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Serious about the ultimate truth
A sailing catamaran is not something
that you can simply lay out on a piece of paper
and then fit together from pieces of ply. A boat
design requires thorough knowledge and experience
of materials, technologies and operating
conditions. So please, if you can help it, don't
design your catamaran yourself!
Sailing catamarans were pioneered by Englishman
James Wharram. Even today, the majority of DIY
catamarans are based on Wharram designs.
Richard Wood (who also had a working stint with
James Wharram) developed his own version of a
modern DIY catamaran. It is quite interesting to
compare the different approaches.
There are other designers listed below, but they
do not necessarily represent the pure DIY
philosophy and rather supply kits based on
Useful features of cruising
As you will see, Phefo has all this
features. Once you know them, it is difficult to
imagine a cruising catamaren without all of them.
Very convenient for road transport.
Once assembled, separate hulls mean more privacy.
Deck pod or deck salon
Provides a communal living area
separated from the resting/sleeping spaces.
Cooking, eating and boat operations take place
A safe passage between deck
salon and cabin tops
Phefo can be controlled from
the cockpit area (there is no cockpit), but if
somebody has the desire to go forward on sea, it
can be done safely through the passage between
deck salon and cabin top. The companion way into
the hull is also from this passage, 6 foot away
from the bulwark.
A passage all around the outside
of the hull, for ease of docking
Some catamarans have their outboard
side lifted above deck level with the goal to gain
space inside the cabin. As a result, it is
difficult to work high up on the cabin roof, often
without suitable protection, far from the water
and without a clear view of the often inward
sloping topsides of the hull or even the harbour
Protection against the elements
This is achieved by positioning
seats in protected areas like behind the deck
salon or the cabin tops, and then by a permanent
roof. Phefo has a multi purpose bimini with
built-in aluminium profiles that accommodate sun
sails or wind sheets. Solar panels are integrated
into the bimini top. The shape of the bimini
allows rain water to be collected and led forward
over the salon roof, there it is channeled into
port and starbord catching areas with tank
Rainwater collecting arrangement
Very important and just described
At sea it is often damp and cool. A
central warm water heating will keep the hulls and
the salon dry and comfortable. Phefo has hot water
coils in the Dickinson diesel stove.
Unstayed masts with only 1 sail
each - simple and easy
Think how simple a windsurfer rig
is. Phefo has 4 sturdy unstayed masts which carry
one sail of 15 m2 each, which can be reefed in
steps of 3 m2, so it's 15, 12, 9, 6 and 3 m2 times
1, 2, 3 or 4. The sails are almost balanced. No
need for winches in any conditions. All 4 sails
can be lowered in less than 20 seconds. The rig
and the whole boat can be handled by one average
person. Simplicity and ease of handling.
It is important and also safer to
have a flat deck area with easy access to the deck
storing spaces (like rope and anchor lockers).
Phefo's hulls have a composite deck of epoxy/glass
over marine ply, which had been saturated with
penetrating epoxy. The decks were then coated with
epoxy Flowcote and with two coats of non slip
polyurethan paint (color cream). Maintenance free.
Clear view over the deck salon
Most production catamarans have a
large aft deck space with no visibility forward at
all. This is not very safe. A suitable arrangement
is a compromise of hundred compromises. A matter
of inches up and down.
A Wheel house
Complete protection from the
elements and a wheelhouse and navigation area with
360 degree visibility from the bosuns chair. We
achieved not only this goal, but standing outside
behind the wheel house, we have a clear view of
the chart plotter and all the instruments from a
distance of 2 foot.
A bidet in the heads
Those who know what a bidet is don't
need an explanation or a drawing.
Deck pressure pump
Very useful when fishing or
recovering a dirty anchor chain. We manage all our
water needs with manual and foot pumps. But we
have this pressure pump that can be used anywhere,
to pump out water that got into a hull. It can be
used for fresh and for sea water. After sea water,
it is recommended to flush the pump shortly with
Ability to dry out on low tide
A legendary ability of the Wharram
Classic designs with the five inch thick and eight
inch wide and glass/epoxy
laminated hard wood keel.
Galley in the living area in the
We like to keep food out of the
sleeping quarters. It is important that the cook
is part of the board life, not isolated in some
obscure corner of the boat.
Separate storing space
Each hull of Phefo is divided into
four watertight compartments. From the bow there
is a 7 foot fore peak with shelves, seat and
diesel tank to bulkhead no 1. Bulkhead 1 to
bulkhead 2 there is a 5 foot store. Bulkhead 2 to
7 is the cabin with accommodation and under floor
storage. Bulkhead 7 to stern is a 6 foot store
with shelves, seat and diesel tank
Light wind sailing performance
Phefo can easily display 50 % more
sail area than specified without the need of a
spinnaker or screacher. The square sails are
simply fully hoisted. She will go to windward like Maltese Falcon. To reef,
the sail is partly lowered, similar to a junk rig.
Two engines for mobility in
While the common arrangement is side
by side, we have chosen a fore/aft configuration,
so that the boat can move to one side, or rotate
on the spot. When motor sailing, one engine is
usually sufficient. We are using sturdy Chinese
fishing boat diesel outboard engines that are
lifted clear of the water when not in use.
Because new models are being created all the time,
we have not yet purchased any engines. Option: use
generation and storage
A balance of clever and economic use
of electricity (LED's, Peltier, economic computers
and instruments), suitable generation (solar
panels, wind turbine, engine alternator only as
exception) and enough storage. We think that 400
Ah will do. Remember, you can only draw a maximum
of 200 Ah at a time without recharging!
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