The docks at the fall boat shows are lined with catamarans designed specifically for the charter market. They sport large cockpits and saloons for entertaining, 4-8 cabins with minuscule heads, and so much volume in the hulls that you need a ladder to board the vessel. Sailors searching for blue water catamarans have limited affordable options, often compromising sail-ability for livability. Phillip Berman, President of The Multihull Company, with a team of designers and builders listened to hundreds of catamaran sailors to design the perfect balance for a live-aboard catamaran. Introducing the Balance.
I went along with Phil on a shakedown sail of the Balance 451, hull one, owned by Rick and Helen Bell of Canada. Immediately I was drawn to its clean lines, sleek hulls and flat topside decking providing ease of movement. Once onboard I found the hard top bimini provided ample sun protection without compromising visibility. The raised helm station gave the helmsmen maximum view of his sails and great visibility while docking.
With such vastness topside I was afraid the living space below would be cramped. This is truly where I was most impressed with the Balance 451. The saloon featured a large seating area with well appointed galley and navigation station. The owners’ hull was one of the most well thought out spaces I have seen. Forward there was a utility space which the Bells made into a cedar lined closet. The master berth was centered in the boat with steps on either side so the owners could get in and out without disturbing one another. There was ample storage for long voyages and a master head that would rival those at any Miami condo. A large, glass enclosed shower with bench seating was the highlight of this spa-like space.
The port hull had another queen berth forward, a large head, and an office space in the aft cabin. With the boutique style concept of the Balance, owners have freedom to design a vessel specific to their needs. “Most of our customers have owned two or three boats prior and know exactly what they want,” says Berman. For the Bells, that aft cabin will serve as Helen’s quilting space.
The true test of a catamaran comes once the dock lines are tossed. The Balance 451 was designed to be easily single-handed. Mainsail hoisting and reefing led to the helm station, eliminating the need to go forward to the mast. The self-tacking jib made it a breeze to tack, and a screecher handled lighter, off-wind sailing.
There are too many customizable features to name on this boat “By Sailors, For Sailors.” See for yourself at the Miami Boat Show in February or by contacting Phil Berman at [email protected]com.