Crowther Spindrift 40

A big thank you to Billy, Sierra and Jetty from Tula´s Endless Summer for giving us the low down on their Crowther Spindrift 40: Adrenaline. I have had a good sail on a Crowther 40 in Hong Kong (adapted from a Windspeed), and I can confirm that yes, Lock Crowther designs are fast if you keep the weight off! This one certainly sounds like it moves. You get a really good feel for how slick these designs are from the aerial shot below. This boat looks like it slices through the water. I’m just glad I managed to get these guys to do a review on the Crowther as they are buying a Seawind 1160.

Owner´s Review: Adrenaline

Bill, Sierra and Jetty on their Crowther Spindrift 40

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your boat, “Adrenaline”. Does she get the adrenaline pumping 😉 ?
“Adrenaline” definitely gets the Adreanline pumping! She is a 40′ Crowther spindrift catamaran which was built as a one-off from plans by a skilled builder in Gabon, Africa. She is a sleek, fast, cat designed by the world renowned Australian designer Lock Crowther who was ahead of his time for performance multihulls.

Why did you choose the Spindrift 40? Previously you owned a Trawler, right? I presume you wanted speed, upwind performance if you picked a Crowther?
We were on a trawler before Adrenaline and on a small double-ender mono before that even. We decided we wanted to get back on a sailboat and a Cat was the way to go. We really wanted a boat that had some character, a pedigree, and didnt look or sail like a floating apartment. When we saw Adrenaline for sail we did some researched and she checked all the boxes (including out budget). However, she needed a LOT of work.

When was she launched? Do you know the back story?
As far as we know is she was launched in 1988 after being built in Gabon, Africa and was soon after sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. From the she sailed up and down the western Atlantic between Canada and the Caribbean before the most recent previous owner bought her. He sailed her back down from Canada to Florida then spend the last 8 years sailing and living on her between Florida and the Bahamas.

What a shape…. Love those nets too,

What’s the best thing about her?
Her looks, speed, and ability to get sailing quickly in light winds.

What would you change if anything on the basic design? Maybe you wouldn´t change anything?
All of these kind of boats had shorter head room which is not a big deal for us because I am only 5’8″ and my girlfriend is a few inches shorter than that. The other unique thing is you have to go out the main cabin into the cockpit to enter either hull which honestly is not a huge deal for us being young and agile. Honestly, I would not change anything on this boat but it definitely gives us some thought as to what we might like in the future.

Does she carry weight well, or do you have to be careful to not overload her with gear?
Adrenaline’s hulls are extremely narrow saw if we want to reach her performance potential we have to keep here really light. With that being said she still sailed really really well when we had her loaded for cruising although we were careful with weight still.

Any problems with slamming in waves? How is the bridgedeck clearance?
The bridgedeck clearance is really good for this size boat and we do get some slams in short steep seas but it is pretty rare and almost never get slams in other conditions.

What are her best features in your opinion? eg helm position, performance, look,
Her best features are her narrow hulls, twin helms, looks, ability to sail fast and get up to speed quickly in lighter wind, simplicity, and large trampolines.

Are you planning on making any more mods? I know you have recently done some upgrades during lock down, what did you prioritise?
We did a TON of repairs, maintenance, and upgrades during the past 3 years of our ownership of Adrenaline including: Feathering max props, covered dyneema rigging, new sails, rainman watermaker, titanium chainplates, new running rigger, deck repairs, full engine rebuild, lithium batteries, dyneema lifelines and composite stantions and bases. There are probably more things I cant even think of right now. There are always going to be more things especially cosmetic but I think we addressed 95% of her major issues and thins we wanted to upgrade.

How are the electrics, plumbing etc
The plumbing is all good after I replace 90% of it along with new water tanks and holding tanks. The 12v electrical system is all good after I traced and pulled/replaced some old wires and addressed some poor electrical connections. We pulled out everything from the a/c side of the electrical system because a lot of it was done poorly using household components and poor connections so we just run our minimal a/c electronics right off a power strip off the inverter in the main cabin. She has the basic electronics package include depth finder, old autopilot, simple plotter, and vhf. We mainly use an ipad as our plotter though. I really wanted to upgrade her electronics and include AIS and wind instruments but time and budget has not allowed for that yet.

Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc
Yes, engines are old but easy to access and actually just pulled her starboard engine out with our boom into our cockpit and completely rebuilt the whole thing. She has a conventional masthead rig which I replaced with heat stretched dyneema and only need to re-tension once a year at most which takes a little time but is pretty easy especially without diamonds. We pull her once a year to do bottom and running gear maintenance. We replaced as much metal as possible with composites to try to eliminate the maintenance and potential issues there.

Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Is the running rigging complex? Do all the lines lead back to the helm?
It is possible to sail her single-handed but ideally you need two people to sail her because we added running backstays as her primary backstays because her new main is a square top and we have to pull the leeward backstay forward and re-set the other one every time we tack. All halyard and reefing lines are at the mast base which keeps things simple but someone does have to go forward for all that work although it is not bad at all. The 135% Genoa is on a roller furler which makes it easy to reduce sail and reefing the main takes about a minute or two.

Jetty standing guard.

What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas
She handles weather really well and as soon as we are running with it in heavy wind she wants to start surfing which is fine if conditions are not too bad because she handles beautifully. We are really impressed with her handling and sailing ability in heavier conditions especially for an older boat. We never got into anything too extreme however.

How is the helm position. Good in weather? Visibility when docking? Looks pretty protected up there.
When we first bought the boat we built a hard bimini out of glass and divinycell foam which keeps the helms nice and shaded. We plan to ad some isinglass to the front of this hard bimini to protect us from any hard rain which still gets us wet at the helm. visibility is spectacular from both helms and besides the rain it is really well protected. If we ever get any spray back there which is kind of rare we just duck quickly behind the cabin.

How does she sail in light winds?
She sails really well in light winds especially when the sea state is calm. Some of our favorite conditions to sail in are close reaching in 8 knots of wind just zipping along at 6 knots. 12-14 knots of wind is her prime when close-hauled to reaching and we are already getting close to sailing at 10 knots there.

How does she sail close hauled? How high does she point to true?
Her motion and speed close hauled is really good and her daggerboards definitely help. Her best angle true to the wind is 50-55 degrees and I think the biggest factor is the sheeting angle of the genoa. I think with a smaller jib and better sheeting angle she could consistently point 50 true at good speeds.

Form and function: typical Crowther.

Typically, what’s your average speed on passage? What´s the top speed you have logged surfing?
We just hit 18 knots surfing on our last trip and it was magical. We generally average 7 knots or a bit more during the day and on longer passages more like 6-7 knots because we stay real conservative at night. This is all when loaded up for cruising.

What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability?
We cruise at about 6 knots with both engines and 4 knots with just one. They are original yanmars so we do not push them too hard. Her top speed under power is about 8 knots. maneuverability is fantastic with the props being about 20′ apart. I can spin her in her own footprint and maneuver her anywhere she will fit. I should also add that she has straight shafts not sail drives.

Is she easy to dock, what’s the visibility like?
She is super easy to dock with great visibility at the helm and twin inboards.

What is she like at anchor?
Because of her 20′ beam she is stable and comfortable at anchor. We have plenty of shade and huge trampolines so there are plenty of places to hang out and with all her large opening hatches we get really nice ventilation throughout the whole boat. We have 100′ of 5/16 G43 chain on our main anchor as well as a spare and our main anchor is a 45# mantus which has been fantastic so we are super comfortable on the hook even in a good blow.

What´s she like when it´s raining hard?
We really want to add more vinyl and canvas off the hard bimini to completely protect the cockpit when it rains and keep you dry as you move from the main cabin to the hulls. She does not have any leaks so everywhere inside is comfortable and we have 12v fans all over the boat to keep it cool and air flowing when we have to shut the hatches.

Is she comfortable enough down below? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads.
Space is definitely tighter inside than most modern cats but it works surprisingly well for us. We have 5’10” headroom in the galley which is good for me and plenty of headroom when we sit down at the large saloon table. The hulls are skinny but there is plenty of room to walk through them comfortably and with plenty of headroom. The heads are actually probably pretty comparable in size to most modern cats. Headroom above the bunks are kind of low but overall everything is cozy and still pretty comfortable for her being so unique with her interior layout and skinny hulls. I would say it would take some getting used to for someone over 6′ though…

How is the finish of the interior? Does she creak under sail?
She does creak a little bit under sail and her interior is definitely not bristol finish but it is still nice especially for a 30 year old boat. We painted a lot of it white instead of the dark veneer which really lightens up the whole boat. We are rebuilding the galley countertop now because it got pretty beat up over the years.

What is your favourite spot on the boat?
The trampolines most of the time or at the helm when we are sailing along in perfect conditions.

Is she good for hosting guests?
The layout is not as good as some other cats for hosting guests because there is not a large cockpit table but there still is plenty of space and plenty of seating. Even inside there is a large table and plenty of seating so as long as not too many people are trying to stand and walk around inside at once it works really well and we love having people over. We even set up a projector on a screen off our solar arch or off our mast for movie night on the beanbag chairs.

If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her?
She is a fantastic boat and it would be hard to trade for something that had less performance and sail-ability but we are really seeing the value of things like self-tacking jibs and lines led back to the helm. We also like the idea of a more modern and spacious interior but definitely nothing luxurious. We really like the Seawinds for all these reasons. Maybe someday but dont tell Adrenaline.

How is the Crowther community?
Absolutely amazing. Everyone who owns and is familiar with Crowthers are fantastic and have been extremely helpful as we have been repairing and upgrading Adrenaline.

Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying a Crowther and a Spindrift 40 in particular?
I think that the Crowther Spindrifts are the absolute perfect boat for someone looking for a performance catamaran on a budget. They are generally older so you will wan to take a good look at her decks, beams, and systems while deciding on a purchase.

How does Jetty get on? Is it easy with a four legged Instagram star on board?
Jetty loves the boat! She has been good about going to the bathroom on the tramps on longer passages (we walk her up there 3-4 times a day) and she loves the new beaches we see all the time!!

You can follow Bill, Sierra and Jetty on their Instagram feed at @TulasEndlessSummer and they have a popular Youtube channel with some great sailing and boating tips.