The idea of getting an ‘express configuration’ for our next boat had crossed my mind. As compared to a having a flybridge, having guests (and the dog) on one level simplified things, it would provide a reduced ‘roll factor’, and not being restricted by bridge opening schedules were all plusses.
At that time, nothing was off the table for type of boat, but power cats were becoming of interest: less fuel consumption, smaller engines, capable of fast cruise speed, better ride and r-o-o-m.
Enter the Havana 38; here at the Annapolis dock was a beautiful example of an express cat. The boat definitely had a look.
Upon boarding, the fit and finish immediately reflected a high quality effort. The design was pleasing to my eye, a mix of curved and linear surfaces and a bridge deck layout that provided several separate comfortable seating areas.
Passing by the spacious elevated helm station and thru the wide bi-fold doors into the saloon (as known in South African parlance), I found Clark Boeken and Shereen Robertson seated at the main table. After a “welcome aboard” greeting, I became immediately aware of the roomy, open feel. Teak and holey sole inserts, varnished cherry wood panels and trim incorporating excellent joinery work, gleaming white fiberglass surfaces, and leather-look upholstery made an impressive and truly beautiful interior. I initially thought that I was on a brand new vessel; however, it turns out she was a 2010 build. She just didn’t show it.
Clark offered some basic info about the boat and suggested that I look around it and he’d answer any questions. Although engaged, it was as low-key of a marketing approach as you could experience at a boat show.
There were a couple of items on my creature-comfort ‘must have list’ that the boat didn’t offer: it didn’t have walk-up access on both sides of the master berth and the shower stalls weren’t separate from the heads, they were wet heads. None the less, the boat was very intriguing.
OK, enough fluff. Construction appeared to be stout. Turns out she was built to CE Category A standard (Force 8 ops certified), and overbuilt at that. Think old school heavy fiberglass layup; and the solid ride that goes with it. The hull design offered great economy in the displacement mode, but the also the ability to efficiently cruise at 2x displacement speeds as well. This increased capacity allows for weather avoidance, getting to an anchorage before dark, making it to a marina for schedule integrity, etc., etc. Best of both worlds!
Having owned diesel propulsion engines from 4 different manufacturers, I was pleased to find Yanmar power onboard, my 1st choice in this HP range. The electrical panel was a work of art; the advanced power generating/management systems onboard made it all the more so. (A delivery captain friend rated it ‘Grand Banks quality.’)
Over time, our hunt continued through many boat shows, dock walks, internet research, discussions, etc. Cruiser Cats was at several of the shows and I had the opportunity to talk to Clark at length and develop an appreciation for his forth right style, as well as his product. From numerous contacts, I came to realize he had an impeccable name in the industry. He meant what he said and he’d do what he said he’d do.
Life happens and our next-boat schedule advanced: we were in the market for an express catamaran! We looked at several others manufacturers, but kept using Cruiser Cats, with its slip friendly beam, as the base line for comparison. From further encounters with Clark during this time, he realized I was potentially more than a tire-kicker. A demo ride on the boat followed; we were subsequently all but sold!
Due diligence yielded more positive references for Clark and he answered a long evaluation form (120+ questions) that I painstakingly generated regarding his boats. Clark was readily willing to address, correct or modify essentially any concerns that I had. That’s not what I’ve typically experienced in the boating world. We bought the boat!
The ride is amazing; there is no comparison to a mono hull in this regard. Whether anchored-up in a rolly anchorage or underway operating either in displacement mode or planned-off, it is simply more stable. It cuts through waves with a noticeably different and smooth feel. We love it.
Most of our boating is ICW or near-coastal. With almost 100 hours of running time, I’ve had two occasions that pushed the comfort envelope. The first was on a large open bay on a 20+kt day that was all roiled up with white caps and froth everywhere in an ugly chop. The next was anchored with reef- stacked 4’ Atlantic waves directly on the beam. Although both of these let you know you were on a boat, it was still a superior ride to a comparably sized mono hull. As they say, ‘The boat will take a whole lot more than you comfortably will.’ In these conditions, as you would expect, there is a different feel (introduce some yaw and snap) and even different water sounds as the two hulls do their thing. Says an impressed friend who fishes a large sport fish, “she rides like a 60 footer.”
As ‘Hull #1’, and a derivative from a previously proven product line, you may think there would be a steep learning curve for getting the new product right. After all, there were numerous innovations and modifications introduced. While there have been scant few, most of the comments that I’ve come up so far with have already been addressed by Clark. The few new inputs that I have generated are greeted with appreciation by Clark to be incorporated as further refinements to his impressive boats.
As for the previously mentioned concerns about bunk access and wet heads: they have proved to be non-issues for us. We’ve pretty much forgotten about them as we enjoy the ride and the livability of this boat.
If I had it all to do over again, would I buy this boat again? In a heartbeat!
Here are my wife’s thoughts:
My first request to my husband on our “future boat” was that it be “turn-key” and not a
years-long project. He met that request and then some!!
I love, love, love, the space. The layout is of course quite different from a mono hull and it did take a bit to figure out how to work it, but I love it! It is so livable! Also, the expansive fore deck, and in particular, the jump seats are a preferred spot. Whether relaxing and reading a book, catching the sun, or enjoying the ride, that is a favorite place for me.
We recently had seven friends aboard for a day trip from South Beach to downtown Miami and Key Biscayne. We had an absolute stellar trip-from the great ride (through the churning boat wakes!), to enjoying the fabulous space on the foredeck, to comfortably accommodating guests in the shade of the bridge deck settee and table. Several friends stayed aboard overnight at the marina and everyone had privacy in their staterooms with the in-suite vanities. (Having 2 heads on board is a must have.)
We travel with our dog (all 50 lbs) and we were worried about the durability of the sofa fabric and flooring-not to worry as it is as durable as it is aesthetically beautiful.
So let’s talk food and wine. I love to cook and this galley is plenty workable. Generous capability for stocking the freezer and fridge for extended travel and nights on the hook. Nice beverage refrigerator in the cockpit along with an icemaker. And did I mention the wine cooler? Ya. Nuff said.
I leave the mechanical stuff to my husband, but in terms of livability, it gets 5 stars in my book. I am sooo looking forward to our coming adventures on the Bobcat!!! "
Brad and Bobbi Whitmore
Havana 38, Hull #1