Phefo - Sailing Catamaran and Lifestyle

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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.

Useful features of cruising catamarans

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.

Separate hulls

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 here.

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 wall.

Protection against the elements (sun/rain/wind/spray)

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 adapters.

Rainwater collecting arrangement

Very important and just described above.


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.

Flat deck

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. Just rinse.

Clear view over the deck salon top

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.

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 fresh water.

Ability to dry out on low tide

A legendary ability of the Classic design with the five inch thick and eight inch wide  and glass/epoxy  laminated  hard wood keel to dry out  safely at low tide. Phefo only needs a bit more then two foot of water to float again.

Galley in the living area in the deck salon

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. That's it.

Two engines for mobility in close quarters

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 petrol outboard.

Sufficient electricity 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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Phefo's starboard hull

Phefo's starboard hull

junk test sail

Catamarans can be rigged in many ways

copyright Dr. Hans Ulrich Hammig