We talked with Terysa and Nick of Ruby Rose, and they have an interesting story about how they are coming to their catamaran. They are working with Seawind Catamarans to design the first Seawind 1370.
They have a tremendous following on their YouTube channel, so please check their videos out and subscribe. They video taped their search for their catamaran and reviewed many different catamaran models on the market.
Could you start off with telling us how you got into cruising, and then what took you from monohulls to catamaran?
We started sailing back in the UK. Nick started about 15 years ago and I started when I met Nick, so 10-11 years ago. We were just weekend sailors. We used to be part of a club and we would do weekend cruises and races, and it was all very low-key, just fun. We were, at the time, thinking about making a lifestyle change and perhaps doing some traveling, taking a sabbatical.
We lived in London at the time, so we wanted something that would give us a little bit more time to ourselves, and be a little bit more authentic to what we thought was important in life. The two kind of merged into one idea, which was that we would move onto our boat and sail. At the time, we would sail around Europe, and that plan progressed to perhaps sailing around the world.
We bought Ruby Rose, which was a Southerly 38 boat, monohull, in order to see this plan through. At the time, we were monohull sailors. We had always sailed monohulls, and everyone in the club, almost everyone in the UK, has monohulls rather than catamarans. It never really occurred to us to look at catamarans, it wasn’t even on our radar. The marina that we actually kept the boat in capped out about at 42-foot and there was no catamarans in there. There were only canal boats, so good catamarans were not even part of our decision-making process when we bought Ruby Rose.
In 2015, we finally set off and we sailed Ruby Rose down from the UK across the Bay of Biscay down the Atlantic Coast of Spain and Portugal. We ended up in Morocco and the Canary Islands. Then in November that year, we crossed to the Caribbean, so we did our first Atlantic crossing. We then spent two years sailing, essentially from the Caribbean up to the US East coast and then back down to the Bahamas and then up to Bermuda.
We kind of went up and down a little bit and then in 2018-19? It was two years ago, I think lost track of time. We crossed back to Europe three years ago. We have been sailing in Europe since.
We sold Ruby Rose in September last year, and the reason why we decided to sail back to Europe was because while we’re on the East coast, we were at a crossroads where we could either continue going West and go to Panama across the Pacific and kind of continue with this original dream that we had of sailing around the world, or we could face reality and accept that the boat that we had was not really ideal for that purpose.
She was a great boat, she was fantastic for what we had done so far, but we knew that going to more remote areas, continuing to do these long ocean crossings, the boat was perfectly capable, but it wasn’t the purpose that the boat was built for. Therefore, there were compromises to be made. We had to decide whether to continue to live with those compromises, or sell Ruby Rose and buy something that was built for the purpose that we actually wanted to use the boat for.
During that decision-making process, we decided to go from a monohull to a catamaran, not because catamarans are inherently more suited to long-distance cruising or anything like that, but partly because we had been on board so many catamarans by that point, because we’ve been in the Caribbean for several years, and there are so many catamarans there.
We’d go for sundowners on a friend’s beautiful catamaran, and we thought to ourselves, “Wow! They really know how to live!” These big cockpits and everything just seemed so spacious and stable. Then we’d dinghy back to our boat and think, “I’m not so sure that we’re doing this right.”
We had the opportunity to change the boat, of course, and we thought, “why not change to a completely different type of boat?” Both still sailboats, I guess, but it would be a different experience going from a monohull to a catamaran, and we just really wanted to embrace the opportunity to try something new. That’s when we started our research into catamarans and we thought it would be easy. We thought we’d just jump on board one and think, “oh yeah, this is nice,” and away we’d go. It turned out to be so much more complicated than that, and I’ll let Nick pick up on that.
Can you tell us, what did your research look like? How many catamarans were involved? Then just sort of walk us through a little bit about what that was like?
We actually started with zero knowledge, which is a pretty good place to start, because you learn as you go along. We ended up putting 19 reviews out, probably one for each major brand on the market. I think we filmed about 22 boats, and we didn’t put three reviews out because they were almost doubled up a smaller version of one model.
The thing that kind of struck me, is a couple of things.
Firstly, when you go to a boat show, you see these beautiful white machines. They look amazing on the dock. But you scratch the surface, and the gulf between one brand and another brand is huge. There are certain brands of catamaran, which will remain nameless during this interview, that I think are just really really poorly made. Not just individual models, or individual hull numbers, but just across the brand. These boats in many cases, are just more suited to charter, and that essentially means that they’re not meant to do big ocean passages, they’re not. While they may be category A-rated offshore vessels, they’re not really built for doing these big passages.
If you go into the owners forums, a couple of things becomes apparent. There’s a very big gulf between what boat you get from the factory and what you have to do to the boat to make it livable, or to make it get to a level where you’re happy to take it offshore. Upgrading blocks, tackle, lines, sails, because what gets shipped is shipped to make the boat cheap, but not necessarily a quality boat.
The other thing that became patently obvious to us is that some brokers don’t actually sell boats that are of benefit to their customers. The brokers sell the boats that benefit the brokers. We found this across the board through people telling us this, but also by talking to brokers. There was a time before people really knew who or what our channel was. Our following was about 50,000 subscribers when we started this journey. But you’d have phone calls semi-anonymously with brokers and they will tell you essentially a pack of lies about what was required.
We had a litany of examples that I can give you on this. For example, we were in a marina in Western France, in La Rochelle, which is where a couple of brands of catamarans are launched. We met a really lovely Canadian couple who had bought a boat from a European broker, because when they went to the US broker, the US broker, and I’m trying to avoid keeping the name of the catamaran out of this interview, said the minimum size you need for two people to live aboard is 50-foot. You need a 50-foot catamaran, you need to have ABCD and E, a large eight-and-a half kilowatt gen set, and all these other things which, to me, were completely unnecessary. What happened was, I think they were both commercial pilots, and very experienced, they turned around and said, “actually no, we don’t need this at all.”
They ended up going to the European broker because the European broker said no, you don’t need a 50-foot catamaran. A 40-foot catamaran will be exactly what you need. You don’t need a gen set and you can go with renewables, and because they weren’t treated as idiots by the broker, they went to the European broker and had the boat shipped to Europe.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and honestly, I think from our point of view our, our allegiance is to the 130,000 people that follow what we do, not to the brokers.
Unfortunately, there is no way of going around this process without making some ripples in the world of boating. As we did these reviews, there are a lot of features, and let me just make this absolutely clear, I’m not an expert and nor am I a surveyor, this literally is my opinion. But if I was to say, look at the tie-rod system between rudders between 10 boats of different brands, I can tell you which one looks inferior to me, in my opinion. This isn’t us filming and saying, “well I can see this, this, and this,” after the fact. We are literally just taking a camera around and videoing what we can see in boats at boat shows.
At this point, there was some interest in us working together with catamaran manufacturers, and people were starting to become aware that as we brought these reviews out, they were making a stir in the market, so we got talking really organically with Seawind Catamarans about this (Editor’s Note: We did an interview with Shane Grover of Seawind Catamarans available on CatamaranSite.com and embedded below.)
They said, “look, we can see what you’re trying to do,” and they have a 42-foot catamaran on the market, and they have a 52-foot catamaran on the market, neither of which were going to work perfectly for us. The 42 was a little bit too small for what we wanted to do, which is sail remotely for months at a time. The 52 is too expensive, and I’m also pretty aware that we operate a system that the boat should be completely manageable short-handed if you have no electronics, if you get hit by lightning or you get your battery compartment wet. When you get to a 50-foot catamaran, you’ve got some big systems to contend with to get that boat sailing. (Editor’s Note: We also did an interview with YouTube stars Harbors Unknown onboard their brand new Seawind 1600.)
So we were looking sub-50-foot. They said, “we don’t have anything, but we’re working on something, we’ve got a 45-foot catamaran,” which for us was the sweet spot because it’s about size, waterline, speed, safety, the lack of hobby-horsing, all these things that make for a fast, comfortable passage. They said, “we watched your 19 reviews and you’ve obviously got a lot of input and a lot of things to say and you’ve lived onboard for five years, so why don’t you partner up with us and tell us what you want to see in a catamaran, because we’ve got this brilliant design but you’ve got a lot of ideas, both of you.”
If you go onto any catamaran owner’s website, whether it’s Nautitech, whether it’s Lagoon, Fontaine-Pajot, anyone, the owners will all be telling you stories of, we had to modify this to get this to work, we had to do this because this wasn’t quite right. We figured, why not just get everything into the boat straight away? Why not just not have to deal with certain aspects of this, not swap things out and and make it right, initially? Obviously, there will be fine tweaks.
Seawind are a pretty progressive company. They’re very progressive, their young management understood where we were coming from, understood that things were changing in the marketplace. I might just add that Seawind had a track record of having very good, close relationships with their customers, partly because they have not always been a massive company. They started off quite small in Australia, under Richard Ward. It was up until quite recently, where Richard, the CEO, knew the names, and knew in-person, almost all of the owners, so it was this really fantastic relationship that we thought represented what their values were like. The fact that they had this fantastic two-way relationship with their customers was really important because it showed how much importance they placed on A. customer service, but B. just having that continuous conversation with their customers to try and build a catamaran that was best suited to the customer’s needs.
I was gonna ask you if you can go into some of the specifics of things that you really felt needed to be on the Seawind. Give us some ideas about things that jumped out to you?
We went to Seawind with wants and needs for the live-aboard challenge. We are not naval architects so this has got nothing to do with performance. It has everything to do with how a live-aboard should be, what a live-aboard should look like. From our point of view, we didn’t want a gen set, so we had to work very hard, very well with renewables. Power management was a whole section. Other things, for instance, Terysa’s five-foot two, I’m five-foot nine. You very very rarely find a helm seat or a helm position that will accommodate both those sizes.
So you’re looking at these boats, you’re getting these boats, and I’m like, “this is a nice home position.” Terysa’s like, “I can’t see.”
You can’t see above the cabin!
On long passages when you’re short-handed, you have to accommodate both sets of people. You have to have a bed you can get out of both sides. You have to have USB ports on both sides, so if you’ve got anchor alarms attached to phones, you can plug those in. You should have recycling chutes. You should have a chute to the sea, so offshore, you can throw organic matter off. You should have a workable rain catchment system that uses the guttering on the hard top to make sure that everything goes. You get a max amount of water from Caribbean rainfall that it all goes to a filtration system before it goes into your water tanks.
It’s easy to clean, hopefully.
Exactly. As Nick says, there were kind of big issues such as the power management systems that we wanted. We wanted it to be completely run off solar or renewables, which in this case is solar. But there were also little details as well, that we had found just living on our monohull, that we saw in other catamarans. As we did these quite detailed reviews, we thought that’s a really good idea. Even just simple things like having cup holders next to the helm seat. I mean it sounds so stupid, and yet you need to have somewhere on passage where you can pop your flask or your bottle of water or whatever, because dehydration on ocean crossings is actually quite common.
I completely agree with that. Trying to find the right place where your cup isn’t going to go flying at you.
That’s right. You need a way to put something so that you can continue to keep yourself hydrated, and have your hot cup of tea in the middle of the night or whatever. Like a bracket, so that you can put your fishing rods underneath the bimini brackets for holding a paddle, not that we’re gonna have a paddleboard, but that kind of thing, essentially places to put things that you’re gonna be needing or using a lot.
Well, these are certainly the things that once you have a boat, you comb through those owners’ groups to find out what people have done and what clever ideas have come up with. So much of that knowledge gets buried and lost after a generation or two, or owner or two.
The other thing is, there’s a lot of things that we wanted to build into this boat that couldn’t be retrofitted, or would be difficult to retrofit. One thing we did come up with, which it drives me nuts, is that the transoms of catamarans, the sterns of both hulls, you end up chipping the gel coat because when you come, you hit with the V of your tender. You end up hitting it every now and then, and eventually you’ll start chipping the gel coat.
So we just said to Seawind, why not just put a rubber gasket, a fat little mini-fender on the lip so that you literally have protection against docking. They’re like, “yeah, we’ll do that, brilliant idea.”
Why don’t you have a workshop if you live on board? You spend so much time doing repairs on your boat, doesn’t matter if the boat is new or 10-years old. You are always fixing something.
PDQ 36 had a workshop in one of the back hulls initially, for the same reason.
This is the thing, this is what a lot of owners do. They convert an existing cabin to work. For example if they bought a charter boat like one of those four-cabin, four-shower room heads, arrangements, they convert one of those areas to a workshop. But we didn’t want to do that, because we wanted to protect our master hull, and we wanted to protect our two other cabins, because we wanted to be able to have two other couples, or at least four people who are happy to share a bed, as crews.
So on long ocean crossings, we are able to take more crew, and therefore get more sleep and be less tired, and that kind of thing. We wanted the workshop to be an independent area that didn’t encroach on any other part of the boat, because years of Nick literally having to upend, you know probably what I’m talking about, the entire content of the boat just to get to like one spanner or one item, one replacement item, or whatever. It was ridiculous, and the entire boat’s in a mess.
So from our point of view, designing a workshop, building a workshop into an existing cabin, there’s a series of compromises that have to occur. Building a workshop initially, and the workshop in our boat, and it’s going to be is rolling out to all the boats, is the forepeak of the starboard hull. It can work as a as a single berth, but essentially, there are things that, for instance, are super useful. It’s at a height that you can sit down and work well.
Seawind said, “do you want to sit down or stand up and work?” I said, “really, most of the work that we’ve done on the boat over the last 10 years has been fiddly work.” It’s not big work with a hammer, it’s soldering broken components, it’s fixing a clock, trying to put a barometer back together. I need to be able to solder, I want power sockets in the right place, I want a good lighting source, and that to us means two articulated lights, one on each side, so that you don’t cast shadows, so you can see what you’re doing.
They have then taken that and said, “what we’ve done is, we’ve rolled, we’ve made a little recess, like a little gutter in the floor, like a pan, so if you do spill fluid, like if you are taking apart something, it all holds so you’re not going to end up washing hydraulic fluid, or oil around.” Rubberized matting, a vice, small height drawers to keep tools in, things that are needed from a workshop; to try and retrofit a cabin to do that is is pretty difficult.
The best example I’ve ever seen on that was on a Maverick 440, that actually had a workshop in it. But that then rolls into other things that you need. You need dedicated tough crate storage. You see so many boat owners that take one of their redundant cabins and put tough crates in to store things that they don’t need, but there’s no need for that, because if you design a boat that can take tough crates initially, either in a recess under the bed, because as you know from owning a catamaran, there’s a lot of dead space. If you work with a dead space initially to take a standard tough crate, you are not encroaching on your living space.
One of the great things about this kind of collaboration with Seawind is that we had these ideas, and they were both things that we knew we wanted from living on a boat for five, six years at that point, and also things that we had seen on other catamarans that we were like, “that’s genius, why isn’t that on every boat?” like the rain catchment system, for example. We submitted these ideas with no real idea of how they’d be implemented, just leaving up to Seawind, and they have come up with some absolutely fantastic, genius solutions that never would have occurred to us. This is what is so great. It feels to us like a true collaboration that they have come forward. They’re really clever. They have their ideas and we have our ideas, and they kind of come together to create something that we think and we hope will be well received, and well-suited to all the owners that are lining up to buy this boat.
Have you got a sense of how it performs? Have you been involved in that aspect of things?
Not the performance. The performance is done by the naval architect. They’ve managed to get a two-tonne payload into this boat, we can load it up with two tonnes. We’re not going to get anywhere near two tonnes. It’s designed as a performance catamaran, so we’re looking at fine hulls, pretty lightweight, strong foam core, vinyl ester on epoxy. She’s going to be light and fast. We did a whole series with the naval architect on how to make a strong, reliable catamaran.
Again, once we got past this stage, we then moved on to trying to understand what they were building for us, and why they were building it in a certain way. We’ve passed all this on to our followers.
To what Terysa said before about intelligent design, Richard Ward is a really innovative designer. He started building these boats 30 years ago, but even today, you look at things that he put on to a boat 30 years ago, why is no one else doing this? Why is no one else doing something so simple and so clever?
For example, when we first got on the Seawind 1260, on one of the stanchions, at the top of the stanchion, there’s a little stainless-steel, kind of like a loop, like a U-bent, like an inverted U, and I just said, “what is that for, why have you got that there, is it a hook for something?” He said, “no it’s the breather. It’s the breather vent for the fuel tank, so we actually run them.” You just think, “well, it’s just clever, it’s such a clever thing.”
Then when we went to them and we said to them, “I know it sounds decadent, but we’ve lived on board for five years. We want a washing machine on this boat.” As you know, you live on a boat, doing your laundry is a whole day thing, it’s day of your life.
It’s a project, yeah.
You wash them like once every three weeks. You’re living in dirty clothes for weeks on end, until you can get to a laundromat, or washing them.
And they cost a fortune.
Absolutely. They’ve got to try and find a space for a washing machine, and they built it in one of the heads, which is where most of the washing machines live in on catamarans. But what they did, there’s a shelf that kind of sits up in front of the washing machine, which then folds down onto a ledge to give you a laundry folding shelf. Number one, when you take your laundry out, it goes onto this shelf, which is folded down. But secondly, that shelf is above the heads so that you if you drop something, it doesn’t go down the side of your toilet, it literally is there.
You just think, “how intelligent is that to think of a solution to a problem that you don’t even know exists,” and that is why we love them. Going forward to what you asked was, how has this all worked out for us? Seawind essentially said, “we’re giving you our marketing budget to to work with us.” That was the print, the quid pro quo. “You work with us, we showcase this boat, you tell us what you want.” They took a huge risk on doing this.
We signed with Seawind in November 2019 to form this partnership. In January 2020, I went to Dusseldorf to talk to the managing director of Seawind, amongst other things, and I said to him, “we’re going to announce the boat that we’ve chosen in July, so six months from now, and then it’s gonna be another 14 months until our boat is built. So between us announcing the boat and us getting our boat, you have been doing this for many years. How many boats are you gonna sell? How many hulls are you going to sell to people?” He said, “we’re going to 14 hulls, we’re good.” That’s brilliant.
Anyway, fast forward a few months to COVID, fast forward a few months, no boat shows. We announced the boat, I think, on the 9th of July, 2020. There was a huge buzz about it. Everyone was really anticipating, there’s a lot of online betting about what we were doing. They sold 30 hulls in a week.
Then it slowed down a little bit, because essentially, Seawind were going to build six boats a year. By the time they sold 30, that was their five-year allotted target. They’re like, “we can’t get you a boat for five years,” but it didn’t stop. They’re now up to hull 55, and no one has seen this boat. They’ve got 55 hulls, and already deposits paid for all these people signed up, because people understand the value of intelligent design going into a boat, that is designed for live-aboards.
I’m not knocking anybody, but if you buy a production catamaran off-plan, you buy a new one, you’ve got to probably put another hundred-thousand into it to get it livable. That’s what everyone accepts.
The other thing is, it, this incenses me. There was a brand of catamaran, which will remain nameless, where I went through the options lists of buying the new boat. The generator set which people tend to want, was 30,000 Euros, plus tax, so that’s another 20 percent, you get 36,000 Euros. If you try and price match that gen set and buy it yourself, it’s 9,000 Euros, so the mark-up is 20,000 Euros. Essentially a gen set, you need two skin fittings, and a marine electrician, and somewhere to put it. But the mounts for it are probably already installed in the molding, so you’re in a position where you’re thinking, “why are you charging so much for this?” One of my bug bears with gen sets is that of all the anchorages we’ve been into, all the friends we’ve got in sailing, there’s always at least once a week someone will say, “gen set’s playing up, gen set’s chewed through an impeller.” They’ll always be on the back of the boat, sweating, covered in grease, trying to fix their gen set. It is the number one repair that people are doing because they’re so reliant on gen sets.
When Seawind said, “we’ve got a boat you don’t really need a gen set.” We’re like, “how do you not need a gen set?” They said, “we’re designing it from scratch. The technology for solar panels has changed massively, so now we have extended the hard top back a little bit by about, I’m not sure how much, but we can now get two kilowatts of solar panel onto that roof.”
So you think, “two kilowatts, okay, that’s good.” Then number two, Mastervolt have got these new systems, these new alternators that knock out 200 amps. All you’ve got to do with two of these, one on each engine, and in catamaran. If you’ve spent half an hour motoring into an anchorage, motoring out of an anchorage, you’ve got an hour of that a day. That’s 400 amps, plus two kilowatts of power from your solar. Even if you’ve got 50-percent power because you’ve got shadowing and other things, you’ve still got six hours a day, because that’s the way the Caribbean is. You’re working say, nine ’til three with with good sun, you’re still charging your batteries.
Just don’t do laundry that day!
But the point is that we’ve done that we’ve done the calculations. The washing machine runs at 1400 watts, so you can run it with full solar. You can run it. Or what you do, as we used to do with Ruby Rose if you want to run something that’s pretty intensive, you just put the washer machine on when you’re motoring into your anchorage. ‘
There’s a lot of new technology which is super reliable that’s coming forward, which isn’t a safety thing, but for instance, aircon. A lot of people say to us, “how can you have aircon on a boat?” You know from living on a boat, what’s actually the power spike from air conditioning is when it starts up, you’ve got this huge current draw, which as you start up is like 20 amps, but now the new systems don’t have that anymore.
So we can run aircon just using lithium batteries. It’s the point where you know we’ve got this new boat, electric oven, microwave, anything, we’ve got three-and-a-half kilowatts of inverters, so we can run most DC systems, AC systems. There’s no need for a gen set, no need for the expense, no need for the weight, no need for the frustration with maintenance. I think from our point of view, everyone, all these customers, sat there went, “yeah ,you’re right, you’re right.” I said 55 hulls deposits paid, Seawind literally last week, opened a new factory in Vietnam to upscale production.
I was gonna ask, how are you gonna get them all done?
Literally, they’ve got a brand new factory. You can’t buy any Seawind now for five years. It’s completely booked up. It’s a brilliant journey, we’re still on part of that journey, we’re nowhere near the end. We will take delivery of our boat at the end of this year. Our plan is to showcase this boat, refine any little bits, and show it to the world.