Outremer 55 Owner’s Review
Thanks to Marijke and Mark from Cat Great Circle for their help on this extremely thorough owner’s review of the Outremer 55. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
This is very comprehensive feedback from two experienced sailors. We have pulled out some key points below, but we encourage you to read the whole article, as it has some fantastic insights into the Outremer 55 and performance catamarans in general.
Some Key Points
- This couple have migrated from a Lagoon 39 to a Lagoon 52S and onto a performance catamaran. When I asked “would they swap the Outremer?”, they said “yes”. They are swapping her for a new Outremer 55 (!)
- The main reason? Higher daily average mileage and no flybridge (smoother ride)
- The best bit about the Outremer 55? It’s the best compromise between comfort, performance and looks available on the market.
- Save some budget for the carbon options, solar, traveller line driver and your sail locker.
- The 55 gets sailing from 3 knots of apparent wind and up. That’s eco sailing.
- 38 degrees AWA is the sweet spot for VMG going up-wind.
- The flexible dual helm set up works well in all conditions.
- Cat Greatcircle plans on 230 nm days. That’s just under a 10kt average.
- The 55 has a high quality finish. These yachts are built to last.
- Cat Greatcircle have tested the Outremer after sales service to the max. It’s good.
- The other area that Outremer excel in is their sail training and owner/manufacturer community
Reading time: 20mins
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your Outremer 55 catamaran. You’ve crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific so far, right? What is the plan now from NZ?
Marijke has been sailing monohulls since she was 6. After we met in 1997 we started sailing together, first on chartered monohulls in several sailing areas of the world. Later Marijke bought her former Rival 34 back and we sailed around Holland in it.
Nice boat but a bit small, so in 2015 we decided to buy our first cat, a Lagoon 39 and sailed it from France to above the arctic circle in Norway. As we were really enjoying the liveaboard life, after a year we upgraded to a Lagoon 52S and sailed it almost fulltime for 3.5 years in the Med and crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean and back to Holland.
Just before our first Atlantic crossing we had already signed up for the brand new Outremer 55, hull number 4.
At that time the boat only existed on paper, but it already promised to be the ultimate combination of comfort, performance and looks.
The second Greatcircle was delivered mid 2021, just before the departure of the GLYWO500 rally, a rally with around 30 boats circumnavigating the globe.
In the meantime we’ve sailed over 18.000 nautical miles with the Outremer 55, from the South of France via the Panama canal to New Zealand.
At the end of March 2023 we will start the second half of the rally back to the Med. The route will take us via New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Australia, Indonesia to Mauritius and then South Africa this year. Next year we will cross via Sint Helena to Brazil and then via the Carib and the Azores to Lisbon.
Why did you choose the Outremer 55? Was it the helm position, the performance or the living space for example? Which layout did you go for? (eg Desk in front cabin?)
We have been looking at all of the cats on the market on a regular basis since 2015. The Lagoon 39 was a perfect cat to start on and get used to the particulars of a catamaran.
At that time we already thought it was huge (at least compared to our Rival 34 that is still in front of our house). The upgrade to the L52S was easier than expected and the sailing characteristics and motion comfort where already way better than on the L39. The L52S is probably the best sailing Lagoon ever built.
After 3 years on the L52S we decided to make another step in preparation of a circumnavigation and had a thorough look at the available brands and models on the market.
We were not looking for the fastest or lightest cat on the market as we are not racers but cruisers. We know that boats on the lower end of the weight scale, comfort has to suffer both in terms of the equipment and in terms of motion comfort.
In the end we chose between 2 boats that only existed on paper, a Lagoon 55 and the Outremer 55. In hindsight is was probably love at first sight when we saw the design of the Outremer.
That Lagoon stopped producing Sport-tops for their bigger models probably didn’t help either as we are sailing the boat double handed most of the time.
No need for a fly bridge, and it doesn’t really help the sailing characteristics as well. The new Outremer has half the weight of the Lagoon, and much more space and headroom in comparison to the previous generation.
We choose the 3 cabin version with an owner’s hull and a normal front cabin in the guest hull.
When was she launched? 2021 right? How was the buying and build process?
The build of the very first Outremer 55 was started in the second half of 2020 and we followed the production of the first 4 hulls very closely. We even rented an appartement in La Grande Motte to document the whole process and to discuss the different choices and options with the local experts.
Dealing directly with the manufacturer is quite different from what we were used before with Lagoon in their dealer model. We loved being able to shape the boat to our wishes, but also to learn from experienced sailors with another background.
Greatcircle was launched in April and finished and optimised in the months thereafter. It’s nice to see that experiences and improvements found on the first 3 hulls were immediately transferred to our boat as well. Initially we were kind of OK with not having hull number one but to be honest we were kind of surprised by the level they were already able to reach building the very first copy of complete new generation.
Outremer are also known for their sail training and owner community. Any feedback on that? eg Ladies Day.
As we visited La Grande Motte a lot we met many existing and future Outremer owners. In addition to the pure performance oriented sailors that already knew Outremer, more and more sailors like us started to explore the 55.
Many of them already saw our Youtube videos on the Lagoons and/or the videos from the design and build phase of the new Greatcircle. They reached out to us via Insta and Messenger to discuss the pros and cons of the boat in general and of the different choices to make in the configuration process.
It’s a lot of fun to be invoved in discussion like that and it has helped us as well to re-evaluate our own choices based on the experience of others.
Outremer Week is a very succesful concept, twice a year now, where customers can learn a lot about all kind of topics from manoeuvring in port via medical training to engine maintenance. Perfect way to get to know a lot of other Outremer owners as well.
Even though Marijke, as a female captain, might not be in the core target group of Ladies Day, she was very impressed by the way experienced female sailors like Nikki Henderson transferred their knowledge.
It seems very important, especially on longer offshore cruising expeditions that the tasks on board can be shared by multiple people on board.
What’s the best thing about Greatcircle?
To us it’s the best compromise between comfort, performance and looks available on the market.
We have all the equipment we had on the Lagoon, we still have plenty of space, headroom and storage space and we’re crossing oceans 20-30% faster than we were used to. And as a bonus the boat looks stunning.
If there was one thing that you would change, what would that be? Or wouldn’t you change anything?
In the meantime we already sold our current Greatcircle per end of 2024. We have actually reached agreement on a new Outremer 55 some time ago. The specs would be nearly the same as we were pretty pleased with the choices we’ve made on the current one.
One item we would like to optimise is that we want to expand the situations in which it is possible to sail the boat single handed. For instance in regard to reefing and furling the downwind gennaker when the sail is on port. We’re discussing this with Outremer, it’s still to early to tell but there might be a surprise outcome of this discussion.
Does she carry weight well, or do you have to be careful to not overload her with gear?
The Outremer 55 has plenty of payload. We have basically everything on board you could wish for and there is still 2,5 tonnes of payload remaining even when fully loaded with water and fuel! More performance oriented owners of a 55 have an even lighter boat (about a ton lighter) but during the GLYWO500 we’ve seen that the differences in average speed are marginal.
What are the “Must Have” Options buying new in your opinion? eg Carbon cross-beam, carbon mast, watermaker (Dessalator), convertible table in saloon, generator (10,000i Fischer?), solar, carbon options, a/c, estech decking, extra invertor, extra freezer, water filter, scirocco fans, special galley worktop, Raymarine remote, induction plate, washing machine, folding props, ZF throttles, electric winches, windlass controller at helm
For offshore cruising a water maker (preferrably a backup water maker too) and a second auto pilot are a must have. The other options depend on the personal preferences of the owner. I would recommend not having gas on board. In most cases the over 2000 watt of solar is enough to cover the complete energy demand. In periods with bad weather you still need a backup power source. We chose the genset over charging with engines and/or a hydrogenerator.
Can you give us an idea of what is in your sail locker? Which sails are your favourite? Gennaker, Spinnaker, Code 0, A2 Spinnaker etc
We chose the DFI mainsail and self tacking jib (solent) from Incidence as they are lighter (and Marijke likes black sails :-)). We didn’t choose the staysail/trinquette option and so far we never had a situation where we needed it.
As the 55 doesn’t need to be reefed very early the solent functions perfectly fine in all conditions we would like to sail in. We never ever even had to furl the solent a couple of turns so far.
Sailing around the world along the traditional routes there’s a lot of trade wind / downwind sailing. You need to have some flexibility and redundancy in the front sails.
We use the (flat and not too big) Code 0 both (close) reaching and downwind depending on the circumstances. Both this Code 0 and the downwind gennaker are perfect in changing conditions where it might be necessary to furl the sail every now and then.
The A2 assymetrical spi is the perfect sail in lighter breezes, we use it to sail starting from 3 knots apparent wind. After 18.000 miles our engines still have only 350 hours …..
The S3 heavy duty symmetrical spi is made of polyester and we use it to sail almost dead downwind in breezes from 15 knots true. Most of the time we hoist in on the lower halyard and use it without the mainsail. You can leave it up during a squall, we had up to 40 knots of true wind without a problem.
What are the “Nice to Have Options”?
As discussed the 55 is not very sensitive for a bit more weight. So I would say there is a long list of nice to have options that I would recommend. I love the carbon cross, as it makes the boat look fantastic. We choose induction cooking, a combi oven, a dish washer, a full washer/dryer, aircon, a line driver for the main traveller and all electrical winches. As indicated we also have a genset.
Which options did you “pass” on?
For the mast we chose the non-rotating carbon mast. Reduces complexity and maintenance compared to a rotating one and the performance difference is again marginal.
How are the electrics, plumbing etc. Can you give us an idea of how you set your power system up, amount of solar (over 2kW right?), hydrogeneration, lithium battery set up (200Ah/battery?) etc. How long can you stay autonomous on power? How often do you use the genset?
We have 3 lithium batteries totalling 16,5 kWh. In normal circumstances the 2048 watts of solar are enough to charge the batteries during daylight and to cover the total energy demand.
On anchor it’s almost always enough. Upfront we didn’t realize though that during the longer crossings the sails quite often cover the solar panels.
In hindsight we’re pretty happy that we stuck to our decision to install a genset to generate extra power when we need it. We installed 2 mass-combis so the genset is able to charge the batteries very efficiently, so far it has run for 130 hours only.
Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc. You have has a few challenges to deal with on your circumnavigation so far, right?
The regular maintenance so far after 1,5 year has been very limited. Of course stuff breaks every now and then, and in those cases it’s fantastic to be part of the Glywo500 rally where every couple of months a whole maintenance team is flown in to bring the boats back into perfect shape.
We did have a couple of incidents during our trip. The worst one was in Aruba when we were hit while asleep on anchor by a 70 ton tourist boat doing around 8 knots. Luckily nobody was injured, but the whole carbon cross was damaged beyond repair.
Without an extraordinary effort from Outremer this would have meant the end of our rally. An Outremer team and the necessary parts were flown in, and within a month we were up and running again trying to catch up with the fleet before they left the Galapagos.
During this chase we had a second incident while passing through the Panama canal. While rafted to 2 other boats and steering on port side, the starboard gearbox cable broke with the gearbox in forward position.
Applying throttle backward only made the boat go faster forward and the raft hit the wall before we even knew what the problem was. Easy to fix, very lucky that we could give it another go the next day, enough wind from Panama to the Galapagos and we managed to arrive there the day before the departure date of the fleet….
The third incident happened in Fiji where we just hit a reef with the port rudder tip and the rudder system broke. The rally brings you to poorely charted waters and due to the distances in some legs it’s not always possible to sail out in perfect (light) conditions only.
Sometimes if you wait longer to start the leg, you will arrive in the dark. We could have avoided this incident if we would have motored along the advised route instead of following the boats in front of us sailing. We managed to stop the water ingress and were able to continue cruising, hopping from the east to the west side of Fiji where the boat could be lifted and repaired.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Is the running rigging complex? Do all the lines lead back to the helms, for example? What is the “German Sheeting” setup? You reef from the port side, right?
In all situations we are able to sail the boat double handed (most of the time it’s only the 2 of us on board).
In many situations the boats can be sailed single handed. In general I don’t think we would use the spinnakers single handed. In our current setup you need 2 persons to reef the main and to furl the gennaker or Code 0 when the sail is on port (the furling line of the front furler is on starboard).
The way we have set up the reefing system with reef lines on the back of the sail only 1 person has to go to the mast to apply or remove the loops for the luff of the main.
You can control the main sheet on both helm stations and also use the line driver to control the main traveller on both sides (and from the cockpit).
In general the boat is on autopilot while navigating from either the saloon or the cockpit. If the sails need some adjusting you walk towards the port helm station. Only when the bigger front sails are on starboard you will use the helm station on starboard.
Is it easy to lower and raise the daggerboards, furl the head sails? You had some problems with the gennaker I think? You have a line driver for the traveller I see.
Controlling the dagger boards is very easy, as is controlling the main. Indeed we did have some problems furling and unfurling the downwind gennaker.
The sail is pretty round and you need to pay attention not to entangle the sail in itself. In the meantime we know how to prevent this from happening but still looking for ways to make this more foolproof (other furler?).
The line driver is a perfect option. Electronic buttons will be installed on both helm stations so you can easily control the traveller from the helm station while reefing or gybing.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas. How is the ride in general? (pitch/roll)
We didn’t have real heavy weather yet. Most of the times the wind was below 40 knots and the waves haven’t been over 4 meters yet. In these circumstances the boat feels pretty relaxed and comfortable.
Compared to our previous cat the thinner hulls slice through the water and the Outremer is able to maintain a higher constant speed.
There’s a lot less noise in general and a lot less slamming of waves against the hull.
How are the helm positions. Good in weather? How is the visibility when docking? Those swing helms look great, which position do you use the most? I like the feet steering option 😉
The two helm stations are really good when manoeuvring. You can see all 4 corners of the cat from either one of them and just choose the most suitable helm station when docking.
During cruising we often put 1 of the steering wheels (partly) inside the cockpit, especially in bad weather when we close up the cockpit tent. The boat will normally be on autopilot but if something happens or if there’s a glitch of the AP you can reach the steering wheel very quickly.
The benches at the helm station are very comfortable and ideal for catching the breeze, watching the waves and looking out for sea life.
How does she sail in light winds?
You can sail the boat starting from 3 knots of apparent wind.
How does she sail close hauled? How high does she point to true in a good sea state?
Close hauled she sails as high as a decent monohull but than at a much higher speed. If the sea is flat sometimes you’re able to reach an even higher VMG by using the Code 0 instead of the solent and sailing a bit lower.
So far it seems that with both sails you reach optimal VMG at around 38 degrees apparent.
Typically, what’s your average speed on passage? What´s the top speed you have logged surfing?
Talking about your top surfing speed is nice during anchor shots but is not so relevant for us. Our all time high was set on the L52S doing 27,2 knots surfing of 3 consecutive waves. On the Outremer we’ve surfed over 26 knots.
It’s the higher average speed during crossings that makes the real difference. Out the L52S we used to calculate with 190 miles per day (downwind or reaching as upwind it will be a lot less).
On the Outremer 55 we calculate with 230 miles per day on average and it doesn’t make a big difference whether this is upwind or downwind. We crossed over 2000 miles from Cabo Verde to Barbados in 9 days and needed 13 days for the 3200 nm for the Pacific crossing from the Galapagos to Nuku Hiva.
What’s she like under power? Speed, manoeuvrability? 60 HP Volvo engines, right?
We don’t use the engines a lot but in general the 60HP Volvo engines are fine to manoeuvre the boat. As we don’t have a bow thruster it does make sense to anticipate on what you’re planning to do as the bows do have a tendency to react to cross winds.
If we use the engines while cruising we only use 1 engine, often at very low RPM using 1 to 2 liters per hour at 6 knots.
Is she easy to dock? How’s the windage coming in, any tips?
As mentioned above you have to anticipate on the bows reacting on cross winds
What is she like at anchor? What anchor/chain set up did you go for? 70m chain, 50m rope right?
We chose the Force 7 lighter chain with a nice and shiny 35 kg Ultra anchor. Indeed 70 meters of chain plus 50 meters of rope. We haven’t used the rope yet.
What’s she like when it´s raining hard? I like the way the clears fix down outside the helms
When it’s raining we just close the tent, and tilt one moveable rudder inside. Both from the cockpit and the saloon you have perfect 360 degrees vision so you only need to go out for adjusting the sails and/or reefing.
Is she comfortable up top and down below? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads. Can you give us an idea of the configuration you went for? The island in the galley looks great. Electric heads? Wood option down below right?
We chose a 3 “burner” induction plate and a combi microwave/oven. Works fine, I think the limitations are more on our side than related to the equipment. We have a freezer and a double refrigerator. We also installed a dish washer and an extra water filter.
The space in the owner’s hull is more than enough, the beds are also nice and wide. We can’t walk around the bed like we could on our previous cat of course. The bathroom can compete with the one we had on the Lagoon and the spacy shower with rain shower and over 2m head room is just perfect.
When we were visiting the interior designer Franck Darnet we found a different kind of wood and applied it to both the cabin and the hulls to create a warmer atmosphere. This might be a standard price list option in the meantime.
We also chose the option to implement the same Esthec flooring in both the saloon and the cockpit to emphasize that it is one big living space. The disadvantage of the Esthec in areas open to direct sunlight is that it gets REALLY hot.
Is there plenty of storage? The sail lockers look good.
We still have a lot of storage space unused in cockpit, cabin and hulls, so no complaints there. The bow compartments are huge, we use one for most of the front sails only so it’s easy to swap them. We use the other bow compartment for the lines, the toys and spares.
On the foredeck there are 2 storage lockers as well. In one of them we installed the genset. The other one contains our bikes, the mooring lines and some shades.
How is the finish of the interior? Does she creak under sail?
Both the extensive lamination of deck and bulkheads and the quality of the finishing of the interior lead to a big difference in sound levels compared to our previous cat.
What is your favourite spot on the boat?
Our favourite spot is in the saloon with the cabin table lowered and turned into a lounge area
Is she good for hosting guests?
We have a 3 cabin version as we’re not looking to host too many people at the same time. The guests in the port hull share a separate toilet with a sink and a shower also with a sink. The bed in the aft cabin is the same as the one in the owners hull, the one in the front cabin is a bit less wide.
What kind of modifications have you done and why?
We didn’t do any major modifications that were not on the standard option list
Any plans for further customisation?
What kind of dinghy/outboard do you carry?
We’ve got a carbon AST Coast 340 tender, the one with the jockey seat. It carries a 20HP Honda outboard
If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her?
A mentioned before, we have already sold her per end of 2024 and ordered a new Outremer 55.
How is the after sales service from Outremer?
It’s amazing. Instead of using too many words I would suggest looking at the extraordinary after sales efforts Outremer made when we were really in trouble like in Aruba in February/March last year. There’s a Youtube video on both the crash and the repairs on our channel.
What I also like a lot is that in case of problems discovered on other boats they automatically review whether these changes should be applied to other boats including the ones already delivered. As an example we will get new carbon davits on our boat in New Caledonia to upgrade the maximum dynamic load they can endure.
Are you happy with the safety aspects? Escape hatches, position of life rafts, clip on points and so on
In general we are happy with the safety aspects. We do feel more exposed at the helm station compared to our L52S and there is not a lot to hold on to when standing there in rough weather. We’re looking at options to improve this.
Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying a Outremer 55?
Different people have different questions and concerns. Everybody is welcome to post questions they might have to our social media accounts on Youtube, Insta and Facebook.
How would you rate the Value for Money of an Outremer 55, bearing in mind future re-sale potential, quality, price and so on.
Our depreciation on the current boat will be 0 (and we could have made a profit if we would have sold it later in time)
Would you recommend the Grand Large Yachting World Odyssey 500 (GLYWO500)?
For sure! It’s fun to travel around the world with a lot of other boats. You can help each other in case of trouble and enjoy life together on the good days. The glywo organisation takes away a significant part of the bureaucracy and the technical stops are just perfect.
What is your favourite anchorage so far?
Marijke’s favourite anchorages is the Bay of Virgins in the Marquesas. I really loved the anchorages in Maupiti and in the Lau Group in Fiji as well.
Follow Cat Greatcircle
You can follow Marijke and Mark on their travels on Youtube (it’s one of our favourite channels), Insta and Facebook.