SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have been looking at catamaran designs and one thing I have noticed that seems odd is the position of a proper out of the weather helm. You find most cats have either a back of boat raised helm or seemingly better (to me) back of boat dual side helms. What you rarely find are cats with a proper helm inside the cabin/pilothouse. I have only found two cats that have what to me seems a proper sensible layout - Gunboat and Atlantic

For example, for the Gunboat, on its homepage the 48 footer shows in its ninth picture a proper helm INSIDE.

For example, for the Atlantic, note picture 3 here Chris White Designs

This to me seems to be an ideal design layout. I find the Atlantic's forward cockpick a great design decision as well.

So, what am I missing? Literally every other catamaran manufacturer has the helm at the back of the boat and at best on both sides. Is it that the vast majority of boats are basically charter boats and not really meant for 'ideal' design - by that I mean in the Atlantics if you are in a smaller version you totally lose a back 'patio' in order to get that forward drive station.

For reference, I am a total boat newb, just making an observation from digging around looking at designs versus what my expectation would be of an ideal one - the Atlantic 48 to me looks 'ideal' in what I have seen thus far in that I get a back deck, a proper inside helm and a better visibility forward drive station. Best of all worlds no?

Am I missing something about design here or practicality that has most other boats not putting full helms into the cabin or not having forward drive stations?

Regards,

Yellowwducky
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
The Atlantics are probably a bad example in that they're pretty much only custom built boats...they're not a production boat. However, his boats are generally designed for serious long-distance cruising, and as such aren't necessarily going to have the same design goals as a lot of the production catamarans which were primarily designed for the charter market.

Be aware that both of the catamarans you've pointed out are probably in the $750,000+ range or so... if not more, and probably not for the complete boat newbie.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Silly question time but if its 'better', why wouldn't the mass producers make a more cruiser oriented boat like those ones I mentioned then? It seems, correct me if I am wrong, that the charter boats are meant for very different purposes than proper cruiser boats. Throwing an owner version on a charter oriented boat still is a charter boat in terms of its fundamental design no? I mean, hull shape, mass, same sail plan, same riggings etc etc. I gather there are piles of owner oriented boats bought - am I missing the makers that produce more to that clientele somewhere? It almost seems that the performance cruiser crowd gets sucked down to the charter performance level but that there would seem to be enough of performance long range cruiser types around to justify someone making the boat for that segment?

I realize the one I linked to was 750k. That said, a Fontaine 48 footer comes in around 550k and from my rough comparison of fit out would require a bit more gear. If people are will to pay, say 600k for a FP or whoevers charter boat for long range cruising, wouldn't that person be almost in the market for something like what I described and is like the two I mentioned?

Sorry if I am missing something obvious, I am just very interested in the market and what is available that might be what I could aspire to at some point. I definitely would pay a premium myself for a faster catamaran that might not have quite as much room on board - faster passages means seeing more faster as well as less exposure to the risk of weather on those passages. Thats definitely got to be worth some money no?
 

·
Salty Dog
Joined
·
120 Posts
I have chartered many large cats that all had the helm set on the aft vertical surface of the cabin, the arrangement works well for me, especially when you have a sliding or flap that can open on the bimini.

There are several major builders that now have fly bridges on the cats, not for me, me thinks it not only looks dorky but performance suffers and they set the skipper away from the rest of the crew.

The aft helm stations I have seen put the skipper right in the weather, little or no protection at all from sun, squalls, etc.
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
Yellowwducky-


Just because the design is better for the purposes of cruising, doesn't mean that it works as well for the charter trade. Remember, that most manufacturers have to recoup the costs of the tooling and molds etc... so making the maximum number of boats and selling to the largest markets is the most effective way for them to do so.

Unfortunately, that means that the boats are designed to the needs of the charter companies rather than long distance cruisers... and what works for one... basically a floating platform to get from one resort to another, coastal hopping and partying along the way, doesn't really work for the other—long bluewater passages between far off destinations.

This is also why many production monohulls have little in the way of stowage and handholds, but a lot in the way of cabin space... which is dangerous on a bluewater passage—they're effectively floating condos with space for socializing and entertainment rather than bluewater sailing vessels.

There is a very small market for higher speed/performance long distance cruising catamarans, but they're only available at a fairly steep premium. The Chris White designs are good examples...but again...you won't find the huge cockpits that make the charter boats so great for socializing as a general rule. The Gunboat cats are another, and have an even higher premium than the Chris White designs IMHO.

Another thing I'd point out...that when you get up in to the larger catamarans, say 48'+, you're now dealing with boats that aren't meant for couples in general... they are often designed as crewed boats.... and sailing them as couple gets to be fairly difficult, since cruising as a couple often means you're effectively two people singlehanding a boat at different times. The sails on a catamaran that large are very heavy, as is the ground tackle, mooring equipment, dock lines, etc... A 48' catamaran is the equivalent of a 65' monohull in many ways...

Since you say you're a total boat newbie... I think it would be far more productive for you to start by sailing on as many boats as you can—both monohulls and multihulls—to get a feel for what you're really looking for in your first boat. This applies to not only whether you want a monohull or multihull, but how you want the boat's interior laid out, how you want the rigging setup, whether you want a tiller or wheel, etc...
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
But some of these have serious compromises in terms of blind spots and access to sail controls. From what I've seen, many of the charter-type catamarans aren't really setup for sailing short-handed all that well... and seem to have the helm optimized for MOTORING. This is especially true of the flybridge designs IMHO... since the sail controls are rarely up on the flybridge.
I have chartered many large cats that all had the helm set on the aft vertical surface of the cabin, the arrangement works well for me, especially when you have a sliding or flap that can open on the bimini.

There are several major builders that now have fly bridges on the cats, not for me, me thinks it not only looks dorky but performance suffers and they set the skipper away from the rest of the crew.

The aft helm stations I have seen put the skipper right in the weather, little or no protection at all from sun, squalls, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Interesting.

I agree, the fly bridges (if those are the ones with you up on a raised seat on one side overlooking the pilothouse) seem a bit scary to me. I am exposed to a ton of weather and I am elevated and by the edge of the boat; seems a bad position to be in if you ask me. Looking at the seating spot in the CW design for instance, I can still see weather being a problem but I am central to the boat and not at risk of getting washed overboard – plus, I don’t even have to be there at all; there is a full on helm inside! To me, this would seem to be very very high up on my list of sensible design features. Very high especially as I know my wife would be thinking very much in that way.

So yea, it sounds like the charter business does then kind of bring performance down to the lowest common denominator sailingdog. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure charter boats are great for their intended use – lots of people/space and not going out into offshore passages across oceans.

Yea, as a newbie I know I will need to do a fair amount of things to get a feel for what I am looking for. I am very certain though I would be thinking catamaran – to be honest, a sailboat scares me. The thought of a sailboat taking on water means a short trip to the bottom, at least with a catamaran it shouldn’t sink. No matter what a monohull has going for it, I don’t see anything it offers me personally that I would want over a catamaran.

I am not trying to stir up any flame wars here by the way, just my thoughts. Cats seem to be less likely to sink and take me with them, faster so I get across passages faster, are level so my wife won’t be uncomfortable; this is all win to my mind for a cat in my future should I get to go down this path. I am pretty sure there are hard core proponents on both sides. For me, I am positive a cat is the only thing I could see myself (and especially my wife) going for.

But it is a bummer knowing that the cats are generally a bit dumbed down for non long range cruiser type people. And again, even as a newbie, I know I am not the stay docked for 3 months type, I want to go go go. I will happily pay a premium if need be for something like that design requirement as well.

What does get me a bit concerned mind you is your comment on 48 foots not being meant for couples and these design types I mentioned not being as user/couple friendly. Does technology not solve some of these problems you mention (electric winches, rollup sails via rollers on jibs or on booms)? I thought 48 foot seemed a nice size he he ;) At a minimum I would think 42 to be honest in order to feel fairly secure at sea.
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
The only reason I made the point is that the gear on a 48' catamaran is pretty hefty. Electric winches and windlasses don't help you flake the sail, or carry them into the sail locker... or help you pull the anchor out of the locker and attach it to the rode. Electric winches also have a bad habit of failing when you need them most...

You've got to remember to factor in what your wife can handle by herself as the maximum for the size of gear your boat can have. If something happens to you, and she has to single hand the boat, she has to be able to handle everything on the boat herself, even if the electrics have bitten it...

The anchor on a 48' catamaran is going to be 70 lbs. not counting any chain. If the windlass breaks, is she going to be able to set or retrieve the anchor??? The mainsail on a FP 48 is 861 sq. ft.—will she be able to tuck a reef into that sail and re-hoist it if the winches fail...

Just remember, when you're sailing on longer bluewater passages, you and your wife will effectively be singlehanding the boat most of the time. If she can't singlehand whatever boat you get, what do you think will happen to her if anything happens to you—like falling overboard, etc. She has to know how to sail, navigate, etc the boat just as well as you do—this also applies to using any of the high-tech toys and the radios too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Good points. I have only been on a 40 foot monohull and it didn't seem that big to us at that time. Granted it was set up with racing sails that were lighter than normal sails and nothing broke nor were we hauling around anchors etc.

45 ;)
 

·
Larus Marinus
Joined
·
1,756 Posts
Looks like you are a confirmed multi-huller already (there's plenty here).

Go for it. Get a test sail, get the feel of the boat. SD is right, 48 feet of Cat is a (nice) lot of boat. You are good at electrics, so having redundant (duplicate) systems and the ability to repair them will ward off most horror scenarios. Get an explosive wire cutter, that will clear a few more. There's not much that a bit of extra technology can't overcome. Ellen sails much bigger beasts alone around the world. How hard can it be? ;)
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
The gear on a 40' monohull is probably comparable to a 34' catamaran... a 42 catamaran is more like a 57' monohull, and a 48' catamaran, more like a 65' monohull.

For instance... the mainsail on a FP 48 is 80 sq. meters., while the mainsail on a Hallberg Rassy 62 is 80.9 sq. meters.

BTW, the mainsail on a J/124 (41' LOA) is 411 sq. ft. or 37 sq. meters... A big difference... the mainsail you were raising was probably less than half the size of the sails on the FP 48.
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
The boats Dame Ellen sails are heavily modified, at a fair bit of expense, to be singlehanded by someone her size. She also has the advantage of having much more experience and skill than your average cruising sailor. :)

Looks like you are a confirmed multi-huller already (there's plenty here).

Go for it. Get a test sail, get the feel of the boat. SD is right, 48 feet of Cat is a (nice) lot of boat. You are good at electrics, so having redundant (duplicate) systems and the ability to repair them will ward off most horror scenarios. Get an explosive wire cutter, that will clear a few more. There's not much that a bit of extra technology can't overcome. Ellen sails much bigger beasts alone around the world. How hard can it be? ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
One comment that the Gunboat maker mentioned was that part of his rationale for the 48 footer was that someone could sail it solo given the way it was setup. So is that specific to THAT 48 do you think?

I would guess the sail areas on 48s are all somewhat similar (uh, big!). So is there anything that one boat maker in the same size boat as another do to make it more solo (or duo more importantly) friendly? Ie different sail plans make a big difference or difference size/type winches? The two I mentioned still, to me, look the most friendly for a duo in terms of sailing practicality (at the cost of probably not being as spacious).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Its a very nice looking boat for sure. The way the cabin goes so far 'over' that it provides light into the galley in the hull is very nice; have not really seen that before. Seems odd to have that huge prep space in the pilot house with a sink but not actually have a kitchen there to me. No helm inside again, so outside in the weather seems a bit of a minus. Full on pricing thats for sure, but much cheaper than a Gunboat - although they don't make anything smaller than a 48.

I am curious, whats the preference of people - raised seated versions of helms, deck level helm one side, deck level helm both sides or behind mast type designs like the Atlantic.
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
I'm sure you could solo almost any of these boats given no mechanical problems... unfortunately, mechanical problems have a nasty way of creeping up on you when you can least afford them. Getting a boat that you NEED to have ELECTRIC WINCHES on to run is probably a bad idea, at least IMHO.

One comment that the Gunboat maker mentioned was that part of his rationale for the 48 footer was that someone could sail it solo given the way it was setup. So is that specific to THAT 48 do you think?

I would guess the sail areas on 48s are all somewhat similar (uh, big!). So is there anything that one boat maker in the same size boat as another do to make it more solo (or duo more importantly) friendly? Ie different sail plans make a big difference or difference size/type winches? The two I mentioned still, to me, look the most friendly for a duo in terms of sailing practicality (at the cost of probably not being as spacious).
 

·
Midwest Puddle Pirate
Joined
·
2,160 Posts
Seems odd to have that huge prep space in the pilot house with a sink but not actually have a kitchen there to me.
It's just a bar and bar sink. A good place to put the alcohol and chips when entertaining. Also, the washer/dryer is just below in the cabinet. A good place to sort laundry on less entertaining days.

No helm inside again, so outside in the weather seems a bit of a minus. Full on pricing thats for sure, but much cheaper than a Gunboat - although they don't make anything smaller than a 48.
The boat does come standard with a full cockpit enclosure. The list of standard items on the antares is quite impressive, hence the price. I couldn't find a standard list for the gunboat but I've not seen any boat with a better list of liveaboard features.

It can also be driven by autopilot from the nav station inside. Not much good in close quarters, but still useful. But then any indoors helm on a boat this size wouldn't be much good in close quarters.


I am curious, whats the preference of people - raised seated versions of helms, deck level helm one side, deck level helm both sides or behind mast type designs like the Atlantic.
I like the raised seated versions (but not flybridge although I've not driven one). It just feels like a more natural position to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,979 Posts
One of the things I carefully check out at the boat shows is where the helm is in relation to the sail controls. I sit in the chairs and just look around. I pay more attention to that than I do the amenities because I know where I'll be spending my time.

I've already got my 'last' boat, so I'm not looking to buy, just looking for what I want to charter next time.

Most of the bigger cats are party barges indeed with no respect to sailing, but some of those performance oriented cat's are just plain stupid - Catana's with the helms at the aft end of the hull, literally on the swim platform step for example.
Seats you have to climb up three steps to get to the wheel also mean you have to climb down every time you want to move or stretch out.
Jib sheets and main sail controls where you can't put a hand on them from the helm station are one thing on a monohull where you can step forward a step and get to them, quite a different thing indeed when you have to walk 24 feet, climb over a cockpit coaming and up to the cabin top to let go a sail.
Bad, bad designs.
The OP is looking at big boats, so I won't get into Seawinds and Tomkats and how badly designed the helm and walking deck surfaces are, I'll just advise other readers to walk the deck and try them out before they buy.

Voyage 50s are good, solid, fast, and considerably less expensive than most you've mentioned. Their little sister the Voyage 44 is one fine production cruiser.
I'm partial to my helm, and the pilot house design of my boat. It works for me as I can reach the sail controls without walking, and the refridge/bar is only a step away, inside the boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Hmmm, I didn't really think 42-44 foot was all that big - I did mention I was a newb right ;) rsonally, I would be looking for at least 42 if I can get the plan going with the significant other. 42 would actually be about right I suspect - catch is a CW 42 has no back 'patio' which I admit would be quite nice. I am sure there are other 42-44 candidates.

I don't see a home page for 'voyage' catamarans chucklesR, do you have a link?

I agree, the Antares is indeed very nice looking and better still, made in Canada eh (where I was born) so you know it has to be good right ;) . The list of features does seem comprehensive. The difference between 'sail' and 'shaft' drives seems a new one to me that they highlight.

How does 'autopilot' work? Sounds like a scary thing to me in terms of potential to screw up. Can you do everything from inside a pilothouse (including steer) like you could with one of the setups I mentioned from Gunboat or CW with an actual helm and wheel inside? I don't mean to get hung up on one feature of a boat but in the middle of the ocean with rain and wind and cold that one feature seems extremely important to me at least....followed next by speed (so I have less time in that weather anyway) and then the more usual amenities.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top