I did cover the process of choosing our Nautitech Open 40 in a past post. But selecting the brand and the model is only part of the battle… There are multiple pages of options to choose from with the shipyard. But then most standard options are thought of for the average cruising program and we had to go the extra step of preparing the boat for offshore cruising and independent living in potentially remote places.
So, these are the choices we made, which comes with a disclaimer: We are a relatively minimalistic couple and only plan to have guests onboard occasionally. Our potential guests are warned that we did not choose the boat for them, but for us (although I really do not expect any complaint). We made these choices with the objective of having a very comfortable and practical boat, but without trying to recreate every little luxury that we have at home.
We picked the Nautitech Open 40 in large part because it is a relatively light and manoeuvrable catamaran with a history of offshore voyages. Although most options are really a question of personal preference, some would have had an important impact on weight, and by ricochet performance and ultimately safety. The most significant initial choice we faced was certainly the air conditioning and massive generator needed to run it. For our program, having a generator and air conditioning on board would have been a penalty on weight and performance that we were not ready to tolerate. From questions we asked to people who actually are cruising long term, air conditioning is essentially for guests or when you are in a marina with still air. At anchor in the trade winds, you basically don’t need it. You can burn diesel 12 hours a day for a one-week holiday to stay cool, but for long term cruising it is not a reasonable possibility. And it’s another expensive thing to maintain and repair. Our first fundamental decision was therefore to opt instead for maximum independence and minimum use of fossil fuel, hence a large solar installation and lithium batteries. It was a difficult decision also because all North American sales reps promoted A/C (and associated large generator) as an essential, and all European reps considered it a luxury that would be in the way of our program. The conclusion was helped by the fact that we came to the conclusion that 40-foot was ideal to operate easily as a couple, and the additional weight would have forced us towards 45-46 feet, which is more boat than we needed. As a side note, with now a few weeks onboard, I can confirm that 40 feet is more than enough boat for a couple, we wouldn’t need or want more.
The other difficult decision was to forgo the flexiteak floor in the cockpit. There comes a point in the decision process that practicality takes over. Teak is beautiful at boat shows, but not as practical as gelcoat in day to day life, and it does add weight. Although we like to forget it, weight is the number one enemy of any catamaran. So, we did get a teak table, and teak accents that are part of the Nautitech design, but my feet are resting on white gelcoat as I write this. We can always do it later if it bothers us in the long run…
These were the two hardest decisions… Others were easier. Nautitech is one of few production catamaran company offering hydranet sails. We chose to stick with Dacron as we are not enrolling in a regatta anytime soon. We went with the advanced package for instruments and a radar, which was a no brainer for our program. The larger engine and foldable props were also an obvious choice, and already after only a few weeks we have benefited from the added power to dock into 30 knots of wind. For toilets, we chose redundancy: One fresh water electric toilet for the owner’s side, but we kept the manual seawater toilet on the guest side in order to make sure that we have a toilet if fresh water and/or electricity abandon us. The rest of standard options are mostly about personal taste, so we did take the exclusive version (I confirm that the memory form mattresses are supremely comfortable and that the indirect lighting is an absolute must to create the right ambiance at night), the leather coaches in the cockpit, etc. One option that has been even more pleasant than expected is the ambiance lighting (blue lights in the cockpit and white lights under the bridge). Again, it really contributes to the ambiance. I can’t overstate the importance of cozy indirect lighting while having dinner while other catamarans around look like they are having dinner in a shopping center. The sound quality of the Fusion sound system is also excellent. All other additions were done by Neomarine, our representatives who also offer what I can now declare a very professional and experienced team to bring the final touches to our boat in La Rochelle and accompany us in the delivery process to make sure the shipyard delivers a boat that is in flawless shape (for the moment at least… Let’s enjoy it while it lasts).
Post shipyard additions and changes
We wanted a freezer (currently full of white tuna!) and a washing machine. The shipyard offered either/or in the same space on the guest side. So Neomarine proposed to install a washing machine on the guest side and replaced the cockpit fridge with a similar size freezer. The washing machine has proven even more important than we initially thought, and the standard fridge in the kitchen is enough for us as our sailing program is not primarily about space for cold beer.
We also had a water maker installed by Neomarine (12 volts/65 liters per hour). It’s a big electricity consumer, but with lithium and enough solar, we should be ok. As we strive to reduce diesel dependency in our choices, the 12 V water maker became the only logical choice.
In the initial stage of selecting options and features, I adopted the standard North American approach: Bigger is better. Too much is enough. I use the first person voluntarily as it excludes Isabelle, who is typically more reasonable than I am and is always encouraging me to find a way to reduce our negative impact on this planet. I am extremely happy that we found in Neomarine a partner that gently directed us towards the right size and options for us, not necessarily the most expensive. It would have been very easy to extract additional dollars from us and encourage us with our grand initial ideas all the way to the finish line.
For downwind sail, we chose a Code D by Delta Sails. It is a very versatile sail covering from 60-160 degrees off the wind, and most importantly it is easy to deal with as a couple. We do not feel ready for a spinnaker or parasailor, we’ll see if we get there later.
We replaced the anchor chain with grade 70, and 80 meters instead of the 60 meters of grade 40 that was provided by Nautitech. Grade 70 is almost twice as strong. I speak with limited experience (I hope to never have much experience in chain breakage), but from all sources I could find, G70 it should be for a catamaran. We replaced the standard Delta anchor with an FOB Rock but we stayed at 20 Kg. We kept 10 meters of the original G40 chain with some rope and the original Delta anchor as a secondary anchor. All this was essentially a compromise between weight (100 meters would have been sweet) and anchoring stability and flexibility. The current philosophy in the market is to go really big with the anchor, but we forget to talk about the importance of the chain’s strength, and its weight which is a large part of a successful anchoring. The market is anchor obsessed, but we should really also be chain obsessed.
As stated earlier, we did install lithium batteries, 7250 Wh of it, and we chose Epsilor’s drop-in lithium batteries. They are just entering the marine market but have a long tradition of manufacturing some of the best harsh environment lithium batteries for military applications. We completed the system with 1050 watts of solar panels built as an extension of the rooftop, a larger 3kw inverter and changed the charger to cover the lithium charging profile. Thankfully, the standard alternators were already regulated thermally to avoid overheating and the battery bank was already located inside the boat and not in the engine compartment, which allowed us to put the new batteries exactly where the old ones were (well, the old ones were actually new, but that’s a different story… Somebody somewhere has brand new AGM batteries and a new cockpit fridge thanks to us). I intend to do a more extensive review of our electrical system in a few months when we’ve had the chance to thoroughly evaluate it.
We have been on Oxalis Borealis for four weeks as I write this. Not long enough to pretend that we got everything right, but just long enough to know that we got nothing blatantly wrong. We believe we made the right choices.
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