SHOPPING FOR A CATAMARAN
When researching catamarans, we developed a short list of priority features we wanted in a boat, relative to safety and comfort.
EASE OF SAILING: We insisted on a boat that was easy for two or even one person to handle alone. We test drove virtually every catamaran out there, and found that the Nautitech 435 was easy to handle under way, and we liked the way she sailed. Also, we preferred to have the helms aft, giving the helmsperson a better view of the sails, and leaving the cockpit clear and uncluttered. The Nautitech and Catana both offer aft helms, but the Catana was just too pricey for the value, in our opinion. Besides, we did not want dagger boards, as the Catanas have....too many potential problems and no real value for the type of sailing we expected to do.
BRIDGEDECK CLEARANCE: This was one of our top considerations in choosing a catamaran. If the bridgedeck is too low, waves will pound the underside of the boat when sailing to windward. Very irritating. But unfortunately, most catamarans do have a low bridgedeck. The Nautitech 435 is one of the few cats we looked at with good bridgedeck clearance.
WATERLINE: Originally, we were looking to buy a 35' - 38' catamaran. Hey, we're just two people, we didn't feel we needed anything bigger, and the smaller cats were cheaper. But everything we read indicated that for safety and comfort when cruising offshore, a catamaran should have at least a 40 foot waterline. After buying Tara Vana, we've often sailed with friends on smaller cats, and so we got to see for ourselves how they handled, even in moderate seas. We are glad that we insisted on a minimum 40 foot waterline.
EASE OF HANDLING: Many catamarans have narrow side decks, making a quick run forward a bit scary. We wanted to be able to go forward safely, and appreciated the Nautitech's wide side decks. We also wanted a good, flat working area at the base of the mast. Many cats have a sloping surface, or small area, right at the base of the mast, where you need a secure spot to stand while you hoist or reef the main. We loved the large flat area that the Nautitech 435 has right at the base of the mast.
LIVABILITY: The 6'4" headroom throughout the Nautitech 435 was a key consideration for us, as Rick is 6'3". The headroom issue alone eliminated several catamarans from our short list. He can even lay flat on the berth! And we insisted on a galley up....it's no fun to be cooking down below, especially under way. We love the Nautitech's large salon window that joins the galley and the cockpit. And we were disappointed to find that many production catamarans did not have a nav station or chart table! The Nautitech's nav station is large and right by the door to the cockpit, just what we were looking for.
EASE OF ENGINE MAINTENANCE: On many cats, access to the engines is through the interior, usually under the aft berths. We did not want to do oil changes in our bedroom! We wanted engines with easy access, from the exterior. We understood that easy access to all engine maintenance tasks was key to staying on top of maintenance. The engine rooms on the Nautitech 435 are downright spacious!
STORAGE: Since we planned to live on the boat full time, ample and convenient storage was important to us. The Nautitech 435 has a huge anchor locker, where we store our secondary anchor and rode, our fenders and dock lines, and other stuff we probably should get rid of! The cockpit has two large lazarettes, and there are two more large lazarettes aft of the cockpit. One is used for all our dinghy fuel jerry jugs, spare oil, etc. We keep our masks and fins, and fresh water jugs in the other one. We store eight 5-gallon diesel jerry jugs on secure shelves in the engine rooms, along with our drogue and some fenders....and there's still room to spare! And there's plenty of storage inside, under each berth, and under the settee.
INTERIOR LAYOUT: We had hoped to find an 'Owner's Version' catamaran. That made sense, as we are just two people living aboard. However, we quickly discovered that there aren't many used 'Owner's Version' cats out there, and the few we found were quite expensive! As it turns out, it's fine having 4 berths, they provide us with a lot of hidden storage. And since we don't need 4 heads, we use one for our dive equipment, and one as an indoor shower. Now that we've lived aboard for all these years, we actually prefer the charter layout.
CHARTER vs PRIVATE: Since Tara Vana was in charter before we bought her, she did not really have any of the equipment that a cruising boat needs. We spent a lot of money, time and energy outfitting her for extensive offshore cruising.
The next time we buy a boat, we hope to find one that is already outfitted for cruising. Then we can start enjoying the boat right away, instead of spending the first few years of our new cruising life just installing equipment in a crowded marina!
VALUE: We retired in our early 40's, with a cautious eye toward our spending. We needed to find a reasonably priced boat that offered good value. The Nautitech 435 cost substantially less than the other 40' - 45' cats of similar age that we researched, yet it provided the features and functionality that we had determined were important in a blue water cruising catamaran. In addition, well, it just felt like home the first time we stepped aboard. Not many Nautitech 435s were built....we felt fortunate to find Tara Vana!
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