Beach Cruiser reloaded

03 October 2009     Editor    0 Comments.

The return of Beach Cruiser - in 3D!

The Beach Cruiser sketch from last March has progressed into a 3D model - my first 3D project in a long while - a good vehicle for relearning the ropes. To recap, Beach Cruiser is intended to be a multihull version of the popular “open boat” style of camping cruiser. Over the years, small cats have become somewhat the victims of their own success - evolving into pure race boats. It’s a bit of a shame really, considering their roots come from the ocean crossing voyaging canoes of the Polynesians. Why not a beach cat “voyaging canoe”? A small trailer boat that maintains (much) of the performance of its race bred cousins, but with considerably more storage, comfort and seaworthiness. A boat for really going places… quickly!

A multihull designed to live on a trailer immediately comes up against the beam issue. 8’-6” is fine for a racing cat designed to fly a hull at every opportunity, but what about a cruiser? Chris Ostlind has tackled the stability issue with his Neo 21 camp cruiser catamaran by using a clever sliding-beam design that extends the boat out to a rock solid 11’ of BOA on the water - increasing the stability to match the powerful sail plan. With Beach Cruiser I’m taking the other approach, accepting the 8’-6” trailerable beam limit (which gives me the considerable benefits of a simplified structure and speedy set-up on the ramp) and reducing the power of the rig.

Beach Cruiser

  • LOA: 20’
  • LWL: 19’-2”
  • BOA: 8’-6”
  • Hull beam: 1’-6”
  • Draft: 11”
  • Sail Area: 220 sq. ft.
  • Mast height: 20’
  • Mast height including gaff: 26’-2”

The Sliding Gunter Rig

The rig is a 220 sq. ft. modern sliding gunter sloop (first proposed on the 23’ Manu Kai) and the most innovative aspect of the design. The gunter rig has several advantages for a small cruising catamaran:

  • Easily rigged from a trailer - The rotating mast is only 20’ long, which makes trailering a lot easier than with your typical unwieldy beach cat mast. The mast is the same length as the boat, creating a nice trailering package, and it is also 28% lighter than a 28’ beach cat mast. A cut-down Hobie mast would be perfect. The mast also clears low bridges more easily.
  • Aerodynamically efficient - The carbon reinforced wood gaff makes an excellent aerodynamic shape, smaller in diameter than the mast.
  • Easily reefed - The gaff saves weight aloft (the best place to save it) and even more important, the gaff is easily reefed, a feature almost unavailable in traditional beach cat rigs.
  • Automatic de-powering - The gaff will bend off in gusts, automatically de-powering the rig, almost in the manner of free-standing rigs. This is a feature highly desirable in a narrow beam cruising catamaran - and the one that can tame the high strung beach cat into a manageable cruiser.

The only downside I can see to the rig is that the height of the asymmetric chute is reduced, but since this IS a cruiser, probably a good thing. The blade jib is self-tacking.

The hull shape is a slender curved V. It needs no boards to sail to windward, and is a robust shape that takes beaching well, delivers a great ride, and looks good doing it. Construction method is tortured plywood (mildly tortured, really just tickling) and the hull shape is symmetrical in order to help the builder keep things all lined up and true. Also good for mass production, since only one hull mold is required.

The solid bridge deck with raised seating goes a long way toward keeping the crew comfortable and dry. The bridgedeck is 16” above the water, providing excellent wave clearance and contributing further to a smooth and dry ride. The solid cockpit floor measures 6’-8” x 5’ - just enough for a large double air mattress, and by raising the boom, a boom tent can turn the cockpit into a cozy camp site. A canvas dodger can be fitted just aft of the mast to further protect the crew in colder climates.

Still to be added are the “wing” seats, which allow the crew to shift their weight out to windward by a significant percentage.

As mentioned in the earlier article about Beach Cruiser, the boat was inspired by the solid bridge deck cats of C/S/K - the prototype “beach cruisers” of the ‘60’s. Like Aloha shirts and Vans, the style is a perennial favorite. I hope you enjoy the modern interpretation.

 concepts / catamarans