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Thank you for this! Very informative. We have two charters lined up on cats before the end of this year and it's going to give us a good idea of what we like and don't I feel. Taking a boat out in "sporting" conditions is part of any thorough vetting processHello Thundermuffin,
Having gone through the process of trying to research as much as possible about catamarans I found there was a lot of information but a lot of it did not pertain to what I was actually looking for. For Sue and I we found that we ended up writing down what we actually wanted in a cat and not what other people tell you what you want.
The main things we considered (not here in any priority) were live-ability for what we wanted, safety, sea going ability of the vessel, resale, age, speed to a degree (we wanted a vessel that would get us to a destination in a timely manner), galley up or galley down. Good pedigree and reviews, storage, good under motor as well as sail, bridge deck clearance (important) storage and very importantly it could be sailed by two and one if necessary and of course price - value for money.
Surprisingly I found that there are not a lot of multihull forums that deal with cruising. Cruisers Forum is probably one of the few sites other than SA that has a dedicated multihull forum and sub sites for named brands such as Lagoon, Fountain Pagot, Antares etc. Lots of good information there.
As with any sail boats there are pro's and con's for all multi's. We just settled for one that fit the vast majority of our needs.
You tube has some great video of different cats in different conditions and sail configurations and a lot of good information can be gleaned form trolling these videos. There is a very good series of videos by the Catamaran company that deals with what they have found with prospective purchasers. I have absolutely no affiliation with them but there was some good stuff in it. Same with a series by a couple who own an Antaries Cat. Very informative.
There is a lot of hype with Cats and you have to be able to work out what the sales hype is and what the reality is. Yes cats sail flat but by heck you still gotta hold on in a seaway. A lot of monos will outsail and out pace you - but they are normally your modern day race boat.
Our boat is 12 metres, 7 metres wide weighs close to ten ton, we do roughly half wind speed and we normally average 8 knots on a trip. Acquaintance has just purchased a38 ft Pescott Cat. Weighs just over 4.5 ton. Single outboard in central well and has daggerboards. Will sail to 30 degrees and cruise at 12 knots under sail. Does not like a seaway but will get you anywhere quick. Sacrifices some level of comfort when at anchor compared to production boats but its exactly what the new owner wanted.
We were incredibly lucky in being able to do a short delivery trip up the East Coast of Australia in a 43 ft Fountaine Pajot. Weather was perfect for us to see the boat in adverse conditions, wet, miserable big seas. We quickly saw what worked and what didn't, what we liked and what we disliked. Any boat should perform on a sunny day in 10 to 15 knots on a bay or lake. Take it to sea and into proper sea conditions that you are likely to encounter and you soon work out how good a boat is.
I like the idea of a charter in an area or crew on a delivery trip where you are likely to experience real sea conditions and you will quickly see the good, the bad and the down right ugly. One of the things I did do when researching was using google and just type in the vessel type and then the word review. Quite often there were many owner reviews as well as professional reviews. It was this method that I found the main issues with our model of boat (lagoon) not an issue in itself but it allowed me to check the boat more thoroughly when looking.
Sorry if I have rabbited on here but the question does not have a short answer. Please feel free to email me if I can offer any further insight into how we went about our purchase. I am no expert by any stretch. Just some one who went through what you are doing now.
Greg and Sue
New South Wales