One of the objectives of visiting the Outremer factory and test sailing a 5X, was to get the information we needed to select the options we will be installing on Wildling during construction. Although the 5X is a series production boat, and not a custom build, there are still many options that each owner can select that will affect the way the finished boat will perform, and how well it will fit with the intended usage. For example, a boat that is used by a large group of people for short durations in a limited cruising area, would be configured differently than a boat sailed long distances by a small family of full time cruisers. Knowing which option to select for what purpose, takes a mixture of experience, research, and advice from people you trust, that understand your requirements. I relied on all three to make our option decisions. After sailing a 5X and talking with other owners about their experiences and meeting with numerous people at the Outremer factory, I was able to answer the remaining questions that I couldn’t resolve at a distance. Again, I found the Outremer folks to be really helpful during this process. In this post, I’ll provide a list of the various types of options available, and in future posts, I’ll go into more detail on some of the choices and tradeoffs that we made. The options offered by Outremer on the 5X, generally fit into the following categories:
- Performance and handling
- Long distance voyaging
- Comfort and convenience
Let’s take a look at what Outremer offers in each of these areas: Performance and handling options This is where the bulk of the attention is focused. For a given hull design, performance of a catamaran is the result of the weight of the boat and the amount of sail area deployed. Too heavy and the boat slows down and the motion increases, which slows the boat down further. Weight is the number one enemy of performance on a catamaran, and Outremer provides a lot of assistance when fitting out each boat, as every item that is available for the 5X is listed with the price and the weight. In some cases the weight is negative, which allows a weight savings over the standard specifications. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any cases where the price was negative! Some of the choices available to build a light boat are:
- Using carbon fiber instead of conventional fiberglass and epoxy laminate for some of the structural bulkheads and the salon roof can save over 250 kg
- Swapping the standard aluminum mast for a carbon mast and using kevlar shrouds (cables that hold up the mast) instead of stainless steel saves another 280 kg
- Using Lithium batteries instead of the standard lead acid batteries saves around 140 kg
Of course it makes no sense to save all that weight, and then fill the boat up with systems and gear that weigh it down again. Some of the things we had on our last boat that we won’t be adding:
- No clothes washer & dryer – These are heavy, use a lot of energy and water, and we found we hardly ever used ours on the last boat. Whenever we were at an anchorage we were always able to find a laundromat or local laundry service.
- No scuba compressor or scuba tanks – Instead we will have a surface air (hookah) system, which is small, light and uses very little energy. We found that during our last cruise, we mostly went snorkeling, and in 90% of cases when we went diving with tanks on our own, a surface air system would have been just as good. We also found we preferred diving with the shore based dive operations whenever we were in a location with good diving, as we were able to use their tanks and air, their boat, and their knowledge of the best dive sites.
- No generator – No Scuba tanks, dive compressor or clothes washer means we don’t need a generator, so that’s another 250 kg saved, along with all of the fuel, spare parts and work needed to keep it running.
Long distance voyaging options These options cover things that make it easier and safer to sail long distances with minimal crew. Things like:
- Reverse osmosis watermaker
- Sail inventory and reefing systems to handle a full range of conditions, from a light breeze to a full gale, and everything in between
- Electric winches to make it easier to raise and trim the sails. Particularly for younger crew
- Seats at the wheel helms
- Dodgers over the wheel helms to protect from sun and rain
- The size of the engines, their fuel economy and range and the propeller design
- Electronic instruments and navigation systems
- Satellite and radio communications
- The type of dinghy and motor and the system for raising and lowering it and securing it rough seas
- The anchoring system
- The type and size of the refrigeration equipment
- Electrical generation systems: solar, hydro and engine driven
- Safety equipment
Comfort and convenience options Although these add some weight, there’s a minimum set of comforts that we aren’t willing to live without. Our list includes:
- Air conditioning. We usually don’t need this at sea or at anchor, because there is nearly always a breeze. But at a dock or marina this is a must!
- Microwave. Robin and I have gone back and forth on this for years. Robin won! 🙂
- Media system – TV, Stereo and speakers
- Convertible dining table that can be made into a queen size bed for guests
- Electric toilets
- Full set of blinds for the salon windows
- Awning system for the cockpit
In addition to all of this, there are the choices for cushions, fabrics and internal surfaces, and also logo artwork on the hulls and sails. Some of the choices we had to make were really complicated and took a lot of discussions to weigh up all the pros and cons. I’ll go into more detail on these in future posts.