Pacific Power Cats, under the direction of Peter Brady, are nearing completion of the West Coaster 49, their second vessel in the Pathfinder Power Cat range and also for West Australian clients. She follows on from the successful launch and delivery of the Pathfinder Pilothouse 17.4 from Brisbane to Mandurah around the top end of Australia. The West Coaster is the first in the Pathfinder ‘M’ range to be built in a variable dimension hull mould with custom deck styles and interior arrangements similar to the manufacturing philosophy that the motor vehicle industry call platform engineering. This will provide clients with confidence in the performance and seaworthiness of a proven hull design and the economic advantages of a moulded hull, while allowing them to have a style, internal arrangement and equipment list that suits their personal requirements and taste.
Peter has built on the success of his new tank and structural arrangement in opening up the hull spaces that was trialled on the first Pathfinder. He has developed a range of layouts for the ‘M’ range that features spacious cabins with more light and ventilation, larger aft decks and bigger engine rooms to provide a place for the ever increasing amount of equipment fitted to modern boats. Particular attention has been paid in this new range to getting the small details right, from the safety and comfort of the stairs, to the accessibility of the mechanical systems. If a boat is more comfortable and intuitive to use, then the more often it will be used, and the Pathfinder M range demonstrates Peter and his wife Lorma’s 23 years of hands on experience in designing, building and using power catamarans.
The ‘M’ range is constructed at either 44 or 49ft (13.4 or 14.7m) in length and will feature four different styles and multiple accommodation layouts. These include a full width owner’s stateroom with walk around king-size bed and en-suite on the Offshore and Flybridge 49 models, with a range of different power options starting from 2 x 240hp Yanmar 4LHA-STP engines up to the ground breaking Express 49 versions with 2 x 440hp Yanmar 6LY2A-STP engines providing a top speed of over 30kts.
To achieve this jump in speed with the Express versions of the 49 range, it has not just a been a case of fitting more horsepower in the form of larger, heavier engines, as this would have reduced the bridge deck clearance and reserve buoyancy. Instead, the construction of the Express versions will be upgraded to a higher tech laminate using S-glass and Kevlar on the outside and Carbon fibre skins on the inside, plus composite bulkheads and internal structures. These upgrades will increase the strength and impact resistance required for higher speeds while maintaining the same overall weight of the vessel so there will be no reduction in its midrange fuel economy.
The Express versions higher power to weight ratio and some small modifications to the aft hull and keel sections in combination with Peter’s unique displaning hull form allow a seamless transition between displacement and planing speeds providing a range of 3,000nm at 8kts, 1,800nm at 12kts, 1,200nm at 17kts, 900nm at 21kts and 650nm at 25kts. This blend of range and performance translates to a non-stop run from Sydney to Brisbane or Brisbane to Hamilton Island in 24 hours, Brisbane to Noumea in under three days, Sydney to Auckland or Auckland to Noumea in four days and most of the Pacific Basin or Asia at 8kts without having to refuel or breaking the bank!
All models are able to cruise economically in the mid-teens, which effectively halves the travel time to long-range cruising grounds of traditional displacement vessels or yachts, delivering more time at the destination and less chance of seasickness. This higher cruise speed also means that passages can be planned to take advantage of favourable weather patterns and to avoid unfavourable ones. The ability to trans-ocean or coastal long-range cruise at higher speeds in vessels of this size is a genuine breakthrough with the ‘M’ ranges combination of speed, range and trans-ocean cruising capability absolutely unique for a vessel of its size.
The technical leap that has been achieved in the Pathfinder ‘M’ range would be in motor vehicle terms a ‘luxury motor home, with the performance ride and handling of a family saloon car, the off road ability of a four wheel drive, the carrying capacity of a light truck, yet have the fuel efficiency of a hybrid’. To put it in perspective, in over 100 years of continuous development and with some of the largest R&D resources in the world, the motor industry has not been able to develop anything like this.
Twin engines in separate hulls with multiple watertight compartments along with full length keels protecting the stern gear and provide unmatched safety and mechanical reliability. Peter’s proven Controlled Vapour Dampening (CVD) ensures a soft ride in even the most testing conditions and when combined with the new tank position and the catamaran’s natural stability, it makes for a comfortable passage without the need for stabilisers, flopper stoppers or steadying sails. When the destination has been reached, the power catamaran’s stability, shallow draft, manoeuvrability and deck room guarantee an unmatched lifestyle on the water.
The West Coaster 45 and 49
Named for its practical forward raking windows which are so popular on Australia’s west coast cray boats, this model is set up for long-range self-sufficient cruising, yet has all the facilities of a modern beach front apartment. From its large covered aft deck for entertaining in the shade and its open flybridge to view the cliff top scenery, this model is ideal for WA and top end cruising and in particular the Kimberley. A large and comprehensive helm station with two individual helm seats in a spacious open plan wheelhouse ensures a comfortable environment with everyone in sight and communication whether relaxing or preparing food on long passages. The lounge even converts to a day berth when the back cushions are removed, so an off-watch crewmember can be snoozing close by on long passages. Peter has incorporated this feature on a number of his vessels and all owners have reported how much more comfortable the helmsperson feels knowing that someone is close by if there is a need to check on the weather or a possible problem arising like a radar contact disappearing into a rain storm. In this first vessel, one hull is dedicated to the owner’s accommodation with a generous master cabin with queen size bed and en-suite and the guest cabins in the other hull. The aft guest cabin has a double bed and the forward one, two large singles. A separate shower and toilet have been fitted either side aft of the saloon with access from both inside and the back deck, however if a combination bathroom is fitted on one side, either the galley or saloon can be extended.
Fresh water capacity is 800 litres, supplemented with a Stella 210 lph water-maker. Standard fuel capacity on the 49 is 2,800 litres, with another 600 litres possible in auxiliary bladders should the range need to be extended. Powered by 2 x 315hp Yanmar 6YLA-STP’s through 2.5:1 gearboxes driving four bladed 23” Faster propellers, the first of the ‘M’ range will have a top speed of 24kts and an economical cruise speed of 17-18kts using approximately 48 lph combined.
This vessel is being constructed for clients whose business is low voltage electrical systems, so it features some cutting edge electrical equipment. This includes two ultra-efficient 6kva variable speed DC gensets they have developed and built thenselves, lightweight 250ah alternators driving off the front of each main engine and a large solar panel array on the cabin top. All this power is stored in two large 24v battery banks and converted to 240v AC power by two Australian made Selectronic heavy duty inverter-chargers.
The vessel’s tank capacities and engines fuel usage will be monitored by the Maretron system and the locally made ITEM smoke and heat sensors will be fitted in the enginerooms for safety. The Maretron fuel monitoring system measures both the fuel flowing to the engines and the return, producing precise fuel burn rates and in combination with GPS data, fuel per mile travelled. In comparison, electronic engines produce their fuel figures based on factory predictions from load and RPM’s rather than flow data and so are indicative rather than actual. The clients aim is to be as self-sufficient as possible because fuel stops are few and far between around the top end and can be very expensive if purchased from the more remote locations. By producing as much power from the solar system and the engine driven alternators when steaming, they will minimise the need to run the gensets, but when they do, the genset’s ultra-efficiency will produce power for the lowest amount of fuel used. As the clients are also keen divers, the vessel is being fitted with a lowering duckboard system being developed by Peter, his clients and ADC especially for catamarans.
The Cabriolet 45 and 49
The Cabriolet is based on the same internal layout and mechanical options as the West Coaster, but has a more contemporary styling. The Cabriolet styling trades off cabin top storage and the option of an open flybridge for a lower air height which can be critical in getting under bridges to canal berths. The single level deck and saloon layout will also suit older or less physically able boaties without the flybridge stairs to negotiate at sea. The Cabriolet’s cleaner roof line allows for a sunroom if desired and in its standard form has the least building costs and weight. Its minimal structure and windage makes it the perfect model to upgrade to the Express option, because when combined with the higher tech construction, the Cabriolet will have the lightest build weight and therefore the highest power to weight ratio with the 440hp engines. The standard Cabriolet 45 could be upgraded to the 315hp engines providing a top speed of around 26kts, resulting in an easily handled, versatile cruiser, just as capable of sprinting out to weekend anchorages or longer-range coastal cruising.
The Flybridge 45 and 49
Peter has also developed a flybridge version of the Pathfinder for the ‘M’ range in both lengths with the 49 featuring the same full width bridge deck level master stateroom arrangement as the Offshore, while the smaller version uses a similar accommodation layout to the Cabriolet. Both however have larger saloon and galley arrangements, with the helm station located on the fully enclosed flybridge. The styling is similar to the 49ft Donna Rose and the 52ft Bathurst with the front section of the lower cabin actually part of the front bedroom on the 49 version. Flybridge type power catamarans have been very popular in this size range with Peter having built 40 with many more built to his designs as they provide the largest amount of usable space for their length and the view from the flybridge helm is excellent in all conditions. This extra space does however come at a cost and so they are the most expensive and heaviest option in the range for their length.
The Offshore 49
The Offshore version is only available in the longer length and takes cruising comfort to a whole new level in a power cat of this size with its full width owner’s stateroom forward at bridgedeck level featuring a king size bed, en-suite and even room for a couple of reading chairs. Unlike the mid-hull master cabins of most monohulls of this size, the floor is a flat single level and does not suffer from overhead traffic noise. There is a good sized guest cabin in the mid-section of each hull with windows providing more natural lighting and can be set up as either a double or twin singles. Should more sleeping accommodation be required, there is even the option of reducing the size of the master cabin and fitting a small bunk cabin to one side.
The saloon-drive station area layout is similar to the West Coaster except that it has trawler doors both sides for direct access onto the side decks, created by its raised topsides and mid-section floor level. This raised saloon floor allows the standard fuel tank capacity to be increased to 3,600 litres for even greater range.
The Offshore 49 would be ideal for a live-aboard mature couple, as it would be easily handled by one or two with its direct access to the side decks for docking. The spacious full width owner’s stateroom provides a comfortable relaxing private environment even if there is a family or guests on board. The open plan saloon layout provides a feeling of spaciousness, far in excess of the vessel’s actual size and the superb visibility from the helm allows everyone on board to be monitored for safety.
For the last 18 years Peter has been nipping at the heels of planing power boats, gradually pushing the sprint speed of his displaning hull form higher, whilst still maintaining the advantage of range, cruising economy and load carrying ability. On long coastal cruises his displaning power cats have consistently produced faster long passages than planing boats, steadily covering the distance at 17kts without having to divert to ports to refuel on the way. The Express version of the Offshore 49 takes high speed power boat cruising to another level altogether, combining all the sprint speed attributes of the planing mono or multihull with the cruising economy, range, carrying capacity and smooth ride of the displaning power cat.
Taking advantage of the Pathfinder M’s expanding capability, Peter also has a commercial version on the drawing board in both hull lengths aimed at the inshore fishing industry, small ferries, patrol and rescue applications. A shorter cabin and accommodation for four in two cabins leaves a huge back deck that in combination with the power catamarans stability, makes the ideal work platform. There have been and still are plenty of planing power cats being put into commercial service, however they have not always been entirely successful in applications that required a reasonable load carrying capacity, because when loaded they cannot not always ‘get on the plane’, whereas the displaning hull form has no such problems. In fact Peter’s designs are extremely forgiving to high loads only affecting their top speed by a knot or two and making less than 10 lph difference in fuel consumption at cruising speeds. When overloaded or over weight, planing power cats are not able to ‘get on the plane’ so the wingdeck clearance and tunnel volume is reduced, resulting in their wingdeck structure taking more of a pounding, which in turn creates both structural problems and an uncomfortable ride. The planing catamarans generally narrower, lower volume tunnel created by wider planing hulls then become even more of a problem when not ‘on the plane’, as wave interaction and increased wetted surface decrease performance further.
As the Pathfinder ‘M’ range has narrower displaning hulls, a higher tunnel clearance and a wider tunnel width than most planing cats, it is just as efficient when running at lower speeds as it is at higher speeds, cutting through the water rather than trying to plane over it. This seamless transition between displacement and planing speeds allows the commercial operator to choose the safest speed for the conditions, without having to think about whether they are ‘on the plane’ or off it.
Peter Brady is not only one of the pioneers of the displaning power catamaran, he has also managed to stay at the forefront of its development to this day. This new Pathfinder ‘M’ range demonstrates both his ability and vision as to the future of power catamarans.