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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of powering my Buzzards Bay 34 with outboard or diesel power?
A: This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions we get when we first begin talking to a new customer. Fortunately,this is not another grey area issue. Each propulsion system has known plusses and minuses. Our job is to learn how you will use your boat, and together we weight those plusses and minuses and then we know, for sure which power suits you best.
Advantages of outboard powered Buzzards Bay 34's
1)Smooth and Quiet
Powered by outboards, our Buzzards Bay 34 is one of the quietest power boats built. This has got to be the outboards biggest advantage. Most of you have never been on a truly quiet motor boat, and believe us, once you have, you'll find you have very little tolerance for the noise and vibration that is typical of powerboats.
2) Low Maintenance
With the ability to completely tilt out of the water, outboards completely avoid the growth and corrosion issues that make up the majority of maintenance of submerged drive systems.
3) Increased Storage
On outboard powered Buzzards Bay 34's, the space in the hulls under the cockpit that would normally be taken up with engines and exhaust becomes wide open storage space.
Advantages of diesel powered Buzzards Bay 34's
1) Increased Efficiency and Range
As fuel efficient as todays outboards are, diesel stern drives will always be more fuel efficient. The difference is about 25%, depending on speed. Fuel capacity of both diesel and outboard powered Buzzards Bay 34's are the same, so range is increased by 25% as well.
2) Greater Manueverability
This is more to do with the Volvo Duo-prop drives we use than the diesel engine itself, but our diesel equipped boats are easier to manuever than outboard powered Buzzards Bay's. The twin counter-rotating propellors on each duo-prop drive have allot more blade area in the water, hence improved grip. They also have nearly the same thrust backing up as they do going forward, unlike outboard prop sets. With engines spaced 8 feet apart, all of our Buzzards Bay's manuever very well, but the diesel boats are a real improvement in this area.
As a semi-custom builder, your Buzzards Bay can be equipped with diesels not coupled to stern drives. Alternatives, such as water jet propulsion and surface drives are also available. We feel that straight shaft inboard type installations compromise draft and efficiency to an excessive degree and so find them not compatible with our hull form.
Q:Most pilot house boats have canvas enclosures. Why did you decide to eliminate the canvas with a hard back pilot house?
A: The first Buzzards Bay we built has a canvas back. That boat was launched in 2004, Sea Level. The owner has cruised her extensively and I have been on her for many cruises, as I have been on board all of the Buzzards Bay's launched since, all with hard enclosures. The reasons for a canvas backed pilot house would seem logical. The combination would give the owner the best of both worlds; good weather protection with the canvas up, and increased ventilation and a feeling of space when removed or rolled up. The realities are not so ideal. First, all the zippers and snaps that are associated with canvas are tedious and difficult to manipulate and near impossible with any amount of arthritis in the fingers. Also the clear plastic isinglass scratches easily. If there is salt crystals on the isinglass and you roll it up, the plastic will scratch, down-grading visibility. So it must be carefully cleaned before being handled. This combination of difficult to handle snaps and zippers, and easily scratched plastic keeps the owner from removing the canvas with any frequency. Also, no matter how well designed, canvas will not keep out driven rain, or spray. When putting the boat away, owners are forced to flip cushions on edge to prevent trapped water from creating mildew, or bring the cushions below decks. This must be done every time the boat is to be washed down. One walk down any number of marina docks tells the story.
Our fully enclosed and locking pilot houses are carefully designed for maximum visibility and ventilation. On the Buzzards Bay 34, the large center-line helm window hinges open, easily, on gas struts. Likewise the back window above the lounge. The side windows' rear portion slides forward. Finally, the large pilot house doors swings wide open. With everything open, nearly the whole back half of the pilot house is open to the outdoors, making the cockpit and pilot house feel like one shared space. Yet within approximately 30 seconds, all the windows and door can be closed, easily without skill. With high quality doors and windows, there is no need to remove cushions or prepare the interior for a wash down. Just close up and wash down.
Another advantage of a rigid bulkhead is security. Our boats can be locked up. This is a great relief when cruising, pulling into unknown towns and cities. I know the argument, if thieves want to get inside, they'll get inside. True, but as a rule, thieves are lazy people. They go after the easy targets first. It's hard to get easier than canvas.
Multihull Development, Inc, builders of Buzzards Bay Catamarans, is a semi-custom builder. This means we can make changes. We can build a Buzzards Bay 34 with a canvas back. But after getting onboard one and experiencing it for yourself, you probably will not want us to. Its up to you.
Q: If the Buzzards Bay 34 is so efficient, why don't you power her with smaller outboards than a pair of 225Hp engines?
A: The Buzzards Bay 34's combination of slim displacement hulls and light weight high strength advanced composite construction combine for great efficiency in a wide and useful 12 to 25 knot cruising speed range. She is very easily driven. Outboard powered boats with standard twin Mercury Verado 225's will push her to 20+ knots on one engine...ONE ENGINE! So why then don't we install a pair of 150 hp engines, for those folks that do not need to cruise at speeds higher than 20 knots? The answer is safety. We designed the Buzzards Bay 34 with 30" transoms, requiring 30" shaft length outboards. There are currently no outboards available with 30" shafts under 225 hp.
In comparison to the more normal 25 inch transoms, a 30 inch transom picks the outboard power head up an additional 5 inches out of the water. We are concerned that if the outboard power head is too low to the water, immediate failure or longer term corrosion due to water ingestion could be the result. Also, a 30 inch transom height guarantees the outboards will tilt clearly out of the water.
We have found no efficiency penalty for using larger engines. It is important to realize that the drag dynamic is very different than that of an automobile. Boats are under continually high resistance as compared to a car. After attaining highway speed, cars requires only a fraction of its engines output to maintain speed. To continue the car analogy, a boat moving through the water is like a car traveling up a steep incline continually. Relatively fast and heavy power boats almost always benefit (in terms of efficiency) from larger engines. The increased torque that comes with a larger engine is always welcome on a boat. In short, a larger torquier engine running at a lower RPM is as efficient or more than a smaller engine forced to run at a higher RPM for the same achieved vessel speed.
Q: I like the catamaran concept of greater ride, space, stability, shallow draft, and higher efficiency, but I am concerned with all of that lost cabin space where the tunnel is?
A: A valid concern, and certainly an important one. The fact is however, that our Buzzards Bay 34 is a much larger platform, with more interior space than almost any other vessel under 38 feet. In fact her pilot house is as large or larger than most any vessel under 45 feet. The reason is that a catamaran is much more a rectangular shape compared to a mono-hulls more triangular shape. Said another way, a catamaran carries her maximum beam all the way aft and pretty much all the way to the bow instead of the taper and flare of a mono-hull that steals away space. Down below, this goes a long way to make up for the lost space of the tunnel. Beyond that, it is simply a matter of getting the interior layout correct to minimize the tunnels impact on the interior. With our Buzzards Bay 34, we simply place the queen berth on top of the tunnel. The bed has to go somewhere, right? By placing the berth on top of the tunnel, we no longer have that loss of space. Unlike many mono-hull designs, where the berth is shoved into the narrow part of the bow so much that all the corners of the mattress are tapered to the point that a "queen" berth is not truly a queen berth. Look at the berth on a Buzzards Bay 34, and you'll see the maximum width is carried head to foot.
The best way to understand the trade-offs of any particular design versus another is getting onboard. The Buzzards Bay 34 is one of the few vessels under 40 feet with a private, enclosed stateroom. It's also one of the few vessels with such a large head and separate shower. According to Buzzards Bay design, you do not have to give up a thing for all the important benefits of a catamaran.
Q:I am concerned about finding a marina slip to fit the Buzzards Bay 34. I am told it is difficult to get a slip for a catamaran?
A: This concern really is about beam width, not hull form. Catamaran or mono-hull, it can get difficult to find a slip for a boat once you get 16 feet wide or over. Our Buzzards Bay 34's beam is 12'7", so our owners do not have any problems.