FEATURED: SOUTH AFRICAN CATAMARANS

 
The Catamaran Company Tours the Factories of SAs Cat Builders
 

Knowing the intricacies of the catamaran market enables us to confidently help you find the catamaran best suited for your plans. Interested in European models? Ask me about our various European catamaran factory tours! - Staley Weidman

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About three weeks ago, I went with the president of The Catamaran Company and our Marketing Director to visit the major catamaran factories in South Africa. We set out to find what designs were coming out of South Africa and what were the advantages and disadvantages of these sturdy cats. During the week we were able to meet some of the newcomers to the industry, hear “the word on the streets” on the local builders, as well as take a peek inside their factories and evaluate their build process.

The first question I was asked by the builders was, “Why are you coming to South Africa?” followed by “We thought you only sold European build cats.”  Our response was simple.  Builders only sell their yachts once.  In our brokerage, we may sell these cats 3 or 4 times!  After that, the builders understood the value in our understanding of their product and being able to convey these models’ attributes to the catamaran buying public.

As a company with clients worldwide and with products from around the globe, we do our best to stay informed. Most of their major manufacturers in South Africa have only been marketing to the rest of the world since the mid-1990s. Years of attending surveys, boat shows and visiting factories globally have given me the knowledge I use on a daily basis to help my clients make the best decisions. Based on this experience, here’s a brief evaluation of these various SA sail and power catamaran builders:

  • Admiral South Africa
    • David Bird and Craig Moore formed Admiral in Cape Town in 1999 to produce the Admiral 38, 40, 47, 50; their principle design modeled on the Nosie Bee by designer Angelo Lavranos. The Admiral 38 will eventually be phased out to make room for a more economic, stripped down version of the 38. Mr. Bird has just completed construction of an impressive production facility in Atlantis, SA. He has taken over the completion of two Island Spirits and is working on purchasing the Island Spirit molds to also produce these in his new factory.
  • Africat
    • Angelo Lavranos designs their featured 42’ luxury power catamaran. The layout seems to be spacious and well liked. The finish is very utilitarian and is easy to maintain. This is a new builder that has built less than 20 yachts. However, the builder is open to various custom options. Completed boats are in the $850K range. (I have a pre-owned owner’s version listed for sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL: 2005 Africat 420)
  • Argos
    • Currently building a 60’ carbon fiber powercat with foils and SP3000 surface piercing drives. The catamaran will be going to an American owner and is designed to do 58 knots. In construction is a 21’ center cockpit powercat designed to reach 38 knots. The method used in construction is a pre-preg (fiberglass lay-up) construction that is heat cured in ovens, the very method used in the SA boat competing in this America’s Cup.
  • Aventure
    • Of Helderberg Marine, the featured models are a 50’ power cat and a new, not yet released 30’ power cat.  We were able to view the 50’ build currently available. Although they are a small yard, they seem to have a real interest in developing their market in the US. Currently, there is an Aventure 50 in Fort Lauderdale, FL available for sale.
  • Charter Cats S.A.
    • Currently out of business.  They are the former producers of the Wildcat 35, Jaguar 36, and the Prowler 48.
  • Dean
    • Now going on 20 years, Peter Dean has been manufacturing Dean Catamarans out of South Africa, one cat at a time. These cats are of an older hull design, typically characterized with a large forward deck offering more storage and a smaller trampoline size than other cats in this range. Another characteristic of this design is that the rigs are canted aft, moving the sail plan’s center of effort aft as well.
  • Gunboat
    • Inside Gun boat’s scruffy yard in Epping, Cape Town SA, lays a wealth of composite technology. The Gunboat 62 received Cruising World’s 2004 “Most Innovative” boat of the year award for its light displacement, speed and hull design. The current models include the 48, 66, and a newly designed 90ft. model.  All these yachts use a tremendous amount of carbon fiber for light weight and have high aspect dagger boards and rudders.  Expensive, uncompromised performance best describes this cat line. By the way, if you would like your cat in any metallic color like lime green, orange, or electric blue, these are the guys to fulfill your eccentric dreams.  Prices start at $1.5M and the 66 is well over $2M…don’t ask about the 90 (ok, ask me if you want).  This is a well capitalized group with deep roots in the performance yacht industry from owner Peter Johnstone’s J Boats family business and successful revitalization of the Sunfish and Laser brand sailing dinghies.
  • Fortuna - Island Spirit
    • Sadly, the Island Spirit yard was empty when we arrived.  The builder has closed shop due to financial reasons.  Contrary to popular belief, the yacht building business is a low margin, high risk business.  The good news is Admiral Yacht is planning to take over the construction of the current Island Spirit model and incorporate this model in the line of yachts currently offered.  With David’s plans to expand his facility, Admiral will certainly have the production space.
  • Robertson & Caine (builders of the Moorings Leopard sail and power cats)
    • From a sound manufacturer, these catamarans have an appealing layout and are best suited for placing into the charter market. Robertson & Caine (R&C) has enjoyed great success providing charter catamarans to The Moorings and now Sunsail, which is part of First Choice Marine of England. R&C has the most impressive production facility we visited in Cape Town. They have also made plans to expand their capacity. The new designs by Morrelli and Melvin seems to perform better than the Simonis designs. The new 47 power cat has a nice layout but seems more suited for the charter owner with a max speed in the mid-teens. R&C is the closest example I’ve seen to the larger volume European builds, with the noticeable absence of automated finishing and computer navigated cutting (CNC) machinery.
  • Matrix Yachts
    • From experience in the crewed charter catamaran market in the BVI Peter and Fiona Wehrley have designed and built the Matrix 76.  Starting at $4M, the Matrix 76s are doing well in the BVI charter market. Currently they have sold one 76 and are selling the 1/10 shares of ownership for hull#2.  Hull#3 is sixty percent completed in the factory outside Cape Town’s marina area.  The 76 is a huge flybridge cat that offers a forward bridgedeck, owner’s cabin, and flybridge hot tub.
  • Scape catamarans
    • Currently building a 39’ Simonis designed day sail catamaran. They’ve been in business for 5 years and have built 5 yachts; one going to an owner in Miami, FL looking for a fast day sail catamaran. The design has inboard engines, epoxy foam construction and sails in high teens to 20 knots. They currently have two boats near Cape Town offering day sails.
  • Voyage
    • The Voyage line includes the 44, 50, and 58.  These are based on old Simonis designs.  We would like to see some new innovation from Voyage.  The Stealth 45 power cat is small and has not enjoyed much success in the US market. Production seems slow for a yard of its size but appears it would be quite easy to fulfill orders. The Voyage consist mostly of extended transom catamarans like the 44, which started life as the 40ft. Norseman model. 

By and by, there is never a perfect boat design, only a boat perfectly designed for certain pleasures/purposes. I will be happy to discuss anything regarding any of the above builders or my experience with their designs.

The option to purchase pre-owned can be the perfect opportunity to own a great yacht at a great value and is made often by those who are not afraid of having to fix a few things. A survey from a professional is almost always done to ensure you know the quality of the catamaran you want to own.  Often sellers agree to make any repairs before handing the vessel over and create the value a buyer desires.  I represent several pre-owned South African catamarans available for sale right now.  View them and other exceptional SA catamaran values below:

  Length Boats Year Current US$ Location Name Engine
50' Voyage Yachts 500 2003 560,000 Tortola, BVI LIAHONA 2 x Yanmar 51 HP
50' Voyage Yachts 500 1999 495,000 Kaneohe Bay, HI KAILUANA 2 x Yanmar IB, 40 HP
48' St. Francis 48 2003 790,000 Tortola, BVI RADICAL INNOVATION 2 x Yanmar
47' Voyage Mayotte 47 1994 279,900 St. Pete Beach, FL DELPHINUS 2 x Yanmar 38 HP
47' Robertson & Caine Leopard 47 2001 485,000 BVI CLEO'S ANGEL Yanmar, 56 HP
47' Robertson & Caine Leopard 47 2004 399,000 Tortola, BVI BATTI-MAM-SELLE 2 x Yanmar Diesels, 56 HP
47' Robertson & Caine 47 Crewed 2001 399,000 Easton, MD ANADA 2 x Yanmar Diesels, 56 HP
45' Robertson & Caine Leopard 45 2000 279,000 Belize, Honduras GINGEMBRE 2 x Yanmar Diesels, 50 HP
45' Robertson & Caine Leopard 45 1998 340,000 Crusing Venezuela CAMISSA 2 x Yanmar IB, 50 HP
44' St. Francis Mark II 2003 599,000 Ft. Lauderdale, FL AQUAMARINER 2 x Yanmar 27 HP
43' Voyage Yachts 430 2000 289,000 Panama City, Panama ADAMO 2 x Yanmar 27 HP
43' Voyage Yachts Norseman 430 1999 289,000 St. Vincent & the Grenadines GALAXY 2 x Yanmar IB, 27 HP
42' Africat Marine 420 2005 599,000 Ft. Lauderdale, FL SMILING MERMAID 2 x Yanmar 315 HP
40' Dean Aero 40 1995 264,000 Ft. Lauderdale, FL QUICKSILVER 2 x Yanmar 27 HP
40' Dean 400 1996 210,000 Grenada DARUMA 2 x Yanmar 18 HP
40' Norseman Alligator 400 1993 189,000 Marathon, FL SPRINT 2 x Yanmar 18 HP
37' Fortuna Island Spirit 2000 169,000 Tortola, BVI AVELINO Twin, 27 HP
37' Fortuna Island Spirit 37 2000 215,000 Lake Ontario/Erie, NY TRINITY 2 x Yanmar 27 HP
35' Charter Cats Wildcat 350 2001 215,000 Pasadena, MD EL GATO 2 x Volvo 20 HP
35' Charter Cats SA Wildcat 350 1998 135,000 Sale Pending OYSTER THIEF 2 x Volvo 20 HP

 

The Catamaran Company offers a wide variety of pre-owned catamarans for sale from around the globe and is a new yachts dealer for Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, Sunreef luxury sailing and TomCat catamarans.
 
Contact me, Staley Weidman, to help you inform yourself whether you’re ready to set sail now or in the future (even if you won’t have sails!) When you’re ready, I can help you find the right yacht, the right lender, negotiate the best value for you, and even provide dockage. It will be my pleasure to help.

Staley Weidman

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