Maine Cat

1999 March 5

Cruising Multihull

I hate to disturb your dream of booming down the bay in your own Santa Cruz 63, but let's switch directions and take a look at this 30-foot catamaran designed by Dick Vermeulen and built in Maine. This is the "hardtop" model and well adapted to sailing in areas where the sun is your enemy.

I have a half serious saying, "You are what you sail." Makes you stop and think a bit doesn't it? We sail to exercise a playful part of our nature and many of us take that play very seriously or better yet, very passionately. I don't think for most of us who indulge in harbor hopping that it's a "getting there" thing. It's more of a philosophical statementÑand that inexorably involves style. I remember trying to sell my cousin and her powerboating husband on the idea of buying an Islander 28. After a wonderful afternoon's sail it all came down to, "I couldn't pull into Roche Harbor holding that tacky looking thing." This puzzled me. "What tacky looking thing?" He pointed to the tiller.

When I pull into the harbor at dusk, I know that because my boat is not fast, I paint a picture that to my eye is appealing, i.e. contented look on the skipper hiding the semi-vacuum of cruising singlehanded, dog strutting the foredeck, little diesel ticking away, pipe smoke wafting to leeward. I'm at a loss as to where to take that thought so I just think I'll leave it alone and get on with the review work at hand.

This 30-foot cat has accommodations for a couple and a kid or two. The galley is big and the head is spacious. In short the "in hull" accommodations are quite comfortable but the real story in this design is the cockpit. The cockpit will be the center of activity under sail and on the hook.

This cockpit features a dining area, steering console and comfortable seating for a full crew. Protection from the sun is provided by a rigid hard top on aluminum legs. It's really not bad looking. Your eye doesn't readily combine the bulk of the hardtop with the rest of the top hamper. I actually like it. It makes the Maine Cat 30 look more interesting. It would not take too much to enclose the cockpit with side curtains. The hulls are narrow and tubelike. The cockpit accommodations become the saloon.

I don't think this cat will be blisteringly fast. It weighs about the same as a moderate displacement monohull 30-footer: 6,000 pounds for a D/L of 107. Wetted surface might prevent it from seeing excellent light-air performance but I would think the 30 would get going in a breeze where its inherent stability could be put to work. The photos show the boat moving smartly in winds that appear less than 10 knots true. There is a stub keel in both hulls, each with a daggerboard that extends the draft from 24 inches down to 5 feet. I think this is a sailor's cat but when you turn cats into cruising boats you do run the chance of losing the ratios that make them come alive.

If cats are your thing, this might be the boat for you. If cats aren't your thing, maybe you should just try one on for size some time. As cats go, this is a handsome example of the breed.