Seawind 1200 Catamaran

Perhaps the rarest of all Seawind models, the 39’ Seawind 1200, first produced in Wollongong, Australia in 1998, saw roughly 25 produced in its 5-year run. The model was primarily popular among charter companies in Australia, with only a few known to cruise privately. As with all Seawind models, the 1200 is a strong sailor with a spacious layout, but there may be more than a few reasons the company replaced it with the wildly-popular 1160.

History

Seawind was founded by Richard Ward in the early 1980s. Over the course of two decades, the Seawind factory pushed out the Seawind 850, launched in1991, the 33-foot Seawind 1000, launched in 1994, and the Tony Grainger-designed Seawind 1200 in launched in 1998 for the Australian charter company Whitsunday Escape.

Though briefly replaced by the Seawind 1160, the 1200 model line continued in 2011 with the 41-foot Seawind 1250, which launched in 2011, then on to the 41-foot 1260, launched in 2018. The 1250 moved from the conventional horizontal bi-fold door to the innovative tri-fold door found in the 1160, as well as the more plush interior found in the 1200 model. Still with galley down, the later addition of a self-tacking jib, and lines run to the cockpit, the 1200 series continues to provide comfort and ease for short-handed cruisers. In fact, the 1260 won Best Catamaran under 50’ and 2019 Cruising World Boat of the Year.

While a rare find on the market, if you’ve located a 1200 you want to cruise, but want to first give her a try, you can charter SV Lionfish Safari through Charterworld in Australia.

Features

Layout

Like most modern catamarans, the Seawind 1200 was offered in 3- or 4-cabin versions, some with soft bimini tops, and others with the more popular hard-top bimini. Unlike her successors, the 1200 came equipped with a single helm to port and a bi-fold door separating the cockpit from the ample salon area. Additional features that comprise the Seawind 1200 include:

  1. Hull construction. A combination of GRP and balsa cored laminates in the load areas, with foam core in the decks. She comes with seven bulkheads glassed to the hulls and molded from foam-cored fiberglass and/or marine ply. Each hull contains a collision bulkhead and watertight chambers throughout. Below the waterline, she is solid fiberglass.
  2. Spacious Common Areas. The roomy cockpit provides ample seating and an outdoor refrigerator for easy access to beverages while underway or at anchor. With the traveler mounted on the targa top, and controls at the helm, your crew will find minimal interference with guest comfort. The 1200 also possesses wide side decks and flat surfaces for easy traversing in rougher seas. Inside, the well-protected salon can seat 8-10 guests, and can fold down into a large berth for extra guests. The 1200 will also accommodate those vertically-expansive among up, with cockpit heights of over 6’7”, though just 5’10” under the traveler.
  3. Interior Layout. Unlike her successors, the 1200 leaves the nav station up top for better accessibility and visibility in rough conditions. The swing-out stool keeps the salon uncluttered. The owners cabin includes the nautical equivalent of a walk-in closet with over a dozen shelves and a hanging locker–more than enough space for clothing and gear storage. The galley, located starboard-side down, provides plenty of counter/works space, cupboards, and twin top loading refrigerator and freezer. While most other Seawind models feature an often-sterile interior trim, the 1200 offers the rich appearance of Rose Gum trim.
  4. Safety. In addition to the flat, spacious decks for ease of ingress and egress, the designers of the 1200 included a single-line reefing system and ensured all sail controls led to the cockpit for safe reefing in the worst conditions. Few non-Seawind catamarans come with triple life-lines, but the Seawind 1200 continues with this added safety feature, bringing lifeline height to 36’ instead of 24’.
  5. Stainless Steel Arch. Like all Seawind models, the 1200 comes equipped with a standard arch, which can house multiple solar panels, as well as davits that can get your dinghy riding high and secure in lively conditions.

But, can she perform?

That’s the question that seems to be up for debate. Due to the fact that most of these vessels remain in charter, you don’t see the lively discussions amongst cruisers on whether she can outrun a storm or log 230nm in a 24-hour period.

According to David Lockwood, the Seawind 1200 is “more your laid-back, feet-up, chatty kind of boat that underscores the high comfort factor of well-planned cruising cats.” Indeed, others have pointed out that her rich wood interior has made her a bit heavy, lowering her bridgedeck to the point that she has the potential to slam more often than a more performance-designed catamaran.

To her credit, the 1200 was designed with two spade rudders and mini-keels, which can improve with sailing performance (pointing ability) and beaching. Her twin sub-30hp Yanmar or Volvo engines might be considered a bit under-whelming for a 7-ton vessel with a cruiser’s cache, though there are reports that she can do 5.7 knots on one engine alone, while still maintaining a decent fuel economy. With standard, fixed props, the 1200 can attain speeds of 6.5 knots at 2400 RPMs. Upgrading to feathering props can almost certainly add at least half a knot to that.

When considering the catamaran performance-comfort-cost trifecta made popular by designer Chris White, the Seawind 1200 seems to err more on the side of comfort than performance. However, some may disagree.

How Comfortable is the Seawind 1200?

Again, while she boasts a plush interior with plenty of space for visitors and crew, there were some comfort issues that were not overcome, including:

  • Heavy Vessel Combined with Low Bridgedeck – while bridgedeck height is not the sole indicator that a vessel will slam, there are documented complaints about the 1200’s weight and sailing performance. Adding excessive slamming, or overly-long passages can wear on any crew’s nerves—a key factor in comfort.
  • Ventilation – The 1200 does have forward-facing hatches in the main salon, which provides decent ventilation in that area. However, the aft cabins do not attain cross-ventilation and the heads could use extractor fans.
  • Layout Issues – the entrance to port side head, typically the owner’s head with separate shower, currently opens near the entrance to the salon, which encourages guest use. This may not be ideal for some cruisers. It could be improved if the entrance was flipped to access directly from the owners cabin. Additionally, a few of the hatch doors opened onto joinery and would be better served if they opened in the opposite direction.
  • Visibility – when seated there is very little visibility of anything but sky, which means if you want to be able to see the seascape, you must either stand or go to the cockpit or other outside areas of the vessel.

With all of that said, the Seawind 1200 has been a capable cruiser, with a vessels voyaging from Wollongong around Cape York to Perth and later to Singapore. Another 1200 cruised from the Caribbean to Toronto, Canada. Sailing vessel Caravanserai put thousands of nautical miles under her keel in the north and south Pacific.

Overall, the Seawind 1200 is a strong, seaworthy catamaran. However, if you can afford one of her younger sisters, you may find a more comfortable ride, combined with more modern amenities.

River B

By River B

River is a licensed USCG Captain with a lifetime of experience on the water. From the San Francisco Bay to the South Pacific, blue water to clear water, he’s sailed a wide variety of catamarans and crawled around in the bilges of more than he can count. You can follow his misadventures at www.tilted.life.

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