After the Miami show, I got a chance to spend a couple of days on the new Endeavour TrawlerCat 40. Endeavour builder Bob Vincent invited me along on what has become a traditional cruise after the Miami show: heading south to the Florida Keys. New cats are brought to the show across Florida's Lake Okeechobee from the Endeavour yard in Clearwater, on Florida's west coast. Vincent decided a few years ago to make the return trip home after the show into a mini cruising adventure by way of the Keys. Each year, a small group of Endeavour cats joins him and his wife, Alice, on this relaxing post-show sojourn. Their son, Rob, returns to Clearwater after the show to give tours of the yard, arrange sea trials, and keep the business humming while the Vincents enjoy a little R&R.
The newest Endeavour is the company's first pilothouse cat, and it's hard not to like the boat after you've been aboard. Walking up to the boat gives an unusual impression, perhaps, as the boxy profile of the cat is a bit unconventional. The consummate engineer, Bob Vincent builds a boat that fits real people, and this power cat is a stellar example of form following function. Style-conscious catamaran designers may spend a lot of time focused on getting the right look, but Vincent is focused primarily on building a good boat. The Endeavour 40 is best viewed for its superb utility. This new 40-footer is all about cruising comfort, solid engineering, and liveaboard ease of use.
With seven people on the new cat for a short sea trial the morning we headed out, the TrawlerCat 40 ran comfortably along at 16 knots, its displacement hulls handling the extra people with little change in trim or space. In fact, we all got to move about rather nicely. A 16-foot-by-40-foot rectangular platform allows that kind of space.
One thing I noticed right off was the tall triplelifeline stanchions that ring the perimeter of the boat. I could move about while holding firmly onto them, even when we were moving forward at 16 knots. At speed, there is a decided lack of fuss and minimal wake.
The Endeavour has wide side decks and ergonomical molded steps up to the boat deck and flybridge area. The bridge offers outstanding underway visibility with a terrific view of the world, plus seating for crew to relax and enjoy skimming along at speed in the shallow, clear waters of Biscayne Bay. Depths average 7 to 9 feet throughout the bay, and running the flat waters this day gave us marvelous observations of the sandy bottom. Bob commented that he never sees fish on these trips, and that did seem odd after he mentioned it. But I never tired of gazing over the side as we sped south, watching an underwater landscape unfold mile after mile.
The most popular power cat Endeavour builds is the 44, a three-stateroom boat that has proven itself as a full-time home for couples who enjoy this lifestyle on extended cruising.
LEAVING THE SHOW
We moved from Biscayne Bay to Florida Bay after transiting Jewfish Creek and passing popular Gilbert's Marina. (I stayed at its motel during a motorcycle trip to the Keys a decade ago on the trip that spawned PMM.) I moved around the boat during the transit and found that most of the windows open (and have screens) for great ventilation. I also noted that the visibility from the pilothouse was quite good in most directions, and overall, it was quite comfortable with the pilothouse doors open or closed.
The water remained clear and shallow, but Bob assured me he protects running gear by placing the components in tunnels molded into the hulls. As a result, running aground is a non-issue with regard to damaging running gear. We saw hundreds of lobster pots on our travels south, but for the same reason, there was little chance of becoming snagged on one.
The boat's diesel exhausts are expelled out the side of the stern of each hull, and even with all the windows and the cockpit door wide open, there is no station-wagon effect of obnoxious fumes swirling around from the transom.
We dropped anchor at Islamorada just before 5 p.m., after a 70-mile run down from Miami. The cat sat in just a couple of feet of water off the sponge- and grasscovered sand. But even if we touched bottom in a low tide, we'd sit level and comfortable. Cats and shallow water go together like peanut butter and jelly, especially when there's no running gear exposed.
Endeavour Catamaran Corporation has built 100 power cats since 1995, but production has really ramped up in the last 5 years. Interestingly, half of the buyers are purchasing their first boat. Ease of handling, enormous room for a given length, and the general value of the Endeavour product all make for a successful boating experience.
Such spacious interior room does come at a price, and the aesthetics of the boats, especially the new pilothouse model, are an acquired taste, according to one of the fellows on the morning's sea trial. He was looking to trade up from his smaller Endeavour to this new pilothouse cat. His choice of space and utility and comfort makes the tall profile quite acceptable, and his reasoning made sense to me. I also learned that his is a common theme, as many Endeavour owners are on their second, third, or fourth Endeavours, some moving through the sail models before switching to the power cats.
IN EACH HULL
Bob Vincent told me that he has already been asked to build a bigger model-perhaps a 50-foot version with an aft master stateroom and a larger pilothouse-if the 40-foot pilothouse model proves successful. Alice Vincent shared that her favorite features of the boat are the foredeck, the integration of the galley into the saloon, and the visual connection that can be made between a person in the galley and one at the helm in the pilothouse. "It's very comfortable," she summed up.
Another goal of the new boat is to have people come aboard and feel they are in a nice, comfortable boat, and perhaps not even notice that it is a catamaran, as Bob sees that as largely irrelevant when it comes to providing great interior livability. Indeed, the transitions from one area to another do not feel particularly catamaran-ish; in fact, I could more easily compare this boat interior to that of a large Nordic Tugs, which comes to mind. Vincent achieved his goal admirably.
When I retired for the night after a group dinner aboard Cruisin' Cat, an E44 cruising in our group, I found my guest accommodations quite comfortable. The en-suite guest head in the port bow is, without a doubt, the best-designed, most comfortable head compartment I have ever spent time in...on any size boat. It is large, the shower has full headroom, and it's logically laid out with real storage and counter space. Bob Vincent commented to me early in the trip that he builds only what he knows will work for him-and I found ample evidence to support that statement. If you ever have the opportunity to go aboard this cat, be sure to check out the guest head. You will not be disappointed.
Over the next couple of days, I had the opportunity to go aboard four other Endeavour power cats, and I was delighted to see how diverse the boats were. The individuality of each boat went far beyond colors in cushions and window treatments: Unique and clever desk units, sensible placement of washer/dryer units, maximal liveaboard-friendly closets, and other ingenious elements make each boat that much better as a liveaboard for its owners' requirements. Vincent is obviously open to making such modifications for each boat, and the results are much more interesting than I usually get to see in typical production boats. The larger Endeavour 44, especially, allows tremendous customization of living spaces and details of design.
I got a chance to speak to all of the owners in our fleet, and all of them praise the boats for their utility, real-world comfort, and overall suitability as cruising boats and extended homes. For suitability as a fulltime liveaboard, the highest marks went to the Endeavour 44. I can see why so many couples buy a second or third Endeavour as they move up in size.
We explored the area around Islamorada by dinghy, winding through thick copses of mangroves. This is a very different Florida from the South Beach scene during the show: lots of pelicans, shallow water, and bright, intense sun!
After fluid checks and normal inspection tasks, we took on some fuel for our run down to Duck Key off Hawk Channel. Unlike some catamarans that have diesel engines under mattresses, the E40 has dedicated engine room spaces in each hull for the Yanmar 240hp diesels, so access doesn't involve lifting bedding.
As we entered the ocean side of the Keys into Hawk Channel, I was treated to a quick demonstration of how well the E40 took the stiff beam seas coming in from the Gulf Stream. Motoryachts around us had to slow way down in the rolling seas coming at us from the east, but the Endeavour maintained 15 knots without distress. In fact, the full-displacement Endeavour cat was unfazed by such conditions. With a full load of fuel and water, Bob told me the new pilothouse cat weighs in at 27,000 pounds, certainly no lightweight. And as I noted after touring the other Endeavours, owners tend to move aboard with lots of personal "stuff."
In the miles we ran down Hawk Channel, we passed every other vessel-power and sail-with none of the bothersome motion we'd have experienced in a monohull. We did have to close the windward windows, as occasional spray hit the topsides.
After passing a dolphin marine center and some lovely homes along the manmade canal, which is protected from the sea's relentless wave action, we arrived at the marina inside Duck Key. I got off the Endeavour and took another good look at the tall, boxy profile, feeling a tinge of regret for having to leave so soon. The boat had grown on me, and the comfort of the interior and exterior living spaces was just too good to give up. Boxy, it turns out, works for me.
If you want a good boat that performs solidly, with the room and livability of a cruising catamaran, I really do suggest taking a long, hard look at the Endeavour. The boat's base price is under $420,000, and lots of options can transform it into your own unique cruising cat. It's a well-made product with great company support and a loyal following of owners who are the company's best salespeople.
If at previous shows you've strolled past the TrawlerCat 40, go aboard at the next one and see what the boat has to offer. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Given the enthusiastic comments I heard from many Endeavour owners who have enjoyed countless miles of comfortable and successful cruising on their boats, the Endeavour fleet is one sweet picture, indeed.