S/V Lynx

About S/V Lynx

These pages will be all about our future catamaran.  Why we choose to construct a kit catamaran ourselves, and some major design alterations we plan to make to the kit boat we build.

Why we are chosing  to build a Catamaran



By building a catamaran, we get a 50' boat at a fraction of the cost to buy a production cat of this size, and water length matters to comfort and speed while sailing.



We end up with a brand new boat, instead of one that is 10 - 13 years old.  That means, all her systems, sails, engines, hulls, etc. are all new.



We got to choose a design that is a performance cat with many comfort features.  Then, we get to customize our boat to exactly what we want.



And best of all, we get this new, larger, well designed, and customized cat for less than an older production cat and the refit she would require.

Let's take a deeper dive into these considerations...

Style of Catamaran

Custom built

These are often one off boats, though it is also possible that a few hulls have been made in this design.  If it is a one off, there have not been any improvements on the design.  Also, there are not many modern designs available to purchase.  We would consider one if we found a design that was good and had been made many times (which is rare).

Custom Boat

Kit Boats

These can be built by professionals, or DIY builders, like us.  If we build a kit boat ourselves, then we would get a new boat that we know, inside and out.  The issue is labor... these take something like 6,000 to 10,000 hours to construct.  Previously, we could not find a kit boat that has a design we desire, yet recently, we discovered a new model from Schionning Designs, the Solitaire 1490.  This boat fits many of our desired features with the least compromise, and fits into our budget!

Kit Boat

Performance Design

Narrow hulls are required, and this reduces the living space in the hulls while also cutting down the load carrying capacity.  We could live with less space, but not less stuff.  With a larger crew on board, we need more of everything, and that adds weight.  This eliminates most performance designs under about 50' in length (to get enough LCC).   

The Solitaire 1490 has a long waterline and, therefore, a load carrying capacity of 7,766 lbs. (with extended sugar scoops).  Also, she is a performance boat and should sail at or near wind speed, yet her layout is more like a comfortable production cat.

Performance Boat

Comfort Designs

Generally, Comfort cats have good load carrying capacity even at shorter lengths but at the cost of sailing performance.  Along with the wider hulls, you also get a more comfortable boat .  Unfortunately, you will have to live with only about half of wind speed.   This is not a terrible option, since you spend 80% of your time at anchor.

Production Boat

Brand of Catamaran

Schionning Designs

When it comes to KIT boats, Schionning Designs is famous for their build quality and performance.  If we are willing to put in the labor to construct a Schionning Designs boat, we would end up with a stiff, light, fast, catamaran. 

In the past, Schionning designs were all about speed.  However, recently, they went in a new direction, offering a performance boat with some production cat amenities.  So, if we went with the Solitaire 1490, it has decent load carrying capacity and will sail much faster than production cats.  It also points higher due to dagger boards and has less maintenance because of shaft drive engines.  She will also have kick up rudders and a hull designed for beaching.

Schionning Logo

Fountaine Pajot

Coming in second are the Fountaine Pajot boats.  For a Comfort design, they are fairly well built.  Inspections at the factory by purchasers have shown that they fully tab their bulkheads.  They also have sacrificial keels, an up galley, a forward facing nav station, a 'sports top' style helm, large engine rooms, spacious cabins, dry heads, large tables in the salon and cockpit.  On the negative side, their sailing performance is mediocre.  Still, they are safe boats that have traveled the globe without a history of major issues.  Fountaine Pajot boats are designed to be beached on their mini keels, a big plus for us.

Fountaine Pajot


In last place are the Leopard catamarans.  They are well built boats and, earlier, they were a top choice in brands for us.  They have good bulkheads (which you may inspect), sacrificial keels, hard tops over the helm and cockpit, excellent dinghy davit systems, good storage, dry heads, up galley, navigation station, 'sports top' style helm position, engine rooms, spacious cabins, large tables and newer models have a forward cockpit.  Sailing performance is also mediocre, about the same as the Fountaine Pajot boats.  On the negative side, they are not designed to be beached on their keels, and require supports placed at the major bulkhead locations.  This is a major problem for us since we need to beach our boat at certain locations, which all but eliminates Leopard cats from our choice.


Other Brands

Each of the brands below have many good features, however; here is the deciding feature (or missing feature) that eliminated each of these production boat brands from our choice.   
* Lagoon: do not have sacrificial keels.
* Catana: Exposed helm stations near the back sugar scoops.
* Nautitech: exposed or flybridge helm positions.
* Bali: boom too high.
* Privilege: older model slanted windows, newer models too expensive.
* Outremer: not enough load carrying capacity.
* Royal Cape and Voyage: not enough bridge deck clearance.
* St. Francis and Antares: too expensive for their age.

Other Brands

Model of Catamaran

Length and Beam

We want the longest cat we can afford, yet one that also fits through 33' locks.   That requirement limits us to a maximum beam of 26'.  That width of beam gives us the approximate length, since beam should be about half the length.   So, our maximum length is about 52'.  Unfortunately, most 50+ foot boats are too expensive, even used.  Therefore, we are looking for a used production cat with a length of 44' to 48', unless we go with the Schionning a Kit boat at 50' 4".   

Length and Beam

Fountaine Pajot Models

In the length we want, at a year we can afford, the Helia 44 and the Salina 48 are the two most likely models we are considering.  A Saba could work, but is unlikely to get into our price range.  The Elba 45 and Saona 47 are too new so too expensive.  The Helia is a bit short at around 43' LOA.  That leaves the Salina as our top choice in Fountaine Pajot boats at 46' 10".

Salina 48 layout

Leopard Models

In the length we want, at the year we can afford, the Leopard 46 is our top choice.   We considered a Leopard 44 but is a bit short on length.  A Leopard 45 is probably too new and therefore, too expensive.  Older Leopards, like the older 47s from the early 2000s, have too low of a bridge-deck clearance.  The 48 is likely out of our price range.

Leopard 48

Schionning Design Models

There is only one Schionning model for us, the Solitare 1490.   We would extend the stern sugar scoop making the boat 50' 4" LOA, and 25' 10" BOA.  She is a serious blue water boat,  light, with narrow hulls and dagger boards to sail fast and point well.  Even so, the stock 1490 has a 7,700 lbs. payload.   She has a large cockpit and specious salon, and a sport top helm.  She can be beached on her strong hull, and uses kick up rudders for a very shallow draft. 

Best yet, we can modify the base boat to get even closer to our ideal boat.  This makes the 1490 nearly the perfect boat for us.  We can even afford one and would end up with a brand new boat!  The issue are those 6,000 to 10,000 hours of labor to build the kit to sail ready. Still... this is currently our top choice when it comes for bang for the buck.  If you want to know more about the Solitaire 1490, below is a link to more about this amazing Kit boat.

Solitaire 1490

Want to know more about this Kit boat?

Solitaire 1490

Chartered or Private

Privately owned

If we buy a Comfort designed cat, it must be a used boat to get a sufficiently long boat within our price range.  We would much rather buy a privately owned and never chartered boat, but that may not be possible.  If we could find a used boat that has circumnavigated it would be even better, since the owners likely did a lot of upgrades for that kind of voyage.  Currently, the down side is price and the fact that we want 4 cabins when many privately owned boats are 'owner' version 3 cabin models.  Still, if we can find a four cabin, privately owned boat, at an affordable price, that is our first choice, but it isn't looking good.  That's why we are leaning toward building the Solitaire 1490.

Privately Owned


These boats were likely sailed by people without a lot of experience.  They are have likely been used hard and put a way wet, so to speak.  They will probably have a lot more cosmetic damage and possibly even worse hidden issues.  However, they are less expensive.  We figure, if we must, we will look at chartered cats that have one thing... good hulls that have not been too damaged.  Everything else we can upgrade, repair, or replace.  So, if we find one at a price we can afford, with good hulls, we may go that route and spend a lot of money on the refit.


The Contenders:

We plan to purchase a Helia 44, Leopard 46, Salina 48, or build a Solitaire 1490.  If we go with the KIT boat build, we would end up with a new boat.  Our search for S/V Lynx has begun, but due to the recent rise in prices for used boats, the KIT  boat is becoming a more serious option.  If boat prices stay high, or even rise, we may choose to build S/V Lynx as a Solitaire 1490.

So let's take a look at the specs of these boats...

Boat Specifications

Fountaine Pajot: Helia 44


Mast Height: 60'
Length: 43.64'
Beam: 24.28'
Draft: 3.77'
Bridge deck Clearance: 28"
Dry weight: 26,000 lbs.
Load Carrying Capacity: 9,600 lbs

Positive things of Note:
Rooftop seating area, Cockpit hard top, Sports Top Helm, Low Boom, Core-Cell foam core, Sacrificial Keels, Up U-shaped Galley, Ensuite Heads with separate showers, Nav Station, Island beds.  Mast height is ICW friendly.

Negative elements:
True waterline is just under 44', which isn't terrible, but longer would be better.  We don't like the angled seating at the nav station ,without a seat back.  Her davits are a bit low.  The props are behind the rudders and we prefer that they be in front.

Helia 44

Leopard: 46


Mast Height: 70.75'
Length: 46.4'
Beam: 24.10'
Draft: 4' 1"
Bridge deck Clearance: 35"
Dry weight: 28,067 lbs.
Load Carrying Capacity: 13,300 lbs

Positive things of Note:
Cockpit hard top, Helm Hard top, Sports Top Helm, Low Boom, Sacrificial Keels, Up U-shaped Galley, Ensuite Heads with separate showers, Nav Station, 2 Island beds (aft), 2 semi-island beds (forward), strong and high davits.

Negative elements:
One major issue, the mini keels cannot support the weight of the boat, therefore, you cannot dry out on a beach.  This is likely a deal breaker since we will be up in Northern Europe for extended times where the tide changes are epic, and marina space for cats scarce.  That means we will need to land on our own keels at times.

Leopard 46

Fountaine Pajot: Salina 48


Mast Height: 68' 11"
Length: 46' 5"
Beam: 26'
Draft: 3' 6"
Bridge deck Clearance: 33.5"
Dry weight: 23,900 lbs.
Load Carrying Capacity: 9,480 lbs

Positive things of Note:
Cockpit hard top, Sports Top Helm, Low Boom, Sacrificial Keels, Up, large, U-shaped Galley, Ensuite Heads with separate showers, full forward facing Nav Station, 2 Island beds (Aft) and 2 semi-islands beds (forward), 2 single 'pilot' beds in companionways, Large engine compartments,  Excellent shallow draft.  The mini-keels are designed to take the weight of the boat so we can dry out at low tide.

Negative elements:
Lack of storage lockers at the bow, just one locker where the windlass and chain are accessed.  The only other options are the two forepeaks.   Which brings up the next issue, the small round hatches.  These are inadequately sized for access to the forepeaks for removal of sails, sock rings, etc.  Next up, the dinghy lift under the sundeck at the stern.  This does not allow sufficient raising on the dinghy (in our opinion), nor does it allow for a long dinghy of over 12'.  Also, the steering station does not come with a hard top.

Salina 48

Solitaire: 1490


Mast Height: 72'
Length: 50' 4" (with sugar scoop extensions)
Beam: 25' 10"
Draft: 2' 2" (daggerboards up)
Bridge deck Clearance: 33"
Displacement: 26,456 lbs.
Load Carrying Capacity: 8,000 lbs. (with extended sugar scoops, 7,700 lbs. without)

Positive things of Note:
Overall length and width are perfect.  She has shallow draft.  We would design a Sports Top helm with hard top, kick-up rudders for beaching, and daggerboards for pointing.  Hybrid diesel/electric engines with shaft drive engines.  Up, large, u-shaped Galley,  Separate heads for each cabin with a shared shower room between them in each hull.  A forward facing Navigation Station.  She will be a fast, strong, stiff boat.  Best yet, we can customize some things as we build her to our specifications.  We would get the best of both worlds... a fast performance boat with cruiser comfort amenities, and she would be a brand new boat for just under $500,000 ready to sail around the world!

Negative elements:
Beds are not island type as hulls are narrow for speed.  We would spend 6 to 10 thousands hours of labor to build the kit!  

Solitaire 1490

Propulsion System

We have three options for the propulsion system on S/V Lynx:

Diesel Engines

In this case, we would have two diesel engines (keeping the current ones if we buy a used boat).  We would also need a generator.

Hybrid System

Using pod or saildrives for the electric propulsion, we would add two generators for extended range and a large battery bank.

Dual System

We would add new diesels with parallel electric motors attached to the shaft drives, for the best of both systems.


For a detailed comparison & our final choice, click here:

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