exactly. I always thought that trying to crump a lot off stuff on the short hull hoping to build economical boat is wrong approach. I much prefer opposite - long, simple, lightly loaded (for waterline length). Pure length is cheap, just a little bit more hull material, expensive stuff costs - stays the same - valid for all kinds of boats, especially multihulls.

    There are designs and even production multihulls like that, in different sizes. Outremer for example:
     

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  11. Milan
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    Milan Senior Member

    My practical experience with a cruising multihulls is very limited, but I have been in some blows on other types of sailing boats, (last years mostly on vessels whose weights are measured by tens and hundreds of tons).

    I think that windage and weight should be in balance. I fear that many cruising multihulls that I see have far to much freeboard (windage) for their overall size and weight. Some of them would be blown around as a peace of paper in 40 – 50 knots winds. They might benefit from some temporary additional weight in such circumstances .

    Wharram Tane that you sailed is other mater - little windage, not very light.

    Catsketcher, it seems that you have an interesting boat. Do you have some pictures?

    As for heavy loads on bigger boats, maybe divided rig could be satisfying answer on the cruising boat? As I recall Ilian Voyager mentioned 14 m long schooner rigged simple cat he helped to design some years ago, that was easy to single hand:
    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/how-compromise-junk-trimaran-25432.html#post245929
     
  12. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Thanks Richard for the offer - I will PM you.

    Ah the Outremer - I was wondering when we would get to that. These boats have won the ARC and set great passage times and show what less accommodation can allow. So they are being built, but are they selling well? I really don't know.

    If you really want to level the playing field try this - You and I start with no money. We then have to earn the money for the boat. Then we have to buy or build the boat and then we get to go cruising. My beef is with sellers who say my boat is faster because it gets you across an ocean at 9 knot average. Well if it takes you 6 years longer to earn the money for it is is slower than a much cheaper boat.

    I don't mean to imply the Outremer peole are guilty of this. I just know I am. I have laughed at Wharrams and Easy cats in my youth and now I see that they often win the race - if it starts with no money or in the building shed.

    I can post some picks of my boat- Kankama. Maybe we should all do a design study of our own boats and let others into why we did what we did. Let me tidy her up some more and then please be gentle. She is a statement of my beliefs and desires and carries them well for me.

    Matt - That's still a lot of stuff. Family of four lived on a 4500kg cat (loaded) for three years. Very doable. Get rid of more junk.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  13. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    I have sailed on and against two Outremer 42s

    The empty one was faster than my 32ft Eclipse, the one loaded for cruising was slower. Maybe that proves nothing, but maybe shows that long thin light boats are not good cruisers. Not just because of their lack of space (the cruising Outremer owner was amazed by the space in my Eclipse - more than on his boat) but also their poor load carrying.

    I don't think you can go far making glib statements like "I want a 48ft boat with the space of a 35ft one" without having something on paper to see how realistic it is.

    So attached here is a quick, very quick, sketch of a 35ft performance rig on a 48ft cat.

    Is this what you are talking about?? A 45ft mast on a 48ft hull looks very small to me. It won't have enough sail area until at least 25knots of wind. I prefer to cruise and have a fun, fast in less wind than that

    Hope this helps the discussion

    Catsketcher, can you email me rather than pm me, thanks

    Richard Woods on board Romany in the Bahamas

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     

    Attached Files:

  14. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Perhaps the Outremer is more towards the racing end of the spectrum than the cruising end, but I think what this really demonstrates is the overall proficiency of the Eclipse. I really admire designers who can find that balance.
    I hope you're not accusing me of being glib, Richard (and I do have an awful lot of numbers and sketches down on paper for concepts like this)... what I'm trying to say is that most production cats I've seen try to cram far too much volume into a given length, and that if the same resources- the same money, the same amount of material, the same all-up displacement, the same sail area- are devoted to longer hulls instead of fancy finishes and full bridgedeck saloons, the result ought to be a better sea boat (albeit with higher mooring/hauling fees).
    That's not quite what I'm thinking.... scaling up everything but the rig doesn't work, as all of us know. What I'm trying to say is that I don't like it when too much boat is crammed into too little length (as is the case with the typical charter cat). Added length, provided that living space, weight, luxury, systems, etc. aren't scaled up too, doesn't bring much if any penalty.

    Richard, your "Meander" ( http://www.sailingcatamarans.com/meander ) and "Rhea", if built with a small, compact enclosed bridgedeck area, appear to be roughly what I'd consider an "ideal" long-term, liveaboard bluewater family boat. This is almost exactly what I was talking about earlier, albeit a little lighter- the living space we've come to expect on a charter barge of 33' or so, but in a longer, faster, more seaworthy configuration that ought to be no more difficult to handle. In my case- where the planned cruises will involve four, possibly six humans and a canine- the "perfect" boat would take a similar concept, only enlarged by 15-25% compared to "Meander".

    I agree completely that a proper cruising boat ought to be good in light airs as well as in strong winds. And I don't think a boat this large is needed or justified if you're hopping along inland waterways or day-sailing in good conditions; still, for serious bluewater cruising, this is the way I'd likely go.

    I don't have a big boat yet- my current cruiser is only five metres LOA (we camp on shore) and the next one is eight metres. So for anyone reading these threads, you ought to put more stock in the responses of those who are more experienced.

    Of course, this is getting away from the OP's request for MINIMUM size and cost. For that, I do think we need a better idea of how the boat would be used.... still, while you have Richard's site open, pull up the Eclipse as, from what I can see, that's about as compact a boat as I'd think a family of four would be comfortable, happy and safe on for an extended cruise of indefinite duration. Evidently, a lot of Eclipse owners seem to think they're about the right size for an economical, practical family cruiser.
     

  15. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    Thank you for your kind comments on my Eclipse

    I certainly didn't intend to be personal with my glib comments (maybe they were made too glibly! I should have said "one can" rather than "you can") It was just a statement intended for everyone.

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     
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