The Solitaire 1490

Here are the reasons we choose this catamaran to build.

(Click the boat to spin it around)


This is a performance boat.  Schionning Designs claim it will do 15-25 knots, but lets take that with a grain of salt. Once we load it for cruising, we would be happy with 8 -14, averaging 9 knots of speed on a long passage (this is quite a bit faster than the comfort cats we were considering, which only typically sail at 8.5 knots on a good day and average more like 6.5 knots on a long passage).



Unlike most performance boats, the 1490 is laid out more like a comfort catamaran with spacious cockpit and salon with a semi-raised helm.



This 1490 already came with a lot of our requirements, yet what it does not already offer we have the opportunity to add by customizing the kit before we begin the build.  Schionning Designs is working with us on making this boat as close to our dream boat as possible.  We are calling our semi-custom model the Solitaire 1500.   



A brand new 50' performance catamaran fully fitted out for blue water cruising from a production builder would generally cost more than a million dollars, even as high as 2 or 3 million.  We can build this semi-custom, brand new Solitaire 1500 performance diesel/electric hybrid catamaran, and set her up to circumnavigate the globe for well under $550,000 (if we do the labor).  That's half the price!

Now for is a deeper dive into these items:


Narrow hulls

Long narrow hulls are part of the key to performance.  Of course, there is a compromise, you lose living space in the cabins.  However, on the 1490, between the hulls they use chamfer panels to flare out the hulls above the waterline (see image, right).  Similarly, on the outside of the hulls there are chines.  Both the chamfer panels and chines add to the width of the hulls above the waterline, which is where the living space  is located;  yet, below the waterline, the wetted surface of the hulls are kept narrow (see area below the black stripe in image right). 

1500 Bow


Daggerboards add a lot of performance and advantages to a catamaran:
1)  They point higher into the wind with a daggerboard down. 
2) Daggerboards increase sailing speed adding lift.
3) They cause a lot less drag than mini-keels.  You only need one in the water at a time, and while sailing down wind, you pull both up. 
4) Once the daggerboards are raised, the boat has a very shallow draft. In the case of our 1500, just 2' 2".   
5) Less change to capsize (tripping) in heavy gusts with the windward side up to 1/4 board and the leeward board all the way up.

The Solitaire places the daggerboards on the angled part of the outside hull (see image, right).  That keeps them out of the way of the side deck for ease of passage (see image above, right).  Inside the boat, these casings are right up against the outside of the hulls so they take up very little room in the living space. 

1500 Angled

Light Weight

This boat is build with PVC foam panels that have a pre-laminated surface on both sides (the green in the image right).  This cuts down on weight.  We also plan to use basalt fiber below the water line (white sections in image right) for added stiffness and impact resistance in the underwater portion of the hulls.  Basalt fiber is around the same strength as S-glass, but costs less and it is far stronger than E-glass.  It makes a good compromise between cost and improved stiffness and strength.

Weight matters on a catamaran; the heavier the boat, the slower she will sail.  Built out of light foam panels, this boat should be light enough to sail close to wind speed on a broad reach.  She will also be capable of sailing in lighter winds which means we will spend less time burning diesel fuel or using our electric motors since we will get to sail more often.


Bridge Deck Clearance

There are a lot of opinions out there on how much bridge deck clearance (BDC) is best for a catamaran.  Too little and slamming increases, too much and you add windage to the boat.  One school of thought is that a cat over 40' in LOA needs 1.3" clearance per foot of beam.   Using this method of calculating BDC, at 1.3" per foot of beam, our Solitaire 1500 would need 33" of clearance since she has 25' 4" beam.   Fortunately, as designed, she has exactly 33" of clearance!

Bridge deck clearance

Combo Hybrid engine

I am putting this Combo engine system under 'performance'  because it gives us the best performance while under motor, as well as regeneration and fuel savings.   To achieve all that, we are planning to put a parallel 110hp hybrid diesel with 20kw electric motor/generator in one hull and a 20 kw, 48v Electric motor in the other hull (see image right).  Both propulsion systems will use shaft drives. 

Due, in part, to the efficiency of our long narrow hulls and lighter boat, the electric motors should allow us to motor off our  main 22 kWh battery bank for at least 2 hours.  If we use our extended battery bank (for longer passages) we will increase to 33 kWh, allowing for at least 3 hours electric motoring.  If we need more range or wish to charge our batteries, we can always fire up the diesel engine/generator.  While that engine is running, we have the option to send around 14 kw of power to the 20 kw electric motor in the opposite hull.  That will power it at cruising speed without drawing power from the batteries, or we can send that power to recharge the batteries instead.   

Combo system

Due to the clutch on our drive shaft, we can disconnect the prop shaft from the engine and motor.  That let's the diesel engine run while we are at anchor turning the electric motor, which then becomes a 10 kw generator.   This will save us the purchase price, maintenance costs, and the added weight of a separate 10 kw generator, which is far heavier than the electric motor attached to our diesel (See green items, right). 

Normally, it is not a good idea to run your diesel motor without having it under a load, but the attached 20 kw electric motor acts as the load while it produces power to charge the batteries. 

The Yanmar diesel engine supplies up to 110 hp when propelling the boat.  If we combine that with the 29 hp from our 20 kw Electric motor in the opposite hull,  we produce a combined 139 hp when needed for short emergencies!  For longer motoring times when the wind drops, we can reduce to a fuel efficient RPM and still have S/V Lynx motor at good speed. 


For our Patrons, we have a detailed look at this Combo propulsion system as well as the other propulsion systems we considered.  Patron get a full comparison of four propulsion systems and fuel usage data using various passage lengths. 

To become a Patron and gain access to the Crew Only pages, use this button (right):

If you are already an S/V Lynx Patron Crew member, just use this link to get to the Propulsion and Fuel Usage comparison on the Crew Only pages.

Propulsion/Fuel Comparison


A Large Salon

This is our current layout design for our salon. 
I will go over the features in the Customizations area, below.  

In general, this is a large salon, deeper (front to back) than many catamaran models.  We designed in a central walkway, fore to aft.  At each end there is a 'T' intersection.  The forward side to side passage leads to stairs down into each hull.  This makes for a good flow to moving through the boat.  


Cockpit Seating

The rear side-to-side passage offers a quick unobstructed path between sugar scoops or the two stern winches.  The cockpit is large, with three seating areas that work together to create a nice social zone:

1) A long bench is located at the stern.
2) The L-shaped seating and table seats at least six crew members.  Just above that is a padded lounge or day bed. 
3) Opposite from the table, there is a lounge seat to starboard that sits just below the semi-raised helm.  All total, there is room to seat up to 14 people.

Note: We can access the helm station from the protection of the cockpit via a short flight of stairs.

1490 Stern

Helm Station

Everyone has their idea of  the best location for a helm.  Options are duel helms in the cockpit, duel helms outboard at the stern, bulkhead,  forward cockpit, interior, flybridge, and finally, a semi-raised helm position.   

We prefer a semi-raised helm (as shown, right).   We like the connection to the crew in the cockpit yet the semi-raised position also gives us an unobstructed 360 degree view around the boat.  It will feature a hardtop for sun shade with roll up side enclosures that will protect us in inclement weather.   There will be a hard window in front that may be swung up under the helm hardtop when we want air flow from the bow.  All this makes the helm a safe, warm, dry, and comfortable place to stand your watch or steer the boat.

Top View Helm


Even though our Solitaire 1500 is a performance cat, she offers a lot of storage and 8,400 pounds of load carrying capacity (Increased by 700 pounds from the stock version). 

This additional LCC was achieved by reducing the weight of the propulsion system (by going Parallel plus Electric instead of two diesels and a generator) and switching from stainless steel to lighter synthetic rigging.  Here are some of the storage areas:

Forward Lockers

Forward, exterior:

There are 3 large storage lockers in the forward deck area and 2 bow storage compartments.  The center compartment will house our rainwater filtration system.  The windlass has its own locker at the back of the bow sprit casing.  

Cockpit storage

Cockpit, exterior:

There are storage compartments under all three benches plus a large bike garage under the helm (with room for four fold up bikes).  There are also two dive lockers in the sugar scoops to hold scuba tanks and gear.  Storage areas are shown marked in red.

Hallway Storage

Hulls, interior:

The hallways have ample lockers and there are large storage areas under the forward births.   The forward birth also have a large cabinet toward the bow while the stern births feature cabinets along the inboard side of the bed.

Salon Storage

Salon, interior:

Both table seating areas have storage beneath the benches.  The galley has 2 cupboards under the sink and two sets of drawers, one on either side.
(Storage areas are shown marked in red.)

Work Compartments

Work compartments:

Towards the stern, there are two good size work compartments accessed through hatches.  One will house a dive compressor and water makers. The other will contain our work bench and spare parts storage.

Layout & Customization

Below are a some of the changes we plan to make as we customize our boat into the new Solitaire 1500.

Solitaire 1490 Customized

New Salon Layout

We want our salon to have many uses, as a large galley, a navigation station, and two seating areas that convert to a queen and signal bunk.



This gives you a look at the galley in the salon. The u-shaped galley has a large farm style sink with good counter space and plenty of storage beneath and to the sides. The two openings above and to the right are for a microwave and electric oven.  To the right of that, there is a large gray rectangle, representing a large, stand-up refrigerator (10 cu. ft.) and freezer above (5 cu. ft.). 
Opposite from the sink area is a counter arm. There is a white rectangle shown which represents the 7.7 cu. ft., top loading freezer.  This arm also works as flat counter space for food prep, or buffet style food service.  There is no permanent stove since we are going with induction heating pads that can be put out when needed.  Past the flat screen TV in the outer face of that counter is a compartment for an icemaker.  Above that are the electrical panels behind a plexiglass door.


Nav. Station and Seating/Convertible Bunks

Here you get a view of the forward facing navigation station (upper right).  This acts as a nav. station, desk, and chart area.

Then, to port, there is the forward seating area that converts to a single bunk.   This is nice for sitting our lounging without compromising the main seating table.

To port stern is a u-shaped table that converts to a queen bed.  It sits across from a 42" flat screen TV.  To the right of the TV, above, is the electrical panel, while below that is a counter.  Underneath that counter is a cabinet for an ice maker. 

There is a flip up windows that can be secured above the cockpit table, allowing us to socially connect the salon table and cockpit table, for seating up to 12.

New Cockpit Layout

We are making a few modifications here as well for the Solitaire 1500.  The most obvious change is the larger helm station (see below).  We are also expanding the L-shaped table because we eliminated the stern table to make room for the larger helm area and bike storage locker.


Cockpit Seating

This gives you a look at the the cockpit seating.  The L-shaped seating area has been increased in width to accommodate a larger table and seating for up to six.  There is a padded daybed above the L-shaped table (see the dark rectangle). 

We modified the back bench as well, adding angled backrests in case two people want to lounge at either end. 

We kept the lounge seat opposite the table (to starboard), but moved this area inboard to make room for the expanded helm.   We made a flat space for a bar-b-que and food prep area (white shape, top right).  We also added a huge bike locker underneath the helm station, accessed from the passage by the stern bench.



We moved the semi-raised helm seat back to make space for a winch station in front of the new helm pedestal.  We prefer this because two people have room to work, and if someone needs to access the side deck from the cockpit, they have unobstructed access past the seated helmsman. 

The helm has a nice pedestal for the wheel with an instrument panel above the wheel height.  

All lines run to the main winches at the line handling station forward of the helm. 

We also moved the stern winches to an outboard position for use in raising and lowering the daggerboards or handling lines for parasail, screecher, etc.

New Salon Windows

For the Solitaire 1500, we decided to change the salon roof and windows completely.  For our reasons, see below.

Original Windows

Original Windows: Solitaire 1490

This was an aerodynamic configuration, but just does not work for our crew height when standing in the forward portion of the salon due to the way it slopes downward (see 'Escapade', above). 

The roof extensions down to the deck on each side are purely aesthetic features which make the boat look nice from the side, but they do take up some deck space to the port and starboard  and they block some of the view from inside the salon. 
Therefore, for practical vs aesthetic reasons, we removed these features.

New Windows

New Windows: Solitaire 1500

We changed to taller, wrap around windows to give us better interior height for our tall crew members.  I side benefit is that we will also get great views from inside the salon with these taller windows.  This also clears the front deck for a little more seating space outside. 
The salon roof has is a 'brow' extending out over the windows to create shade.
We are adding four large opening hatches, one in each of the forward  facing windows (not shown).  This will allow a huge amount of air flow and ventilation into the salon and on  back to the stern cockpit when the flip up window between the salon and cockpit is raised.

New Stern

Besides the helm, the stern is where we are making the most significant changes to the Solitaire 1490.  Here are the main alterations and why we made these changes to our design of the Solitaire 1500.

Original Stern

Original Stern: Solitaire 1490

This is Escapade, Hull #1.  Notice the original cockpit stern shape with davits.  On this boat, they kept the sugar scoop entrance quite wide.  They choose to extend the length of the boat for kick-up rudders, which we also plan to do on the 1500.  However, we are extending the rudder boxes all the way to the end of the sugar scoops so we can have longer rudders.  They also used angled stair boards as steps to reach the side decks but we are changing these to actual stairs.  The original configuration has the cockpit hardtop extending over the davit area slightly.  

1500 Stern

New Stern: Solitaire 1500

Here is the concept model for the 1500 with modified stern.  You can see that the aft wall, behind the cockpit, is now straight across and flat.  It may not seem as sexy at first glance, but in our belief, function is sexy.  We will talk more about the function below.  The sugar scoops are still extended, but the kick-up rudder cut outs extend to the back of the stern of the sugar scoops.  We are adding a solar panel arch over the stern with five 460w bifacial panels, so we shortened the roof to allow the light to hit the bottom of the panels.  On the roof, we are adding 7 440w panels.  All total, this gives us 5,380 watts of solar.

Starboard Sugar Scoop

We pushed the cupboard in the sugar scoop further outboard to add more space for dive equipment and to add a flat place above for a barbeque and work space. 

Notice the half-open gate in the image, right.  This gate can be slid closed, all the way into a socket in the locker area, or slid open to block off the passage to the sugar scoop.  This gate is braced from the back by the top stair and both vertical edges while in use.  This way, if the cat is pooped, the water will be kept out of the cockpit.  It also acts as a safety barrier while on passage and keeps unwanted guests, like seals, from easily coming into the cockpit. 

Also notice the temporary fish cleaning table that can be stowed against the dive locker, stern side.  It has a drain pipe and there will be a hose with running water available inside the locker. 

Star SS

Gates and doors closed

Here is the same port side sugar scoop with the fish cleaning table stowed away, the access gate in use, and the dive locker closed.  This is how these will typically be while under passage.

Also notice the winch which we moved to an outboard position so that lines coming back from the daggerboards, parasail, of flying jib run along the outside of the hull and do not cross the walkway.  There is room to stand there and work the winch between the stairs and closed gate.

There will be a shower head attached to the bottom of the starboard side of the solar arch, allowing crew members to stand on the sugar scoop for an outdoor shower.  This will have hot and cold running water.

Star SS closed

Port Sugar Scoop

Like the Starboard side, we pushed the cupboard in the sugar scoop the same distance further out to add more space for another dive locker.  We used the same flat space above it for a second Stainless Steel box that matches the barbeque on the other side.  However, this box will house all the charge equipment and NMC batteries for small items like cell phones, dive lights, cameras, etc.  NMC chemistry is volatile so we want these fire hazards to charge outside within a fire proof box.

You can also see the deep swim ladder in its up, stowed, position.  Notice how it is behind the stern wall, out of the the way of travel from the cockpit to the sugar scoop. 

Port SS

Port Swim Ladder

Here you can see the swim ladder in the down position.  Notice how deep the steps go, this makes it easier for people to climb up out of the water.  There are two hand rail arches with another grab rail higher up, attached to the side of the dive locker.  This is to give crew a handholds once they are out of the water or standing to keep them steady.

Also notice that the slide gate is all the way open in this image allowing free movement to or from the sugar scoop.  You can also see the stairs that continue on up to the side deck from the cockpit platform level.  There will be a rectangular hatch below those stairs for access to the work room on the port side and the dive compressor room on the starboard side.

Even with the extended dive lockers, you can see that there is still plenty of width to access the sugar scoops from the cockpit.

Port SS Swim Ladder

Gantry Dinghy lift up

The main reason we flattened out the stern wall is to allow for a gantry style dinghy lift system.   We prefer this over davits for several reasons.  The hoisting arm will have a dedicated electric winch so that we have push button raising and lowering of the dinghy.  This gantry system also allows us to raise the dinghy higher if we are in large seas to keep it from getting pooped.  In nicer conditions, we can lower the dinghy down to keep the view unobstructed (as shown).  


Gantry Dinghy lift down

While down, when returning in the dingy, the bar acts as a nice grab hold to use to move the dinghy to a sugar scoop for passenger or cargo loading or unloading.  Also notice that, while the gantry is down, the dinghy is extended further away from the stern of the boat.  That will help to keep it and the outboard from banging into the sugar scoops, especially when launching or retrieving the dinghy in chopping conditions.

Gantry Down

Head & Cabins

There are a couple of head layouts available for the 1490 from Schionning Designs.  We decided to opt for the three chambers version which has  a central shower.  This way, both forward and rear cabins have access to their own ensuite head from inside their closed cabin.  These heads each have a sink and toilet.   This configuration allows us to have dry heads since there is a single shared shower between them, accessed from doors in either head (as shown, right).   

Solitaire 1490 Heads

There are six doors per hull (as shown, above).  Each cabin has a door to close it off from the hallway, and a door into the head.  And each head has one door leading into the shared shower.  All doors may be swung wide up against a bulkhead or locker to get them out of the way when open.   In the image, above, you can see which way each of the doors opens.

There is a queen size bed in each cabin, as shown.  Also, each hull has a wall mount washer/dryer in the hallway, inset into the wall. These will be placed just forward of the stern cabin door, next to the stairway up to the salon. 

The dark rectangular space in each cabin is a standing locker.  The dark rectangular space by the shower is the space for the daggerboard casing.


How much will this amazing semi-custom Solitaire 1500 catamaran cost to build?


That is the (current) estimated total price for the Solitaire 1500 fully fitted for blue water cruising.   Note that this price will keep changing slightly as we get firm quotes for each item on our build list.  To get access to the full breakdown of all costs, read below.

Performance Boat

Patron Crew Access

Only for our Patrons, we offer a full breakdown of all the individual costs it will take to build S/V Lynx. This information is in the 'Crew Only' part of the website.

If you would like access to these costs breakdowns, please consider becoming part of our Patron Crew, it costs as little as $2.00 a month.   We will put your donations right into building the boat!  Among other things, Patrons get access to more detailed information about the S/V Lynx project. 

To become part of our Patron crew, go to our Patreon Page.

Once you are a Patron Crew member, you may access the Crew page to see the full breakdown the build costs, and other details about the boat and construction.  If you are already a Patron Crew member, use the button above, and then enter the passcode we suppled when you became part of the Patron Crew).

Want to know more about S/V Lynx? 

For more information on our semi-custom Solitaire 1500, here are three pages on these subjects:

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