The Adventures of Buying a Catamaran

Posted: 3rd April 2013.

Buying your first boat can be a confusing experience. With so many different makes and models of catamarans on the market, it can often be hard to work out which boat best suits. An element of compromise is always necessary to ensure you find the right catamaran that best matches your specific cruising, budget, lifestyle or investment objectives.

Here, the owners of Karacool, an impressive Looping 16 for sale from Mooloolaba, share their story about the reasons that set her apart from the competition during their original purchase decision.

Having decided one day to sail away from cold and snowy Scotland, the search was on to find a sailing boat to go around the world. The date for that departure was fast approaching, and so Stephen started to research the internet for available catamarans.

But which one to look at? Our checklist included comfort, length (about 45 ft), reasonable speed, and light weight amongst many other things. Names like Outremer, Catana, Leopard, and Freydis peppered our conversations. I would return from work and he would be excited because he had found another cat to look at. And how far would we go to see a boat? After many conversations and emails between brokers he had a list, and we decided to head to France. Then if no success we’d continue on to the Eastern Mediterranean or even America!!

So we jumped onto a plane to Marseille on 26 December picked up a hire car and headed to La Seyne sur Mer (near Toulon) to see a willing new agent who was prepared to show us some cats between Christmas and New Year.

There we met Donan, a new and inexperienced yacht broker (trainee) from AYC who had three boats lined up for us to see. His first offering was a wildcard – Karacool, a Looping 16 designed by Patrick Luscher. Although relatively unknown, it seemed to tick many of the boxes and the owner was waiting to show us over Karacool. So this was the first cat we looked at. Impressions were favourable and so we set off optimistically to look at the next cat, heading west along the coast.

We saw an Outremer 55 Lite on the hard, which I did not like. But Stephen still spent ages checking her over, just to make sure. Our list of boats then included another Outremer 55 Lite, Nautitech 47, Outremer 50, Absolu 50, and a Catana 53.

The road trip stretched from the middle of the south coast of France (Marseille) to the most westerly point in Mediterranean France at Perpignan. There were only a few cats left to look at and our next appointment after Perpignan was near Venice in Italy! That meant a mad dash in an easterly direction back across France and then across the widest part of Italy to Padua. Venice is located on the Adriatic. By the way, it is true that Italian drivers are crazy!

By now it was New Year’s Eve, and as Padua is 60 kms from Venice we decided to have a day off and tour Venice. This beautiful city was at her winter best on a freezing cold but still and sunny day. That helped us chill out and relax and also, subconsciously, helped us sort out our favourites.

There was one more cat – in St Tropez – to see, so back in the car again. And heading west through Italy and then to the middle of the French coast, we ended up almost where we started. Had we decided? Still unsure, we asked to visit Karacool again. Then we were sure.

She would do just nicely if we could agree a price. As for the asking price, (The figment of somebody’s imagination) she far outweighed the production boats.

These are our ticked boxes:

  • Made by a very reputable and experienced boat-building company in France – Delhay Brothers SARL – who build canal barges for the French canals.
  • Strong construction – Stephen has previously sailed around the world in a monohull and knows the sea can be a hard place.
  • The accommodation is splendid but not built for berth numbers.
  • Length – she is light and strong for her length and will sail quickly. For example, a normal boat 10-day passage can usually be achieved in eight days, making for less time at sea with a safer passage.
  • The sail plan is set up for singlehanded sailing, enabling easier watches on passage.
  • Autopilot at the helm and at the chart table means heavy weather sailing can be controlled from the saloon.
  • Strong, new rig with a virtually complete refit in 2009 (new engines, new rigging, and new skin fittings).
  • Her size ensures comfortable passage making with hardly any ‘hobby-horsing’ normally associated with smaller cats.

We made a bid under the asking price and crossed our fingers. After some negotiation, a price was agreed. Then one month later, after the survey was carried out, Karacool was ours. Hello world!

Since the purchase of Karacool, Stephen and Annie have completed some remarkable voyages including crossing the Atlantic three times and sailing from France to Australia.

Now it’s time for the couple to return home to the United Kingdom and continue their adventures on land, with their family and friends. Karacool can be viewed at our office in Mooloolaba, QLD.

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