Seawind 1600 Review and Owner Interview – Harbors Unknown

We talk to Kristin and Fabio who recently purchased a brand new Seawind 1600 named “S/V Wanderlust.” Follow them on their YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram channels all under the handle “Harbors Unknown.”

In this interview they tell us about the new order process, why they chose the Seawind 1600, what they would change about the boat, and where they have been. A big thank you to them for sitting down with us!

Executive Summary

  • Live aboard their Seawind 1600 in Fort Lauderdale where catamarans are much more suitable than monohulls because of shallow waters.
  • Used to have Beneteau 473 and Dragonfly 35
  • Chose 1600 because they wanted daggerboards, protected helm, and great visibility from helm.
  • Considered also Catana 53, Outremer 45, Balance 526. Catanas have exposed helms. Outremer 45 is much smaller than you would expect from watching La Vagabonde. And the Balance is too spartan down below for their tastes. Also Balance only has one helm position.
  • Seawind 1600 has dual helms with electronic throttles. You can drive from either helm
  • Brand new boat delivered from Vietnam to Miami July 2020. Commissioning with Covid-19 has been difficult.
  • Highlights are helm positioning, visibility from helms, and performance under sail.
  • Draft is 5 foot with daggerboards up, and an amazing 2 foot 1 inch draft with rudders articulated up!
  • In heavy weather they have not experienced slapping of bridgedeck. Great comfortable performance.
  • Headroom of at least 6 foot 4 inches.
  • Checkout their channels including tours of their boat Wanderlust for more information on the 1600

Thank you for being here with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your boat?

We live in Fort Lauderdale Florida, and I’m originally from Rhode Island. Fabio is from Italy originally, but he lived in Rhode Island for 10 years. When we were there, we had a a Beneteau 473 for five years.

We brought our 473 down to Florida when we moved down here, but we found that the South Florida coastline is not really the place for that kind of boat.

Then we got a Dragonfly 35 a few years later because we wanted something faster. We went the opposite end of the spectrum, and it was a really fun boat. Loved it. It was 35 foot long with retractable dagger boards and a retractable center board.

It was really fast. We could go pretty much everywhere because it had a very shallow draft. The only thing is inside it’s super small so for a week okay we’ll be pushing this camping tent, limited comfort. But it was fun. We had a great time. Really really enjoyable sailing.

So then we decided that we wanted to start thinking about moving and living on a boat, and we started looking at catamarans and that’s when we landed on the 1600s.

What what made you choose the 1600?

Fabio did a lot of research, but what really narrowed down the field for us is that we knew we wanted daggerboards because we wanted to be able to sail as upwind as far as possible. We wanted helms that were covered out of the weather. And we wanted to be able to see from the cockpit not look through windows so that narrowed the field pretty much.

We looked at the Catana 53. The stations are really exposed. It’s a beautiful boat, but it still has the helm all the way out so it wasn’t for us.

And then the Outremer 45. Beautiful nice but also the helm stations are a bit exposed and plus we were surprised that it wasn’t as big as we thought it would be. We watched La Vagabonde, and we thought that it was going to be a lot bigger. We thought it would have a larger living saloon, and then even downstairs you have to turn at an angle to walk through the hallways.

Then we looked at the Balance 526 which is a really nice boat but a lot of money.

When it comes down to value, you’ve got the Seawind which is a much more digestible price point, and we also liked the look of the interiors better than the Balance. The Balance has a lot of carbon inside. The furniture is structural which is good in a sense lighter weight and probably more rigidity, but it’s a bit spartan and the Seawind 1600 had a better look for somebody who lives on board.

Plus there was one other thing with the Balance. There is only one helm station. The Seawind 1600 is nice because you have two helm stations so it makes it easy to dock on either side.

I’m curious about that. I live on a Seawind 1160 and we do not have throttle controls at both helms. Do you have throttle controls?

Yeah we have electronic control so you can just switch from one side to the other when you dock. It really makes it much easier for a short shorthanded crew like me and Kristen. So it’s a breeze. You just push the button and move to the other side and you got control there.

Nice. When when was your boat launched?

So delivered here July 27th to Miami. It took 42 days on the cargo ship to get to Miami from Vietnam, arrived in Miami. It took four days to commission it, and then we did the sea trial which was basically bringing it up to Fort Lauderdale.

The Covid situation has made it difficult for a lot of this commissioning because foreign vessels are having a hard time bringing their own people here. In Vietnam they have very few covered cases, so if they leave the country, they can’t get back in. They have to do everything with it with people here on site.

So is it a brand new boat? Congratulations!

I think this is the second one commissioned in the US of a total of four. There is the fifth one that is arriving now in Seattle if it hasn’t arrived already.

Okay so what’s the best thing about the 1600 for you guys?

The best thing for me is the helm stations and the ability to see from the cockpit. You have awesome visibility, and it’s one of the few catamarans that offers that.

Obviously the performance is another great aspect of the Seawind 1600. It’s in the ease of handling the boat shorthand. All the lines come to the cockpit. All the halyards, reefing line. It can all be done safely while you talk to the person at the helm station right. It’s really quick, responsive, and for this size it is fairly light.

It’s very responsive. We were down in the Florida Keys, and we did a friendly race with other Seawinds and you can really turn this thing on a dime. It’s really awesome, very responsive.

Is there anything you’d change about her?

Nothing major. Probably do some details inside the bow and the furniture. Add some drawers where you have to lift the pillows of a settee. Try to fit a drawer underneath. Minor minor things.

There are some dead spaces that we have found that we could put some some cabinets in, but otherwise it’s pretty much what we wanted. Checks all the boxes.

What type of sailing or cruising ground do you think is is great for the Seawind 1600?

That’s a great question so this boat sails upwind well, so it’s good to go from Fort Lauderdale to beam anywhere prevailing winds are from the east. And shallow draft. You can go very close to the shore in places where other people cannot drop an anchor. You can easily drop an anchor and negotiate some some channels. Here in Florida there’s a lot of shifty sandbars. If you keep an eye on your on your depth you can go pretty much anywhere where almost a dinghy can go in.

It’s great for Biscayne Bay and the Keys. We just went down to Key West, and there’s shallow drafts all over there and then the Bahamas for sure.

We haven’t done any major ocean sailing yet, so we can’t comment on that. But eventually we will, and we’ll be happy to give an update.

With the daggerboards up what does she draw?

If you have all the daggerboards up, it’s five foot. Then if you take also the rudders up it’s two foot one inch.

The rudders come up very easy system. They have that on on some of the other Seawinds as well. Even if you come up into a place that you see the the water depth is kind of going down, it’s fairly easy to step down and just pull them up even the last minute.

That’s fantastic. Did you uh did you run into any inclement weather during your short time of ownership?

We’ve had some some wind into the 30 knots gusts of 30 knots with six foot waves. We were going downwind, and the seas were probably like six foot seas. It was completely comfortable, very steady. You didn’t even realize. You can have a cocktail. You can really chill.

We came up on a northwest wind from the Keys and at night it was really rough, and we actually caught a front right when we left Key West. It was fine. The only thing that made me nervous was the lightning that was in the distance, but it stayed away.

There’s no slapping when you get waves. Everybody worries about slapping. There’s no slapping. Of course if you get waves on a three-quarter, they’ll miss the first hull and they get between the two hulls and they’ll hit the hull from the inside and you feel it there, but that’s regardless of any cat. That’s a thing with catamarans. You can’t avoid that unless you have a very narrow one.

So as far as performance goes, we’ve been very satisfied. We love it.

So with the other performance cats that you looked at how does the interior compare? Is she more comfortable less comfortable?

The interior is super comfortable. You have plenty of space. In the saloon it’s very comfortable. You can drop the table down and put cushions there if you wanted to have people sleep there. The galley is great. It’s really nice. It’s a u-shaped galley, and it’s got the perfect triangle. Fabio likes to cook, and he really likes the galley. You’ve got everything within arm’s reach, and the stove top is gas. It works really well.

The other one we looked at closely was the Balance 526. The master cabins are forward, and they’re oriented horizontally. You have to either drop the deck clearance a little bit or increase your deck above the bow. I don’t know what that does to performance, but obviously those cabins when you look inside of the Balance are palatial compared to what we have here. The master head is in the stern on the master side and it much bigger. If you look at the 526 which is maybe a foot longer not even it looks much bigger inside.

I don’t know about the performance. I’ve never really sailed one, but I’m sure they’re fantastic. That’s the only other one that we looked at that we were on the fence a little bit.

The cabins here are very nice on the owner’s side cabinetry is very well detailed, and it’s very nice and comfortable. It’s plenty big enough for the two of us.

If you compare to a Fountain Pajot 50 Saba. The Saba is much bigger. It is enormous.. But we don’t have kids. We don’t need all that space.

We were talking to another couple that was looking at the Seawind 1600, but then they were also looking at some more of the production boats because of the forward cabin on the port side. They were talking about turning it into some more functional storage for tools or something like that instead of having it as a cabin. They were like, “Well if we do that, then we’ve only got one cabin for us and one of the kids would have a cabin but there wouldn’t be a cabin for another kid.”

So for us it’s not an issue. Even they were like, “Well the kids are going to be here five percent of the time, so one can sleep in the salon.”

There’s one of the new ones where they’re working bunk beds into the forward v berth, and you can put them up and then have a workbench or some tool storage or something else.

We have the classic from the factory version.

Anything else that you would say to somebody who is potentially going to buy a 1600?

We actually didn’t step on board one before we bought it. Yes we bought a boat we had never seen. We looked at videos and read a lot, and they were going like hotcakes so we had to just go ahead and order it. If you can come on board a boat and see it for yourself that’s ideal. And sail it obviously.

There was a guy who was six foot four inches tall and worried about hitting his head. On some of the boats, they slope down towards the front, and so he would actually be skimming his head on the ceiling. On the Seawind 1600, he was fine. He was able to walk around.

Then we’ve got a YouTube channel it’s Harbors Unknown, and we’ve got quite a few a number of videos now. We did a couple of tours.

Obviously the best thing is to see it in person if at all possible. It would be possible now because there’ll be three boats in the USA. There’s one actually right now on the West Coast of Florida too.

What is your boat name?

Wanderlust.

Can you repeat the name of your YouTube channel?

It’s Harbors Unknown, and we’re on Youtube and Instagram and Facebook. All the same handle.

Fantastic well thank you guys so much. Hopefully we’ll meet up in the Bahamas. We’re gonna head down there in a couple months.

That’d be great.

Great thank you for joining us again

Thanks for having us have a wonderful day.

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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