Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Have Cats Finally Arrived?

Is it finally happening? Are power catamarans finally becoming accepted in the United States, as they have in the rest of the world (especially in Australia and New Zealand)? It seems that nearly every day some new double-hull design comes across my desk. Some are just dreams looking for a buyer to fund their construction. But more and more of them are actually being built—or in many case actually have been built and launched. Just a week ago, my friend and PMY electronics columnist Ben Ellison announced to me that he'd plunked down a deposit on a Maine Cat P-45. Although I'm no fan of catamarans, as he laid out the brochure I did find this one pleasing to the eye (at least in profile) and intriguing because it has just two cabins. The master lays athwartships to avoid the tunnel-like feel of most catamaran cabins—or at least that's the way it looks on paper. (You can get more information and look at a video of the prototype at www.mecat.com.)

Then a few nights later I received an e-mail from Warren Mosler, who's building a 50-foot power cat at Goldcoast Yachts in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mosler's cat is a wave-piercer, which uses extended hulls to increase waterline and thereby efficiency. Like all cats, power and sail, his has an oversized (17'x 17') main-deck saloon, but unlike the Maine Cat, his master stateroom is aft (to starboard) along with two guest staterooms, all of which "utilize the hulls for hallways." I put this in quotes because even looking at the 3-D accommodations plan (top photo), I can't picture it.

Where in profile the Maine Cat looks fairly conventional, Mosler's boat looks other-worldly (bottom photo), at least to a non-cat guy. Both are, of course, wide: the P-45's beam is 18 feet. Mosler didn't provide that spec in his e-mail but judging from the pictures he sent, I'd guess it's all of that and more. Which leads to the perennial question regarding cats: Where are you gonna park that thing? The answer is, of course, at your own dock as few marinas can accommodate many boats of that breadth and those they can at a considerable premium. A lot of places won't even let you anchor one in the harbor.

So why are people buying these boats, which, by the way, tend to cost more than a monohull of the same length? Lots of reasons are offered up, like the livability of those giant saloons and the huge sun lounges. But at the bottom of it, I suspect, it's all about fuel efficiency. On its Web site, Maine Cat claims the P-45 gets 3 nautical miles per gallon (nmpg) at 10.8 knots and 2.2 nmpg at 18 knots. Mosler claims his boat burns 3 gph at 10 knots for 3.33 nmpg and 11.1 gph at 20 knots for 1.80 nmpg. While that may not seem like a lot compared to your Prius, those nmpg numbers are four to six times those of your typical twin-engine monohull of the same length.

That kind of data is undeniably impressive and is bound to attract a lot of buyers, especially as the price of fuel rises and with it concern over CO emissions. But for me, no thanks. It all comes down to aesthetics. I want my boat to look like a boat, and in my world that means one hull. If I need to save money I'll buy a used boat. If I want to save the planet, I'll resort to other measures, like lightweight construction, a single engine, and going slow. I've yet to see anyone oooh and aaah when a cat comes into a harbor, and until I do, I'll stick with a monohull.

20 comments:

Warren Mosler said...

took 13 people to St. Thomas from St. Croix yesterday quartering 8 ft seas at about 20 kts. picked 4 in St Thomas, had lunch in St. John, back in St. Croix less then 2 hours later. All sat comfortably on the upper aft 'sundeck' above the aft berths (and no one got sea sick).

With twin 190hp volvo d3's top speed was 26kts (overpropped- would only pull 3300 rpm vs 4,000rpm redline)

Anonymous said...

I've driven a lot of boats.... mostly mono-hulls. But after driving Mosler's wave piercer, I'm sold on the idea. So you don't look "stylish" while cruising? Who cares when you are burning 1/5 of the fuel a mono-hulls would burn, and besides, I've never gotten more oohs and aahs and eyeballs than when in command of this piercer. People are amazed at the sight. And the ride is way better than any mono I've been aboard. I own a Cape Dory 28, one of the prettiest boats out there, and when a 50' yacht burns less fuel than my Cape Dory 28, has a billion square feet of space, and rides like a dream thru almost any sea... the "pretty" argument flies out the window. Anybody interested in a Cape Dory for sale soon?
Chris Hanley hanley@islands.vi

BenE said...

Warren and Chris, I'd love to get your feedback on the Maine Cat P45 here:

http://tinyurl.com/298zcc

And don't mind Richard; he's getting old and set in his ways ;-)

Warren Mosler said...

Hi, couldn't get the link to work?

Anonymous said...

Long link to the Maine Cat P45 article:
http://www.panbo.com/archives/2007/12/hello_2008_and_gizmo_the_large.html


-Dave K

Warren Mosler said...

Looks good to me! why not use the 190 hp d3? my top speed is over 26kts with a 24kt cruise with the d3's at just over 14 gph.

by the way, the length to beam of each of my hulls is about 16:1, and the bridge deck is about 3ft over the surface at the rear, sloping up towards the bow, so it can quarter some very high seas at full cruise without slapping, though the wind will blow a lot of spray on the upper aft deck at high speeds.

Anonymous said...

Chris Hanley says: I really like the lines of the Maine Cat, I saw photos this boat some time ago and it really is nice. It seems to blend the cat efficiency with some good looks. I think it could be a great seller. Good luck!

charles said...

hey warren before i worked for you i did work at Rybovich Spencer and i worked on a mega yacht call (THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH ) ring a bell ...it is the fastest mega yacht in the world . maybe i could help in your quest for a fine boat that appeals to the eye . to bad it did not work out for me as a mold tech at mt900 . but i have moved on to better thing's i dont get dirty anymore. buyfromcharlie@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Warren what is the draft on your vessel?

Growing up by Lake Michigan I have been in a lot of mono hulls then on a trip to Australia I had the opportunity to ride in a few different cats. Absolutely no comparison, not even the same machine in my book.

Nice!
Dave Begotka

Mold Certification said...

People are amazed at the sight. And the ride is way better than any mono I've been aboard. Mold Certification

arnie duckworth said...

esthetics involve a match between the eye of the designer and the taste of the observer. roger hill's http://www.powercatsnz.com/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=app.showdesign&ID=176 works for me.
planing cats command the estuaries and bars on australia's massive coast line where they are famous for safety and comfort in conditions that would buckle the knees of those less well equipped. beam is not excessive due to the narrow tunnel width necessary to trap wash and provide the soft ride characteristic of the type. performance is largely a function of weight in planing cats and monos. this particular boat was built from duflex*, the only practical building system where, the 100% cored structure is prefabricated under 3 bar positive pressure, yielding high mechanical properties and associated low weight, otherwise unmatched. no argument, however, that modern, light weight displacement cats and tri's, are untouchable for fuel efficiency in the sub 25 knot speed range e.g. http://www.schionningdesigns.com.au/www/welcome.cfm
*http://www.duflex.com.au/duflex/

Warren Mosler said...

http://www.powercatsnz.com/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=app.showdesign&ID=176

It's double the displacement of mine and about the same length. So I get about the same performance from twin 190 hp Volve D3's.

Anderson said...

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Michael Furman said...

Warren, Love to finally see the designs and that your new boats out running and making if not records but certainly strides that many others will i'm sure take toward their boat making... What pushed you towards your engine choice? Very curious about some of the particulars! Hope to see it sometime! Will talk to you soon! Can't stop reading on breaks from working on our great future together here in PB, but certainly wish universities around the US and the world for that fact would teach even a 1/4 of what is on here to current students!

Warren Mosler said...

Hi,
The Volvo d3's had about the right hp and were the lightest diesels on the market at the time

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