The Solitaire 1490

Here are the reasons we are building this catamaran.

(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 10 knots of speed (quite a bit faster than the comfort cats we were considering, which only typically sail at 8.5 knots).



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



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 a brand new Solitaire 1490 performance diesel/electric hybrid catamaran, and set her up to circumnavigate the globe for 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, below the bridge deck the hulls use chamfer panels to flare out the hulls above the waterline.  Similarly, outside the hulls there are chines.  Both of these add to the living space without increasing the wetted area in the water.

Side and Bow

Dagger Boards

When it comes to  pointing higher into the wind, dagger boards are helpful.  The 1490 places the dagger boards on the angled part of the hull, out of the way of the side deck for ease of passage and the casings inside take up less room inside the hulls.

Dagger Boards

Light Weight

The boat is build with Duflex foam panels that have a pre-laminated surface on both sides.  We plan to use basalt fiber below the water line for added stiffness and impact resistance.  It is not as strong as carbon fiber, but the cost is far less and it is much stronger than fiberglass.  It makes a good compromise between cost and improved strength.

Weight matters and the heavier the boat, the slower it will go, particularly in light winds.  This boat should be light enough to sail at wind speed on a broad reach (or close to it, like 14 knot speed in 14 knots of wind).  She will also be capable of sailing in lighter winds which means we will spend less time burning diesel fuel since we will get to sail more often.

Performance Boat

Shaft Drive hybrid engine

I am putting this engine system under 'performance' though it could easily be a category of its own.  We are planning to put a parallel hybrid diesel/electric motor/generator combo unit with a shaft drive in each hull.  The shaft drives are far less maintenance and safer.  They also put much smaller holes in our hulls and seals can be replace  without hauling out the boat.

Due in part to the efficiency of our long narrow hulls and light boat, the hybrid electric motor should allow us to motor off our 22kw battery bank for up to 3 hours.  If we need more range or power, we can always fire up the diesel engines.  This set up has the electric motors and diesel engines using the same shaft and folding props, so no redundant purchases are needed. 

Combi Hybrid

These engines also act as generators, saving us the purchase cost, maintenance, and weight of a separate generator.  Normally, it is not a good idea to run your diesel motors without having them under a load, but the electric motors act as the load as it produces power to charge the batteries.
If needed, the second engine may also run as a generator and be used to power the boat (A/C, etc.) while the other is charging the batteries.

If we go with the Beta Marine engine, we will have two 53 hp engines plus two 10 kw (13 hp) electric motors, which can produce a combined 116 to 132 hp when needed!  She should fly under power as well as sail. Since we would not need to add a generator, we save around 600 pounds, more than making up for the weight of the electric motors and gear boxes (300 lbs). There is also less maintenance since we have two diesels instead of three to service.

Beta 50


A Large Salon

This is our current design for our layout of the salon.  It features:
1) A forward facing nav station (starboard/forward).
2) A U-shaped seating area with a large table that faces a large screen TV.  The table drops and creates a queen size bed (port/stern). 
3) A smaller seating area and table.  The table drops and creates a single birth (port/forward). 
4) A  specious U-shaped galley with big double sink, a top loading freezer, a standup refrigerator, and two drawer combo refrig./freezers.  


Cockpit Seating

The cockpit is large, with three seating areas.
1) There is a long bench to stern.
2) There is a second six person table, this one at an L-shaped seating area.  Chairs can be used on the other two sides of the table.
3) There is also a lounge seat to starboard, below the raised Sports Top style helm.  Access to the helm can be 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 cock pit, duel helms outboard at the stern, bulkhead, flybridge, and finally, sports top (semi raised) helm positions.   For us, the only choice we are interested in is a Sports Top helm.   We like the connection to the crew in the cockpit and the semi-raised position that gives you an unobstructed 360 view around the boat.  When enclosed with a hardtop and siding, it is a safe, warm, place to do a watch.

Top View Helm


Even though this is a performance cat, she offers a lot of storage areas and 7700 lbs of load carrying capacity (stock), and a bit more with the extended sugar scoops we plan to add. Here are some of the storage areas:

Forward Lockers

Forward, exterior:

There are three, 1 meter square, storage lockers in the forward deck area.  There are also two bow storage compartments.  The windlass is in its own small locker at the stern portion 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 births.   The forward birth have a large cabinet forward 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 cupboards and shelves. There is also a large central cabinet made to hold our 22kw house lithium battery bank, with room to add the 11 kWh tender batteries in when needed. (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 be for the electrical systems (inverters, isolators, converters, bus bars, MPPTs, etc.).

Layout & Customization

Below are a few of the major changes we plan to make as we customize our build.

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 it are for a microwave and electric oven.  To the right of that, there is a large gray rectangle, which is a large refrigerator.  Below that are two drawer style refrig./freezers. To the right is an arm showing a white rectangle, which is the 8 cu. ft. top loading freezer.


Nav. Station and Seating/Convertible Bunks

Here you get a view of the forward facing navigation station on the right, the forward seating area that converts to a single bunk, and the u-shaped table that converts to a queen bed.  Built into the face of the center counter of the galley is a 42" flat screen TV, which faces the main table for good viewing. To the right of the TV, above, is the electrical panel, while below that is a cabinet for an ice maker.  The 22 kWh lithium batteries are stored under the desk on the left hand side of the nav. station.

New Cockpit Layout

We are making a few modifications here as well.  The most obvious change is the larger helm (see below).  After that, we are expanding the L-shaped table because we plan to eliminate 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 area.  The L-shaped seating area has been increased in width for a larger table.  The long bench at the back has had angled ends added in case someone want to louge there.  We kept the lounge seat opposite the table, but moved in inboard to make room for the expanded helm.  There is a padded daybed above the L-shaped table (dark rectangle).  We also added a flat space for a bar-b-que, with some prep area (white shape, top right).  Store lockers are under all seats and there is a huge bike locker underneath the helm station, accessed from the passage by the stern bench.



We changed the bulkhead style helm to a sports top style, with a forward winch station in front of the helm.  We prefer this because two people have room to work, and if someone needs to access the side deck, they can get past the helm without squeezing past someone seated at the wheel.  The steering console has a nice raised place for instruments, including full size chartplotter and auxiliary screen as well as other instruments below.  All lines run to the main winches at the winch station.  Also note the new outboard position of the stern winches for the dagger boards or parasail/or other light wind sail.

New Salon Windows

We decided to go taller with the windows in the salon which keeps them at a more consistent height.  We have some taller crew members, up to 6' 5" (1981 mm) tall.  A side benefit is a better view, forward, from the salon.

Original Windows

Original Windows

This was an aerodynamic configuration, but just does not work for our crew height when standing forward. It also takes up some deck space to the port and starboard with those sloped extensions.

New Windows

New Windows

These taller windows give us better interior height for our tall crew members and we should get great views from inside the salon with a little more seating space up on the bow deck.

Head Layout

There were a couple of options for the heads, we decided to take the three chambers version which has  a central shower, accessed from either head.  This way, both forward and rear cabins have access to their own head  with a sink and toilet.   This configuration allows us to have dry heads, one for each cabin, with a single shared shower between, accessed (or locked ) from either head.

Solitaire 1490 Heads

New bow cabin Layout

In the forward cabins, instead of just a queen size bed, we are planning on adding a bunk bed above (right in image).  At times, will have singles on board who may not wish to share a bed, but could share a cabin in this configuration.  It is also useful for a family with a child.   Finally, it adds some storage when just one or two people are using the cabin. 

Note all the storage in these forward cabins (the windows have not yet been cut into the left side panels, as this is a image is a mockup that started from a shot of this Solitaire 1490 still under construction.)

Solitaire 1490 Bow Cabin


What does it cost?


That is the fully fitted out price for blue water cruising.  For a full breakdown of what is included in that price, see the button called 'List of Costs' (below).

Performance Boat

Want to know more? 

For more information on the Solitaire 1490, here are four pages on these subjects:

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