As we continue in our series about Gemini catamarans, Melissa interviews Eric from the Gemini Owners Group who owns a Gemini 105 MC called S/V Kid Cat and sails out of Montreal and is planning to go out the St Lawrence in the summer and to the Bahamas maybe next winter. He weighs in with a different perspective on the never ending debate whether Gemini 105’s are blue water boats. He outlines differences between the 105 M and 105 MC. He mentions some common problems of the 105 MC. And he recommends the model to everyone.
Thank you so much again to Eric and the owners group!
Reasons to Buy a Gemini 105 MC
- Gemini 105MC often do the Great Loop and are great for this purpose. Prior owner of S/V Kid Cat did the Great Loop.
- Killer feature that convinced him to buy a Gemini 105 was 18 inch draft. Inspired by Distant Shores TV show.
- Also the fact that the Gemini 105 fits in a regular slip was attractive
- Finally for the draft and space at the price, there is really nothing comparable. Maybe an old Prout or Catalac, but these are comparatively old, slow, and not as good looking to his eye.
- Headroom is fantastic.
- Composting heads allow him to stay long periods of time with kids away at anchor. Worth the trouble of unloading the compost.
- Super easy to sail or dock shorthanded.
- Cruising speed of 7.5 knots and max speed of 11 knots. Can be sailed at 30 degrees to the wind with both centerboards down.
- Great storage. He can fit 5 bikes in the storage locker.
- Galley is at the same level as dining area without division and easy for chef to talk to dining guests.
Buyer Tips for the Gemini 105 MC
- Build quality issues require more DIY maintenance. Geminis are notorious for gel coat crazing for example. But low entry price point makes it a good value despite additional maintenance issues.
- Make sure when you investigate purchasing that you get a marine surveyor who understands the issues common with Geminis.
- Also read the owner’s manual before considering purchasing, so you understand the common issues to look for and those that you need to be able accept as almost all Geminis will have these issues.
- Flexing decks are a common concern. Geminis have thin hulls for light weight and high performance. Flexing is to be expected both while walking on deck and sailing offshore.
- Buoyancy tanks are an important item that needs to be double checked if sealed. This is one reason Gemini 105 lost CE Category A certification – lack of buoyancy compartments being sealed properly.
- Bridgedeck slamming is a problem but common on many boats including a friend who has a Nautitech and their table actually ripped out of the boat from the pounding while crossing the Atlantic.
- Drive leg can be tricky to raise and lower. Many complain about issues with it, but Eric has not had any issues with her diesel or drive leg. Just need to maintain properly. He has a spare in case he has issues any day as parts are not easy to get anymore.
- Differences between 105 M and 105 MC include swim steps, centerboard material, and screecher bar. Also amount of wood inside. There is a full list available in the resources of the Gemini Owners Group.
- Layout is one head with integrated hot water shower. Two doubles and a master queen bed forward.
What can you tell us about yourself and the boat starting with the boat’s name?
S/V Kid Cat cause I have a bunch of kids and my daughter liked the name so that’s how it became Kid Cat. When I bought it, it was called S/V Binary which I thought was a wonderful name, but my wife hated it so we renamed it. I would have kept the name. I thought it was fantastic plus it had nice decals on the side with the name and everything but yeah my wife didn’t like it.
So anyway the kids chose the name. I’ve had it for two years if you want to know like about me. I’m completely new, so I had never had a sailboat before and I never had a boat before and I bought it a couple of years ago and I took some classes, RYA classes, because they were pretty thorough.
That’s it. That’s my story. I don’t have a lot of experience. I haven’t been able to compare to other boats. I have friends that come on my boat that have sailing experience that tell me things and oh and this is so different from another boat and i like my this is how it is on here and it’s perfect.
Tell us why did you choose a catamaran and the Gemini 105 MC?
I was um looking at a bunch of boats. Essentially I had always had the idea that i wanted to to do this. I had been looking more and more and at one point I even sent an email to the Moorings to figure out how it worked to buy like like a boat through their charter thing.
Then i saw this one for sale in Toronto and i thought oh let’s go take a look and i saw it i liked it and that was it. So it was the first boat i saw. I’m not a very good buyer for sport, but it was nice. It was clean. Everything was nice on it.
The lady that had it before me had just done the the Great Loop with it and so she had put in a bunch of new electronics on it and everything was perfect on it or it seemed perfect to me and now that i know more i can see that yes it was fine. Everything was perfect on it.
What is the Great Loop?
The Great Loop is you go down the Mississippi and then you come back up through the ICW or the other way around. She left from Toronto and then did the loop all the way down to the Bahamas and then back up to back up to Toronto again.
A lot of people seem to use the Gemini 105 for that for the loop it seems to be like a boat that does that a lot.
Did you end up sailing it yourself from from Toronto up to Montreal?
I kept it in the Thousand Islands, so I kept it on on Lake Ontario yeah exactly right now I’m thinking of going out to St Lawrence. That’s my kind of my next goal would be maybe to go out to Saint Lawrence, go out into the ocean, and so i’m kind of working on that right now that’s the plan.
What is the best feature of the Gemini 105 MC?
The killer feature for me was the shallow draft. It was the 18 inches. I don’t know if you know this couple that do a show called Distant Shores? They are from Ontario, and they are an older couple they used to have a TV show. Now they’re on YouTube, but they used to have a TV show called Distant Shores and they have a Southerly – a beautiful English boat. It’s very expensive.
It has a swing keel. I remember seeing this image of the guy standing next to his boat on the beach basically. So he’s on the beach standing next to it’s a big boat it’s like i don’t know 40 feet long and he’s just standing next to it and i thought wow that is amazing. I kind of had the idea that i want something that has shallow draft and that’s what my initial thing was.
So because of the kills lift up it it’s only 18 inches draft and afterwards as i was looking around the other thing that sold me is this other couple from um Ottawa i believe they have a YouTube channel um they sold their boat but anyway their boat was called Catsaway and you can Google it and find it.
When she was shopping she did a video of her reasons right. It’s narrow so it fits in the slip and the whole thing. I was like oh wow these are a bunch of really good but really good reasons so that’s what drew me to the to the Gemini.
I had seen the boat before and i did the research after well i had already seen the shallow draft. The shadow draft was definitely something that i already knew in advance, but then i as i was doing the research. I saw her video and i thought okay these are a bunch of really good reasons.
Of course the price right because these there’s no comparable unless you go into a like a a keel boat but then you don’t have the shallow draft right. So to find something with a shallow draft like that for a reasonable price.
I’ve got three kids so so we have enough space there isn’t all that much there’s not there’s not a lot of comparable boats for the price. A lot of features of the boat. When you actually start looking for other boats that might have the same features, you end up in a price range completely out. So that’s always kind of the big selling point of these boats is that you get a lot of boat for the price.
So you really wanted something with shallow draft but as a 15-year live aboard remembering when I was shopping for boats one thing I learned right away was that there’s always going to be a compromise. I was not going to get exactly what I wanted in one boat.
So if there was anything that you could change or you know now after having the boat for two years what would that thing be? Or what was a compromise that you thought you would want in the boat and that you did not get?
Ii’m pretty happy with the boat. Actually it’s an ideal boat. I love it. I love the boat. I’m a terrible interview for this because I just love my boat. I love it so much.
Headroom is fantastic.
I have a composting head which i didn’t know if i liked or not it was of course my first boat. Everybody tells me horror stories about the head and last summer i spent three weeks in sandbanks with the kids and we didn’t move i was just anchored there i was on the beach i was anchored on the beach and the kids could just jump like they could just walk down.
I’ve got a four-year-old and she could just go down the steps be in the water and then go on to the beach which was fantastic. So i could just be on the boat. I couldn’t watch the kids. It was great a lot of fun yeah it was a lot of fun.
People say the composting head is painful because you have to change it and whatever but the fact is you can stay as long as you want out there which is which is great.
So do the kids help you sail or do you sail more or less short-handed?
I sail pretty much alone. My eldest is 11 and she kind of throws a line to somebody at the dock if we get to a dock and there’s somebody there oh great. Most of the time I just do it on my own.
So relatively easy to shorthand?
Super easy. My wife she’s been taking classes and things so she most of the time I’ve been alone and or alone with the kids. I can do it on my own and i’m inexperienced so i’m not i’m not like i don’t have a experience on this she’s easy to sail.
Easy to dock she’s got a like the mid engine that with the drive like that turns so when you get to a dock it’s actually extremely easy so much so that when i get to a dock people look at me oh you’ve been doing this for a long time and i’m going yes look at me. It’s really just because it’s easy yeah.
Anything else you would change or would would want from from your catamaran?
I’m gonna tell you the real deal with these boats is that you need to spend time improving them because they are not known for having a very good build quality. They are known for very for being inexpensive built to a price. That’s the thing built for price right.
When i got it the surveyor looked at all the cracks. It’s got a bunch of gel coat cracks. They all have a bunch of gel coat cracks right. That’s the thing he had never seen a Gemini before he looked at it he was looking at me like i was a crazy to want to buy this boat right.
I remember the broker telling me ah stop looking at the cracks just don’t worry about it that’s fine it’s fine right. Ultimately the survey didn’t find anything any issue beyond the cracks right. But it bothered him so much.
It is a DIY. You have to you have to want to spend time on it and fix it up and improve it especially so now that i’m thinking of going out to St Lawrence.
I’m putting this into perspective right because there’s always the debate of people saying oh is that a blue water boat is not a blue water boat and there’s there’s a bunch of people that have gone on passages with it.
Even the builder Tony Smith did a big passage. He crossed the Atlantic with it and filmed it and wrote an article on it and the whole thing. There’s a guy in Australia that bought his boat in Fiji and boat sailed over there on its own.
So there’s there’s a lot of debate right and um and now that i’ve done a lot of research. So again my it’s all theoretical my thing because i don’t have the experience but i’ve done a bunch of research and all of the research all of the reading and all of the the the the conclusion of it is well if you’re willing to spend the time necessary to understand the boat and fix the issues right fix anything.
Even in the manual it says if you’re gonna go do passages with it just make sure you inspect everything and you’re happy with it and if you’re not that you make it good and then you can go do whatever you want with it.
I see it for myself. Things that I’ve been looking at. There’s the buoyancy tanks making sure they are in fact sealed and because they apparently they aren’t sealed and there’s a bunch of issues with that and you just have to go in and fix it and be willing to put in the time and effort to do that
But overall it’s a great boat. I recommend the boat to everybody!
The downside of course is that 14 feet wide so if want to take it out of the water somewhere that they can take a 14 foot wide boat out which most places can do it but some can’t if you want to trailer it you need to think about that because 14 feet wide is the limit pretty much to be able to trailer it.
It does require some logistics more than if you get a sailboat that is thin right that doesn’t have that issue.
There’s a guy where i have the boat right now. There’s a guy who built his own um his own trailer to take it out of the water so he used a hay wagon and he just takes his boat out of the water on his own trailer using his car because it’s maybe ten thousand pounds but yeah he manages to do that and it works.
That’s it sounds like a very friendly boat to have.
I have a friend who sails a lot and I lend him my boat. I’ve had it two years, so I’ve lent them like one week this year and one week the year before. He’s fascinated by it because everything’s well thought out. He keeps telling me the guy who built this was obviously a sailor because he’s everything is is well thought out.
Now i don’t i personally don’t have a reference point to be able to like say yes or no. If you read like with the guy who built it, Tony Smith, he brought the molds back from England for his first model the guy built boats for 30 years this is the model he made himself so he made his own molds and because this was the original model was based off of the molds from the Aristocat which was built in the UK right where Tony Smith had worked.
He bought the molds brought them to the USA and started building the boats. It was the 3000 which was 30 feet then 3200 / 3400 then apparently his factory burned down.
Then he made the new molds right to make the 105 and the 105 MC. Well initially was the 105 M and then after a few years it turned into the MC where they made small changes.
What is the difference between the um 105 and the 105 MC?
So it’s a 105 M and 105 MC. My understanding is that the steps in the back when you leave the cockpit. There’s like differences in the steps. There’s a list on the group. There’s somebody’s got a file with all of the all of the differences, but it’s mainly it’s small stuff right.
The centerboards are supposed to be composite and on the old one they’re made of wood.
Mine has this screecher bar, so there’s a bar up front where you can have a screecher which is nice and the 105 M doesn’t have that. The 105 M doesn’t didn’t come with that option.
Overall they’re very similar right because it’s the same mold. Mine has a lot less wood because the the story goes that when Tony Smith crossed the Atlantic he wanted to make the boat lighter. After the crossing he decided the boat needed to be lighter so he removed a bunch of wood so I have seen pictures of other boats with a bunch of wood paneling where I have just fiberglass.
How fast have you gotten the boat up to?
I have gotten through 11 knots, but only on Lake Ontario. I presume that I can go faster if I’m in the ocean on waves.
The cruising speed of it is seven and a half knots. That’s what they use when they’re calculating their Atlantic crossing cruising speed. They were calculating seven and a half knots and i would say that if there’s wind you’re gonna be going seven and a half easily.
Does she head into the wind very well?
Yeah 30 degrees. I saw a video once. I wanted to figure out. Can i do this. I’ve been able to do it. You have to put both boards down even though they’re asymmetrical and you’ll do it. It’s not fun though. I mean it’s getting into the wind is not fun.
It wasn’t super enjoyable and of course there’s waves and slap and all of that stuff which it wasn’t that great but yeah it’ll do 30 degrees of the wind.
Does it have any problems with the bridge deck slamming?
It does. There’s of course any time you have a wave that that is the right size it’ll start slapping. But all catamarans have that. I presume of course again.
I have my friend who’s got experience. He has a friend with a big Nautitech, and they crossed the Atlantic and their table just ripped out of the floor because they were slamming so hard.
I just took a marine weather class 33 hours of marine weather because ultimately when you’re out there you’re subject to the weather and what i understood is that if you can tell the weather then you can always make sure you are not in a situation where you’re going to have that and that you can wait for the right time.
I realize now a bunch of times that i should have like i could have done better just by virtue of the weather so if you’re going into the wind and your and your bridge deck slapping and all that stuff. If you really don’t want to live through that you can always plan differently would be my my impression right.
Anyway my goal for my goal for next summer will be to try that theory. To actually look at the weather and plan toward the weather. Understand the weather. So I’ve learned so much i understand how the weather works. Looking at the weather but not understanding how it works has put me in situations where I would have preferred not to be in. Right now and of course I believe that the boat is going to perform better if i understand how the weather better that’s it that was the reason for taking the class ultimately.
Sounds like it was a good class for you then and well worth it.
It was a good class. Excellent.
Sounds like you’re ready for the Bahamas.
Yeah that’s possibly next year. I don’t know maybe next winter that would be nice if i go out to St Lawrence i can try to head down there i don’t know
Well that’s this has been fun Eric. I love hearing about your stories as a new boat owner because it’s now been like 15 years and like when I first bought my boat I certainly didn’t know how to sail or what i was doing or why my boat was special. You have to love your boat.
That was that’s the thing my friend Alex. He’s in love with the Pogo. He wants a Pogo. It’s like his dream. He’s just keeping the Pogo. I know some some sailors in Montreal. He just he dreams about it all the time and i told him let’s cross the Atlantic on my boat next year and then you cross back with your boat because if he buys it in France right yeah.
That’s kind of the running joke. I don’t think i’m ready for it for a crossing but maybe who knows once i go out into the ocean we’ll see how i feel about going out into the ocean right right now. It’s going to be great but who knows. If you’re prepared I think you can do anything. It doesn’t scare me right now so maybe it’ll scare me once i’m out there but once you’re out there also I believe strongly that you can get used to anything so plenty of people have done a bunch of crazy stuff but yeah anyway we’ll see.
I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures when you get out to St Lawrence.
Yeah i will probably be posting on the group if you join the Gemini Group. I’ll probably be posting pictures and stuff on there for sure. I know there’s a couple of people that have boats on the St Lawrence.
Geminis. I know that one of them in November they were sailing out to go down to the Bahamas because we can’t cross the border right now right so they they went out and sailed down there.
I know there’s a guy in there’s at least two in Nova Scotia that have Geminis like this yeah and there’s there’s a guy right in Montreal that has one. I was shocked the other day i was this summer. I was driving along and i see a Gemini and i actually went to to knock on his door to talk to him.
Sounds like you’ve got a nice little group up there. They’re out and about these Geminis.
They’re great boats if you’re willing to spend a bit of time fixing them up. They are fantastic. There’s nothing comparable for the amount of money. Even like i’m talking about the Pogo right. Pogo’s a great boat. Pogo is going to cost you at least twice as much right and so it’s a great boat, but it’s twice as much any other catamaran out there is going to cost you.
Twice as much right any other capable cat because i’m of the the ones that believe that this is actually a blue water boat. The Gemini 105 was certified until it got revoked. That’s a whole other story, but I believe it’s a capable boat if you’re willing to put in the the energy into it.
I don’t think there’s any other catamaran out there for the same price that has the same features. Maybe like an old Prout but do you want to be in an old Prout because it’s super slow?
I actually looked at one before i bought mine. I was looking at one online and it doesn’t look good. You got to love the boat right and I couldn’t love a Prout. It might be a fantastic boat. I just can’t love it.
Great talking to you.
All right bye-bye stay warm. Thank you. Good luck with the business.