Nick Kauser, the owner of Atlantis Yachts, is like that guy we used to see in the electric razor commercials. This Bellevue, Washington entrepreneur liked the boat so much, he bought the British Columbia-based boat building company.
Nick and his wife, Judy, commissioned Atlantis to build a 52-foot power catamaran, Sea Pussie. Before the boat was launched, however, Nick already had his feet behind the desk, playing an integral role of the planning process for a newer, bigger Atlantis — a 68-footer that was nearing completion when we toured the company.
Cats, no matter who builds them, are different. They use their space differently — and they use the sea differently.
You enter the Atlantis 52 via a large stern platform, then cross a large aft deck, into an unusual saloon/galley/wheelhouse area.
The interior of the 52-foot Atlantis Manta — designed by naval architect Malcolm Tenant of New Zealand — was influenced by Kauser's wife, Judy. Tenant gave her more contiguous space to work with than you normally find in the interiors of most 52-footers: a high ceiling, large windows and lots of flat, wide-open spaces on the saloon level. This boat has the look and feel of a contemporary beach house — but it's a 20-knot beach house, with a teak-and-holly sole.
The wheelhouse sits amidships, up four polished cherry steps from the saloon. The instrumentation is laid out in a flat black panel. It is easy to read, and visibility from this steering station is exceptional.
Tools of the trade at the helm include Kobelt electronic controls (with synchronizers and childproof lockouts), analog Yanmar tachometers, voltmeters, Floscan fuel meters, a VHF radio, an Ocean PC, an AutoNav autopilot and a small stainless steel destroyer-style wheel. The skipper steers from a comfortable fighting chair, while visitors can enjoy the ride from a settee, positioned aft and to port.
In the saloon, the galley lies immediately to starboard. There's a head to port, and a washer and dryer are located in this saloon-level head compartment.
Nestled into the starboard corner of the saloon, a large dinette offers mealtime seating for six and cocktail-party seating for 10 or more. The upholstery used here and in the wheelhouse is Ultrasuede, creating a warm effect with the finely fitted matte-finished cherrywood interior. It makes for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
The full-size galley contains both an upright refrigerator and a bar refrigerator, both matched to the decor with wood door panels. The built-in stove is a four-burner Jenn-Air range with a downdraft fan. For baking, there is a microwave/convection oven. The work surfaces are molded Corian. The galley also offers abundant storage, a garbage compactor and a cabinet for wine bottles and glassware that features smoked Lexan-doors.
Catamarans use space differently, and nowhere is this more evident than in the staterooms. The staterooms to port and starboard (each with an island-style queen-size berth) are situated on the saloon level, with a head down three steps in each hull. Headhunter Royal Flush toilets and showers are behind doors in the forward portions of this space, while access to the engine compartments is through a watertight door, aft.
The sinks are set into Corian counters, accented with brass fixtures and illuminated by large windows in the upper deck. A high overhead creates a striking and very un-boat-like effect.
Innovative use of space is also evident in the saloon, where a foldout Murphy bed has been installed to port. When the number of guests exceeds two, the berth folds down and a draw curtain provides privacy.
This boat was designed to be innovative. It waits, literally, for technology to catch up to it. Nick Kauser has specified electric engines for the boat, in addition to its Yanmar diesels.
"It comes from our background as sailors," he explained. "We wanted the boat to be as quiet as possible, so the idea of a whisper-quiet 20-knot vessel appealed to us."
In preparation for the day when the technology arrives to make Kauser's dream possible, the diesels have an electric drive system attached to them, which is intended to be powered by electric fuel cells.
Currently, Vancouver, British Columbia's Ballard Power is the leader in the field of fuel cells, having licensed the technology to the U.S. Army, Mercedes, GM, Ford and other manufacturers for use in buses, tanks, naval vessels and other applications. The cells, however, require a specialized fuel source that limits their utility on a boat.
"Eventually, the fuel cells will be more accessible," Kauser said, "and we will be ready." In the meantime, the boat's electric engines can be used with onboard auxiliary generators as a get-home backup propulsion system.
The installation, with the engines nested into each hull of the catamaran, looks more like a military power package than a pleasureboat system. It's a tight fit, with the genset, hydraulics, exhaust system, precision tubing, fire suppression equipment and wiring all designed to fit into limited space.
Most of the installation has been laid out above the engines, to make it more accessible for maintenance via the saloon hatches or the hatches in the head compartments. Much has been installed here, including inverters and charging equipment for banks of 12v batteries for the house and engines. The primary system is 24v, but the scarcity of many pleasureboat systems in 24v configurations makes an extensive 12v system necessary.
Advanced Hull Design
Atlantis builds its boats in a covered facility on the Fraser River, on the outskirts of Vancouver. The builder uses vacuum-bagging techniques and foam-core sandwich construction to reduce weight and maintain hull strength. The two hulls, fine at the bow and relatively flat on their run aft, are laid up in halves and joined when the fiberglass is cured.
The foredeck is practically a tennis court: 21 feet wide, with ample room to handle the anchor, store the fenders and mooring lines. The aft deck has a dinghy crane for the tender, nested between the transoms of the two hulls, and storage is built into the coaming.
A stainless steel and teak ladder takes you up to the flybridge, which is laid out to accommodate large gatherings aboard.
It was a lightly overcast morning when we pulled out of Point Roberts Marina, on our sea trial. We headed out into the Strait of Georgia, toward Vancouver Island, with four adults aboard.
We operated the boat first from the upper station and then from the lower, recording our speeds off a GPS. We averaged the inbound and outbound speeds to compensate for the current that is always running in the Strait. On this day, it was ebbing.
Our test boat came up to speed without actually going onto plane. The narrow hulls knife through the water at speed, kicking up a light spray off the bows as we approached high cruise speed: 22.7 knots at 3,000 rpm. The hulls were efficient and the engines were never working hard.
The boat's top speed is 28 knots, at 3,300 rpm.
Cruising aboard this power cat provided an unusual sensation. The Atlantis 52 was surefooted and relatively easy on fuel, consuming just 13 gph, per side, at 21 knots and 8.3 gph, per side, at 13 knots (at 2,000 rpm).
The boat's compact-but-powerful twin 370 hp Yanmar diesel engines have a smooth power range, suggesting several points at which this 52-footer could be operated at an economical medium cruise speed of roughly 20 knots, at 2,600 rpm. It's not like a monohull, which has a quarter wave at displacement speeds and a point at which it will plane.
This boat offers peppy, yet economical performance and a spacious interior. It also offers a new choice for boaters who are accustomed to seeing considerable "sameness" in motoryacht design.
Atlantis 52 Manta Specifications
|Fuel capacity||845 gallons|
|Water capacity||385 gallons|
|Base price with twin 370-hp Yanmar diesel engines||$1.2 million (U.S. dollars)|
|Top speed||28 knots|
|Nautical miles per gallon at 21-knot cruising speed||1.09|
|Estimated fuel cost for 100 nautical miles||$163.50|
|Range at 21-knot cruising speed||921 nautical miles|
|Sound level at cruising speed||67 dbA|
(Estimated fuel cost based on a fuel cost of $1.50 per gallon.)
Twin 370 hp Yanmar diesels, Floscan fuel meters, AutoNav autopilot, Kobelt electronic controls, Ocean PC, Corian counters, Jenn-Air range, microwave/convection oven, Headhunter Royal Flush toilets.
Options on Test Boat
Fuel cell-ready electric backup propulsion package.
Twin fiberglass hulls offer fine-V entry, flattening aft. Hulls are vacuum-bagged, foam-core sandwich construction. High-tech construction methods utilize E-glass, biaxial, triaxial and Kevlar fiber cloth in a female mold and laminated with a combination of 100 percent vinylester and isophthalic resins. The complete structure is cored with PVC closed-cell foam.
For More Information
Atlantis Yachts Inc.