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Headingsouth 07-09-2006 07:53 PM

What to look for in a cruising catamaran
I know I will get some bad comments on this one, but here goes. I am new to sailing, other than very small daysailers many years ago. I would like any constructive input on purchasing a cruising cat in the 40-50 foot range. I plan to head from the Chesapeake to Florida through the ICW with occasional offshore (once I figure out which sections of each are best avoided). I will eventually wind up in the Caribbean, likely taking the route down the Bahamas and T&C sometime in late fall of next year. Planning to spend 1-2 years as full live aboard and will either keep boat or place into charter service and use it 5-6 weeks per year thereafter. So... My questions - Any particular brand that seems to have more space? - I have a wife and 7 and 13 year old kids, plus the inevitable new best friends that come with the boat. How much will the weight of living aboard (watermaker likely, genset, A/C??) affect performance? Is there sufficient space below to store bikes, kayak and minimal scuba gear? Prefer the models with a semi-flybridge or at least raised helm. I am looking at either a new or nearly new, possibly Lagoon, Leopard or similar. Yes, somewhat spoiled, but definitely ready to ditch the fast pace for a while. Any thoughts, questions or comments appreciated.

ebs001 07-09-2006 08:23 PM

I currently have a mono hull but would love to be able to afford a cruising cat. For liveaboards they have far more room the amenties are second to non, you can see the scenery from the main salon and you never sail on the walls.They sail well without a deep draft which is a real benefit in Florida and the Bahamas. If money is not a concern take a look at a PDQ Antares 44 , a Lagoon 44 which has a fly bridge (although the mast height will not let you use the ICW) or a Manta 42. Any of these and I'd love to be one of your new best friends

sailingdog 07-09-2006 08:36 PM

I hope you're ready for the large expenses that a catamaran in the 40-50 foot range are going to incur. Large cats have very high docking/moorage fees, mainly due to the wide beam of the boat.

Weight is always a problem on catamarans. There is a lot of storage space, and if you fill them all up, the performance of the boat will really suffer.

I would highly recommend that you read Chris White's The Cruising Multihull as a primer. Although the book is a bit dated, it is still an excellent overview of multihull cruing boats.

I would also recommend chartering on several cats that interest you before purchasing one, as that will give you some real world experience with it.

Generally, the sailing performance on the cats is slightly better on the ones that have a centerboard or daggerboard, rather than just keels.

sailandoar 07-09-2006 09:44 PM

Gemini & Wharram
Two very different vessels but my favorites.
Get a copy of James Wharram's "The Wharram Design Book" aprox $26 and it will entertain and educate you on cats.

Gemini 34 has beam under 14' so it will fit in most marina slips and has draft of 18" to 24" with the center boards up so you can anchor/sail nearly anywhere.

Headingsouth 07-09-2006 10:20 PM

Thanks for the great responses. I will definitely pick up the recommended books, as I have been gorging myself on information prior to making "the" decision. I am planning on viewing lots of boats at the Ft. Lauderdale show - although I'm wondering if the Annapolis sailboat show may be more help?? I also plan to do a bareboat in the Caribbean on the boat that I plan to buy. They all look good in the harbor... Most of my interests have been in boats that are also highly utilized in the charter market, so shouldn't be a problem.
ebs - I realized that the mast height on the lagoon is significant - is that because of the height of the boom with the fly bridge? What are the height concerns on the ICW? I'll obviously order a guide to the ICW, but was not aware that there were some fixed height obstructions. Please inform. Thanks again for the info.

Headingsouth 07-09-2006 10:22 PM

Oh, and ebs - you can be my newest bestest friend as long as you bring the beer.

sailingdog 07-09-2006 10:46 PM

The Gemini 105MC is an excellent choice for a catamaran that size. It is relatively inexpensive, and the owners association is fairly active. The modest beam does allow it to fit in some marina slips. It is also capable of bluewater passages, and is in EU RCD category A, which is Ocean rated.

IIRC, an air draft over 52' will cause significant problems on the ICW. Air drafts of less than that are generally okay though.

Headingsouth 07-09-2006 11:28 PM

Thanks sailing dog. I checked out the Gemini, but I think it's a little small for us at this point - I think once we get going we can downsize, but don't think we could go from shore to ship that size at this point. I think the American version of the Lagoon 44 has an air draft around 63', so I guess I'm outside most of the way... I have ordered this years guides to the ICW, I guess they show clearances in various areas. I'm not too worried about doing the whole trip in bluewater, just wanted to see certain sites along the waterway. Thanks for the info..

ebs001 07-11-2006 08:47 PM

The lagoon 44 has a bridge clearance of 70 ft. Other cruising cats in this size range are around 60 ft, so it must be the flybridge. Most fixed bridges on the ICW give a minimum clearance of 65 ft. although there is a bridge at the North end of Biscayne Bay that only has a clearance of 56 Ft. Skipper Bob publishes a couple of inexpensive books ($16 ea) that I found invaluable when I have travelled on the ICW. He has a web sight where you can get descriptions of the books available. They are updated each year so are they are always current.
How many beer?

Headingsouth 07-14-2006 02:33 AM

ebs, thanks, I'm reading as much as possible before I actually jump into it. I do believe that it is the flybridge that adds the additional mast height. I'm not worried about staying in the ICW all of the way, as long as I can hop in and out when I need to. I'm still not sure if I want the flybridge or maybe just the raised helm seat of the leopard. I know that I'm fortunate to have such tough decisions.... My guide books for the ICW should be here within the next few days - will post if there are any specific questions. Thanks for the help. How many beers you got??

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