I recently had a Skype conversation with Johan, the owner of Outremer 5X hull #2, Moana. Johan is currently in New Caledonia after crossing the Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, and I wanted to chat with him about his experience cruising aboard their 5X. Johan is a great guy, with lots of experience and was happy to share his impressions of their boat. Here are my notes from the conversation.
Why the 5X?
Johan and his wife have spent many years sailing and racing mono-hulls in and around France and their home in the Canary Islands. They wanted to do some long distance cruising with their young son, so they decided to buy a catamaran. They were attracted to Outremer, because every year when the fleet on the Atlantic crossing rally stopped off in Lanzarote they would ask the owners what they thought of their boats. Of all the people they talked with, it was the Outremer owners that were unanimously delighted with both the Outremer factory and their catamarans, so Johan decided to visit the factory and settled on a new build Outremer 5X.
What were their concerns before beginning the voyage?
The 5X was a bit of a risk, because at the time they ordered their boat, it was still in the design stage, so none had been completed. They loved the concept and plans they reviewed, but they were concerned that the 5X was going to be too light and racing oriented for safe, comfortable family cruising. Once they started sailing Moana, they found that this was never an issue. Even in developed seas and strong conditions, the boat behaved well. There was never any tendency for the bows to bury as conditions built. In fact they found the bows tend to lift and plane as the boat powers up. They have sailed many thousands of miles in all kinds of conditions and never once did they feel nervous or concerned about the safety and handling of their 5X.
What cruising configuration worked best?
While Moana is very capable of high speeds, they found that most of the time they wanted to keep things comfortable but still make decent daily distances. They found setting the sails to keep their boat speed between 9 and 12 knots was a nice, easy cruising configuration. They paid close attention to approaching squalls in the Pacific and would always reef early so they didn’t get caught with too much sail area up.
What changes did they make after delivery?
They found in developed seas, when off the wind, the boom tends to move quite a lot, particularly in lighter winds when there is less pressure on the mainsail. This is the case with all sailboats that don’t have a boom vang, and most catamarans fall into this category. Johan rigged a preventer on a 3:1 pulley bock that he attached to the leeward gennaker sheet block located just outboard of the tiller helm seats. With the preventer in place they had no trouble controlling the boom motion. We had this problem on our Catana 471, but we could never find a good location to rig a preventer, so we never really solved the issue.
The other change they made was to rig a strop at each clew reef point along the boom. They used these to attach the clew so they could take the tension off the leech reef lines. This reduced the longitudinal loading on the boom, and quieted down the creaking noise. It also helped reduced chafe on the reefing lines.
What would they do differently if making another Pacific crossing?
Moana is rigged with a gennaker, code-0 and genoa headsails, which provide excellent performance when reaching. When sailing a performance catamaran, it’s more efficient to gybe back and forth when traveling to a downwind destination, even though this means traveling a greater distance, because the increase in speed more than compensates. Johan found that when downwind in the Pacific trade-winds, there were times when they would have gone fast enough dead downwind without the extra attention needed to keep the boat dialed onto a reaching angle. Next time, he would add a spinnaker for when they felt like taking things easy and not having to worry about sail trim. While this would slow them down to around 10 knots, it’s still a pretty decent average speed when in full cruising mode!