Owner’s Review : Gecko
We were recently asked a list of questions on the Nautitech 40 Open from a prospective buyer, Alex, who is deciding on options for a new boat. I’ve asked him to compile a list of questions that we can answer in one go and load them up onto the owner’s review section of katamarans.com to help other people.
We’ve featured owner’s reviews on other boats, so why not our catamaran?!
Here it is:
Intro (from Alex):
One of the great attributes of the sailing community we are a part of is the willingness of sailors to share their experiences and knowledge. Purchasing a new boat is an exciting event. We (our family) are preparing to order a new Nautitech Open 40 and while we have looked at several catamaran manufactures and chartered cats, including an Open 40, there are always those last minute questions that when answered help cement our decision and the financial commitment we are about to make.
Being retired, this will probably be the last boat we own and want to be as comfortable and safe as possible, and be on a boat that I can operate singlehanded. Here are some questions for Gideon and the crew of Gecko.
Why an Open 40?
There are quite a few catamarans in the 40 foot range, what made you decide on a Nautitech Open 40?
I researched quite a few catamarans in this length and price range including Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, Leopard and Seawind, to name a few. I was after a good balance between performance and comfort and the Nautitech 40 ticks a lot of these boxes. We will be primarily using the boat in the Mediterranean, so the Open concept works well for us – twin aft helms leaving a big open space joining the saloon and cockpit.
You have spent a fair amount of time on the boat during a part of the year that does not encourage you to be outside in the open salon area, how did you find the interior space of the boat, especially in the salon?
Very comfortable with 4 of us making the delivery from La Rochelle to Barcelona in some pretty nasty weather. We went for the heating system that pipes warm air into the saloon and hulls and even the cockpit (warms up pretty quickly when you have the cockpit enclosures down).
How did those assigned to cooking manage with the galley?
It’s a handy place to prepare meals- you have everything in a triangle – oven, hobs, fridge and working surface looking forward to starboard. We tended to store frequently used food stuffs in the cupboards in the starboard hull- you can just nip down the steps to get what you need. The cupboard at the back of the hob is more difficult to use as you need to lean over the hobs to access. You just need to watch what you are doing when the hobs are on.
I thought the sink is a bit small, any thoughts on that? (I am discussing having the sink changed to a much larger single sink or a double sink).
We didn’t have any problems with that, although a double sink would work well. The only thing we noticed is that the tap does not protrude very far out from the side of the sink, so you get a lot of splash back out of the sink. This would be better if it had a longer arm.
To Bimini or Not to Bimini
You have the Bimini over each helm station, have you considered adding an enclosure for each Bimini helm station (windscreen + lateral sides).
We didn’t go for the biminis as I prefer to be in the Open for maximum sailing feel. In any case, I thought the biminis were too small to give much sun cover unless the sun was directly overhead. I’ll be wearing a hat if it’s sunny and feeling the breeze on my face. If the weather turns nasty, I tend to tuck in under the coachroof anyway, or helm from inside the saloon by the B&G station- where there is excellent visibility.
I personally like the smaller chart table / eating table in the salon. What table option did you select?
We went for the larger telescopic table that you can make into a night watch bunk, and I wouldn’t change that- it worked really well for the person on watch, and for eating around the table. It’s a really cosy space. The only thing I am going to change is to shorten the rail on the port side as you tend to knock into it every time you get up from the table. I think with the smaller table, you have less dining areas if the weather turns nasty. We were stuck in La Rochelle for a week in bad weather and I though we’d all go mad- quite the opposite.
There are three versions of the Open 40, which one did you select?
We went for the Explorer option.
Your November trip from La Rochelle to Port Ginesta seems to have handed you some nasty weather. How did the boat handle?
Overall I am extremely pleased. She felt very safe when reefed down to match the conditions. With the second reef in, you are covered up to 35 knots apparent wind speed when you take some of the solent in. We had one occasion off the Cape of Trafalgar where the weather blew up to 45 knots. With 3 reefs in, the mainsail is very central (and small) and she balances well – again, felt safe. Reef early as there is not much difference in speed shortening sail when you are on the limit [ she likes to be balanced, and it’s a much comfier ride. We made the mistake of not taking the gennaker in early enough and had a job getting the sail in, ripping it in the process- lesson learned, take the gennaker in early
How did you find the motion of the boat?
Well, she is a 40 foot boat, and she pitches more than a 45 boat. I felt pretty bad across the Bay of Biscay, but it normally takes me 2-3 days to get my sea legs and those were very rough conditions. You can see that Nautitech have worked to centralise the weight, so the anchor pops out of the nacelle for example, and doesn’t sit on the bow. The engines are stepped forward. I think the motion is no worse or slightly better than any other 40ft cat. She’s pretty stable the other way (rolling), and we had some pretty big waves on the beam which she just rolled over- no problems. Coming out of La Coruña, we had her smashing straight into 8m waves and she handled that well.
When we chartered an Open 40, we had some very choppy seas and and it took some time to get used to the motion of the boat. Did you experience any hobby horsing?
See above. This is where the 40 HP engines come in handy. We had one situation where we were bouncing up and down a bit on one engine. Once we fired up both engines, she pushed through the waves well- problem solved, often it’s a case of matching your speed to the conditions and wave frequency.
Going upwind, into a chop, many owners of cats describe some degree of bridge deck pounding, given the rough conditions you had, how would you describe your experience on Gecko?
Yes some bridge pounding, but we were in very rough conditions in the Bay of Biscay going into it. But more like every now and then on a rogue wave rather than continually. Going downwind, she surfs nicely, our top speed was 18 knots I think, you get this kind of humming sound and off she accelerates- quite a ride!
Sails and Controls
What sails do you have on the boat?
We have the standard sails plus a gennaker reacher (70sqm) which we can run off the bowsprit.
What additional sails or upgrades to sails (i.e square top main) did you purchase from Nautitech?
What downwind sails do you have in terms of spinnaker or Asym?
Just the gennaker at the point
What sails do you have for the sprit?
Just the gennaker
How have you rigged the boat for reefing? Can you reef from the cockpit or do you have to go forward to the mast?
This was one of the things I was trying to get Nautitech to do from the start – to run the reefing lines back to the cockpit like the bigger boat- the 46. However, they don’t seem to be set up to easily do these kinds of custom requests, so I will be changing the reefing system later. At the moment, all the reefing is done from the mast. Having said that, we managed that in some pretty rough conditions, although I do need to have a think about how to tidy up the lines at the mast, by running reefing lines through their own individual block, for example. This needs more thought, I’d welcome any more ideas here.
Did you add any winches to the port side to make it easier to control sails from either side of the boat?
We have an electric winch to starboard and a manual to port. This worked well. More winches would be even better of course.
What electronics packages do you have?
We went Nav Pack Cruise and added radar. If it’s in your budget, I would go for Nav Pack Advanced.
How do you like the B&G instruments?
The system is pretty powerful and takes work to get used to it, but pretty happy with it. Make sure the system is set up as a sailing boat rather than motor- we had problems setting course to wind direction, for example. All of the boat systems (lights, pumps and so on) are on the B&G display which takes some getting used to. It works, but it’s not that intuitive at first and the text is pretty small. I might change this to a more traditional switch panel later.
Have you added any additional electronics since you purchased the boat?
What solar panels do you have?
We went for the 4x100W. We didn’t see much sun, so I can’t tell you how they perform!
Can you operate AC appliances from your batteries via the invertor?
Yes- that is definitely worth getting. We ran a rice cooker and coffee machine off it for example when sailing. It’s a simple switch on the side of the nav station.
Other Factory Options:
While options are often based on personal preferences, way of life and how the boat will be used, can you comment on the following factory installed options:
30 or 40 HP engines?
If 40, what is your view of the value of the added HP?
40 HP definitely. They give you more power to punch through waves if you are motoring upwind.
Folding Props? (I added folding props to my monohull and would never go back – what is your experience?)
Yes, definitely. These give you an extra knot of speed.
Did you include Synthetic Teak floor?
I looked at it, but I couldn’t justify the cost in my budget. I prefer the look of natural teak personally, but there’s the weight consideration- it seems a shame to add too much weight onto her, we were quite careful in this regard.
Did you add a generator?
No, but we went for the additional service batteries. This set up worked fine for the 2 fridges and freezer.
Did you add a freezer?
Yes, worth doing IMO if you are thinking of longer trips. The door kept opening in very rough conditions, something I will be looking into.
Did you install Air conditioning?
No, we went for heating though. My rationale for that was I will only probably use a/c in the marinas, and for that I will just use a portable unit if I need it. Also, we didn’t want to add the weight.
Did you install Water maker?
No, but that is top of my list for the next add-on. I think there are better options on the market (100l per hour) than the standard Nautitech fit, maybe better to retro-fit this IMO
What other options do you recommend?
Anchor windlass control at helm station. Electronic throttle control on both helmstations if you can fit it in your budget, I couldn’t. Fridge in cockpit.
We didn’t go for the Nautitech delta anchor- instead, purchased a 25Kg Spade with 60m of chain. Also, we have ordered the dinghy and outboard seperately. We are going for a Gala A300D + Yamaha F9.9JMHS.
Taking delivery of Gecko
There is no question that these are complex boats with many systems.
How would you describe your experience when you took delivery of Gecko?
My broker was very good and helped with the language, as I only speak English and Spanish. It’s very important to have a broker who has a strong relationship with the yard as they are not really set up for direct contact with clients- it’s all done through the brokers.
Did you interact with anyone from the Factory?
Yes- we met with Bruno Lescher (Sales and Marketing Director) at Cannes Boat Show and Laura Gobbo (sales) who gave us a tour around the factory just before Gecko launched- that is well worth doing, as you’ll be able to see all of the infrastructure of the boat going in.
Where there any issues identified on your inspection?
The hand over was pretty “hands off” – mostly dealt with by the broker due to the language. However, we had good confidence in our broker (so cannot stress the importance of this strongly enough). We were missing one outside fridge (now installed) and one VHF unit (still pending).
How were they dealt with?
So far, satisfactorily, this is ongoing.
I noted in your postings that you had some issues with the main salon door, have you resolved the issue?
The issue here was that the locking mechanism on the frame was incorrectly installed. When we were in big waves, the doors jumped out of the lock which meant that they were free to slide along the track. We were able to lock them open during the passage, but obviously not ideal. I think it should be an easy fix, but we shouldn’t have had that issue in the middle of the Bay of Biscay in 5m waves.
Are there any other issues we should be aware of that we need to watch out for?
Our invertor was faulty and was tripping the whole AC system. That is being replaced. I would also double check all of the standing rigging, runing rigging, sail bag etc. We missed a few things, stuff that wasn’t fully tightened. These were all small things, but best to go over the boat with a fine comb.
Really appreciate your information and hope this discussion helps others as well. It would be great to see more Open 40’s out there.
No problem, happy to help and keep in touch, I hope your project goes well.