This mid-size cruising catamaran inhabits the middle ground between truly high-performance open-bridgedeck cats with very limited accommodations and little or no on-deck shelter and bulkier, more unwieldy cats with enclosed bridgedeck saloons and palatial accommodations. Its most distinctive feature is a permanently mounted hardtop roof supported by aluminum posts that shelters all of the otherwise open bridgedeck area abaft the mast. If desired the bridgedeck can be fully enclosed by deploying flexible transparent acrylic side-curtains.
This concept was first introduced by designer/builder Dick Vermeulen when he launched his first boat, the smaller Maine Cat 30, back in 1996. The 30-footer has proven quite successful, but is a bit too small and cramped for extended cruising. The 41, first introduced in 2004, redresses this deficiency and has also been successful.
In terms of its hull form and construction, the Maine Cat 41 tilts heavily toward the performance side of the equation. The individual hulls are fairly narrow and are set well apart, the underwater foils are high-aspect daggerboards, the bridgedeck is well elevated, and the entire boat–hull, deck, hardtop, and interior components–is built of lightweight vacuum-bagged composite laminate cored with high-density Corecell foam.
There are, however, a few telling concessions to cruising comfort and convenience. The bridgedeck is rather large and there is a fair amount of structure forward of the mast. This includes a solid centerline plank that runs out to the forward crossbeam and supports chain runs for twin anchor rollers, plus the forward portion of the bridgedeck, which houses extra interior living space and a serious rode locker with an electric windlass and plenty of room for two segregated rode piles. There are also raised blister cabinhouses with large fixed windows on both hulls, which increase both headroom and ambient lighting below.
Whether this design works for you as a cruising platform depends largely on how you feel about the deck layout. The one steering station is located right in the middle of the covered bridgedeck. Two winches and one set of controls (for the mainsheet, traveler, and gennaker sheets) are situated just out of reach behind the helm. Another pair of winches (one of which is electric, primarily for raising the mainsail and gennaker) and another set of controls running off the mast (including mainsail reef lines and the sheet for the self-tacking solent jib) are situated just out of reach forward of the helm. The controls are well concentrated for a catamaran, but you’ll still need a reliable autopilot to sail this boat singlehanded. Sprinkled around the control stations are the boat’s only common social areas–two long L-shaped settees and a pair of swivel chairs either side of the aft winches, plus a dinette table and two short settees between the forward winches.
The Maine Cat’s cockpit and open-air saloon
If you crave the comfort of a proper bridgedeck saloon this glorified “Florida room” of a working cockpit, which is apt to be drafty and cool when conditions are inclement even with the side-curtains down, may be a disappointment. On the other hand, if you enjoy being in the open air, but also like staying out of the sun and rain, the Maine Cat’s spacious cockpit/open-air saloon may well seem like an ideal environment. The warmer your cruising ground the more likely you are to fall into the latter category. In terms of sailhandling, the layout works quite well, though the hardtop blocks the crew’s view of the sails and makes it hard to gauge sail trim from control stations. There are three small hatches in the hardtop–one over the helm, the other two over the forward winches–that remedy this to some extent.
The accommodations within the hulls are more limited than what you’ll find on a fat condo cat, but are considerably more comfortable than those found on leaner open-bridgedeck boats. Several owners consider them perfectly adequate for long-term liveaboard cruising. The large functional galley occupies all of the aft end of the port hull, with a double berth on an offset inboard shelf amidships, followed by a head, then a single berth right up in the bow. The starboard hull features a head with a separate shower stall plus a small dressing area aft, followed by another double berth amidships, then a nav desk and another single berth right forward. Storage space is limited, but savvy owners cite this as a plus. The lack of places to put things makes it easier to keep the boat light, which is always critical when it comes to catamaran performance.
Despite being down in the port hull, the galley gets plenty of light
Port hull living space looking forward
The sail plan is efficient, with a fat-roached full-batten mainsail, but moderately sized. The mast and boom are both aluminum; the standing rigging is all stainless-steel wire. (The boom has a retractable “stinger” that is used to lift an RIB tender on to dedicated chocks on the aft deck.) A removable carbon-fiber bowsprit for flying a gennaker or asymmetric spinnaker is listed as optional equipment, but should be considered mandatory on a boat like this, as you’ll need it to keep the boat sailing well on a reach or off the wind.
Under sail in Maine waters. The rig is not huge, and you’ll appreciate having the gennaker (or screecher, if you prefer) in light to moderate conditions
The Maine Cat 41 reportedly has excellent helm sensitivity for a catamaran. Thanks to its daggerboards it can tack through 90 degrees in flat water, and though the claimed top speed of 18 knots may be a bit of stretch, several owners report hitting average speeds between 11 and 14 knots.
To many the Maine Cat will seem an expensive boat to buy new. What you’re paying for is the high-end composite construction, plus an amazing array of standard systems and equipment. The boat comes complete with Pentex working sails, an RIB tender and outboard, a 1020-amp-hour battery bank, top-of-the-line electronics and refrigeration, an inverter/battery charger, an auto-pilot, and an array of four 110-watt solar panels installed on the hardtop over the bridgedeck. If you’re looking to save some money buying used, be prepared to move quickly when you find one, as these boats don’t often show up on the brokerage market.
-Boards up 2’6”
-Boards down 7’0”
-Light ship 12,200 lbs.
-With max. payload 19,200 lbs.
-Working sail 996 sq.ft.
-With gennaker 1,290 sq.ft.
Fuel 112 gal.
Water 120 gal.
-Light ship 82
-With max. payload 129
SA/D ratio Working Sail
-Light ship 30.01
-With max. payload 22.18
SA/D with Gennaker
-Light ship 38.87
-With max. payload 28.73
Nominal hull speed
-Light ship 13.3 knots
-With max. payload 11.6 knots
Last known asking price $369K
Base price new $539K
Dick and his crew have been a pleasure to work with over the years. Your next coverage should be of his most recent, ship it in a container, cat.
@Dave: Yes, I’m looking forward to the 38. I think I wrote something about it here a while back.