The first thing you need to be aware of when checking out the design of a catamaran is that the profile and sail plan drawings are deceptive. The next thing you should focus on is that interior volumes come in odd components compared to monohulls.

The PDQ 32.

The PDQ 32.

The PDQ 32, designed by Steve Killing, is a small cruising cat and an excellent example of the volumetric diversity in cats. Essentially what you have in a small cruising cat is two tubes or tunnels - the hulls - connected by a big flat box, the main cabin. I call this the bridgedeck. Laying out the bridgedeck is no problem. The problem is extending the headroom athwartships to give you comfortable access down into the hulls without stooping. The PDQ accomplishes this by layering the cabintrunk in two levels, one to provide bridgedeck headroom clearance, and the other to get headroom in the hulls. There is no monohull equivalent to this design challenge.

The bridgedeck area of the 32 gives you a big dinette. When you drop down into the hulls, you have a galley to starboard with a front-loading reefer forward and the navigation station and head to port. Narrow, slab-sided hulls with minimal cabin sole areas make the layout tricky but effective. The sleeping areas are two mirror-image staterooms aft with athwartships berths.

Just for fun compare this layout to that of the Feeling 326. The boats are about the same LOA and have comparable displacements. Which one has the most useable interior? I can't provide that answer for you, it's purely subjective. Based upon the objective area — area of cabin sole, size of berths and counter space — I think the PDQ would win. Although, if you check the galley counter area of the PDQ, it's so narrow that all a cook could do is line up hot dogs end to end. The bottom line is, there is more useable volume in the cat.

We know now that most cruising cats have about as much boat speed potential as LOA-equivalent monohull competitors. I don't think you would buy a cruising cat like the PDQ 32 for blinding boat speed. The D/L ratio of the PDQ is 107.9. This is on the heavy side for a cat but indicative of the cruising nature of this design. What you are buying in a modern cruising cat is accommodations, deck space and a minimal heel angle.

The PDQ 32 shows a masthead rig with bridle-style tack fitting. In cats you can fix the headstay to the crossbeam, which requires a seagull striker (I love it!), or you can use a Hobie-type bridle along with the bridle acting as a compression member. The problem with the bridle, as you can see here, is that it gets the tack of the jib pretty high. The SA/D ratio of this design is 19.

The auxiliaries are two 9.9-horsepower outboard Yanmars, and there is the option of twin shaft-driven inboards. Fuel capacity is 30 gallons and the water tanks will hold 47 gallons.

It's time to take these cruising cats seriously.

Headroom and volume combine to make this cat a comfortable cruiser.

Boat Specifications
Displacement7,200 lbs.
Sail Area409 sq. ft.
SA/D ratio19
D/L ratio107.9
Auxiliary9.9-horsepower Yanmar outboard
Fuel27 gals.
Water47 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.