Which Cruising Cats Hold Their Value?

Catalac, Cherokee, Iroquois, and Prout are cruising catamaran names that live through the decades. Bill Ware of 2Hulls brokerage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says, "Generally speaking, the English cats have the best resale value. They built the most enduring catamarans in the world." Depending on condition, they can fetch higher prices now than they did when they were new, even adjusted for inflation. The Iroquois, designed by legendary Rod MacAlpine-Downey, is a high-quality, fast-sailing, weatherly vessel with pivoting centerboards and kick-up rudders. Catalacs, an 8 meter (27-foot), 9 meter (30-foot), 10 meter (34-foot) and 12 meter (41-foot), each rugged and with great carrying capacity, exceptional layout and good handling, sail the other end of the performance spectrum, but many have crossed the Atlantic. Granddaddy to all the production catamaran builders is Prout, with models running from 26 to 50 feet, 2,000 boats in the ocean and 40 years of production experience. There is scarcely a harbor in the world where you cannot find at least one of these sea-kindly, seaworthy vessels. Prices on the used market border on the outrageous, but such is the law of supply and demand.

Other cats that may sell today for considerably more than they did when new include the Heavenly Twins 26, one of which recently completed a circumnavigation. In 1971 I purchased a 24-foot by 10-foot Hirondelle catamaran. My total cost, including sails and engine, was $9,010. Those boats now bring between $12,000 and $15,000 -- not bad, especially considering the modern trend toward much larger boats.

The most ubiquitous cruising catamaran in the United States is the Gemini. In production since 1980, Performance Cruising has produced about 500 vessels. Considering that they are, by design, an economy vessel, they have held their value at least as well as comparable monohulls. Trade in used vessels is brisk due to their valuable shallow draft, both sea-kindly and seaworthy nature, strength, quality of construction and user-friendly layout.

Retiring boats from the French charter fleet produce opportunities to buy a large cat at a low price, but they have not fared well in the American market. Built to a different set of standards in the first place, the reconstruction and refitting of an aging charter boat can be more costly than buying a new boat.

- Chuck Kanter