Dean 441

Customized to suit each owner, this South African-built boat is ready to voyage afar. A boat review from our July 2008 issue

Dean 441 368

The aft-raked mast aboard the Dean 441 does double duty by giving this South African catamaran both better performance when sailing closehauled and a sporty look.Billy Black

If you walk down a dock full of catamarans, the new Dean 441 stands out from the crowd with its jauntily raked mast; wide, blue sheer stripe; and bright-yellow canvas. The one that the CW Boat of the Year judges tested last fall in Annapolis was fresh from an 8,100-mile passage from Cape Town, and it appeared to have weathered the voyage well.

Unlike catamarans that have a dual owner/charter pedigree, the 441 was designed by South African boatbuilder Peter Dean Sr. for private ownership and offshore cruising in comfort and safety.

Deans are built for boisterous sea conditions, with somewhat heavy, hand-laid hulls that are balsa-cored above the waterline. The hull/deck joint is through-bolted and glassed over, and balsa-cored structural bulkheads are securely laminated in place. Buoyant bows and fine sterns will increase performance downwind in big seas. To improve upwind performance and tacking angles, the mast is angled aft at 7 degrees.

Topside, it's obvious that this boat is designed for serious ocean cruising. There are handholds everywhere, and 28-inch double lifelines completely encircle the deck. The large and comfortable recessed cockpit has a teak table and nine ample drains for safety. A sliding companionway, while still allowing a sense of continuity between the cockpit and saloon, is small enough to be secure for offshore work. Bluewater sailors will appreciate the well-conceived emergency tiller and the boom-end system for bringing a RIB dinghy onto the aft deck, a much safer solution than davits.

Peter Dean Jr. and his dad believe in working closely with their customers during all stages of the build and beyond. Since each boat is hand-built, customization is encouraged. Several basic layouts are offered, so you can have your galley up or down, and the Deans give owners an astonishing choice of 12 different wood finishes. I was pleased to see fiddles provided in the galley storage and shelving, since even the most stable cat will roll at sea.

Unfortunately, our test sail was doubly compromised by light air (5 to 6 knots) and a mainsail suffering from a batten that had broken on the delivery from Cape Town. In these conditions, we saw only 3.4 knots of speed over the ground that morning, but the boat's recent delivery log indicates that it'll be a long-legged passagemaker, with 200-mile days the norm in trade-wind conditions. The Dean 441's average cruising speed, according to the log, is 9 knots, and it won't be uncommon to see the middle teens.

During our test sail, I found that the boat steers well and that the traveler controls placed behind the helm and dual cabin-top winches relieve sailhandling congestion. We found the motorsailing capability good with the twin 42-horsepower Vetus saildrives, and there's great visibility from the helm.

For sailors looking for a rugged, comfortable, world-cruising catamaran that's not cut from a cookie cutter, the Dean 441 is certainly worth a look.

Stacey Collins is a frequent CW contributor and served as a BOTY judge for the 2007 and 2008 programs.

Dean 441

LOA 43' 8" (13.31 m.)
LWL 43' 0" (13.11 m.)
Beam 23' 7" (7.19 m.)
Draft 3' 7" (1.09 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 912 sq. ft. (84.7 sq. m.)
Displacement 25,455 lb. (11,546 kg.)
Water 177 gal. (670 l.)
Fuel 145 gal. (549 l.)
Engines Two 42-hp. Vetuses
Designer Peter Dean Sr.
Price $520,000
Dean Catamarans
+27-21-577-2222
www.deancatamarans.com