A boat of any size is a fairly major financial commitment. The more often you use it the better value to you it is. A large luxurious yacht sitting in a marina pen except for the occasional day sail is not good use of hard earned money unless you are a lot wealthier than I am. This, of course, is not the case if you’re a live aboard, race or cruise extensively, but I see large lovely boats, sail, multi, mono and power that never seem to leave their pens or moorings except for the annual pullout, clean and antifoul.
A better choice for the occasional sailor and/or on more limited resources is a trailerable boat that can be kept in the drive at home when not in use. No marina fees, antifoul not needed, easier to work on, lower maintenance costs, can be towed to new sailing venues etc.
Yes you can’t sail it to New Zealand or take 15 friends out for the day to impress them but you also don’t need to find a minimum crew of four to go for a day’s sail either.
Personally I can’t find the time to sail all that frequently (life, work, grandkids etc). In fact the last time my own boat was in the water was over Easter. I’ve sailed on OPB’s since then (other people’s boats) but there is something special about being out on your own boat that’s hard to beat.
Since this is a multihull magazine I’ll ignore Nolexes and Sonatas etc and write a bit about smaller multis.
Commercially in Australia that means basically buying secondhand or building yourself. The only real manufacturer of ready to sail boats is Corsair, Ian Farrier’s designs. They are superb sailing machines but NOT cheap. There have been other attempts to produce and sell small cats Red Baron, Little GBE and Windrush 600 come to mind. (My apologies if I’ve missed a design or two).
The DIY market of this type of yacht is larger, but there seems to have been a drop off of late on people willing to put the time in to build their own. There are a fair few examples of different designs that come up on the market from time to time. These can either be a bargain or a trap, depending on the workmanship and materials used in the build. I’ve bought secondhand and found myself with someone else’s problems and I’ve built myself and I know which boat I feel more confident in when the wind picks up.
Most yacht designers have drawn up plans for home builders in the sub 25’ which is, in my opinion as large as you’d need to go. Not all of these designs have actually been built. Be aware, if only artist impressions are shown then buying the plans you are entering uncharted waters.
Before choosing to build take a long and careful look at what you want the boat for and whether or not you and your significant others are willing to put both the time and money into the project. It is cheaper to buy a good example secondhand, but be wary of buying someone else’s problems. (Conversely you won’t get your money back selling the boat you build either)
TRIMARAN OR CATAMARAN?
The choice needs to be made. Folding tri’s are (usually) faster in this size due to their extra beam but take longer to set up, take longer and cost more to build and have less accommodation. Small cats tend to not be as fast or as good to windward, usually have limited beam due to trailering regulations but have larger cabins and cockpits, are quicker to rig and launch and cheaper and easier to build. There are folding and demountable cats in this range but not many of them built to date.
What to look for in a design depends on what your priorities are. Easily towed, plenty of accommodation, quick rig and launch, boat speed, cockpit space, price of build, materials used, sail or power or sail and power or power and sail, room in driveway (this last is a more common problem than many realise).
Find out how many of them have been built. Is there a website, group of owners willing to advise, an association?
I went through all these steps 18 years ago and settled on a Jarcat J6 and have not regretted it. Can be towed by a 4-cylinder car, 20 minutes set up and launch solo, sleeps a couple on a decent rectangular double bed with sitting headroom plus two adults in quarter berths, have had 11 adults sitting round a card table in the cockpit. Not the fastest boat under light conditions but gets up and goes in stronger winds (10kts readily exceeded with experienced crew), motors well (the motor is in a well, not hung off the back like many TS’s so it doesn’t usually lift out of the water in choppy conditions), very active Yahoo groups + on Facebook, over 250 plan sets sold.
Everyone has a slightly different balance of desired characteristics in a boat. Make your own list of what you want and check the various designs out.
MOLLYHAWK AT ANCHOR.
Some other designs well worth looking at are Waller 670, Ecocat, Woods Sango, Wizard and Janus, Wharram Tiki 21 and 26 and Mana 24, Scarab Multihulls. There are more out there. Some of these are demountable so take a fair bit longer to rig. As in all things there are compromises to be made.
Have a go – you only live once enjoy it.