Saturday, October 13, 2012

Catamarans at the Annapolis Boat Show

As promised, here is more information and impressions from the boats we saw at the show.  Remember we don't know a lot about buying a it will be very interesting to see what we think about these comments in a few months or years.  We will likely not buy new, but that's most of what is at the show.  At this point we didn't know if we would prefer a catamaran or mono-hull, so we were looking at both.  Here are the catamarans:

The first catamaran we looked at was a Gemini Legacy 35.

This is a newer variant of the popular Gemini 105MC.  I can see why these boats are popular.  They are a reasonable size at 35' length and with a 14' beam they should be a bit easier to find a slip for than the average cat.  In this small space they have a queen size master berth which is impressive.  This berth is up front where cooling breezes should be easily obtainable at anchor.

 There is a double berth and an option for either a second double berth or a second head.  The boat is a "galley down" which means that the galley is located down in one of the hulls.  It doesn't seem all that separated as the floor in the hull isn't that far below the salon deck.  As with most catamarans, there is a lot of window and light in the salon and since the master berth is in front of the salon it shares the same features.  The boat does have some items that feel a bit cheap...such as a number of hatches that explicitly state "no step"...wonder if that would be a concern if stumbling about on a rolling deck trying to correct a fouled sail or line.  Overall, this floor plan would work nicely for us.  The difference between the 105MC and the Legacy appears that the Legacy now has two diesel engines and has replaced the centerboards with shoal draft keels.

Other than the Fountaine Pajot 41 we were able to sail on during the take the wheel course, we also looked at the Mahe 36.
This boat was a "galley up" design with a smaller galley space than the Gemini located in the main salon area on the bridge deck.  Again light and airy as one would expect on a cat.  The model we saw was the two stateroom version, but I understand that it comes with a three stateroom version that looses one of the heads.  Going from the salon down into either hull you found a cabin with a tapered near queen size berth in the rear of the hull and a head in the forward part.

Unlike the Gemini, you were pretty isolated when down in one of the hulls...a good thing since they are basically the bedrooms.  Outside we found it easier to get from cockpit to the fore-deck as the walkway widths were wider than the Gemini.  The view at the helm was better too, although I'm not sure if a bimini or dodger is available for the helm station (and I imagine it would suck to be baking in the sun or drenched when manning the wheel).

We also saw another small catamaran we hadn't heard of prior to the show called a Tomcat 9.7.  The layout was fairly similar to the Gemini, with a couple of quirky exceptions.  The master cabin was open to the salon area and the access to the master cabin was through the head.  The boat did have a trampoline on the fore-deck while the Gemini had a hard deck.  It also had two outboard gasoline engines instead of the inboard diesel(s) of the Gemini  and Fountaine Pajot models.  The quirks are just not something we felt we could live with, so we didn't look at this boat very long.

The final cat we took a reasonably serious look at was the Lagoon 380.
The largest of the cats we would consider (without winning the lottery anyway).  The one at the show was the 4 stateroom version with the two smaller heads.  This is also a galley-up design.  The space in the salon is nice and the galley was a bit larger than the Fountain Pajot, but I'm not sure it was larger counter space wise than the Gemini.  The berths were all contained in the two hulls.  The aft berths were larger, but I think they were shy of queen size.  The forward berths were closer to v-berths.  Overall, for the increased size of this boat, it seemed that the space was not very efficiently used.

Of the catamarans, I think our favorites that would be within our budget (at least used) would be the Gemini and the Fountaine Pajot.  The master stateroom, overall size, and galley space are the big winners for the Gemini while the deck space and guest room space were the winners for the Fountaine Pajot.  I'm wondering how important having the master berth be at the front of the boat where it can take advantage of any breeze at anchor will be.  In the tropics I assume this will be important.

Next time I'll go through the mono-hulls we looked at as well as our favorite boat overall.

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