The thirty two foot TomCat is a Canadian built catamaran that is being marketed in Europe by Patrick Boyd Multihulls. The first one to arrive in the UK was shown at the Southampton Boat Show but has now been extensively modified to reflect European needs.
It is the smallest fully equipped category ‘A’ cruising catamaran currently available in Europe and packs a lot of accommodation for its size. A further advantage is that its 16 feet beam will enable it to use the French canal system to get to the Mediterranean.
There is a good sized cockpit with ample seating and space for a table. A permanent hard top covers the whole of the cockpit on the European version and also provides a place to site the twin solar panels which are on the test boat.
A stainless steel arch extends across the rear of the boat and not only provides a base on which to locate the dinghy davits but also supports a large and extremely comfortable settee which wills ea four or five people.
It also takes the main sheet and traveler keeping them well out of harm’s way.
Inside the salon there is 6’4” headroom which decreases to comfortable sitting headroom around the forward located table, which will convert to a double berth if required. Headroom in hulls is similar to that in the aft area of the saloon. Despite its relatively narrow beam the boat has a spacious feel to it.
The galley is located in the starboard hull and is well equipped with stainless steel sink, two burner hobs, grill and oven and a surprisingly large refrigerator with internal freezer space.
Aft of the galley is a four foot (1.23m) wide berth by six foot six inches (2m) long with dressing area and a small closet. Forward is the owner’s large double cabin with a good sized bed measuring four foot six inches by seven feet. This takes up the whole space between the hulls and the dressing area and storage for this cabin is located in the port hull.
Depending on which of the choice of three layouts is chosen the heads are either located amidships in the port hull or further aft where they replace a double berth identical to that previously described to starboard. If this option is taken the space vacated becomes an office/study for the owner.
It will also lighten the salon by an increase of window space which will provide almost 360 degrees of visibility.
The watertight bulkheads are composite and there are areas of containment both forward and aft. Hulls and bridge deck are moulded in isophthalic resin, biaxial glass fibre and vacuum bagged CoreCell foam. This is used both below and above the waterline.
Six mooring cleats come as standard but a windlass, manual of electric, is an optional extra although a 27lb plough anchor with 200ft. of chain/nylon node are included along with mooring lines and fenders.
Anchoring is carried out from the port bow in similar manner to that adapted by Nautitech, with the rode being centered by use of a bridle.
The two lifting spade rudders are contained in their own cassettes and are raised or lowered via a socket located below the steering wheel and operated by winch handle. A similar arrangement is used for the centre board which is hidden with the saloon table.
Currently both rudders are raised or lowered together, but Bill Bullimore, who owns PBM, feels that that two units would make this task a lot easier and future boats will be equipped as such. They will also come with a centre board indicator showing its exact position.
The original Canadian version has the steering instruments and engine controls located in the centre of the cockpit but these are to be moved to starboard. Bill Bullimore comments “This enables the helmsman to get a good view of the sails as well as having a clearer view all round.”
Other changes to the European boat include hand and electric bilge pumps, larger cockpit drains, a 220 volt system with either UK or European sockets, aft stanchions in the cockpit with pelican clips and guard rails and dolphin seats on each pulpit.
Power is provided by twin Yamaha 9.9 four stroke outboards located in their own containers at the stern of each hull. An integral fuel tank is close to each engine and any spilt fuel would immediately drain overboard. Each engine will charge at 10 amps.
Both engines can be raised or lowered very easily through a simple pulley system which requires little strength to operate. This greatly improves sailing performance by doing away with the drag of the two propellers and shafts.
As someone who sailed a catamaran for 10 years with a single fixed outboard identical to those fitted to the TomCat, I can both vouch for their efficiency and reliability while appreciating the enormous improvement in maneuvering ability two of them provide. Fuel economy is also good and with demise of red diesel the cost differential disappears.
Setting off from the marina the boat proved simple to handle and could turn on the proverbial sixpence. Reversing in to a berth or around a buoy produced no problems. Since outboards don’t have rev counters we carried out our engine tests on the basis of one quarter throttle and then one half, three quarters and full out.
At a quarter throttle with one engine we achieved 2.4 knots, at half throttle 3.8 knots, at three quarters 5.7 knots and full out just under six knots.
With both engines engaged the figures were 4.4 knots at quarter throttle, 4.8 at half throttle, 6.2 at three quarter throttle and 7.5 knots flat out.
So how did she perform under sail? We set out from Portsmouth with a forecast of SW five to seven with masses of dark ominous looking clouds gathering over the Isle of Wight. I was expecting us to have to reef down shortly and certainly had abandoned all thoughts of being able to use the Code 0.
But the weather gods decided differently. As we proceeded the wind refused to rise above 10 knots and barely reached that for most of the time. So it was light wind sailing after all and, given a fully loaded displacement of just under 3.5 T, they were conditions when the TomCat could be expected to perform well. She did not disappoint. Under the fully battened main and genoa when close hauled between 40 and 45 degrees she achieved 4.8 knots in 9.5 knots of true wind. On a beam reach of 90 degrees she sailed at 5.4 knots with a little over eight knots of true wind speed. On a broad reach the speed, not surprisingly, dropped somewhat with her achieving 3.8 knots at 120 degrees in 7.5 knots of true wind speed.
Then came the time to hoist the laminated Code 0 which greatly improved the proceedings. At 90 degrees she made six knots in less than eight knots of wind speed while down wind at 125 degrees she went up to 6.2 knots in the same wind speed. All in a very commendable performance.
I found the TomCat to be a lot of fun and am looking forward to the arrival later in the year of the first one to be built to European specification which is scheduled to appear at the next London Boat Show. This will show the quality of finish achieved by the factory since the test boat has had so many changes made to it that is impossible to comment fairly on this area.
What is interesting and, to me, highly encouraging, is that a couple of years ago the only small new catamaran on the market was the US built Gemini. Now we have three with the TomCat and the recently launched Voyage 10 meter from Multihull World and Darren Newton.