A Florida-built cat brings good living and good value into one package
LOOK AT THE COOPERS. NICE folks. They retired in their 50s. Glenn was an international consultant; Pam, a software programmer. They've been cruising the U.S. East Coast and Bahamas for three years and having a fine time of it. When they started their cruise, they sold everything. A car and a storage locker sit somewhere in Rhode Island; otherwise, the Coopers have fully committed themselves to the sea. Their boat is their home, and when they started cruising, they chose a J/34C- not a wallowing Winnebago, but an agile and pretty performer. In fact, Pam, once a licensed captain, owned her own Freedom 32 before she ever met Glenn. She's sailed Europe from the Med to the North Sea. The Coopers are real sailors, so when they outgrew their lovely but petite J Boat, where everything they wanted was "under something else," they began to look for another real sailboat.
As the Coopers cruised, they started studying the odd, two-hulled boats called catamarans. They saw the space, the speed, and the flat ride in skinny water. They compared layouts. Was the galley below in one of the hulls or above in the pod bridging the floats? This was a critical question for Glenn, who loves to cook and entertain. How tough was the boat to handle? And finally, how much of their savings would they have to give up?
They did have some reservations. No matter how hard they squinted, the things were cut off, square, boxy. Then, one day while cruising the Intracoastal Waterway, they were passed by a catamaran with lines. Its swept pod sloped back to transoms that trailed to the waterline. They arranged a rendezvous aboard what turned out to be a U.S.-built Manta 40. The Coopers liked the lines, but they loved the layout, the equipment, and the simple sail plan. One year later, they were taking delivery of a new Manta 42 in St. Petersburg, Florida. That's where we met them and where they were kind enough to allow us to see and sail their new home, Anything Goes.
On and About the Hulls
The Manta's broad, 21-foot beam and narrow hulls spread beneath a "spaceship" pod are typical of French cat design. Her width is intended to give her stability against the lateral press of sails, and her narrow hulls are designed to slice rather than plow the water.
Anything Goes is hull number 70 in a progression of Mantas that started in 1994 with the 38. The length but not the interior of the Mantas has been growing-a good sign that the builder, Pat Reischmann, concerns himself with the Holy Grail of cats: low weight, especially in the bow and stern, where loads produce pitching. The Manta has grown a pleasing stern with sugar-scoop, step-down transoms. The transoms are cut away inboard at the waterline for easy access from the dinghy.
Along with the growing length, there have been steady improvements in the Manta line. The rig benefits from a massive boom, where all cats take punishment because they heel so slightly.
She also benefits from a strengthened hull, made with Nida-Core honeycomb and vacuum-bagged and reinforced with unidirectional Eglass at high-stress points. Some cat builders use lighter, higher-tech, and more expensive materials like foams and aramid fibers, but the Manta builders have tried to strike the balance between solid construction and cost. The Manta has watertight crash bulkheads forward but not aft, and in the unlikely event of a capsize, there are no escape hatches, which are a safety requirement in Europe but not in the United States. Deck hardware is backed by glassed-in aluminum plates, and a rubrail covers the glued, bolted, and glassed hull joint-sound construction with extra protection.
Manta hulls have moldedin keels that carry their draft to 3 feet 8 inches. In the multih ull world, the debate over keels versus retractable daggerboards could go on forever, and it has. Proponents of the daggers argue shallower draft, better agility, and windward performance with reduced drag downwind when the daggerboards are lifted. Keel fans point to the protection offered by solid keels extending below fragile props and rudders. They also point to the hassle and cost of heavy and cumbersome daggerboards.
Just as cost is one recurring Manta theme, ease of use is another. On deck, the boat has one winch (yes, one): an electric, two-speed Harken mounted on the cabin top just forward of the steering station. All reefing lines, halyards, and sheets are labeled and led to this single point in the cockpit, so there's little need to go forward until the hook is dropped and the sails are put to bed. For sailors used to scurrying about the deck and hopping from winch to winch to tend a tangle of lines, the Manta's single winch might be a source of consternation, or it might be a welcome relief. The Manta's simple rig includes a rigid, permanently adjusted boom vang and a modestly sized self-tending jib, which, at least in moderate winds, can be sheeted in by hand.
For the downwind main, a Dutchman boom brake slows powerful or accidental jibes. The boom vang, a fully battened main, and the Camber Spar jib (a curved boom within the jib) limit twisting and flogging for more power, safety, and, again, ease of use.
If simple operation is a Manta 42 keynote, comfort and convenience play the harmony. The Manta 42 has molded-in steps leading up the pod to the mast step. A canvas bimini covers a radar arch with an aluminum, nonskid gangway for secure foot-· ing beneath the boom. Her patio-sized cockpit includes such niceties as a stowable table and an ice chest molded into a waist-high locker along the stern.
Under Way in Tampa
We took Anything Goes into protected Tampa Bay and ideal sailing winds of 15 to 20 knots. Though sequencing the running lines through the single winch was a bit of a ballet, halyards and sheets were a snap to hoist and adjust. With her fixed keels and resistance from the autopilot's hydraulic ram, the helm felt a bit sluggish, and there was a short wait fo r response, but Anything Goes swung through her turns easily, and her keels provided good tracking on all points of sail. Tacking was 90 DEMAND POWER ~ . easy with the single-sheet, self-tending jib. Anything Goes carried through to opposite tacks nicely when coming about-this maneuver can be the nemesis of light multihulls with poor windward performance. With 20 knots of apparent wind on the beam, she made an impressive 9.5 knots. Closehauled, she made 6 to 7 knots against 25-knot apparent winds. When coming about, her boatspeed never dropped below 4.5 knots- not bad for a fully loaded liveaboard cruising cat.
The short waves in Tampa Bay didn't test the Manta's ride over the water. Hanging over the forward crossbeam and looking aft between the hulls and beneath the bridgedeck, we noticed that the 1- to 2-foot waves gathered and nearly reached the underwing. But the smooth transitional curve between wing· and hulls promised a decent ride in moderate waves. We motored Anything Goes' twin 30-horsepower Volvo MD2030 engines with sail drives and folding props at 2,800 rpm, and she made 8.5 knots. Out of the factory, a Manta 42 For More lnfonnation Write No. 131 On Reader Service Card . weighs in at 13,500 pounds. Anything Goes, with equipment and full tanks, settled her 16,500 pounds a bit deeper in the water.
Regardless, she performed nicely. Under sail, h.er top speed for the day was 10.8 knots. Given her speed and her easy· sail plan, Anything Goes should arrive at her anchorages early and give her owners plenty of time and energy to prepare drinks and hors d' oeuvres for the rest of the fleet trailing in behind.
The Manta 42 has a clean, modern, wash-and-wear interior. Anything Goes is finished with soft, vinyl headliners, white Formica, and a synthetic teak-and-holly floor. In striking the value balance, the builder has spared exotic woods, but there are surprises, like vented hanging lockers with cedar linings. The Manta 42 layout includes a saloon and galley in the pod; the port hull has a queen-sized berth aft and a shower and head forward, while the starboard hull has two berths-one queen and one double-separated by a smaller shower and head. Six feet in height can be carried to the center of the pod, and 6 feet 4 inches can pass the length of each hull. There are sturdy handrails placed throughout, and it's an easy climb down into the hulls from the pod. Six deck hatches and nine smaller ports provide good ventilation.
Pat Reischmann pays attention to how cruisers live, and he's been listening to his customers. We had trouble thinking of equipment that Anything Goes lacks. The galley has deep, stainless-steel double sinks. There are plenty of storage cabinets, and the RSO CRU I SING WORLD j ULY 2001 fridge/freezer combo is "the fridge that ate Godzilla." A navigation stand sits above a well-organized electrical panel with digital 110-volt and 12- volt readouts. Anything Goes' electrical plant includes 60- amp alternators on each engine, "smart" ternperature sensing Aqualine regulators, a 5-kilowatt diesel generator, and solar panels. Each engine has a dedicated 75-amp-hour starter battery, and the house is fed by a 600-an1p-hour battery bank with a Statpower charger and Heart Pathmaker managing the system. This is a 21st-century electrical system that won't run short of candlepower when you need it.
As the Cruising World judges noted when they awarded the Manta 42 the Best Value award last fall, the builder has done a thorough and thoughtful job. Electrical lines are securely harnessed, and the propane system, plumbing, and through-hulls are well labeled, safe, and solid. There's full access to the engines beneath the aft berths, where Anything Goes has convenient Reverso pumps for filling and draining . oil. To avoid high-seas disappointment, centrifugal fuel filters are hooked to an LED monitor that warns if there's water in the fuel.
The base price for a Manta 42 is $240,000. Cruisers and liveaboards will want to add some of the options we found on Anything Goes, such as a soft or hard bimini on a radar arch, a watermaker, a generator, an anchor and windlass package, an Adler Barbour fridge/freezer, an air-conditioner, and an autopilot. These extras will take the boat just over $300,000. When she's measured against cats with For More Information Write No. 150 On Reader Service Card comparable performance and accoutrements, the Manta 42 is still a good value.
With her thoughtful layout and extensive equipment, the Manta 42 is a good sailer and a good cruising home. For racers fond of headsail changes or cruisers used to roller-furling headsails and multiple winches, the Manta's "one size fits all" sail plan and single winch might be stifling, but cruisers hoping to simplify the way they sail will appreciate the rig. They'll also spend less on BenGay and Advil. Given the same discretion that you'd use with any midsize vessel, the Manta 42 should make a decent offshore passagemaker. And her new owners, like the Coopers, should be happy customers as well as happy campers.
This review/article originally appeared in Cruising World Magazine, July 2001 and is written by Todd Scantlebury. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.cruisingworld.com/subscribe-to-cruising-world-magazine
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