Some boats kind of slip beneath the radar. There are around 10 Nimbus 305 Coupés already in the hands of satisfied Kiwi owners and importer Sports Marine has another five on order from the Sweden factory, but this one is the first we’ve had the opportunity to review.
- Prod and Code 0 for downwind sailing
- Stacks of space
- Several factory layout options
- Excellent integration of cockpit and saloon areas
- Easy access to boom to help stack the sail
Cruising catamarans can end up being a compromise, with sailing performance and convenience traded off against interior volume. Bavaria’s Nautitech Open 40 puts paid to that, being both pleasurable to sail and roomy enough to really stretch out.
Carte Blanche II is the first of this new model in New Zealand, arriving on a container ship in Tauranga a few months ago and being craned straight into the water. Her delivery up to Auckland was a bit of a baptism of fire – or wind and water – and she is now happily snugged up in Westhaven.
It’s a gorgeous late spring day when the Boating team arrives to take her out, although the bright sunshine is accompanied by an almost complete lack of wind. No matter: this comfortable cruiser is more than happy to motor, and we set off down the harbour powered by a pair of 30hp Volvo diesels with saildrives. Cruising speed under power is around 8 knots, and with the engines mounted well aft in the hulls their presence is unobtrusive.
For the past decade or so, owner Winton Jones has been racing and cruising on a Dufour 40, after years as a Noelex owner, but socialising in the bar afterwards had become more appealing than Wednesday night racing.
“It was time to move on,” he says. “With my wife, kids and grandkids all coming away cruising with us, this is going to be a much better option.”
Moving to the Nautitech doesn’t mean he’s quite given up competing though; he started this year’s Coastal Classic in the brand-new boat, only giving it away when it became apparent it was going to be a long, light night on the wind to get to Russell.
As a lifelong sailor, Jones was attracted to the Nautitech because of the twin helm station positions, well aft at the end of each hull – a configuration that affords excellent forward visibility.
“With the helms down at this level, you can be steering but still communicating with family and friends,” he says. “It also means you can swap from side to side to be in or out of the sun – and being down low it’s less exposed. It’s also a great position when you’re leaving the berth – you just drop the lines and go.”
Boarding/disembarking is easy thanks to large platforms at the back of each hull, and for exiting the water, there’s a telescoping swim ladder on the starboard hull. Between the two hulls, the tender’s suspended on easily-operated davits.
Both helm stations have a B&G Triton screen displays for navigation and instrumentation, with the autopilot and engine throttle controls at the starboard helm. Shorthanded sailing is easy: the mainsheet and traveller controls also run to the starboard helm station.
The traveller runs across at the back of the large solid bimini which comes right to the back of the cockpit, and its control lines and the mainsheet drop down to winches by the helm. The furling jib is on a self-tacker, with its sheet also running right back to the starboard helm station. Jones has had a furling code 0 made locally by Doyle Sails, which is also easily controlled from the cockpit.
The bimini top also makes it easy to access the main if it needs a little help to fold neatly into the stack pack – the boom’s within easy reach when standing on the bimini top. Halyards are all controlled up at the mast, keeping the ‘social’ end of the boat free from sheets.
Mast and bow areas are easily accessed along the wide side decks, and there’s a large trampoline between the hulls forward which would make a fun lounging area for the kids, and a prime dolphin-watching spot.
For those who are just along for the ride – well, there’s plenty of space for that.
The Open is just that, with a massive central outdoor living area which is effectively the boat’s saloon. Sheltered by the bimini above and the wing-deck forward, with clears to be made for the sides to enclose it, this area is simply enormous, providing seating down each side and a table to starboard. With the addition of a barbecue on the rail at the rear of the cockpit, there’s enough space to host the whole bay.
Sliding doors open up the rear of the wing-deck cabin, promoting the indoor-outdoor flow. The galley is positioned to starboard and has the sink and hob facing aft, so whoever’s on cooking duty won’t feel disconnected from the party outside. There is a large prep area with storage facing forward.
To port in the wing-deck is another, smaller seating area, which can be used as a chart table. The table-top also pushes down to create a larger settee. The switch panel and controls for all the boat’s electronics are positioned here.
The Open 40’s available in a three-cabin configuration, with one hull set aside as an owner’s retreat with a larger bathroom positioned forward. But Jones has opted for the four-cabin version. This offers a queen-size (aft) and a double berth, and a head and shower, on each side. There is plenty of hanging-locker and other storage in each hull, and lots of natural light flowing in thanks to through-hull windows and deck hatches.
Under the set of steps going down into each hull is the mandatory escape hatch, in case the boat flips. But these little hatches make a cool window for kids to watch the sea below, and would be great spot for them to fish through when at anchor.
We aren’t having much luck with the wind, so anchor up off Cheltenham Beach for some lunch – it’s important to fully test just how well-suited this boat is for entertaining! Just as we decide to give up and head in, the breeze decides to make a guest appearance, and we get a decent sail back up the harbour.
The Nautitech might be a cruising cat, but its fine-entry hulls and decent amount of sail area provide a pleasurable sailing experience. The helm is light and responsive, and tacking is easy with the sails basically doing all the work themselves, while the crew enjoys relaxing in the cockpit saloon without having to raise a finger.
Choosing a catamaran means you can have so much more space than you could in a single hull. For a boat that’s just a smidge under 12m, the Nautitech has an almost ridiculously large amount of room for socialising and family time.
But at the same time, it’s still a boat you can actually sail, and achieve satisfying performance on those days when you don’t just want to take it easy. I suspect this boat is going to see quite a lot of both.