This small cruising catamaran is bigger than you may think.
In the world of cruising catamarans, aesthetics take a hit when you cut down on length overall. At issue are a host of conflicting themes — the practical demand for interior volume works against the visual imperative that freeboard be low; the need for bridge deck clearance and standing headroom pushes the cabin profile skyward. What’s graceful, extended and cunning at 45 feet often becomes ungainly in the context of 35.
Which is why Alan Slater’s PDQ 32 is such a remarkable boat. Fully outfitted for long-range cruising, she remains bright, airy and easy to look at. With a nicely proportioned rig and a subtle sloping cabin top, she carries herself like a longer cat and avoids the pitfalls of many of her peers that attempt to consolidate as much mass as possible into a length that won’t accept it. You can cruise or even live aboard this boat quite comfortably, but her scale is such that sail handling and overall maintenance remain uncomplicated.
The deck is safe underfoot with wide gangways, extra-high lifelines, six sets of stainless handholds and the calculated omission of abrupt jogs or steep transitions to throw you off balance. There are deck lockers for anchoring paraphernalia in the bows port and starboard, and a very secure trampoline strung forward of the cabin between the two hulls. Open-air lounging is relegated to this area, also to the cabin top around the mast step and to the stern sections where boarding steps are molded into the transoms.The cockpit is smallish and deep, well protected from the elements by a rigid Bimini. Given its depth it offers a secure haven for kids, and with the main companionway hatch that stretches clear across the cabin shoved forward it becomes a pleasant extension of the saloon. The Bimini is strong enough to stand on when tending the mainsail, and cut-outs allow you to look aloft from the helm under way to check on trim. Care should be taken to avoid bumping one’s head on it when entering or exiting the cockpit area.
Indeed, the Bimini structure and sliding cabin top section constitute a major feature aboard this boat and one that PDQ has sought to refine in more than two years of design trial and error. Early problems with the sliding element involving watertightness and ease of operation have been resolved, as have height and interference problems associated with the Bimini. The result is a unique cockpit space that offers the shade and protection of a pilothouse while retaining an outdoorsy ambience.
PDQ is a good builder with a solid grasp of modern materials. Where exotic components can offer calculable advantages, they are used. Hulls and deck are laid up with knitted triaxial fiberglass fabric in a matrix of AME 5000 (Acrylic Modified Epoxy) resin. Klegecell rigid foam is used for lightness and stiffness in the deck and in the hulls above the waterline; solid glass is spec’d below the waterline. All the coring is vacuum-bagged to optimize the resin ratio and primary bond. A fiberglass beam reinforced with carbon supports the mast step. An aluminum beam is fitted bow-to-bow and rigidified in compression by a pelican striker to accept headstay loads. Structural bulkheads are taped carefully to the hulls with X-weave knitted fabric. There are watertight crash compartments in each hull forward and aft. The rig is set up with diamond stays, and aft-led uppers are secured to stainless steel chain plates bolted into primary reinforcement at the hulls outboard.
The PDQ 32 is available in two basic configurations — the Classic version,
offered with two retractable 9.9-horsepower four-stroke Yamaha outboard engines cleverly deployed from pods beneath the cockpit lockers, and the LRC (Long Range Cruiser) version, offered with twin 20-horsepower Yanmar inboard diesel sail drives located in shielded-engine compartments aft. Both give you dual propulsion well separated athwartship for great close-in control. The LRC package offers more power and considerably more alternator charging capability; the Classic package is simpler and lighter.
Both versions are wired for 12-volt and 110-volt circuitry. Freshwater capacity is 90 gallons, pressurized. All plumbing output is above the waterline through the insides of the hulls, and intakes below the waterline are fitted with ball-valve-type seacocks. Wherever possible, fiberglass and PVC pipes are used as fluid conduits in lieu of hose for strength and abrasion resistance.Below, sensitive glasswork combined with just the right amount of cherry trim makes for a delightful interior. The main saloon accommodates up to six people around the dinette and spills congenially into the galley that occupies the port hull forward. Cozy double berths with shelving and locker storage are located in the sterns. The starboard hull amidship includes the nav station with a fold-down chart table and forward of that a one-piece modular head with its own shower.
We went for a pleasant sail aboard the 32 off Newport, Rhode Island, in a steady 15-18 knot sea breeze. The boat relished the moderate conditions and rode smoothly and powerfully through a sizable chop at the mouth of Narragansett Bay. We kept speed in the solid sixes and response at the helm was excellent, even through tacks. There was no apparent slapping on the underside of the bridge deck, and acceleration was quick and positive. In the breezy air we encountered, the behavior of the boat was top-notch.
Suffice it to say, PDQ has brought the 32 along to a commendable level of
production and finish. It is definitely an owner-optimized vessel capable of reflecting a host of personal touches, and the company stands behind whatever its clients want their boats to be. Certainly in its size and price range, it is a significant cat.
PDQ 32 Specifications:
LOA: 31’ 7" (9.63 m.)
LWL: 31’0" (9.45 m.)
Beam: 16’0" (4.9 m.)
Draft: 3’2" (0.96 m.)
Disp: Disp: 7,200 lbs. (3,266 kgs.)
Sail area: 507 sq.ft. (47.1 sq.m.)
Mast above water: 45’0" (13.7 m.)
Length/Beam (hulls): 8:1
Bridge Clear: 40" (fwd.), 23" (aft)
Cabin headroom: 6’11" (open), 5’4" (closed)
Fuel tankage: 30 gal. (114 ltr.)
Water tankage: 47 gal. (178 ltr.)
Auxiliary: 2 x Yanmar 9.9 4-cycle outboard
Designer: Alan Slater
Base price: $129,500 - $139,500
PDQ Yachts USA
309 Third St.
Annapolis, MD 21403
Phone: (410) 268-3700