The Back Story
Maine Cat has been designing and building composite sailing multihulls since 1993. Over the years it has built over 100 catamarans. The small company is located in Bremen, Maine (about mid-coast) and has 16 craftsmen building just three P-47 yachts per year. The majority of the work crew has been with the company for over 11 years. The company sells factory-direct. Prospective buyers deal directly with the yard owner, Dick Vermeulen, an affable yachtsman/boat builder in his early 60s. He says, “We prefer to know each of our owners and then build a boat that specifically meets their needs.” Vermeulen says that over the last 17 years of building cats from 22’ to 47’ he has learned quite bit about producing a multihull that is both efficient and comfortable.
“Our testing and retesting of the full scale P-47 prototype hull has shown us that the fineness ratio of the hulls should be greater that 13:1,” says Vermeulen. “The underside of the wing deck (the fiberglass underbelly of the cabin and deck connecting the two hulls) must stay clear of the water in all but the worst conditions,” he said. In addition, he said, the bows must be kept light and have ample reserve buoyancy to provide lift in passing waves.Multihulls have been a presence in the sailboat world since the 1960s. Sailors got into them because they were fast and large. There are numerous production companies around the world building cat sailboats. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Dick Vermeulen and company are sailors who started out building sail cats and who have now moved into the powerboat business. (Ahaa, the world of stink-potters is not so bad, after all, it seems. Welcome to the club, fellas.)
Weight Is Important
Virtually all boats except heavy displacement boats are very weight sensitive. But no boats in the 47-foot range are more weight sensitive than are multihulls. Because the full weight of the boat must be supported by two narrow hulls overloading the boat will make it quickly sink deeper than its designed waterline which will alter the boat’s performance characteristics. For that reason getting weight out of a catamaran is of prime importance. Maine Cat uses “Core-Cell” which is a premium structural closed-cell foam core in its hulls and decks and then vacuum bags the parts to insure the best fiberglass to resin ratio for strong, but light-weight moldings. In addition, Maine Cat is careful about the weight of absolutely everything that goes into the boat to make sure that all materials and equipment earn their way onto the vessel.
The displacement of the P-47 with a ½-fluid load is 21,000 lbs. (9,545 kgs.), according to the builder. The displacement with full tanks plus 3,000 lbs. (1,364 kgs.) of passengers, gear and stores is 26,120 lbs. (11,873 kgs.), the company says, leaving a “reserve buoyancy” of another 3,780 lbs. (1,718 kgs.). To put this in layman’s terms, it means after you’ve loaded on 3000 lbs of people, gear and stores aboard, you can still load on another 600, or so, six-packs of beer and the boat will still be riding on it designed waterline.
Comparison with Monohulls
When we check the displacement of monohulls in the 47 range we discover that many of them are about 30,000 lbs. (13,636 kgs.) or about the same displacement of the P-47, despite the fact that they have twin diesels with far more horsepower and weight. But the similarities end there.
The Maine Cat P-47 has two staterooms with en suite heads and separate shower. Now we begin to see a significant difference between the typical express cruisers and this multihull.Most 47’ express cruisers have two staterooms. Almost without exception, in conventional express cruisers the master stateroom is in the bow with an island berth. In the P-47 the master is in the starboard hull and the queen bed is in the “wing” between the two hulls. There are several steps that lead to this raised bed, much as there are in a bow cabin in a monohull. Without putting too fine a point on comparing the master staterooms, we will just say that there is more room in the P-47 than you will find in virtually any 47’ monohull express cruiser. Everything – the hanging locker, the head, the shower stall the cabinet space and deck space – are all a little larger in the P-47 than in the typical 47’ express cruiser.
But the real difference is found in the guest stateroom. The guest cabin in a monohull express cruiser is usually tucked under the bridge deck without full-standing head room and the en suite head, if it even has one, rarely has a separate shower stall. The P-47 has full standing headroom, a large open space to move around in, and two single beds that are put together. There is even a large L-shaped desk/office work area.
The salon area combined with the cockpit have a total of 370 square feet of deck space. Maine Cat offers three suggested layouts, but will customize this space pretty much any way you want it. In all three layouts shown here the galley is quite large. We might suggest a smaller galley and the creation of a more convention salon area. No matter what is important to a prospective owner, there is plenty of room to work with. Yard-owner Vermeulen says he will be glad to customize the interior virtually any way a buyer wants.
There are several major differences between the P-47 and conventional express cruisers. First, the boat draws only 3’ (.92 m) which means that she can easily slide into places where many 47’ monohulls, drawing 4’ (1.23 m) to 4’6” (1.38 m) might fear to tread. For example, the P-47 is ideal for gunkholing in the Chesapeake Bay, the Abacos, or in the Baltic, all places with lovely spots to visit in skinny water. The boat might also be perfect for some river systems not regularly used by commercial traffic.Second, because the boat is easily pushed and has two small diesel engines, she is miserly when it comes to burning fuel. According to the folks at Maine Cat, at 16 knots the P-47 propelled by twin Volvo Penta 190-hp diesels only burns eight gallons (64 L) per hour. That means that she gets 2 nmpg or 4 liters per nautical mile. This is pretty economical cruising and much better than typical express cruisers of the same displacement and length. At 23.4 knots, which is the boat’s WOT speed, Maine Cat says she burns about 18 gph, or 1.32 nmpg. Maine Cat’s advertising copy says that in the P-47 “…you can skim across the water at an exhilarating top speed of 21 knots.” Here is another place where the P-47 and most American express cruisers part company. Most owners of express cruisers would not consider a WOT of 21 knots or so particularly “exhilarating” in a 47’ boat. They would want to be capable of speeds in the 30s, at least. For example, the 33,000-lb. (15,000-kg.) Tiara Sovran 4700 powered by twin 715-hp diesels has a WOT of 34 knots.
This points out another difference between a conventional monohull express cruiser and the P-47: it is not really designed for blasting around, but rather longer distance coastal cruising and maybe even living aboard. She can also be a terrific entertaining platform with huge and comfortable spaces for cocktail parties and dining, depending on how wants to configure the boat.
Maine Cat does not have fiberglass molded parts for every interior component in the lower deck cabins and salon. Remember that this company’s heritage is sailboats where -- particularly in Maine -- builders like to get rid of as much visible “white plastic” in the interior of boats as possible. These traditionalists who were raised in the dying days of wood sailboat building tend to think that fiberglass interiors look like the inside of a refrigerator. As a result, they lavish as much interior woodwork on the P-47 as possible.Maine Cat has added a new woodworking department headed by master ships joiner Ted Ripley. It recently added a 900 square foot cabinet shop and three craftsmen under Ted’s supervision. Maine Cat’s cabinetry is built using solid cherry wood and A1 cherry plywood. Its new 400 square foot dedicated varnish room with HLVP state of the art spraying equipment enables them to produce beautiful satin finishes in a controlled environment.
The standard P-47 comes standard with a 5 kw Northern Lights generator with sound shield. It also comes with a 5 kw inverter and a massive battery bank which the builder says can power the refer, freezer, and A/C all night. Maine Cat even claims that you can use a hair dryer “whenever you’d like.” That is certainly a gutsy claim as we know women who have thrown breaker switches for a whole marina with a hair dryer or two. So that means no generator rumble at night and no vibration. The boat comes standard with four 110-watt solar power panels on the cabin roof. The proper combination can power refers, freezers and basic electronics indefinitely. This is an ideal arrangement for a boat left on a mooring when you don’t want to keep unloading your refrigerated stores.
One aspect of the boat that cuts down on electrical draw is its three-burner propane stove top. Most powerboat people are not used to propane gas for cooking, but it has been used on many trawler yachts for years. Stove tops are a tremendous power draw, so propane has its advantages.
The P-47 is Loaded
We have seen few boats of any size that have as many items of equipment that are usually options built in as standard equipment. In addition the equipment mentioned, the boat also has a full compliment of electronic gear, watermakers, A/C, washer/dryer, windlass, 600-lb. davit, and a 12’ RIB with 8-hp outboard engine.
Possible Customization Plans
There is no doubt that cats are more stable in normal conditions, and at anchor, than are deep-V or many round bottom boats. However, offshore not all cats have the same motion as noted above. Maine Cat has a B/L ratio on its hulls of 13.35 to 1, which the company says is much more advantageous than lower ratios, say those of 8 to 1. Also, the motion of catamarans is different than monohulls, which may take some getting used to.Since most people have little or no experience with power cats, our chief recommendation is to take one for a cruise before you buy. Happily, Maine Cat has a charter operation in Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas during the fall, winter and spring. During the summer they move their charter P-47 back to Maine for charter. For the price of a one-week charter you can experience the P-47 and decide for yourself.We can’t thank of a more pleasant – or better -- way to learn more about a boat you are thinking about buying than to charter one in two of the best cruising grounds in the world – the Abacos or Maine. The P-47 charters for $7500 in high season and for $6300 off season. If you buy, a portion of the charter fee is deducted from the price.The price of the Maine Cat P-47 is $749,000. If you prefer the new flying bridge option (which is our recommendation), add $49,900.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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