Why a Catamaran and not a monohul?
There are many reasons for a Catamaran and a few against it. This is what I believe:
1) A Cat offers more than double the living-area than a monohull - below deck as well as above. A Cat has a saloon between the swimmers (bridge) which gives extra space. The Catamaran has a large cockpit in which any crew will like to spend time travelling in warm regions (as long as there is sun cover). All in all, living on a Cat is more comfortable, especially with kids. Working on deck is easier. Bringing down sails, or geting the dingi up on deck is easier done with more space. The trampolines which I would not want to miss also add greatly to comfort.
2) A Catamaran sails upright. As a consequence, no heeling that requires fixation of items is required. One can eat normally, nothing falls around on the table or slides of the plate. Gimballed systems are not necessary. In general fellow sailors become seasick less frequent. One simply lives and moves relatively normal on a Catamaran (ok, my wife would disagree here, but then let's not forget we are on a ship afterall..).
The disadvantages are that one needs to reef in time and must not forget about it. Where the monohull takes force out of the rig through heeling, the Cat does not and pressure builds up.
3) A Catamaran does not sink. (Of course it will if the hulls are cut open by an iceberg...). A monohull will sink quite fast, sometimes within just a few minutes. But the Bluewater Cat can flip over and will not tilt up again without the help of a crane. This is the biggest disadvantage from my point of view.
4) A Cat is fast. Distances are crossed faster which, of course, is also a safety aspect.
5) A Cat is cheaper than a monohull by usable (living) area. But cat-owners will spend much more money in marinas. They have to park double as much ship.
I always wanted to have a catamaran. When I saw Baju, I knew: It is her or none.
Our Catamaran Baju
Baju sails under German flag and looks like a German warship with her unpainted hulls. Well, depending on your perception and viewpoint that is.
She is 46 feet long and 23 feet wide. She offers, like most monohulls a big deck with trampolines (nets) which make living aboard wonderfully comfortable. Also the interior adds to the comfortable feeling on Baju. Inside one can see from one hull to the other. The area is not closed but left open allowing to see at any time what is going on inside the large saloon. When the weather get harsh the saloon is where all retreat. The cook then usually prepares snacks for everybody in the large galley that reaches out to half of the starboard hull. Baju has amazing 2 meters headroom in most areas of the ship which makes the live of tall people on board easy.
Baju, an Easton 46" was built by Owen Easton, in Australia, in 2004. She is fast. Her speed record is said to be 19 knots. She has a low draft of only 80 cm such that we can lay before everyone else in the bay.
Aluminium is, by the way, a very good material for ship building. It is harder than GRP, does not rust like steel and compared to steel, weighs much less (in the end approximately 50% for the boat).
In a collision, aluminium does not immediately crack but rather deforms. The dirty-gray color that arises after some time is an oxidised outer layer which protects the material. The aluminium could, of course, be polished glossy again but this would destroy the protective layer only for esthetic reasons, which we are not willing to do. Baju will have a new paintjob done on deck, though.
Some disadvantages of aluminium:
1) Welding is much tougher than for steel. You need a specialist to do it.
2) Electrolysis: This is when aluminium under the influence of electric current is broken down in water. Therefore, different metals have to be insulated throughout the ship and anodes are placed on the hulls which are sacrificed first. The wiring of electric devices needs special attention.
Baju is not a glossy white Luxury-yacht. Her true character shows as soon as you are on board and have a closer look. Bluewater-cruising was the motto right from the
start of planning and construction. Every item is functional and practical. The ship is made very solid and robust. We will never experience rain coming in though the hatches and deck-polishing is
certainly not on our to-do list. Nevertheless, Baju is pretty to look at. Somewhat special though but that's what makes her so attractive.
Baju is build in a robust manner and designed with security in mind. It is a well known fact to all cruisers that what ever can break will break eventually. This, however, does not mean that we have to abstain from amenities. Quite to the contrary. But let's got back to talk about security:
We have a short wave radio on board and with the Pactor modem, we are reachable by email. This is also how we receive weather data and forecast for trip planning.
Of course, we also have VHF, live vests, flares / flare gun, EPIRP, GPS, Broad Band Radar, Plotter, etc. on board.
The energy concept is also an important point in this regard. The above mentioned electronics need power to work. Lucky enough we are self sufficient with electric energy and water. Only this way we can spend time on deserted islands without having to miss a certain level of comfort.
Solar panels and a wind generator which carries the name "Max" charge our board battery banks. We can use either 12V or 220V and have a capacity to 600 Amp hours. This is enough for the cooler, the lights / lighting, the electronic named above, the auto pilot named "Günter" and our stereo. So far we never had a shortage of electric energy.
Who travels in warm regions needs a lot of water and who wants to take showers with freshwater needs even more of it.
We tackle this issue from two side. One the one side we collect rain water. Whenever it rains water flows down the saloon- and cockpit-roof in a collection and tubing system that was part of Baju's construction plan. This way our water tanks which hold 2 x 230 liters are filled by itself.
On the other side we start the water maker when we run into dry periods. With its help we can generate germfree drinking water through osmosis directly out of the sea.
Interior & Accomodation
Inside Baju, the 5 x 7 meter huge saloon contributes largely to the comfort on board. From the covered cockpit (aluminium roof) one enters the saloon though a bunker like alu-door. The seating of the saloon has a U-shape and allows the crew and guests to either take a nap or join others with activates. Hence, his is where we eat together (though we often eat outside in the cockpit), play board games, watch movies on the computer or I-pad, drink, laugh and talk.
On portside we have a double cabin at the rear, a guest (electrical) toilet with basin as well as a double cabin on the bow with a third, smaller single cabin connected to it. This is perfect for
a couple with kid(s).
On starboard the layout is similar: One double cabin at the rear, followed by the galley that takes up half of the starboard hull. Right after the galley one finds another double cabin at the bow with the owners bathroom (includes a shower) right next to it.
Baju is a fast Catamaran which easily sails from 10 to 12 knots. In good weather conditions 14 to 16 knots are achieved. The record is said to be 19 knots though we did not yet have the opportunity to get close to it. More important, anyhow, is the day’s run (the distance which is achieved within 24 hours, in sea miles). Baju sails 180 and 200 n.m. on a good day, is what they say. Once we will start sailing longer distances we will see if we can verify this.
Baju is a fast Catamaran which easily sails from 10 to 12 knots. In good weather conditions 14 to 16 knots are achieved. The record is said to be 19 knots though we did not yet have the
opportunity to get close to it. More important, anyhow, is the day’s run (the distance which is achieved within 24 hours, in sea miles). Baju sails 180 and 200 n.m. on a good day, is what they say.
Once we will start sailing longer distances we will see if we can verify this.
The wishbone boom is rather unusual. We have no rigging with the classical boom. It did seem a bit strange to us in the beginning. But it is wonderfully easy to use. Moreover, I am very glad that we have no dangerous boom which could injure the crew. The wishbone boom will certainly not break the mast in case of an accidental jibe. The construction saves weight and acts like a single big lazy jack when we drop the main.
Our Catamaran has retractable dagger boards which deliver good performance when sailing close to the wind. We retract them when we enter bays.
With the remaining 80cm draft we can navigate safely over those coral heads.
Love-hate relationship "Long-Tail". On the one hand I find it brilliant to have a propeller which I can completely pull up, over the water line. On the other hand, I sometimes wish I had 2 machines to make exact maneuvers. We simply have a long shaft on the port side which rises between the hulls ( known from the Thai long-tail boats). This drive system is easily accessible and good to repair. We certainly will never have a leaking gland seal. Ideal for blue water cruising. But I don’t want to sugarcoat everything on our boat: When we switch on the engine, we move starboard until we have a certain speed and the rudder picks up. We have to have a plan B in mind already before driving off e.g. pass the closely moored yacht aft even though we had planned to pass it by the bow - to not leave undesired scratches in the neighboring Gelcoat.
We are still getting used to it and look for bays to anchor in and try to avoid Marinas in which we have a hard time navigating.
In any event, with our 4 cylinder marinized Nissan disel engline with its 56 HP (will be replaced by a brand new Volvo D2-55 in May 2014), we have enough power on the prop to make it through stronger flowing tides of atoll passages.
Connection to the shore
Baby Baju, is the cuddly mini-version of Baju. With our 8 HP Honda the baby takes off like a rocket. With 3 poeple inside we are still quick, but not gliding any more. An aluminium dinghy is very nice. I like Baby Baju a lot. Unfortunately, aluminium is not to well protected against abrasion on sand. The many years' of pulling Baby on the beach left its traces. The metal has become very thin and we had to have a couple of spots welded. The repairs did not last long. Therefore, we are replacing the dingi with a brand new boat, a Quintrex Dart 310 (also aluminium and the same brand as the old one) in the beginning of 2014.