Minimum cruising cat-size & cost

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

  1. Milan
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    Milan Senior Member

    Well, they are not a mass producer, built about 200 boats in twenty years or so. They have found their niche. In the 80-ties, 3 – 4 boats were built per year, later, production capacity raised to about 20 / year. They are now in the partnership with Allure, aluminum center boarders builder.

    There are also some other small commercial builders of similar concept cats as Outremer.
    Like your thinking. :)

    Obviously, buying an Outremer won’t win this contest as they are not exactly cheap. But consider self building 40 light, (one on the picture), in strip/ply. (It would be even better then early production models, that were built in solid fiberglass).

    There is nothing especially expensive in this concept. It is only maybe 20 percent more raw materials for longer hulls and cross-beams. Deck house could be lower, with only sitting room. Very simple, mostly empty interior, low power engine or outboard and minimum of gadgets would save the biggest expenses.

    I don’t think that such 40 feet boat would be significantly more costly then say, 33 feet boat with similar displacement/ accommodation. Certainly wouldn’t take 6 years more to get one.
    Don’t worry, we all know that all boats are never ending projects, it gets messy sometimes, part of the charm.
    I don’t own a yacht at a present as I got involved into the Dutch charter – traditional-sailing–ships-scene. Very different kind of sailing then what we are talking about on this thread. Interesting, chalangeing and nice in its own way. Trying to get license for sailing ship master for maximum ships length of 40 meters, coastal.
    It occupies nearly all of my free time/energy, not enough left to own a boat.

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  2. Bruce Woods
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    Bruce Woods Senior Member

    Long and skinny

    Making a hull longer and slimmer for the same displacement has the downside of increased wetted surface.If using the same size rig as would be used on a shorter boat then this will make for a slower vessel in lighter winds, not such a problem when it blows.
  3. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    Richard,i dont understand your reference to poor load carrying capacity of the Outremer 42, compared to what? if you compare it to one of the Mcmansions of the sea such as a Lagoon,of course it wont carry as much,thats the whole point,if you want to carry everything under the sun you dont buy one. You appear to be suggesting that the 42 has less space than your 32ft Eclipse, if this is so then it is not the type of cat i was suggesting in my last post which would be more akin to taking the midship section of eclipse and stretching it out,you get more space and more load carrying and more speed overall but not necesarily in all conditions,you do need more rig though as you have more weight and wetted surface by default,my Macgregor 36 weighed 4000lbs and had a 44ft mast but you are not going to go anywhere near as big as heavier cats of the same length,btw last race of last season we finished a 10mile race 4th behind a C&C35, Catalina42 and Beneteau 42.7 and stretched out on a 2yr old Beneteau 40, we were sailing an old C&C24 which i had retrofitted with a J24 fractional rig and was the 2nd smallest in the fleet of 14 boats, this does not mean we are faster than a beneteau 40,just on that day under those conditions,every dog has its day i guess.
  4. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Stretching a small cat

    The best example I know of stretching a cat is that done by John Hitch. John is an amazingly experienced multihuller - he co-drew the Kraken 33 with Crowther, sailed and won the only multi Hobart in Bandersnatch(1966), had the Gradstone record for a few years. He then drew up the Hitchiker. It was an amazing tale of bracket creep.

    He started out with a 33 footer with enough room for a couple and a kid or two built in the style of a Wharram but with more performance. Then builders couldn't help themselves and put bridgedecks on. The boats went fine and one sailed around the world in the early 80s. As the boats were heavier than designed Hitch stretched out the same hull sections and we got the Hitchiker 40. John Glennie (he got fame by setting the upside down record in a tri off New Zealand - Rose Noelle) made the cat nicer to look at. Builders now had a 33 footer stretched to 40 and they loaded the buggers right up. They became a heavy 40 footer. Then again they did have a 40 footers rig and headroom - Hitch tried to hold them down but the builders (one was a very good friend of mine) couldn't help but stack on the superstructure.

    For his own boat John Hitch then stretched the stations again to produce a 50 footer. Only two of two of these were built that I know of. Neither had a bridgedeck cabin.

    This is more a tale of builders and designers rather than saying you can't stretch a boat. My good friend was building a 40 footer and was going to put all of the room he could fit in it, even though it wasn't supposed to be built that way - he was building a 40 footer and he wanted his moneys worth.

    I think that you have to massage the extra length into the hulls. Maybe you have to trick the average person into believing their boat is not quite as big as it is. I know I tell myself I have a 35 footer stretched to 38 foot. Almost every cat built in the 80s and 90s has a 3 ft stern extension so I try and think to myself - your boat is not to be loaded down. Get rid of weight. If you have lots of leftover length it could be terribly enticing for a greedy builder - Oh I might just put a double berth there - they will say. Greedy. Greedy. Maybe that is one of the multihullers sins.


  5. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    This is the comment that confused me.

    "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."

    And in particular the last clause (my italics).

    I have found that in practice just about the longest luff mainsail you can hoist without using a winch is 45ft. So about what you use on a 35ft multihull. Furthermore the halyard loads are small enough that you only need a single part halyard.

    If you have a luff longer than that not only do you need to winch the sail up you also need to have a mainsheet track style luff slides. On most multihulls I've seen over 45ft crews use the anchor winch to hoist the mainsail. Seems crazy to have to go onto the foredeck to reef. I met a cruiser who broke her wrist on a 48ft cat when the halyard slipped off the winch as she was hoisting the mainsail.

    The maximum mainsheet purchase you can sensibly use without getting too much friction through the blocks is an 8:1 system. Again this relates to about a 35ft boat. Bigger boats mean you need to take the mainsheet to a winch

    So to summarize:

    On a multihull under 35ft you can hoist the mainsail without winching and with cheap sail slides. And you can control the mainsheet without winches

    On a multihull between 35 - 45 ft you need a 2:1 main halyard, Batt car sail slides (or equiv) and a winch for the mainsheet. On multihulls over 45ft you'll probably want to use a powered winch for the main halyard.

    I recall it took 6 men to hoist the mainsail on the Norseman 43 I raced in the Capetown to Rio race. No way could I do it myself.

    So I don't think you can ever have a 48ft catamaran rig that can be as easy to use as a 35ft rig, and it is always going to be way more expensive, even allowing for scaling effects

    On another topic. No one is ever going to have a commercial success with a catamaran over 30ft without standing headroom everywhere. That's why there aren't any produced. If you want a boat like that you need to have it bult as a one off. Not necessarily as expensive as it sounds as you don't pay sales commission or for big profit margins.

    Final comment: Traditional Dutch yachts are not that different from multihulls - they don't self-right after a capsize either! Fortunately the water is usually so shallow in Holland you can walk ashore after doing so....

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs
  6. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    I agree with all of that, Richard, provided you're talking about a well proportioned, well balanced cruising boat.

    When I think "typical production cat of 11 m or so", I'm thinking of something like a Lagoon 380 or the many similar boats built in large quantities for the charter market. 800 to 900 sq.ft of sail on a boat of 7 to 8 tonnes, 35 to 38 feet overall. The few cats we see around my area tend to be this variety.

    When I say that I think one would be better off "stretching" this boat, what I'm saying is that if one wants an 8-tonne boat, it's better to build something properly proportioned for an 8-tonne boat- a lot of the production models seem to be somewhat too short for the weight they are expected to carry.

    The argument obviously does not apply to a boat such as the Eclipse that is already pretty well proportioned for its weight and speed.
  7. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    This has been a truly interesting and informative thread, but we may be straying slightly from the original point of the thread. I would agree with Richard that the ideal size of a cruising cat, at least for a cruising couple, is somewhere between 30 and 35 feet.

    But what's the absolute minimum in time and money? If you're willing to cruise without standing headroom, how small could you go without risking death or a bad back?

    I imagine that the question gets easier if the builder is willing to restrict his cruising to relatively short passages in settled weather. In that case, many small multis might serve.
    Richard has drawn several great-looking small cats, and I believe a flotilla of Striders crossed the North Sea. (Though I would hazard a guess that Richard would not recommend crossing an ocean in one.)

    Restricting the design concept to coastal cruising might yield another benefit. A lot of folks are being priced out of the marina and even the mooring field. Not a lot of new marinas are being built and in some areas even a mooring is becoming pretty expensive. If our minimal cruising multi could also be trailerable, it would open up multihull cruising to a lot more people.

    When I say trailerable, I don't mean demountable. I once owned a "demountable" cat, a Wharram Tane. I loved that boat, but launching her and putting the sailing beams in and the slat decks on was the work of a whole afternoon, fraught with the dangers of sunstroke and divorce. Once I compounded my error by locking the keys in the car, an error not discovered until after the fraught four hours it took to launch the boat, when my wife was really ready to drive home to a cool drink and air-conditioning.

    I'm talking about a boat you can hook up after work, drive to a nearby ramp, drop it in and sail for an hour or two before hauling the boat out and going home to supper.

    For the most part, the only small multis that fit into this category are tris, because they are a lot better at folding than small cats have been. An exception might be the J5s and J6s by Turner, but these boats get around the beam problem by being very small and using a monococque construction fixed at trailerable beam. Their owners seem to really like them, but to my eye, they don't look stable enough for short offshore passages. They do occasionally capsize, which worries me. I may be completely wrong about them, and perhaps they've accomplished notable passages.

    This dearth of little trailerable cats is unfortunate. I personally prefer cats to tris as cruising machines. There are many excellent choices for those who don't share this opinion-- I believe Richard has recently designed a sharp little tri drawn to reuse a beach cat-- but it's been a drought for the folks who like cats.

    The biggest problem for trailerable cats, at least for me, is the "tunnel hull syndrome." Because of towing restrictions in most countries, cabin width is limited to about 4 feet. This is claustrophobic, and it gets worse the bigger the boat. I was once aboard a MacGregor 36, and it was positively depressing to go below, like being in a long sewer pipe.

    Thomas Firth Jones drew Brine Shrimp to fold together along the middle of the deck. This allowed adequate beam for a 23 footer and it still was trailerable. This gave him and extra foot or so of cabin width, which he said made a big difference in the sight lines.

    Anyway, to finally arrive at my question, what can be done about this tunnel hull curse of small trailerable cats? You can't blame novice boat buyers for their preference. You go below in a nice trailerable tri and it's a boat. Try to shoehorn the wife into a sea-going coffin and you may have a mutiny. So what can be done?
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  8. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Herding Cats

    Cat drought got your perception?

    The answers, perhaps, might be the sail powered Gato Especial and the Neo 21, as a pair of cool oases on the path less traveled.

    For those who prefer an engine, the Largo offers a unique solution for efficient cruising catamarans

    There are quite a few trimarans, as well, but this is a catamaran thread.

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  9. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    The 24ft Striders Ray mentioned were a trio that we sailed singlehanded (it is always an awkward one this, "we sailed singlehanded") That is three identical boats each sailed by one person.

    Anyway we sailed them from Plymouth to the USSR and back to Holland in 1989. About 3000 miles and three months in total. I believe we were the only foreign multihulls ever to visit the USSR. You can see more of that trip on my website and on my video.

    But that was 20 years ago, and although Stuart was in his mid 50's then, as I am now, I'm not sure if I would repeat it. My back may give out. Having said that Jetti and I have done a lot of cruising in our 25ft Merlin in British Columbia, and spent up to 3 weeks a time on board.

    Our Merlin has a small cuddy which transforms cruising. Way better than a tent (in the same way that a house is better than a tent). I write this on our Romany moored in a gale in the Bahamas, sitting in the cuddy. It would be miserable if we had to stay in a hull. So even on larger boats a cuddy or bridgedeck cabin is pretty much essential for live aboard cruising, even in the tropics.

    There are trailable catamarans with cuddies, have a look at my 22ft Wizard and 25ft Sango for example. Both are at least as seaworthy as a Strider (more so if you include the protection for the crew that the cuddy offers).

    I have written it before, but will say it again here.

    Currently we own two boats, a Merlin in BC and a Romany which is on the east coast USA. It seems crazy to pay mooring fees, insurance etc for both boats. So why not have one we can take from coast to coast? That is why I am sketching a 28ft boat that I reckon is the sensible maximum for towing, even in the USA.

    If I can sell one of my boats then this 28fter will be my next cruising boat. True it will be demountable, not trailable, as it will take a day to assemble. But we only plan on doing that once or twice a year (although the idea of circumnavigating the US has appeal - driving from sailing ground to sailing ground sure beats sailing there.)

    Few people live aboard full time for long in the UK, most live aboard cruisers immediately sail south either to the tropics or to the Med. So the majority of live aboard cruisers in the UK actually become ocean sailors.

    Even those who live in the UK think nothing of sailing across the English Channel to France for a weekend, which from Plymouth is 120 miles of open water each way - twice the distance of Florida to the Bahamas. (And of course the French think nothing of sailing to the UK)

    Whereas you can live in, say, Toronto, and sail to Panama without ever sailing as much as 120 miles non stop.

    So for east coast America sailors there is no need for an ocean going boat to live aboard, a coastal sailor will do just fine. I have never sailed in Australia, but my guess is that most liveaboard cruisers there don't sail far from Australia. In S Africa there are so few ports that I doubt if there are many live aboard cruisers at all.

    So different countries have different requirements. A 28ft live aboard trailable cruiser would never work in the UK, even though it seems to be a sensible option in the US or Canada.

    These days designers try to sell world wide, otherwise they cannot survive. If a boat is unsuitable for several major markets is it worth designing, is it better to design boats that one knows will sell everywhere??

    Having said that, there are no sports fisherman in the UK - no fish to catch and fuel at USD8 a gal means few can afford to go out to sea. Yet they are an important market in the US.

    I have rambled enough

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs
  10. dstgean
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    dstgean Senior Member

    Actually, the rambling is quite interesting--as is the mention of a "transportable" 28 ft. boat. Are you thinking of something along the lines of you Sango and Wizard or something more like a mini Eclipse with two hulls and a salon?

    Presently, like Ray, I'm doing the camp cruising thing with a small trailerable cat and having a wonderful time--but would love to so some cruising with my small but growing family in a boat that seems reasonable even to a teacher!

  11. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    For the time being think of a Skua with a Tucanu type cuddy. (Although the new boat will be quite different in appearance)

    We have a pickup truck in the US/Canada, I am expecting the cuddy to fit on the back of that, thus leaving the trailer just for hulls and beams. That is what we do with Tucanu. We have even slept in the cuddy when on the truck.

    So the boat will fully demount, not fold as Wizard/Sango

    More later this year

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs
  12. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    masalai masalai

    Has the initial poster defined where the intended cruising ground is to be? 1st and last pages seem consistently discussing various options 20 something feet and up...

    Just because you are thinking of a cat, do not consider catering for visitors by fitting extra bed-spaces, (unless your new business will be a 'floating free hotel' for friends and extended family)...

    Cats get severely handicapped when weight is added - - - food and other stores for long range cruising... If you "demand to carry lots of stuff in case you may require it during the voyage", then go for a big load carrying mono...

    Sage advice I received included,
    * - build as big as you can afford (length of hulls),
    * - weigh everything - become paranoid about additional weight,
    * - enjoy the space and do not fill it up,
    * - your mantra is - KISS, - KISS - I repeat, Keep It Simple, Stupid...

    IT IS A CASE of "horses for courses" - - * cats are not necessarily "faster",
    * - cats are more pleasing to the cook (steady platform),
    * - cats make an excellent venue for "sundowners" (BYO saves you money too?:D)
    * - cats can sneak up closer to the shore in that quiet and sheltered bay/lagoon (mine draws about 750mm),
    * - cats can sneak up those mangrove lined shallow creeks to shelter during a severe storm (tie off to the older mangroves, far better set than any anchor will ever be)
    * - Even live-aboard-power-boats seldom cruise above 12 knots, so anything above 4 knots is faster than a mono-live-aboard-cruiser, when considering a comparison with your multihull-live-aboard-cruiser, carrying less than a third of the weight...

    Below 36 ft a tri is the go - unless you are talking a "beach cat that can be trailer-ed as soon as the mast is down

    30 to 40 range seems best in a tri (If you really must and have the knowledge and extensive experience.competence to do so)

    A CRUISING CAT starts to be a good consideration around 40 ft but at that length demands a skill-set and experience to go direct as opposed to going the scenic route along the island chains...

    A desperate cruising yachtsman can start from a micro??? but live-aboard solo is minimum 30 ft with caution, skill, knowledge, experience and coastal work to get anywhere...
  13. tspeer
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    tspeer Senior Member

    I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the Farrier tris are exactly of this variety. I crew on an F27, and from when he pulls into the parking lot until we are motoring away from the dock is 30 minutes. The unfolding process is a very small part of this time, and if you're in a hurry to get to the start of the Wednesday night beer-can race, you can do the unfolding as you're motoring to the starting area, making the launch time no different than a monohull. The time required to pull the boat out, drop the mast, and get ready to drive away is about the same. And this is doing it in a leisurely way, with a certain amount of shooting the breeze mixed in.

    I'd be surprised if one can build, say, a 25 ft cat for what one can buy a used F27 if one puts any value on one's time at all, and if the cost of the shop space, tools, materials, hardware, sails, etc are all taken into account.
  14. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    This applies nicely, Tom... IF one wants to sail and recreate on a folding trimaran. Not everyone does and that's why there is a saturation limit to the F-Boat-ish market.

    The age-old dilemma for the homebuilder is grounded in the, "do I measure my time as cost in this enterprise?" question. From my experience of having built many boats and having heard the stories from folks who have built from my plans; the building of one's boat is not necessarily a pragmatic process. It's very much grounded in the romantic aspects of the human psyche. Couple those with the business of having done it yourself and you have a very powerful argument that is going to be tough for any used F27 to find itself as a comparison object.

    As nice as the engineering of the F27 might be, there is a whole segment of people who will always look at it as factory stuff. Show them a bitchin' H12 1/2 and they'll drool all over the place, even if it doesn't match their boating needs.

    Then there's the business of having to come up with the cash in one lump, OR get ***** by a used boat finance percentage rate. The homebuilder gets to allocate budget as he goes and there's no hurry save for self-motivation.

    To each his own.

  15. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    I don't disagree with this, but what do you do if you greatly prefer a cat to a tri for cruising?

    As I said, at the boat show dock, there's little doubt most folks would feel happier when they go below in an F-27 than in any trailerable cat. But take a sample of neophyte sailors on a cruise, and they might find certain elements of the cat preferable. If it were possible to solve the tunnel hull problem, so that the cat feels like a proper boat below, then opinions might change.

    My interest in tiny cruising cats means that I'm thinking of boats even smaller than a 25 foot cat-- the boat on my drawing board at present is a 23 footer that could be built for a small fraction of the cost of a used F-27 and trailed behind a small car. But the tunnel hull curse is a virulent one. I'd want a trailerable cat with enough beam to carry a fairly powerful rig... plus a lot of beam is a crucial element in what makes modern cats so pleasant to sail in a seaway.

    Any cruising boat I build has to have a double bunk, too, which brings us back to the tunnel hull syndrome. It's a tough one.
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