Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Weekend of Boat Shopping - Day 1

As mentioned in my previous post, we went boat shopping last weekend.  It was a three day whirlwind trip to Florida.  While we had been looking at a lot of boats on paper (well, the internet), the goal of this trip was to actually look at them "in real life".  So far, the only boat we had looked at in person was a PDQ 36.

The big problem with used boat shopping is that it isn't anything like used car shopping.  You can't just head to the local "boat lot" and see a bunch of different models.  In order to see 6 or 7 boats that were for sale and would meet our criteria, we would be driving from Key West to Georgia to North Carolina.  That is a bit much for a weekend trip, so our agent lined up boats that would be similar or representative of boats on the list without having to drive as far.

We didn't get into Florida  until noon and with some issues with the rental car company* that we decided to give a try, we didn't make it to meet our agent in St Augustine until around 3:30pm.  We sat with our broker and another agent and talked a bit about what we wanted and got an interesting lesson about the major catamaran designs.  According to our lesson, there are three major schools of catamaran design: British, French, and South African and each have characteristics specific for the regions where they were born.  Hopefully my memory isn't too faulty and these details are correct....

British catamarans tend to be less beamy (narrower) than the other designs and a bit heavier.  They seem to often have solid bridge fore-decks, often with a larger protrusion in the middle of the bridge to split up the wave slap issues.  Prout and Gemini are a couple of British based designs.

French catamarans tend to have more beam than the British and relatively high bridge decks which adds to windage and sailing on the hulls.  The hulls tend to have more rounded or U shaped bottoms.  Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot are a couple example French designs.

The South African cats tend to be beamier still but reduce windage by lowering the bridge deck a bit (which leads to bridge deck slap...everything in boating is a trade off). The hulls tend to be more narrow than the wide U shaped French boats.  Robertson & Caine (Moorings Leopard), Gunboat, and Voyage are example South African cats.

After our basic lesson on catamaran design, we went out and looked at some of the boats that were in St. Augustine.  Most of the boats here are not specific boats we wanted to see but we looked at them to get a better idea of the types of features we like and do not like.  Here is where my poor memory fails me.  I'd love to tell you what boats they were but the combination of the whirlwind trip and that these boats were not specifically ones on "our list" I don't really remember.  Also, of course, I forgot to take pictures the first day so no help from the camera either.  I think we saw a Lagoon 40-something foot, a 50 foot Prout that would be way too big for us, a larger Fountaine Pajot and a couple others.

We seem to prefer the galley down designs as they tend to have more galley space (particularly counter space).  I find that I prefer berths where the bed is on the bridge deck instead of down in the hull as it gives you more standing room and just feels more bedroom like.

We ended the days boat viewing with a Gemini 105mc.  I remember being impressed with the amount of space given the small size of the boat (they are 32 foot in length and narrow).  They have a nice queen size berth on the forward bridge deck and when standing in the galley you definitely still feel part of the group in the salon as it is only a couple small steps down from the bridge to the galley sole.

The negatives were that the same open feeling in the galley is the result of a very low bridge deck.  When I walked around the deck outside, I noticed a LOT of cracks in the gel coat.  I also noticed that the deck tended to flex quite a bit underfoot and would pop in places.  My wife was in the salon during my deck walk and said she could see the roof flexing as I walked and said the pops were even louder.  Either this boat has some structural problems or Gemini's are lacking some quality in their construction.

After sitting on the Gemini a bit and discussing the plan for tomorrow, off to the hotel to get some sleep in preparation for our next whirlwind day.

*We rented from Fox Rent a Car.  With reservations it took us over an hour to get our car and when we did, they gave us their "Economy" car instead of their "Compact" (Was supposed to be a Ford Focus or similar and we got a Chevy Spark...have never been downsized by a car company).  We would have had to wait in line another hour to get the issue resolved.  So, if you need to rent a car, I advise you stay away from Fox.

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