Voyage Yachts is a family run business based in Cape Town in South Africa, another multihull specialist from that part of the world.
What an ecosystem for building catamarans they have on that coast!
This company has built its business up over the years hand in hand with Voyage Charters who are based in the Caribbean. Their boats are famously sturdy and a key part of the philosophy behind the design is low maintenance. The same group that builds the boat also run a charter fleet of Voyage Yachts, so if there is a problem, the feedback is quick and the design is improved- a very useful feedback loop. This is what a Prout 45 might have looked like if Prout was still around producing cruising cats.
They manufacture two sailing models: the 590 and their workhorse: the Voyage 480 which is an evolution of the earlier 450 and 500. This is a seaworthy, comfortable cruising catamaran with an eye on performance. If we were pushed, we’d put it alongside a Nautitech on the performance/comfort graph, with a higher end finish.
Like many of their compatriots, the Voyage team have spent many hours thinking up ways to keep the weight off their boats and maximise the performance for the length and volume. Foam coring is used in the hulls, deck and cockpit bimini, with vacuum-bag construction techniques. This has allowed them to achieve an impressive displacement/length ratios of 117, without losing any of the comforts that you would hope to see on a well kitted out cruising cat. And like many of the smaller South African builders, where you really win versus the production cats, is in the quality of the finish.
With all this attention to detail on the weight, the Voyage 480 is no slouch, and with her low slung profile she looks the business. The profile is sporty with her sleek lines and a low boom.
She packs some punch with a generous sail plan. The Sail Area to Displacement ratio (SA/D) on the 480 is around 23. To give you a comparison, the Lagoon 450 sits at around 20. Again, that puts her in a similar bracket as a Nautitech. She won´t compete against a Looping 50 on speed but sits more in the upper middle of the performance/comfort scale.
2 bridles control the mainsail which makes it easy to trim your sails and gybe safely. The helm is on the starboard bulkhead with plenty of room for two and a sliding hatch in the bimini lets you pop your head through it when the sun is out. Slide it shut for the fully protected position.
All of the main lines come back to twin winches on the coachroof by the helm and in general the running rigging is very tidy and organised with tail bags
In a fresh breeze (say 18 knots), you should easily see speeds in the early teens on this boat, especially if you keep the weight off, but that low bridgedeck clearance does mean that this boat is susceptible to slamming going into the weather, although they have improved this with the newer design compared to the 450.
Going upwind, she is a competent performer and will get you off a lee shore. You should see 8-9 knts even at a TWA of 45 degrees in a fresh breeze. Point 5 or 10 degrees lower to reduce your leeway and keep your VMG up.
While many of the volume manufacturers are starting to look very similar on the layout front, the Voyage 480 is almost quirky – a breath of fresh air. They have evolved the earlier 450 and increased the length, and widened the hulls, with a higher bridge deck clearance. The finish can seem spartan down below (up top is cosy), but she wears well and cleans easily.
There is a four cabin and a three cabin version available (with options for pretty decent sized singles in the forepeaks). The forward berths are athwartships and aft are two roomy king sized berths with twin heads and showers in each hull, or a single head and shower room if you have gone for the owner’s version.
If you can find a Voyage 480 on the second hand market it is likely to have done its time in charter and will probably be the 4 cabin version. These are popular boats: they don´t come up often.
High Quality Finish
It’s probably up top where the Voyage 480 stands out against the competition. In the saloon, there is a large horse-shoe sofa set around a dining table with a U/shaped galley to port facing forward with loads of working space.
It’s a cosy feel with a nav station aft and the finish is top end with a double sink, large burner & oven and some great wooden surround touches on the furniture. The Lewmar hatches let in plenty of natural light and help keep the interior well ventilated.
In the aft cockpit, you have a large swimming platform which looks fantastic at anchor, but I would worry about the safety at sea. When you have your tender tied down at the back, it feels more secure. But if you are diving with tanks off the back of the boat, or launching a kite surfer or a SUP, it doesn´t get much better than this.
You raise and lower your tender with a crane (Boom Stinger) that extends out of the boom, and having the dinghy on the deck means that it is more secure than it would be on davits.
Voyage are in the leading charge in the industry when it comes to eco options. They have been working with Finnish company Ocean Volt to provide ways for their customers to achieve low emission or even emission free sailing.
If you are looking for a higher quality finish in a catamaran that is quicker than the average, the Voyage 480 ticks a lot of boxes. She is a solid, seaworthy design that has evolved over the years based on feedback from Voyage Charters.