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Thread: The cruisers Volkswagen?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Default The cruisers Volkswagen?

    These simple yet robust vessels have carried many people around the world and across oceans at a fraction of the price of the more expensive production cats.

    From James Wharrams site:

    In the mid 50's, based on his research into ancient Polynesian boat design, James Wharram built thefirst off-shore Catamaran in Britain and sailed it out into the Atlantic. While the world's yachtingcommunity were busy dismissing such a design as a worthy sea-going vessel, James was landinghis 23'6" 'Double Hulled Canoe' in the West Indies. There he built a second 40' Polynesian style Catamaran and sailed it back to the UK accompanied by two young German girls, being the first to sail a catamaran across the North Atlantic These amazing Trans-Atlantic crossings and the follow up book "Two Girls, Two Catamarans" has etched the name 'James Wharram' into the annals of yachting history.

    The quality of the Wharram self-build catamarans is reflected in their popularity, excellence of craftmanship and 'sound sailing qualities'. 50 years on - with 10,000 sets of plans sold and thousands turned into proud vessels. Wharram 'Cats' can be seen in harbours across the world
    maintaining the highest reputation for surviving wind and wave.

    Any owners that can tell us some more?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Brighton, UK


    A fast and very shallow draft design.

    The biggest drawback for some people has been quality of finish - but some of the designs are now available as professional completion.

    Another problem has also been lack of accomodation, but newer designs have adressed this area as well.

    They have in the past had a reputation as a bit of a dog to windward (rather like the Catalac!!), but most of this reputation is undeserved, and originates from people who just did not recognise the nature of their craft and how to sail her.

    I recollect the complaints of one skipper I was talking to (whilst conducting a scientific experiment in alcohol consumtion versus taurian dung)

    He was moaning that he frequently had to wear a ski mask to protect his eyes from the spray coming up between the hulls when he was above 15 knots. (it was early in the experiment, and having seen him sail, I dont believe he was exagerating by mutch.)
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  3. #3
    Pete Rigby Guest

    Default Re: The cruisers Volkswagen?

    Talbot's description of Wharram cats as the 'Cruisers' Volkswagen' is pretty near the mark.

    The 'philosophy' behind them, was that Joe Ordinary could by his, [her], efforts, build a boat that could cross oceans. When Jim Wharram started designing cats, [1960's on], the idea that an ordinary chap, who was not a skilled boat builder, could put together a whacking great boat, was revolutionary stuff.

    The simple 'V' hulls meant they were straightforward to build. Wharram persists with this feature, which now makes his boats just about unique.
    He is not some sort of time-warped lunatic, who cannot see that cat design has moved on since the early days.

    When I occasionally visit the marina at Gosport, [ Portsmouth harbour, UK], and look at the endless vista of white and blue GRP boats, I am delighted that there are a few people still designing boats that can be bashed together by boneheads such as myself. out of a few sheets of ply.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Jupiter Fl USA

    Default Re: The cruisers Volkswagen?

    Hello, We are Wharram's USA professional builder. Our boats are built to varying levels of finish quality, from raw epoxy inside and no fairing outside with industrial paint, to top end yacht finish completely faired inside and out and Awlgripped. We have a newly completed Tiki 30 that sails very well indeed. You can view an on line journal of our shop's construction of this Tiki 30 at and can visit our website at
    Boatsmith, Inc.

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