Smaller cruising catamarans are an excellent entry level gateway into cruising catamarans and of late have become very popular. This is an effort to select some of the most well respected of these smaller catamarans. This was a difficult task, as many of these boats, designed and built some time ago, are still found in all the popular cruising grounds, and a list like this is subjective after all. All I can do is apologize in advance for leaving a boat off this list.
- Prout Snowgoose 37
The Snowgoose (all iterations) was the first truly popular mass produced catamaran with more than 500 built. Known as safe, strong and capable of being sailed off shore, which some say is because of the position of their main mast, they make a perfect coastal cruiser or circumnavigator for an adventurous couple. This is a lot of boat for the money. These boats began their model run as a 35’ boat but as time went on Prout changed the mould by extending them to 37’. The Snowgoose can be found in every ocean on the planet.
The interior is simple and lightweight in order to maintain good sailing performance. A combination of classic woods and modern materials give the boat a spacious and open feeling that is hard to find on a boat this size.
Under sail, the Prout Snowgoose 37 is consistent, and it doesn’t need to be micromanaged, making it an ideal passagemaker. During passages,150 miles per day can be expected without pushing the boat. The Snowgoose 37, with its flexible cutter rig, balances easily and handles well under autopilot.
The Snowgoose is renowned for its rugged construction and sea kindliness as these boats were built to cross oceans, and not as additions to Caribbean charter fleets. Somewhere around 500 boats were built, and, although statements like this are impossible to confirm, its been said that nearly 100 have completed circumnavigations. True or not, Prouts have probably done more circumnavigations than any other catamaran of their era. The Prout designs have proven themselves time and again as tough, reliable cruisers and if a sailor wants a cat to sail around the world, there’s a good chance he’ll probably end up in a Snowgoose.
- Gemini 105M
The most popular American line of catamarans with over 1100 deliveries, this Gemini 105MC is one of the most affordable catamarans on the market. The Gemini’s performance is legendary yet they still manage to surprise unsuspecting newcomers.
These boats squeeze 3 cabins, a head and full Galley (in starboard hull) and a deck layout and rig which offers a stable, safe, and well-reasoned platform for whatever comes your way. And the ingenuity of lifting centerboards and kick-up rudders will have you sailing through less than 2′ of water, making this boat the ultimate Island hopper. All this and more at 33′ 6″ length and a 14′ beam that can dock in a standard slip or truck across the country.
The Gemini 105M has plenty of room, is an excellent value, with outstanding accommodations, and solid sailing performance.
- The Lagoon 37 TPI
The Lagoon 37 TPI catamaran was built by the famed boat yard Tillotson Pearson in Rhode Island. They were introduced in 1993 following the success of the Lagoon 42 in the US charter market and draws from a long lineage of great multihull designs and continues the collaboration of Jeanneau of France, and TPI (American). With the same designers and builders as the forerunner model and targeting the same market, these boats have achieved cult status among catamaran sailors. Their pointing ability, and comfort aboard are legendary. These boats were designed with the much preferred straight propeller shafts instead of sail drives and were sold as 3 cabin 2 head laid out as an Owner’s Version.
A French design, built in the USA by TPI in Rhode Island, they have become a very sought-after catamaran. These boats are fast and comfortable both at sea and at anchor with ample storage room and comfortable accommodations.
- PDQ 36
The PDQ 36 was a Canadian built catamaran offered in two arrangements. The LRC (Long Range Cruiser) is a legend among cruising catamarans and included 2 Yanmar diesel engines coupled to straight shafts. The PDQ 36 Capella, was built with pods for two Yamaha extended shaft outboards.
These are solid boats with excellent construction as the expert use of materials and construction techniques results in a strong boat yet keeps the hull weight low. With twin inboard diesels, she’s designed for coastal cruising. They aren’t seen for sale very often.
These are well-built and well-regarded catamarans, designed with a gracious entertaining area, and two luxurious staterooms complete with queen-size beds. At 36′ the boat is the ideal size for single-handing, as the twin engines contribute to excellent maneuverability in tight spaces while the diesel engine version offering considerable charging capability.
Two equal staterooms with plenty of storage throughout the boat. The head and shower stall are one piece for easy cleaning. The galley is located in the port hull, has dual sinks, a Force 10 oven with two burner range and refrigerator for easy access. The salon seats six for dining.
The cockpit is spacious with pilot and co-pilot seats and an aft bench seat. The engines are either inboard diesels or in pods and retract out of the water for no drag when under sail.
- Catalac 9M
The Catalac 9M was a British built, 30 foot design, with a modest rig, high coach roof, large cockpit and 5 berths in four sleeping areas which provided lots of sun bathing deck space, a shallow draft, and had reasonable performance. In a good blow (>20 knots of wind speed) 10 knots at 45 degress apparent can be expected from the Catalac 9M and in enough wind the boat will tack inside of 45 degrees. In strong quarterly winds speeds of 12-14 knots under sail has been documented with the outboard engine configuration in a lightly loaded boat. Remarkable performance from such a boxy design given that it’s design priority was comfort rather than speed
The mast is cabin stepped in a tabernacle. These were designed be raised and lowered single handed. They were sold with a mainsail, working jib and a 170% Genoa. When the rig is set up correctly, they sail with a very balanced helm. Twin rudders contribute to their agility and later models (>1980) have matching skegs just forward of the rudders to increase windward ability. About 250 boats were built.
- Endeavour 36
EndeavourCat 36 cruising catamaran is an American designed and buit boat by Endeavour Catamaran Corporation of Clearwater, FL. The EndeavourCat 36 draws less than 3 feet and can go most places that others can’t. These boats are very easily docked with twin diesel engines. They were built with three staterooms with queen-size beds. There are identical staterooms aft in each hull with a bedside table, hanging locker and drawers. Each stateroom has a ceiling light, reading lights, large hatches, opening ports. The bright, airy salon can comfortably seat 6-8. The Galley is located in the port hull and is large enough for two people to
prepare a gourmet meal side by side. Designed to be sailed single-handed without ever leaving the cockpit, all lines lead to the cockpit, two two-speed winches make easy work of sail handling. Both main and jib are completely self-tacking.
- Endeavour 30
The Endeavour 30 was built by Endeavour Catamaran Corporation of Clearwater, FL and features spacious Salon, Massive Galley, Huge Head with separate two-person shower with a built-in seat. Twin Queen births with full hanging cedar lined closest and plentiful storage space. The hull, deck, and structural bulkheads are manufactured of biaxial fiberglass with isophathalic vinylester resins and NidaCore (a polypropelene honeycomb) coring. Vacuum bagged construction was used to enhance stiffness, strength, and reduce weight. There is a full interior fiberglass grid used as the interior mold for strength and rigidity. The headliner is a full fiberglass molded piece. The hulls and decks are fastened both chemically and mechanically for strength. Twin fiberglass molded keels are foam filled and have integral sumps. The balanced rudders are constructed of high denisty foam/fiberglass.
These boats have a very unique layout merging the cabin with the cockpit with broad companionway doors. Tons of features packed into her 30 foot length. A lot of catamaran for the money.
- Fountaine Pajot Mahe 36
Fountaine Pajot Mahe 36 was based on an Olivier Flahault design and with a Joubert/Nivelt hull, The Mahe 36 is built for safe navigation with comfortable, bright living areas and a fully protected cockpit alongside the salon.
The Mahe 36 features an open-plan / sheltered cockpit and saloon and raised helm station. Entering the main salon through the sliding cockpit door the well-appointed galley is to starboard and the Nav station and storage is to port. Down into the starboard hull is the master stateroom aft with a Queen berth with several opening ports, a hanging locker and shelf storage with vented doors.
Forward to starboard is the ample head with shower which is a single fiberglass unit very easy to keep clean. Down from the saloon to the port guest stateroom aft with a Queen berth with several opening ports , a hanging locker and shelf storage with vented doors. Forward to port is the ample head with shower which is a single fiberglass unit very easy to keep clean. The large windows forward, Port and Starboard in the saloon make for an airy, open feeling.
These boat offers great comfort both sailing and at anchor while at the same time offering excellent performance. The Mahé 36 allows you to move around freely onboard, enjoying comfort when navigating (at the helm, in the cockpit or down below) or while moored. Everything has been thought out so that you can move about on this 36 ft yacht without anything getting in the way.
- Catalac 8M
The Catalac 8M is a pocket cruising catamaran which has a solid reputation for quality, strength and durability. Many of the boats found in North America today, were sailed there from Great Britain. The Catalac 8M, although classified as a pocket cruiser was designed with blue water sailing in mind. Offered in two versions, twin diesels or a single outboatd engine. The twin inboard diesel models can easily motor almost 1000 kilometers without refueling. The 70 amps of charging and 70 gallons of stock water tanks in the Catalac 8M and 9M make even these smaller boats terrific coastal cruisers. The Outboard versions sail a bit quicker as the engine can be raised during sailing, reducing drag. Constructed with solid fiberglass hulls, these are quality boats which were built like battleships. Chuck Kanter calls them one of the catamaran brands that live on through the decades.
The Catalac 8M is masthead rigged with a relatively short, but thick mast. As with all boats in the Catalac production lineup, this contributes to a stable boat with a low center of effort. No Catalac has ever been known to fly a hull under any circumstances.
The mast is cabin stepped in a tabernacle. These can be raised and lowered single handed. The standing rigging is over sized to withstand the extra loading experienced by catamarans. They were sold with a mainsail, working jib and a 170% Genoa. When the rig is set up correctly, they sail with a very balanced helm. Twin rudders contribute to their agility and later models (>1980) have matching skegs just forward of the rudders to improve windward ability.
Designed with a single full size berth forward, a large 8 foot long galley in the starboard hull, a quarter berth, nav station and head in the Port hull, these small catamarans pack a lot of features in a small package. Their cockpits are as large as a 38 – 40 foot catamaran. Most of these boats are in Europe but a fail number were either imported or sailed to North America.
- Seawind 1000
The Seawind 1000 is an Australian built 37′ catamaran. These Australian designed and built catamarans have won world wide acclaim and awards for their stability, spaciousness, luxury and performance. The Seawind 1000’s blend of simplicity and sophistication is an example of what a modest cruising catamaran needs to serve the minimum needs of its crew, and what it should have to make sailors want to use and keep their beloved catamaran.
She has a well equipped galley with plenty of bench space and storage and the large open saloon. Featuring 2 cabins, 4 berths, large bathroom, and very nice galley. They feature a large double bed, additonal bunk and bathroom portside. On the starboard side, kitchen, additional bunk, desk and seperate cabin. The saloon features a large table that can convert to a huge daybed for lounging while under sail. Her large trampolines up front are perfect to laze around and for sun baking. The large open saloon with seating and table is fully open to the cockpit for plenty of space for the guests to move around.
The functional galley is loaded with fridge, a small oven and gas 2 burner stove top making meal preparation hassle free. She has a galley bench top w/ integral double sink and drain.
The Seawind 1000 is a solid, safe cruising catamaran that moves beautifully in the water and more than comfortable to live on.