Catalac 8M catamaran boat review



Catalac 8M catamaran boat review
Catalac 8M Boat Test
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Reprinted b y kind permission of
(305) 782-5184
1 -J
sails the new,
smaller catalac
THAT I first took t h e helm of the new
catamaran after dark for a t r i a l sail
was novelty enough in itself, but I very
soon discovered that connected to
the other side of the wheel was an
excellent blend of well-tried, sea-proven
and moreover much-loved ingredients.
The art of blending I believe to be a
gift, which can be enhanced only by
long, carefully considered experience;
and Tom Lack and John Winterbotham
between them seem to have thus
concocted yet another first - rat e
cruising yacht.
Recipe for new, 8 Metre Catalac:
Take the seagoing qualities of the
celibrated 9 Metre Catalac (see PBO
No. 50); finely chop excess bits off
both ends, to give an overall length
of 27 feet instead of 29ft 3in; and mix
in the compact but very popular family
accommodation plan which Tom developed in the Mk II Bobcat (originally
born of Bill O'Brien, two decades ago).
No need to shake well but it won't
matter if you do, because the whole
thing has gone together with almost
uncanny deftness, resulting in a solid,
homely l i t t l e boat with a real eyeappeal and a truly sparkling performance.
Knowing the 9 metre version as I
do very well, I confess I had, on hearing about the impending New Arrival,
entertained dark doubts as to the
possible appearance of a shorter boat
based on the same hulls. How, for
instance, would they get sitting headroom amidships over her unusually
high, 'never slam' bridge-deck, without
bordering on the 'tower-block' effect?
1 still don't know how, but they did
with quite remarkable success.
I know they began by cutting out
the 'step' in the 9 Metre's side-decks,
carrying the new sheerline on a
straight and gentle rise from stern to
bow. On paper this reduces freeboard
forward, yet in practice it doesn't (by
more than an inch or two), since the
new boat is considerably lighter, and
thus floats higher, drawing some three
inches less than her big sister at a
depth of 2 feet (0.67m) exactly.
The layout below decks comprises
two settee berths in a bright, airy
saloon; one single bunk in the port
hull ( w i t h masses of lockers below it
and at the end); a well -lit, roomy wash
room in the port bow; and an 8 f t
(2.44m) long galley in the star board hull,
ahead of which is (he doo r into the
double-berth forward cabin.
That puts it in basic terms. To say
there is ‘ample locker-space e v e r y
where' is to understate, but the word
'everywhere' conveys something of the
right idea.
Steering is by wheel, exactly as in
the 9 Metre, but in the new 9, a panel
in the after cabin-bulkhead is arranged
to hinge down for access to the cables,
and there is no reason why the inventive owner could not easily convert
this i n t o a folding chart-table, should
he care not to mix pilotage with plates
at the long saloon table. The latter,
for those salad lunches on hot days
an idea much in vogue among owners
of the larger Catalacs.
I have to admit that, on taking the
helm for that glorious, hard-on-the
wind sail down the moonlit Solent on
a chill September evening after t h e
Show closed down, I found myself
blue with cold—and somewhat recess
and wheel -h o u s e o n t h e 9 M e t r e
Catalac Friendship sailing alongside!
At Fellowship's helm one stayed out of
the draught below chest level but head
and shoulders projected above the l o w
cabintop. But if I sat in better shelter
within reach of the wheel on the port
side-bench, my vision was obscured
from straight ahead round to the s t a r board beam by cabintop and rig
Doing a test sail at night has, in f a c t,
certain advantages ! I was able to
check that the navigation lights did
not blind the helmsman, and were not
being obscured by anything, f o r
preference I would wish tor a higher
stern-light, but I couldn't think where
best to f i t it either. We found the
compass light a bit dazzling, but I
understand that is being "seen to' as
are one or two other details.
Minor oddities l i k e a double-bunk
installed a trifle high so that foot-
room was restricted and, as the photographs show, fractionally overlarge
windows (due to a manufacturing misunderstanding) are all to be corrected
in future boats.
When one takes the helm of such a
boat for the first time, after dark, and
yet finds real pleasure in taking her
(with neither instruments nor a visible
burgee) most satisfyingly to windward,
one has reason to believe the handling
qualities are excellent—and so they
proved next day in Christchurch Bay,
when with a bit of a lop from the
sou'west, I put her through more
visible paces.
As I had hoped, the new result of
John Winterbotham's design skill behaved as precisely and impeccably as
the renowned 9 Metre Catalac—but
with the added benefit of a rather
livelier zip to every manoeuvre.
Nothing skittish, mind, even though
we held on to the biggest genny in
the locker. Sensibly, her lighter weight
has been granted a modest working
sail area of 275sq.ft, resulting in
perfect balance with impressive
acceleration while retaining all the
steadiness and stability of her elder
Heaving-to by simply putting the
helm down and giving her a bit of
sheet on both sails, she ranged about
hardly at all, and lay very quietly
making leeway. Letting draw again
and changing to the much smaller
No. 1 foresail, I was surprised to find
the windward speed almost the same
as provided by the genoa, which, considering that the wind had by now
fallen a shade lighter, was not a little
Directly compared to the 9 Metre
the Catalac's performance was
fascinating. Sailing against an almost
equally lightly loaded 9 (also fitted
with outboard rather than inboards)
the 8 Metre gradually overhauled her
to windward, and seemed faster when
running. To me it looked as though in
the puffs she made a little more leeway than the bigger, slightly deeper
boat, but she appeared to be pointing
a mite higher, perhaps because of a
slightly higher aspect-ratio rig.
Some people (like 'Fred' perhaps?)
might carp at the total lack of
'ventilators' as such. I did, but I now
think unnecessarily. The middle section of the side windows in the saloon
area open, and can in fact be lifted
right out of the frames on hot days,
to great effect. There is no apparent
risk at sea, as the amply weathertested 9 Metre Catalac, with four such
windows per side, has shown, even in
severe conditions.
The forecabin and washroom each
have hinged, rather small forehatches,
and while I like a boat with a forehatch or two, I do prefer to see the
things hinged along their forward
edges, so that they can be left propped
open aft, to act as 'extractor vents'
even on a rainy night at anchor, without dripping. The hatches on CL8 No.
1 were, however, fitted the other way
round; hinges along after edges
hatch mouth therefore open forward.
Like this they will doubtless scoop in
lots of air when head-to, and plenty
of rain too on many a British summer
night. Another disadvantage showed
up when on that same moon lit night,
we snagged a genoa sheet in the partially open gap under the fore edge
of the starboard hatch, and fortunately
noticed just in time to avoid a nasty
ripping sound.
As anyone who buys boats from
them knows, the Lacks pay very close
attention to people's comments. The
hatch problem was therefore instantly
remedied by the assurance that, since
some folk like hatches opening forward and others don't, owners can
choose which way they want them
fitted. In dry weather, ventilation will
certainly be first class indeed almost
total, since a vast sliding hatch can
uncover the entire end of the saloon!
A proper 'sunshine roof to use old
motoring parlance.
Motoring? Well now, here came a
special surprise. Since the boat was
berthed stern to the Show pontoon
when I arrived, I could see she was
fitted with an outboard engine, slung
jn a little "pod' just below the rear
part of the cockpit. Very neat. And so
was the smart cowling in the cockpit
itself, which one lifted aside to angle
the motor in and out of the water
Now, I have a large outboard on the
back of my own 9 Metre, and fully
appreciate the wonderful drag-free
sailing performance tilti ng it out of
the way permits. On the 8 Metre how
ever, the outboard cannot be readily
connected to the ship's steering
system; so I was anxious to see how
seriously manoeuvrability would be
The first demonstration came when
the Lack's son Bruce took a crowd of
eleven adults and four kids out from
the Show for a trial run and reversed
back at the end of it into a berth
only two feet wider than the overall
beam of 1 3 f t 8in (4.2m) without
touching either side. Wind on the
quarter, but not strong. The secret lay
to some extent in his own skill of
course, but also in the choice of
engine, which was a 28h.p. Yamaha
Long-Shaft. This has a particularly
effective reverse- quite apart from
giving really vivid acceleration and a
cruising speed of around 6 to 7 knots.
In 'sailaway' form, complete with
working sail and all gear to warps,
fenders and boathook, but otherwise
unfinished below decks, the 8 metre
Catalac seems exceptional value.
Someone suggested to me that there
is a close similarity between this boat
and the 9 Metre Catalac. True; but
there are big differences, 'the most
basic of which are that while the 8 is
purely a 5 berth boat, the 9 has 5
permanent bunks plus the saloon,
and costs a lot more.
And that is quite a saving for a
cruising boat with the same loadcarrying capacity, definite handling
qualities, strength, and above all that
positive, safe stability which the name
'Catalac' has well and truly earned for
itself in the last five years of very
assorted sailing.
She is the sort of cruiser I like to
see around, but if you'd fancy a sail
in one yourself, contact Tom Lack
Catamarans Ltd., The Quay, Christchurch, Dorset (0202) 477414/5/6.
....... 27.0’
…...13' 8”
........ 2’ 0"
8.0 M
4.2 M
.67 M
....... 275 ft

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