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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cool Cats

Power catamaran
C90 Power Catamaran, Courtesy Aspen Power Catamarans

It's true: the Cool Cats are in town, and I think they're here to stay.

No, I'm not talking about cats of the feline nature; I'm talking about catamarans, and specifically power catamarans.

When I hear 'catamaran,' I think of Kevin Costner in Waterworld.  I love boats, but even I wouldn't want to live in a time like that.  Global warming anyone?  But seriously, power catamarans have taken a big stance in today's market, and just recently I came across Aspen Power Catamarans (which brings up another question: how are there so many brands selling similar products  in such a seemingly niche market??)

I have long drooled over Horizon Power Catamarans, thanks to the badgering of a friend whose heart gets aquiver at the alarming amount of square footage on the interior of these beasts.  Secretly I think his girlfriend just wants more closet space, but that's another story.

Anyhow, Aspen's lineup boasts a 28', 32', 36' and 48' footer, whereas Horizon tends to play with some larger hulls from the 50's to the 70's.  Here is a fancy CG video for you to look at if you've had enough reading for one day: http://youtu.be/ia9a8LbREj4

Here are a list of features that catamarans generally offer:
  • Extremely safe and stable at sea while offering a soft, smooth and comfortable ride
  • Low annual running costs
  • Offer high cruising speeds
  • Shallow draft
  • Fuel efficient
  • Safe and easy water access
  • Simple to operate, maneuver, dock and anchor
  • Luxurious and comfortable accommodations with privacy and space normally only found on much larger mono-hulls

So, what I'm seeing is a boat with more livable space and a better ride and better fuel economy that you can take more places.  Except your average slip...which is really what scares me the most.  Where are we going to put this thing anyway?

What is most interesting is this page on Aspen's website.  No, you are not seeing things; yes, those hulls are two different sizes, on the same boat.  WHAT!?  Yes.  I couldn't believe it either.

Apparently, this hull is designed with one hull to push the boat, containing engine et al, and another hull to assist in tracking and planing.  I'm not a hydrophysicist, so I don't even know if that assessment is entirely correct.  Either way, the gist is that you've got some imbalances going on that equal out in the long run.

However, anyone with basic high school physics can see the  genius in this: decreased weight, decreased resistance, increased MPGs through a single engine instead of one.  That is of course if you're happy with a single power plant setup, but that's for another article.  And you know what? These boats are really nice, not to mention trailerable!  Furthermore, the smallest, 28 footer, starts under $200,000, and extra points go to Aspen for listing options with pricing right on the website.  Compare that to a 29' Ranger Tug at a $229k start, and that's without the benefit of a catamaran floor plan, efficiency or sea-keeping capability.

Granted, you still have to find a place to dock this beamy little boat (10' beam on a 28 footer!).  But surprisingly, the Ranger Tug has the exact same beam listed.  In that case, there is even more reason to check out a catamaran in comparison to its more traditional mono-hulled brethren, and I think it's just a matter of time before more boaters do just that.

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