The Gunboat 48: a classic catamaran. They only built six of them and they rarely come up for sale.
Photo credits Travis Rice
The 48 is the Owner Operator Gunboat set up for short-handed sailing. I think she’s the best looking Gunboat: she looks like an E-Type Jag on the water with that long bow. An absolute legend that goes like the wind.
Set Up for Short Handed Sailing
Typically they feature three queen berths, a convertible office/4th berth, and two heads. Down below, the cabins are light and airy. The berths in the forward cabins are athwartships and the heads and showers are forward again. The salon, helm and galley are on the main deck in the pilothouse, and she has a spacious, protected and cosy aft cockpit.
The deck layout centres around a forward cockpit accessed from the saloon. This is a Chris White invention first seen on his Atlantic cats (like the 57) but it works well on the Gunboats as well with all your lines managed from here with top of the range gear like Harken blocks and winches, Spinlock clutches and jammers positioned at chest level near the base of the carbon-fiber rig.
The 48 is around the same length as many popular production boats like the Nautitech 46 Open and the Lagoon 46, but she´s quite a bit faster.
- She is lightning quick.
- The 48 has to be one of the best looking cats on the water
- That cosy protected helm, a short step away from the mast and all of the lines.
- The aft cockpit or “back porch” is a great place to hang out if you want a break from all of the action.
- For owner-operators, the Gunboat 48 is well set up for short-handed sailing. That’s not something you can say about their larger models, except maybe the 55.
- Price – Gunboat 48s go for up to $2 million. That’s a lot of money to spend on a 48 foot boat with 3 cabins and there is plenty of competition in this market (the Marsaudon Composites TS42 and the Outremer 4X will probably match her for speed for example). The Slyder 49 will give you more space and pretty decent speed. But then again, those brands don’t have quite the same cachet.
- Heads are accessed through the 2 forward cabins, which is fine if you are just using 2 cabins. If you have guests, someone is going to have to walk through somebody else’s cabin to get to the head.
- There’s a downside to that forward cockpit. It can get wet up here with spray, although it’s generally fine on the windward side
- These aren’t the cheapest boats to maintain. They only made 6 of them, so effectively it’s a custom catamaran.
What do you get for your money? Well, vacuum-bagged, oven-cured hulls and a foam sandwich deck built with epoxy, (biaxial with unidirectional glass) and Kevlar plus carbon fiber, dagger-boards, lifting rudders, stringers, ring frames, and a crossbeam. This yacht couldn’t be further away from a similar sized production cat like the Fountaine Pajot 45 or the Lagoon 46. It’s all in the details.
Oh, and you get a slice of catamaran history of course.
Morrelli & Melvin Masterpiece
Original Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone picked up the phone to Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin when he was dreaming up the 48. These are all guys who love to sail, and the brief was for a boat that would increase the fun factor while being safe, reliable, and seaworthy for a cruising couple. And being a Gunboat, this catamaran had to be fast!
What they came up with was a powerful, no nonsense catamaran built of the latest, lightest materials, with ample room to sleep and relax that was easy to sail with a short-handed crew. The 48 was the second design off the blocks after the 62 (including Tribe, the original Gunboat). They later extended the 62 into the 66.
The helm, engine controls and navigation instruments are all to hand, tucked just inside the door to the forward cockpit. There’s a nice looking folding dining table facing a forward-facing sofa that is well used when the boat is on autopilot.
A Tidy Design
The whole deck layout is very clever: aft, the saloon leads onto a spacious aft cockpit area for dining or drinks, with easy access to the dinghy davits, swim ladder and the twin Westerbeke 35-horsepower Universal diesels.
Down below, there are 3 comfortable cabins with queen-size berths, and a fourth is equipped with a single (this can also double up as an office). Then there are 2 heads with showers, both stationed forward in their respective hulls.
The Gunboats remain a classic in the catamaran world and the 48 remains one of the most popular of the range. A legend! We’re just hoping that the new owners of the brand, Grand Large Yachting, turn their sights onto this length once they have perfected the 68.
The Gunboat 48 starts to shine when you get the sails up and the big difference between this boat and other multihulls is that you will be covering good ground upwind too. The high roach main and self tacking jib is well set up for short handed sailing.
The tacking angle is around 100 degrees going into the wind and you can expect boat speeds of between 7.5 to 9 knots on a close reach in decent conditions.
She Powers Up Off the Wind
Head off the wind and you will sail close to wind speed with the right sails up (gennaker, code 0 or jib), tacking downwind again at 130-150 degrees for the best VMG (velocity to waypoint).
When the 48 hits 12 knots, she really starts to fly. In the right conditions sailed properly, you should be seeing speeds in the 20s – OK, you might be getting a helping hand from the waves, but you get my drift – this is a fast catamaran. Even in light winds you should see speeds approaching True Wind Speed.
Most of the Gunboat 48s in existence have had a lot of money spent on them since they were launched, but they all splashed with the highest quality materials and fittings.
They were built with a composite construction of vacuum bagged, epoxy foam sandwich and Aramid Honey-comb Nomex with carbon fiber inner skins & Kevlar. outer skins for impact resistance.
All original Carbon Spars were Marstrom with unidirectional Aramid Fiber shrouds, Aramid forestays (x 2), custom Facnor furlers, Edson custom carbon steering wheel, Carbon fiber retractable rudders and dagger boards.
Inside, the 48s were kitted out wth African Sapele Cabinetry and Brazilian Mahogany Floors
Gunboat 48 Polars
This is only an indication of the theoretical performance
Figures assume that the yacht is sailing in flat water.
Gunboat 48s – Where are They Now?
Only 6 Gunboats 48s were manufactured.
4801 – Ohana (formerly Cream)
4802 – Dancing Bear (ex-Lickity Split)
Based in Finland in the Baltic.
4803 – Traverse
4804 – Vela (ex Falcor)
4805 – Blast
4806 – Spirit of Africa
When were the Gunboat 48s Built?
The 48 series was built from 2004 to 2009.
Why is the Gunboat 48 so fast?
Most of it comes from the hull shape, the sail plan and a fanatical attention to detail on weight saving. The 48 weighs in at just over 8 tonnes light (17,700 lbs)
How many Gunboat 48s are there?
Only six 48’s were produced.
How much are Gunboat 48s?
Traverse was on the market in 2019 for $2m I believe. Falcor (48-04, now Vela) was on the market previously for $1.7m.