May 08, 2012
New Catana 55ft cat in Tahiti! The numbers look good.
By Robert Cross
The individual cost of chartering comes down to numbers. If 10 friends are to charter a 40ft cat you will want to be good friends as the living is close. Some destinations involve more time tied up to the shore and space is less of an issue. To fill up a 40 ft catamaran such as a Lagoon 400 with 7 days of fun with your best friends it will cost each of you around US $75 per day. Taking into consideration the remoteness from shops, built in transport and self catering, your budget for this exciting charter holiday just shifted south to that of the average backpacker holiday. A Lagoon 400 cat with friends is a great holiday but for not much more it can get a whole lot better.
The comparison for the Catana 55 takes the luxury resorts head on, feature for feature. We have 2 new Catana 55 cats heading for Tahiti where you can cruise the famous island of Bora Bora along with Taha'a, Huahine and Raiatea. On board you will have your own double cabin with private ensuite. The spacious saloon and extending covered cockpit provides a relaxing communal area as does the large space forward. The galley has everything including microwave, there are entertainment systems as well as air conditioning, water makers and a generator to keep it all going. Your floating resort changes location as the mood takes you. There is no being rounded up to then be crammed into a vehicle to get to the "must see" places. Arriving at all the places of interest is just part of your relaxed itinerary, anchoring off shore, taking the dinghy, kayak or swimming ashore or in some places just tie up right in the centre of the action.
I have often wondered what those ashore are thinking as they stare out across the bay to the idyllic sight of a luxury catamaran sitting at anchor. For most people it is beyond their comprehension to charter a yacht and it most certainly would not have been presented on the list of options by their travel agent. We are a fairly elite bunch who choose the freedom of chartering, we are fortunate to either have the experience or know someone who does. This is a message that can be hard to get across to those you may know who are nervous of yacht chartering and will most likley never get to expereince such an amazing holiday.
If we cannot assure your non sailor friends based on the evidence in the photos or my argument for value their reservations must surely be based on a level of anxiety about being on the water. Safety and ease of handling is where new boats come into their own. New features on all charter boats have in recent times focused on making them easy to manage short handed. The twin engines on the Catana 55 are spaced wide apart, a series of forward and opposing thrusts places the vessel exactly where its needed. The powerful main sail is easily sheeted in with a central power winch as are the halyards and reefing lines, all being controlled without leaving the cockpit. The headsail and gennaker are on furling systems, winding up from the cockpit. A 55ft catamaran has the advantage of length, spanning the waves and maintaining constant forward momentum to be little troubled by the sea state, powering along under sail or motor. The big screen chart plotter will guide you to your next anchorage. It has become alarmingly easy to be a sailor and it is within everyone's grasp to enjoy this ultimate holiday.
I would define one such ultimate holiday as 14 nights on this new Catana 55 sailing around the Society Islands of Tahiti. Starting at the northern town of Uturoa on Raiatea we head off for a couple of days shake down around Taha'a without leaving the lagoon. Raising the stakes to an open water passage we slip anchor and glide downwind, champagne sailing enjoyed all the way. The dramatic landscape of Bora Bora which rises from the sea as we progress arrives all too soon, its volcanic cone towers above as we sail through the pass. Bora Bora is stunningly romantic, a true tropical paradise from where you will struggle to find a reason to leave. When you do its back up to Taha'a and the next day on to the southern lagoon of Raiatea. From here its a tight reach across to Huahine where the Catana 55 will chew up the miles with some adrenalin rich sailing with the wind forward of the beam. These islands all have a different character, Huahine is the least commercial and has one of the prettiest beaches in the group as well as an interesting lagoon that can be extensively explored in the rigid bottom dinghy. The final leg is a leisurely downwind sail where you will have time to reflect of a wonderful holiday.
How much would you expect to pay for this ultimate holiday shared with friends? Ashore back in Bora Bora they are paying upward of US$ 1000 for 2 per day for an Over Water Bungalow. Chartering the Catana 55 with friends in the ideal shoulder season is going to set you each back just $97 per night including the extra insurance. Add to this a budget for fuel and food (we allow $400 for the kitty per person on our 9 night Penny Whiting lead boat cabin share cruises). All up with transfers it still comes in under $150 per day, and what great days they will be.
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