Our criteria for a new vessel for the continued cruise were:
A strong and reliable safe cruising boat
A compfortable vessel that could cater to our needs without forcing us to a bent-over position rolling perpetually whether in an ocean swell or a less-than-perfectly calm anchorage
A boat that is fast & fun to sail but which can still be managed single-handed
Sufficient living accomodation to comfortably carry several adults to help keep watch on passage, allowing for more time asleep than the 3 hours on / 3 hours off that we have handled in Harmonica.
We hope that we have found that vessel and by the end of 2012 we should be in S Africa knowing whether we achieved our aims.
Dulcinea is a Shuttleworth 64 catamaran. Three of these boats were built in 1990 by Nick Hallam in Bristol UK. They are extremely strong. Built of foam sandwitch, which is a naturally bouyant composite material, with two carbon fibre cross beams for extra rigidity and strength, and kevlar bottoms to the hullls for impact resistance.
Her first owner named her "Zeepoes" and cruised & raced her in the West Indies. Since then, we believe that she has completed two laps of the world and proved her immense strength. Extra bouyancy and safety are provided by crash-bulkheads in the two bows, and sealed engine rooms in the sterns of the hulls.
With a beam of 37ft, she is as wide as Harmonica's length on the waterline. This gives her great stability, but also implies high loads on the cross beams. We were impreseed that these show no signs at all of stress.
With a length of 64ft she has a natural hull speed of 12 knots even as a displacement boat. However, we believe that Dulcinea is capable of sailing comfortably at speeds well in excess of this.
Meanwhile, the large beam has been put to use to give her the most spacious cabin that we have seen in a cruising sailing boat. There are 4 large double berths in the hulls. The saloon holds a full-size galley, a dining table, a navigation area, and two comfortable living spaces for standing or sitting. The bridge deck behind the saloon also gives plenty of outside space. From December 2011 to April 2012 all systems on Dulcinea are being scrutinized and checked. The steering has been dissassembled and rebuilt; the engines are being replaced; almost all electronic systems are renewed including the navigation, radar, instruments, autopilots, and radios. Also she is being rebalanced for our style of engine-less cruising (except when necessary). The big diesel generator is being removed to save weight; much of the airconditioning has been taken off; the 110 volt freezers & inefficient upright frig have been replaced with 12 volt units; and to power these we have 800 watts of solar panels, and two new wind generators.