The other day we were lucky enough to interview Carolyn of S/V Barefoot Gal who runs the excellent website The Boat Galley which has a tremendous amount of educational content about living on a boat. Our focus was a review of her 105 M in a continuation of our series on Gemini catamaran models. Please see previous interviews on the Gemini 3200, the Gemini 105 MC, and the Gemini 3000.
From the salon of Barefoot Gal she talked to us about her experiences with the Gemini 105 M, how much she loves the design for coastal cruising, and how it differs from the Gemini 105 MC. We highly recommend her courses, books, and newsletter to anyone thinking of going cruising or currently living aboard.
Please watch below our interview or read the transcript of this very special edition of our series of owner interviews.
Tell us a little about yourself and S/V Barefoot Gal.
I love the boat. I have been sailing since I was 12 years old and love it. In 2002 was when we bought a cruising boat. We spent 7 years sailing a Tayana 37, a big heavy monohull in the Sea of Cortez.
We were on land for awhile due to medical problem, but in 2014 we decided to get a boat again and base ourselves out of Florida. We looked at what was going on in Florida and where we might be going – the Bahamas. Lot of shallow water.
Even remotely going back to something like the Tayana was out of it with 6 to 6′ 6″ draft. We wanted something without much draft.
We happened to go to the Annapolis boat show in 2012. We happened to see the Gemini 105 M and the MC there. It is really funny out of the brand new boats there, those were the only two boats we could imagine living on.
We knew from our previous cruising that we liked a small boat.
How long is the 105 M?
It is 34 feet. It is actually 10.5 meter which is where the 105 M comes from. It is a much lighter boat also. We have have a lighter anchor, a smaller engine, the sails are considerably smaller.
I am 61 now and my husband is 82 almost 83, so having smaller stuff to deal with is a lot easier. For anyone but particularly getting older.
When was she launched and built?
This one was 1999. She was one of the last of the 105 M’s. Consequently we have a few features of the MC’s. We have the asymetrical laminated centerboards that were brought in on the MC. That is the biggest difference. There are many other small differences, but the centerboards was the big thing we liked.
What about the centerboards makes them different from the 105 M?
On most of the M’s, the centerboards were made of marine grade plywood. If over time if not properly maintained they tend to delaminate. The new ones are made of a laminate so you don’t have that potential problem.
I shouldn’t say the M’s always have a problem with the centerboards. It is a question of maintainance.
We still have had to things like replace the centerboard line. But it is one less item on the list.
What are maintenance issues with the plywood centerboards?
Basically when do your annual haul outs, you have to constantly inspect them for signs of water intrusion and repair with West System epoxy. Make sure you are keeping paint on them. As long as you keep paint on and keeping on it, hopefully you never have to replace them.
Even if you do, there are people out there with patterns to make them.
What is the best thing about the 105 M?
Super shallow draft is very very good. At 2′ 6″ we can still motor. If we really want to go in somewhere shallow like a sandbar, we can raise the drive leg and the motor. We can actually walk it in somewhere only 18″. It is amazing.
The living space is also fantastic particularly for a couple. We ended up using the 2 aft cabins as storage. If we have guests we can put them in there. We have this beautiful big settee. I work onboard, so this is basically my office space. Having this large a space and bright and airy.
It is not the cave we had on the Tayana. It is really bright.
I mean the teak cave is beautiful is beautiful and gorgeous, but it is dark. There are trade offs between the two boats. This boat is a wonderful coastal cruiser. It is light weight. It is light inside. But the Tayana was an ocean, bluewater boat. That is what we gave up in getting this boat. It is just a case of how you want to use it as far as which boat is going to be the boat for you.
How long did you spend in the Bahamas?
Twice we have gone right around 4 months. We are hoping to go again this spring. A lot depends on Covid restrictions, vaccinations, what the restrictions are on travel in general, and our own health.
You mention you like the smallness of the boat. Is she easy to shorthand sail?
Extremely. It is very easy to do with the two of us. I actually would have no problem managing her by myself.
Last year we were coming back from the Bahamas, the day before my husband got a really nasty infection. He spent most of the time on a 36 hour trip back basically sleeping and only waking up for his medicine and a couple hour watch in the middle of the night for me.
I could manage the sail and do everything I needed by myself. That is a huge one for both of us. We want to make sure we each can feel able to sail the boat alone.
Which is basically what you do when you are double handing when the other one is off watch.
Exactly when we had the previous boat, we talked about going across the Pacific. Basically it is going to be like sleeping or singlehanding for like 30 days.
How is she in heavy weather or light weather? How does she sail?
We have had her in solid 25 knots for several hours at a time. Going downwind or very broad reach and she was excellent. No problems what so ever.
We had some short times where we higher winds with a squall. In those kind of conditions and any good size waves, I don’t think I would want to be going straight into the waves. There would be a lot of pounding in the boat. There is an issue with the bridgedeck slamming.
Any catamaran you going to get to a point where the waves are higher than the bridgedeck clearance. If you get into 6 foot waves you may not have anything above them.
That’s one thing. A lot of times we were in the Bahamas wanting to go straight into the waves and upwind, even if we are motoring we go at an angle and tack. Motor angles. Just to keep it so that we are not just getting pounding. That is hard on any boat.
How does she handle sailing into the wind?
She is not as close winded as some boats. But if we were not loaded down for cruising and full time liveaboard, I am sure she would sail another 10 to 15 degrees to the wind. But we have her loaded. This is our only home. Consequencely no boat loaded down like that sails that close to the wind.
We would all love to have one of these racing boat that sails 12 degrees to the apparent wind. That would be so nice. But the reality is we don’t have it. Either we just pick somewhere to go that is a beam reach or more. Or we decide we have to motor.
Can you tell us more about the layout down below?
It is airy and light. Wonderful. We have starboard side a large cabin forward. A full size queen bed. Pullman meaning one side is blocked off. Good storage in there.
Come back and we have the galley. Again perfectly adequate for two people. Not monstrous like you would see on a 50 foot catamaran. It is good and workable. There is good storage.
On the aft is another cabin. They call it a double but is actually 4 inches narrower that double would be. It is really like a kids bed or a single guest. Almost all the Gemini’s I know use that as a pantry area. Because when we go to the Bahamas, we take enough food for a few months. So we need enough space.
There is a similar space on the port stern. We use that for short term storage like the cushions for the cockpit. There is a really nice big long counter. That’s where Dave has all his tools. I say Dave but we share them. Good storage for that.
And then in the port bow there is a head. We changed ours to a composting head, so we could go longer. We don’t have to do a pump out. The small size of the holding tank makes it so that when you are down here really need to pump out about every four days. So we a composting head we do not need to worry about that.
And where I am sitting right now is the dining room table, settee, etc. It is a table that you can easily sit 6 at, definitely put 8 at. We have had 10 at. One was sitting not right at the table, but you can do it.
There is great ventilation. There are 4 big hatches and a couple smaller ones. And that is really important down here in Florida and Bahamas for the summer. The MC’s have built in air conditioning; the M’s do not. We did not retrofit it. But the space is there if anyone wants to put it in.
And then the other thing that we did. The boats come with a propane refrigerator. And ours had simply aged out by the time we bought it. So we put a 12V Isotherm in which because now solar power is so much better, battery life is so much better (we have lithiums now), and refrigeration is much more efficient. Having 12V is a much better deal than propane. We don’t have to go to the Bahamas and worry about taking enough propane to keep it running.
When we first started it was running through a 20 pound propane tank 12 days. That was problem in a place there was not a lot.
The Isotherm fit almost exactly in the spot. We had to trim 1/4 inch off one side. If anyone is looking at a 105 M the conversion is a really really easy conversion.
Have you done any other modifications?
We did the lithium batteries.
The M’s did not come with a cockpit enclosure. I made one for ourselves. Although I did not go to a canvas shop because it was too expensive and we don’t use it that much.
I was able to get the clear vinyl tarps that outdoor restaurants use and use tracks. That was a really big nice upgrade we did.
And we added a watermaker too. That also really makes us very self sufficient.
When we bought the boat had a DC watermaker so it ran off the batteries and solar, but it only made like 3 gallons per hour. It started having more and more problems. It was aging out. It was from 2000. After 15 years the new stuff is much better.
We put a Rainman unit in and now they make one that can be installed (not portable) and we run it off a Honda generator. It makes 30 gallons per hours. We run it once every 5 or 6 days and fill up the tanks and we are good to go.
And it was kind of nice in the Bahamas. Two boats we were sharing a lot of anchorages with did not have a watermaker. We could not fill all their needs, but we could do enough so they didn’t have to go into town quite as much.
Another feature which is not really an aftermarket, but we feel like is the dinghy davits on these boats. This one came with it. They were pretty standard, but I am not sure if every boat came with them.
We put on the radar pole also a motor lift that we could pop the outboard off. We never towed the dinghy and it was so easy.
Would you ever consider or swapping out the Gemini 105 M?
Probably not. Where we are and what we are doing, this is an absolutely wonderful boat. If I was going to cross and ocean, I probably would swap, but that is not anywhere on our timeline at this point. We are looking at staying here in Florida, going over to the Bahamas, at most maybe going to the east coast of Mexico or something. For all of these places this is a wonderful boat.
Would you like to tell us about the maneuverability of the Gemini 105 M?
Yes. One of the best things they did on the boat. First they used a steerable drive leg. Think about and inboard / outboard speed boat.
And then they tied that in with the rudders. So while there is only one engine, you have as much maneuverability as the big catamarans.
Our Tayana 37 backed like a drunken elephant. You had absolutely no idea where it was going. I like the fact on this one that I know exactly where it is going whether going to a dock or mooring.
That’s one of the best things. I expected it to be better, but I had not idea how much better it would be.
How do people get a hold of you if they are interested in your endeavors of The Boat Galley.
You can google The Boat Galley or go to www.TheBoatGalley.com. If anyone has questions on the Gemini 105M or anything else. You can email me at Carolyn@TheBoatGalley.com.
This has been fantastic and thank you for talking to us!
Well thank you. I think this is a wonderful project you have with people talking about what they like about their boats and all that.