As far as modern blue water sailing goes, the popularity
of Catamarans has escalated to the point that
they are frequently the first choice vessel for charterers.
Such is the demand, some industry players
have built up their businesses based purely on
multi-hull chartering, and the in the
BVI it's the Catamaran Company that
leads the way.
This high demand for charter catamarans has had considerable effect on both design and manufacturing elements of production, and competition has become fierce. "Off the shelf" purchase choices have always been plentiful, but now there is an increasing demand for custom and semi-custom designed catamarans. With this high demand in mind, the BVI Yacht Guide went Big Cat hunting.
A custom built boat is one where you have the choice of design, size, hull material, number of cabins and virtually anything your imagination can conjure up. A semi-custom built boat is a well-designed, limited production vessel with the options for cabin layout, interior materials, instrumentation, mechanical systems, sails and so on left for the new owner to decide upon. The Catamaran Company has considerable experience in helping new owners select their choice of vessel from both categories, and their knowledgeable staff are happy to help find the right boat for the owner..
Crewed charters come in a variety of forms,
from the bareboat skippered charter to the
several hundred-foot luxury ship with dozens of
crew, and you can spend a little or a lot on being
looked after in the manner of your choice.
Each year, an enormous number of people
seek to experience the places, islands and
remote destinations usually only accessible to
skilled sailors. With a crew to provide safety,
experience and comfort, reaching these destinations
becomes possible, and the only other limitation
to consider is the potential discomfort of
sailing. Catamarans afford stability quite elusive
to most monohulls and this is one reason for their
continued growth in sales.
Big Cats are generally considered to be
upwards of 60'; and they are boats that have
either been custom-built or, at the very least,
influenced in aspects of design by the owner.
Boats such as these are never offered as bareboats.
Ordinarily crewed by a Captain, top-tier
chef and professional crew, the levels of luxury
and comfort provided, maintained and
managed on these boats are extremely high.
Sleeker than a Cheetah
Our hunt took us to Catamaran Charters'
dock in Nanny Cay and a French-built,
aluminium-hulled Big Cat called "Wonderful".
She is the first Yapluka 73 off the cradle and
has been built to specific design. The
project manager, who is now her captain,
oversaw her construction, and she really is
Upon entering the cockpit, the feeling
one gets is more of being on an entirely separate
deck than in the confines of an operations
room. This area has been designed as
the focus of the social space. It features an
enormous banqueting table, accommodating
8 or more guests, just begging to be covered
with a lavish spread. A solid roof covers this
whole area to provide protection from the
elements, and the entire cockpit can be
closed off and air-conditioned if desired.
The feeling of being on a different deck
is partly created by the fact that there is no
helm station in the cockpit. Instead, the
boat is driven from the fly-bridge. Up here,
the Captain can control virtually every
system on the boat, including navigation
data taken from the Internet. The Captain
can also view all external aspects of the
boat from fixed cameras - essential when
docking a boat this size.
Aft of the bridge on top of the cockpit
roof is a large sun deck. Looking down from the bridge, the vastness of the deck area
becomes apparent. At 73' long and 37.5'
wide there is certainly room to spread out.
To the rear of the cockpit is the aft deck.
While under way, the tender sits here after
being hoisted up by the built-in crane. While
moored, the dinghy can be removed to create
what could be a reception deck, a
sundowners deck or even an after dinner
deck, you decide. This splendid combination
of space and comfort is almost on a par with
that of a superyacht.
With all the pristine teak
decking, the excellent, discreet service and
the gadgetry, you'd be forgiven for believing
you were on a superyacht.
The saloon can be entered from the
cockpit. To port, there is what could be
likened to a coffee lounge or reading area; low
comfortable seating around a small table
inspires lazing around with a good book.
Guests can also be seated for dinner very
comfortably in the saloon should it prove
necessary. The yacht's systems are managed
from the control desk set to starboard.
Three guest cabins and the owner's
cabin are located on the starboard side. To
port, forward of the enormous galley, the
crew are housed. There's a final guest
cabin aft. All cabins have flat-screen TV
and Sony Playstation consoles, and the
owner's cabin also features satellite TV.
The galley has been specifically
designed with professional catering in mind
and features include a full-sized cooker with
oven, and a full-sized dishwasher, amongst
many other laboursaving devices.
Every part of the boat is air-conditioned.
The two generators have been discreetly
housed away from the guest cabins so as not
to disturb the slumbering inhabitants.
Queen of the Pride
You are never likely to be bored on
"Wonderful"; she carries a multitude of "toys".
A variety of watersports can be enjoyed: how
about being towed behind the 15', 90hp RIB
on an inflatable chariot, kneeboard or skis? Or
perhaps you might like to try diving, if fun
under water is more your style. If you prefer
catching fish to watching them, there is a
custom sports fishing chair that can be
mounted on either transom. If your idea of
relaxing is lying in a Jacuzzi, then go ahead,
you can do that too.
To the owner, one advantage of buying a
boat like this is having the ability to choose
how it is set up. Although not all manufacturers
will allow an outside project manager,
they will allow individual design preferences
assuming they are actually possible.
Privilege, Lagoon and Yapluka, amongst
others, see a future for these big cats as this
particular aspect of the charter market
becomes ever more popular. In Big Cat
terms, these manufacturers offer several
choices between them. The Catamaran
Company knows them well and can advise on
the design alterations that can and do work.
Through managing several of these types of
boat in the BVI, they also provide the opportunity
to try before you buy. So, if a Big Cat is
what you're chasing, come on down to the
BVI and join the hunt.
Reprinted with the kind permission of the BVI Yacht Guide