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LookingForCruiser 03-05-2008 02:50 PM

Relative tippiness of multihulls
Hello all,

I was going to post this to the Design & Construction, but the stickied thread there warned against posting pre-purchase questions, which this is also. So my apologies if I've posted into the wrong discussion group.

So I'm looking into cheaper cruising multihulls, such as the Iroquois. Regular sailboats make my wife seasick, but she's fine on catamarans, so that's a hard constraint.

I've looked at an Iroquois and a Gemini so far. I liked the lines on the Iroquois, it's a very pretty catamaran. The inside is quite cramped though, but on the plus side there's relatively high clearance underneath the boat, so there should be less slapping. It also has an outboard instead of inboard, which I consider a plus (less thru-hulls, easier maintenance).

My biggest concern is the number of capsizes of Iroquois catamarans. Are these boats relatively more tippy than more modern catamarans such as the Gemini ? Were they marketed to racers who pushed the limit ? Or are all smallish catamarans equally tippy, and have an equal chance of going belly up ?

No urgency on replies since both particular boats are long since sold. Have to buy the wife a new car in a couple of months and then the boat hunt begins in earnest (I was ready to buy a year ago, but my wife prefers that I don't rack up piles of debt and have cash in hand first).

sailingdog 03-05-2008 03:28 PM

A cruising catamaran, properly sailed is in very little danger of capsizing. Most cruising multihulls that capsize were due to human error.

I don't think the Iroquois is any tippier than the Gemini by any real amount, in fact, IIRC, the Iroquois has a higher beam-to-length ratio than the Gemini, so should be a bit more stable. But it really depends on which model of the Gemini and Iroquois you're talking about specifically.

However, the later models of the Geminis, the 105 series, are probably more stable than the previous models, since the hulls were redesigned to push the centers of buoyancy further out than the older hulls.

You might want to join the Yahoo Gemini Catamaran group and look at the Iroquois Catamaran Owners' website.

I'm pretty sure that if either boat had a serious stability problem, that a lot more would have been written about it. Most of the stories I've read on capsizing multihulls, it was almost invariably one of two things. Either they were racing or they made a mistake.

In general, a multihull has to be sailed a bit differently than a monohull. A monohull will generally reef for the average wind strength and let the boat's heeling take care of the gusts. A multihull reefs for the gust strengths and doesn't worry so much about the average winds, since it can't heel to shed the excess wind. This is more true of catamarans, which have a much higher resistance to heeling than of trimarans, which can heel a bit.

Some of the dangers in monohulls, like broaching and rolling, are very much reduced in a multihull. Some of the IOR era boats, going downwind, can start to roll and then broach. A multihull doesn't really do this, since they tend to have much higher initial stability figures compared to monohulls. The fact that they have multiple narrow hulls also tends to prevent them from broaching. They also seem to do much better in "rolly" anchorages. I've anchored in a few spots and seen monohulls come and then leave due to the fact that they would start to roll a fair bit while anchored in the same cove as me, while I wasn't really affected by the waves.

Several good smaller cruising multihulls that you might be interested in are the Gemini, the Iroquois, the Catalac 8M, and the Heavenly Twins 26. All of these boats have made ocean crossings. The Catalac, Iroquois and Heavenly Twins that are in this country probably came over under their own power, since all three were European built IIRC.

It would help if you said what kind of budget you were expecting to have. I generally recommend that you reserve about 15-20% of your total budget for refitting, upgrading and modifying whatever boat you buy, since boats are not like cars and often need to be modified to suit the people sailing them.

I would ask what your sailing plans are, since that may affect what boat would be best suited for you.

You should be aware that a catamaran, while having a lot of stowage space, can't really be loaded down with stuff to fill all that space and still perform safely.

If you're interested in sailing on a multihull, I do have some friends that have a Gemini that sails out of the New Bedford region.

TrueBlue 03-05-2008 03:31 PM

Nicely balanced and informative reply sailingdog. (can't give you any more rep points, since I "have to spread some more around before giving it to you again") (g)

sailingdog 03-05-2008 03:40 PM

Thanks TB. :) Keep it in mind if you and Mrs TB want another cruising boat, rather than a daysailer. :)

LookingForCruiser 03-05-2008 04:29 PM

The Iroquois Owners Association website moved, it's now at Iroquois Owners Association Index Page - I'm not sure why they kept the old one up. I will check out the Gemini owners group on Yahoo, thanks for the pointer.

That's the web site that first made me wary of the Iroquois tipping, they keep talking about capsizes in their newsletters. Then when I searched various other sailing forums, there would be occasional mentions of the Iroquois having a tendency to capsize. Thus my query as to whether it was more prevalent in the Iroquois than other small cruising catamarans.

I'm looking to do coastal cruising around Buzzards Bay and the Islands for the most part. I think it would be cool to sail to Bermuda at some point once or twice, but that's totally optional.

Thinking of spending around $30k, which covers Iroquois and older Gemini's.

Thanks for your reply.

chucklesR 03-05-2008 04:58 PM

30k Doesn't buy you a use-able catamaran - you might find a old Gemini 3000 for that, certainly not a Gemini 105 or 105mc.

30k buys you a LOT of work before you put it in the water.

Keep in mind that for the most part, you get what you pay for.

Look for Charles Kanters 'Cruising Catamaran Communique' it is an excellent choice of reading for and a very good source of data for all things cruising in catamaran's and their realitive merits.

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me, I'm the resident Gemini owner - SailDog just wishes he was :)

Patience Two, Gemini 105Mc #987 - launched May 2007

sailingdog 03-05-2008 06:38 PM

Nah... I'm very happy with my trimaran.

I'd agree...any catamaran, especially a cruising sized one, like a Gemini or Iroquois, is going to be in pretty rough shape.

A couple good books to read:

Chris White's The Cruising Multihull
Thomas Firth Jones' Multihull Voyaging

kwaltersmi 03-05-2008 06:47 PM

With $30k, you'd be better off shopping for a monohull. You can get a lot of monohull for $30k, or rather a very nice monohull.

In my shopping experience, the only cats you'll find for up to $30k will be in horrible condition or custom/homemade varieties of questionable build-quality. I'd say $75k might be a better minimum for finding a sail-away condition cat. I think Iroquois go in the $60k-$80k range while Gemini's start around $70k and go up quickly from there.

chucklesR 03-05-2008 07:24 PM

1 Attachment(s)
The gemini gems website has as complete a listing as you will find on Gemini's for sale worldwide.
Gemini Gems - Classified Ads is the free, non-member classifieds page.

a 1991 3200 for 75k
a 1995 3400 for 72k
a 1996 105 for 87k

It goes up from there.
Bamboo, Hull number 161 is the only one to my knowledge that is in your price range, here is a picture - and you can see why it's in your range (asking is 32k) (PM me if you want contact info, boat is in Paradise Texas and comes with a trailer):

LookingForCruiser 03-05-2008 07:26 PM

I wasn't going to say to anything, because I'm a novice, but I've never seen an Iroquois listed for anything near $60k. They top out at $30k. This is looking at dozens of listings, old and new.

I did speak with the fellow who bought the Iroquois I looked at earlier (it was advertised for a little over $30k, and then a little under $30k a few months later), it had some problems with the holding tank but other than that was fine (at least as far as he told me).

I don't know what happened with the Gemini 3000, that was asking $32k but I didn't see anything horribly wrong with it. Doesn't mean there wasn't, I'm no surveyor. It was a very early 80's model.

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