|2011 Gemini 105Mc at the Annapolis Show last year|
I’ve gotten some comments on my Boats from the Annapolis Show posting, inviting me to share my thoughts more about the Gemini 105Mc catamaran and why we didn’t go forward with our purchase of one late last spring when we were all primed to do so.
Well, first things first. I thought Cindy and I were seeing eye-to-eye on the “whatever were we thinking” comment I included in the Gemini section of that post; she informed me after the fact that we were not actually on the same page and she’s still open to considering them. So… for the purposes of this post, I’ll just stick to my own observations and opinions, and if Cindy wants to contribute to the thread I’ll let her do so in a later entry.
With that caveat out of the way, I’ll proceed with my thoughts on the Gemini 105Mc – and please note that these are just my own opinions, as your mileage may vary.
In my very first post for this blog, I went into quite a bit of detail about the Gemini catamaran and how perfect it was for us, blah-blah-blah and followed that up with many other Gemini related entries as well, all of which can be found here. As part of our boat purchasing research process, we had a nice demo sail on the very first 2011 Gemini 105Mc model with the Design Touch interior. We have been aboard other older Gemini 3200, 105M and 105Mc models since then and have seen how they age over the course of 20 years.
We really did intend to buy a Gemini last spring; in fact, we had a 2006 model year boat all picked out, had spoken several times to the current (original) owners about it, had moved our down payment funds into our checking account, lined up boat loan financing, marine insurance, a marine surveyor, a wide enough slip at a marina, etc. The target date to pull the trigger was for the Memorial Day weekend of last May, when we were supposed to spend some time on the boat and – if we liked it – call the surveyor by the end of the weekend.
|2011 Gemini 105Mc with Cindy at the helm during our demo sail|
Just a handful of days before we were to move forward on the Gemini purchase, we had a huge monkey wrench thrown into our plans – our largest chunk of retirement funds were suddenly at risk, as were a number of our other retirement investments. Not only that, but our very jobs could go away. Suddenly, the Gemini purchase didn’t look so inviting, as the price we had agreed to was equal to what we originally paid for our home – which would have really put a bind on us if things went financially south. After much discussion, we both agreed that the Gemini we were on the brink of purchasing was out of the question, and with a heavy heart I called the owners and left a voicemail that informed them of our decision to pull out of the deal. They must have taken the news pretty hard because I never heard from them again, though I did learn that they had later listed the boat with a broker and reduced their asking price by some 13 percent from what we would have paid (I believe it’s still on the market as of this posting, so the price may still be too high).
Was it the right decision for us? An unqualified YES, even though we did do a lot of second guessing immediately afterward.
However, we both felt that the time to buy a boat was right then; our stars were all aligning and if we didn’t pull the trigger on a boat purchase, we likely wouldn’t ever be able to. So that Memorial Day weekend we scaled back our expectations and went looking for something a lot smaller and more readily affordable, which we found in the form of a Pearson 303 monohull. The Pearson was a sixth (1/6th) the total cost of the Gemini 105Mc we had been looking at, and we had enough cash on hand to purchase it outright, without any loan financing. So that’s what we did.
|Our Pearson 303 the day we first saw it|
One thing I’ve not mentioned previously on this blog: we also looked at a 1991 Gemini 3200 catamaran that same weekend. And we passed on that one as well. Why? Ummm… how about we say that the years just didn’t look good on it? No? How about that it didn’t age well? Still not good enough? Okay, okay – how about this: the asking price for the 1991 Gemini 3400 was still close to two-and-a-half times the asking price of the 1986 Pearson 303, but we figured in the end it would require double that – or more – to repair/fix/upgrade the Gemini to the level we would feel comfortable with for safe use on the Chesapeake Bay.
Seriously… the 1991 Gemini 3200 we saw that weekend was in surprisingly bad condition compared to the 1986 Pearson 303, and it needed LOTS of tender loving care to get it back to comparable sailing/cruising status. We simply didn’t want to spend the time or money to do that, and that brings me to the observations I’ve made about the Gemini boats as a whole…
Gemini 105Mc – Pros:
- Shallow draft – If you want to cruise every thin water gunkhole in the Chesapeake or every shallow anchorage in the Bahamas, the 18-inch draft of the Gemini is difficult to find in any other boat. Period. There are very few cruising sailboats – monohull or multihull – that can match it, but the ones that do come with all sorts of compromises the Gemini doesn’t have. This is the single biggest reason I would ever seriously consider a Gemini again at this point, as our Pearson has a 4′-4″ draft which limits our ability to go all the places we’d like to.
- Centerboards – Unlike most of the other catamarans on the market today, the Gemini has pretty decent pointing performance to windward. Most other cruising catamarans have little stubby keels on the bottom of their hulls, though a few can match the Gemini because they have daggerboards instead.
- Large and bright interior – One of the big selling points for many buyers is the spacious interior of the Gemini that’s filled with a flood of natural light, though there are many other catamarans on the market that have even better interiors. Our Pearson has a much brighter interior now that I’ve replaced the old dark portlights with new clear ones, but it still pales when compared to the Gemini.
- Stability – Don’t like to heel or rock a lot? Buy a catamaran, though the bigger ones with wider beam are even better at this than the Gemini. Surprisingly, our Pearson is a stiff sailing design and doesn’t go beyond the recommended 10-15 degrees of heel for the Gemini.
- Speed under sail – During our demo sail over a year ago, the winds were steady between 18 to 20 knots, the Gemini was going faster than 8 knots at times and she made it look easy. Catamarans can be quite fast if they are of light displacement and the Gemini has this in spades. We’ve had our Pearson above 7 knots, but it’ll never get close to a Gemini in a good wind.
- Large sail area – Lots of sail area with a Gemini, almost fifty percent more than what we have with our Pearson.
- Light displacement – The Gemini claims to have a dry weight of 8,600 pounds – almost 2,000 pounds less than our Pearson. However, most Gemini models are quite a bit heavier when the options are included and owners begin to load them up with belongings. Additionally, there has been a lot of online threads claiming that the claimed weight is a lot lighter than the actual weight when the new Design Touch interior is chosen as an option.
- Stowage room – The Gemini has two hulls and a large salon; what more needs to be said? Our Pearson seems very small by comparison.
Gemini 105Mc – Cons:
- Expensive – Got $200+K burning a hole in your pocket? We don’t. Granted… the Gemini is the most “affordable” new catamaran currently available, but it’s still a lot more expensive than monohulls of similar length, especially when you begin to look at the used market.
- Light construction – To make the Gemini as “affordable” as it is (and that’s a relative term), many aspects are designed or spec’d to be much lighter than other boats. For example, the sides of the hulls are quite thin and delicate compared to those of our Pearson. Likewise, the deck of the Gemini is not built to be as robust as the one on our Pearson; in fact, I’ve been on several Gemini models where the cabin top and decks flexed under my weight, something that doesn’t ever occur with our Pearson.
- Tupperware/Ikea interior – This isn’t just limited to the Gemini; the interiors of most new boats are going this direction today; only custom and semi-custom boats have the really nice teak and holly interiors like our Pearson.
- Small single engine – The general rule of thumb for a sailboat engine is one horsepower per foot of hull length – more if it’s a multihull. By that rule, the Gemini is under-powered, especially compared to other catamarans on the market. There are two Gemini 105Mc models in our marina, and both of them have difficulty docking when the wind is up; they will usually anchor outside of the marina or tie up to the very end of the dock and wait for the wind to ease before proceeding back to their respective slips.
- Single helm station – Want to steer from the port side while looking for crab pots? It sucks being you. Not only is the helm located just on the starboard side, but there is no decent seating available. Sure, you can buy the special helm seat they offer… but it still doesn’t offer much sitting flexibility.
- Lack of opening side ports – Want a delightful breeze down below while it rains? Too bad – it still sucks being you. The Gemini only has top-opening hatches; no opening side ports are available. And if the angled windows warm up the interior too much during the summer, then expensive external shades have to be installed.
- Access to the bow – Side deck access to the bow is almost nonexistent on the Gemini; if you’re in a tearing hurry to keep the delicate hull sides from being punched through by a protruding fuel dock bolt, the fastest route is over the cabin top. Our Pearson has huge side decks for easy bow access by comparison.
- Helm visibility – Compared to our Pearson, the Gemini has little-to-no helm visibility. Period. Want to see late season crab pots in 40+ feet of water at night? Better have someone stationed on the bow with the Gemini, because there are few clear sight lines from the helm. Our Pearson has a centrally mounted wheel that allows me to sit on either side of the cockpit with clear sight lines all the way forward, and if the Bimini is in the way I can lower it.
- Cockpit comfort – I prefer the large cockpit and angled seating of the Pearson, where I have a lot of sitting flexibility both at the helm and as crew, and I can easily sleep outside anytime I desire. I found the Gemini cockpit to be too vertical for my back and too short for me to sleep in.
- Windage – Compared to our Pearson, the Gemini has a huge amount of windage.
- Boxy design – If you like beautiful curving lines on a sailboat, buy something else; the Gemini has all the beauty of a U-Haul trailer.
That’s it in a nutshell for me. If you want something with a lot of room and creature comforts for living aboard, buy a Gemini. If you want something that handles beautifully under sail and offers excellent helm visibility, look elsewhere.