Boat Review: Nautitech 441
The Nautitech 441 catamaran has a convenient, well-thought-out central cockpit and potential as a true bluewater voyager. Boat Review from our August 2012 issue.
Stepping aboard the Nautitech 441 Vinesimes in Biscayne Bay, we were warmly welcomed by the boat’s French owner, Regis Bernaleau, who’d sailed the boat across the Atlantic from France to Martinique, with a two-day layover in the Canary Islands, in 28 days. We often test boats with professional crew, but it was equally interesting to sail with a passionate owner who knew his boat inside and out after a long ocean voyage.
The Nautitech 441 and its sister ship, the 442, share many of the same characteristics, including infusion-molded hulls and decks, the latter incorporating a PVC foam core; a wide choice of optional equipment packages; a couple of different interior layouts, one with four staterooms and the other an “owners version” with three cabins, the largest of which is a suite that encompasses the entire starboard hull; a pair of small keels for stability and tracking; and even a very nifty water-catchment system incorporated in the boat’s rigid hardtop.
The difference in the two boats is in the steering arrangements: The 442 has twin helms, set all the way aft and outboard, to port and starboard, respectively, while the 441 has one wheel mounted in a dedicated steering station at deck level to port of the roomy central cockpit.
All the major sail controls on the 441 are led to this convenient and well-thought-out space (with the exception of the wide traveler, which is aft), and while I took the helm and relaxed in the comfortable, two-person driver’s seat, Bernaleau hoisted the big, square-topped main and unfurled the jib while regaling me with sea stories of his transatlantic crossing.
It was apparently a good trip that spoke well to the 441’s offshore capabilities and potential as a true bluewater voyager. Vinesimes had averaged 6.5 knots for the entire voyage, with a best day’s run of 208 nautical miles while recording a top speed of 17 knots—all very respectable numbers for a 44-foot cruising boat.
Unfortunately, the breeze on Biscayne Bay was faltering, at less than 10 knots, and the odds on us seeing anything close to 17 on the speedo were slim and none. But often you learn more about a boat’s sailing prowess in light air rather than heavy, and this was true of the 441. Upwind in about 8 knots of breeze, Vinesimes clipped along at a very respectable 7.3 knots. The sheeting angle was tight and sweet, and the view from the wheel was wide and commanding. Later, we set the bright-red screacher and bore off in roughly the same amount of breeze and were rewarded with 9 solid knots of boat speed. This was something I could get used to.
After stashing the sails, we motored back to the marina. At 2,100 rpm on just one of the 39-horsepower Yanmars—Bernaleau’s preferred mode of operation in cruising mode—the boat registered 6.6 knots. The easily driven hulls picked up only a knot more of speed when we kicked over the second engine.
In the central cabin, the navigation station, to port, and the galley, to starboard, flank the door leading to the cockpit; forward, a long, U-shaped settee and dining table are the dominant features. A pair of staterooms with heads grace the port hull, while Bernaleau had opted for the owner’s cabin—complete with a long settee, desk, large head, and double berth—to starboard. Vinesimes had also been upgraded with the builder’s bluewater-cruiser package, which includes a generator, a watermaker, radar, a solar panel, and a big inverter.