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Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD Newsletter: Is she? Can she? Should she?


Is she? Can she? Should she?

North Sails 3Di 60 - 728x90

Marine Resources 2017 728x90

The magnificent Gloriana coming astern for the weighing of the catch - photo © John Curnow

Dear [recipient name]

It is simply marvellous how thought provoking the mere statement of a question in writing can actually be. Not your average, 'Do you want milk in your coffee?' type suggestion. Equally, it's not really a full break down on the likelihood of solving cold nuclear fusion at 15-30 degreesC, thereby not requiring in excess of 4m degrees Kelvin, or Mariana Trench type pressure to make it so.

Rather, I was left with the three questions above right after reading this question from a soon-to-be sailor and sounds like liveaboard. "I've heard about dismasted cats being converted to be power cats, but what about the other way around?" To be honest, when I started to consider mast loads, beam strength, rudder depth, and chainplates, I almost was off in the great debate of the opening paragraph.

Mars Keel -  Manufactured Keel Systems 250   B&G Vulcan 2018 300x250

He had fallen in love with the cat's layout, which many do, and a lot of the reason they are now such a powerful force inside any boat builder's armada. Look at Bavaria and Nautitech for instance. Now the secrets came after several readings of his questions to other sailors. It was a full custom boat, which was clearly the part he had blindly fallen in love with, but it also had displacement hulls.

Now a Lagoon 520 certainly has that too. 25 metric tonnes worth, at least, but the hull form of a cruising cat relative to a power cat is often quite an issue, as is the overall beam relative to LOA. The stepped hull has got around the wetted surface area versus interior volume question, but a displacement hull would need one hell of stick to go with it (and accordant loads), and I wondered just how much all the weight of new beams, mast, standing and running rigging, keelsons, ribs, bulkheads and strengthening to carry things like the for'ard beam with the forestay on it had come into his calculations.

Engine room in one hull of 46-foot power cat - photo © John Curnow
Engine room in one hull of 46-foot power cat - photo © John Curnow

Equally, it would seem this was not a production cat, many of which are the sailing version minus a lot of the hardware. Yet these too offer a string of problems. The diesels were only ever meant to be auxiliary, so the engine rooms don't ever fit anything serious, and shaft or IPS drives are also out of the question. In short, I was wondering if trying to do what he asked would end up as the worst of both worlds?

Then I remembered the glorious, Gloriana. Yes. Fully intended. What a vessel. Custom design and build, good looking, and quick under diesel. She also sailed well, could motor sail beautifully, and was also set up to go game fishing. So working across, or to many a differing requirement, was not completely out of the question, but perhaps needed to be solved at the 'planning stage', not the 'bought a cheap wreck after a cyclone/hurricane stage'.

Gloriana returning to port - photo © John Curnow
Gloriana returning to port - photo © John Curnow

So if the questions asked by the sailor were 'what is she and can she', I genuinely felt he had not asked enough about 'should she'? Gloriana certainly says absolutely it can happen, but she does come from another place altogether. Arch Livingstone built this cruising catamaran exclusively to do game fishing. Her Simpson-penned 60 foot hulls were laid up in cedar strip with an epoxy skin, and Arch took five and half years to complete her.

She will do 22 knots under diesel and burn a miserly 2.5l/hr a side when trolling. There are two 220Hp shaft drive Volvos to provide her with the urgency when required, and she manoeuvres with great aplomb! She will motor sail at 18 knots with a very comfortable ride, and they go trolling at 6kts. Importantly, please note that Gloriana went for her first swim back in December 2000, but after a massive refit some years back now, she still looks stupendous.

High speed power cat has narrow overall beam - photo © John Curnow
High speed power cat has narrow overall beam - photo © John Curnow

Then I also remembered a 46-foot Roger Hill power cat that I saw under construction at Noosa Marine. The narrow overall beam relative to a sailing cat, the beamier hull form, and the distinct planing surfaces in the aft end are very distinct. She was being crafted out of Eglass, and come in at around 11 tonnes, wet, with something like 2000l of fuel on board. All in all, she would have at least 35 knots WOT, and require about two thirds of the horsepower a similarly sized traditional build monohull sportsfisherman would require to achieve the same result.

Barton Marine 300x250   Pantaenius EU 300x250

Alas, all of this is presented to demonstrate that from a hull form point of view, as a sailing cat she would be a bit like putting a few beams between a pair of Turkish Gulets. It's never going to be great. This is one power cat that should always remain just that!

So all in all, some good questions, and then some real answers might save you money time and also prevent you from delivering something that will just never work to any of your original requirements. QED.

Transom of a 46-foot power cat - photo © John Curnow
Transom of a 46-foot power cat - photo © John Curnow

Six degrees now. No, it is not the worlds best AWA, or the lateral drift you need to account for in your nav for drift. It is a friend of a friend who called to talk about his plans for cruising, now that he had bought a 40 footer. It was a 20 year old production boat, and it had undergone an out-of-water survey, passing well for a boat of her age.

Apart from making a new contact from a guy I have known for 25 years now, it was good to see the methodical and meticulous planning and processes he had undertaken to date, and the skilling up he was going to continue before he took on grander adventures. He had real skills, as well as ones from the classroom, but genuinely knew that risk minimisation was an education you very much took on more and more as your own mileage on the odometer crept up.

Of all the many things we talked about, including using a delivery skipper for long passages to aid and assist you, we covered off the fact that a couple of the seacocks were original, and the glands were not all together ideal either. For my money, you would also have a really close investigation of the rudder bearing too, for it is amazing how much more load goes on to each of these items out in the big blue. He very much concurred with that, so I expect to see the boat out of the water again very soon. Chalk up another one to Prudence!

Marina Exchange - photo © Marina Exchange
Marina Exchange - photo © Marina Exchange

Now it has been going on in Europe and the UK for some time now, but looks set to get underway in Australia soon enough. I got to talk with Darren Vaux from Beds On Board after thinking how the marine landscape and industry is changing. If you look at something like Marina Exchange as an allied field of endeavour, the similarities are there with electronic platform and also behavioural/leisure time usage or change.

The Beds On Board thing has worked in Europe and the UK with something like 20 days a year at say AU$300 per night. Internationally there are thousands of boats on offer, but as Australia awaits full regulatory approval there are something like 10 marinas and hundreds of owners waiting in the wings.

So the announcement of the AMSA exemption being made available for public comment until the end of June, with full approval by perhaps Spring 2018, you start to see that getting more people involved with the water, one way or another, or even using their existing boat more, is quite possible.

The whole equation rests on approval of marinas and owners to operate severally or jointly, all the way from arms length to full service. Now whilst the BoB scenario is all about being tied to the quay, if you look at it as offsetting some costs, then taking your own boat for a cruise, then leaving it and allowing someone else to stay on board makes good commercial sense.

Naturally, there must be a proper framework for control and both marina operator and owner must have confidence in compliance, but the future does look different, and that is beneficial for all.

Seawind 1200 'Caravanserai
Seawind 1200 'Caravanserai" - photo © Multihull Central

Right. Today you will find that we have information for you about Musto, the Great Barrier Reef getting major dollars, the South Pacific, Seawind cats from Multihull Central, plastics, Deepwater Horizon, Cheeki Rafiki, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top and the drag down menu, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow, Editor

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Fever-Tree 660x82

Nebo 660x82 2

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