Testing the novel, outboard-powered Endeavour TrawlerCat 42

 Imagine that you are looking for a second home on the west coast of Florida, and you read this ad: “Direct waterfront, 360° view, two bedroom, two bath + den, 1,000 Sq. Ft. condominium, new construction…$1,200,000.” You might not blink an eye and you may even call your real estate agent.

Well, I’m assuming you’re a boat nut, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. If so, might I suggest an alternative to the condo—the new Endeavour TrawlerCat 42—at about half the price of the condo, and you can move whenever and wherever you chose, and take your condo with you. A bargain? Yes, but wait, there’s more.

Endeavour TrawlerCats have been around since 1996 when Bob Vincent, owner of Endeavour, expanded his line of cruising monohull sailboats to include a 36-foot catamaran sailboat and shortly thereafter, his first 36-foot TrawlerCat. His loyal customer base, many of whom had been cruising his sailboats for years, had been asking him to build boats more comfortable to cruise for longer periods of time. In response, he built the 38-footer and then a 40, all with similar layouts sporting a saloon positioned between two hulls that were dedicated to sleeping quarters.

Then, in 2009, Vincent introduced a new 48-foot catamaran that featured an entirely new concept: a layout that placed a huge master stateroom on the main deck forward of a spacious galley and dining saloon. The helm was moved to the upper and fully enclosed “sky lounge” deck. Recently I tested the new design and was amazed at the size of the living spaces, the quiet running of the boat, and the quality of the fit and finish. This model found a receptive market and 10 have been built to date, and two new ones are under construction. The 48-foot length and 18-foot beam provide spacious accommodations, but also result in a very large vessel. Vincent decided to build a new 40-foot by 16-foot version of the same concept, with the goals that it could be handled easily by a couple, and that it would fit in more marina slips.

TURNING POINT

Last year, a loyal owner of the 40-foot version, now in his mid-70s, said to Vincent, “I’m getting too old to go into the engine room for service or repairs. Couldn’t you build one of these things with outboards?” That started a discussion between them that led to the creation of the TrawlerCat 42. Vincent’s response? “If you buy it, I will build it.”

Vincent and his engineering staff surveyed the manufacturers of outboards and selected Suzuki Marine. They worked together to adapt the DF300AP four-stroke 300-horsepower unit to the application. This Suzuki offers selective rotation of the drive unit, making it a natural to combine with drive-by-wire joystick control.

The homey saloon, flooded with light from the large windows, may tempt the crew to stay indoors all day; The island galley makes for a great cooking and prep space.The homey saloon, flooded with light from the large windows, may tempt the crew to stay indoors all day; The island galley makes for a great cooking and prep space.

The homey saloon, flooded with light from the large windows, may tempt the crew to stay indoors all day; The island galley makes for a great cooking and prep space.The homey saloon, flooded with light from the large windows, may tempt the crew to stay indoors all day; The island galley makes for a great cooking and prep space.

ENDEAVOR 42 IS BORN

Shortly before the new boat was launched, I met Vincent and his son, Robb, at a boat show in Sarasota, Florida. I hadn’t seen them since we tested the 48, so I asked if anything was new at his display. “No,” he said, “but we are about two weeks from launching a new 40-footer with outboards.” Intrigued, I visited the plant the following week, and there she was, in two pieces. The sky lounge sat on the shop floor next to the hulls and cabin molding. The gleaming white Suzuki outboards were already in place. The hull and deck moldings had been joined with 3M 5200 sealant and stainless screws on 10-inch centers. The cabin will be joined in an identical fashion to the top of the deck molding. The hull, deck, and structural bulkheads are made of biaxial fiberglass over Nida-Core. Endeavor has not changed the construction features of its boats very much over the past few decades, because they have been proven to be more than adequate.

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Vincent and I boarded the main hull and walked through the interior, clearly in the midst of construction. It was fascinating to see inside the walls and observe carefully bundled wiring and well-run plumbing. All cabinetry is fabricated in the same location, ensuring an excellent fit.

She was in the water a few weeks later and ready for testing at Endeavour’s yard on Tampa Bay. I stepped aboard the mid-level boarding platform—one of three entry points that guarantee easy access at any dock. Molded steps in the stern of each hull provide the lowest point of entry, perfect for a floating dock as well as providing a platform adjacent to the outboards. Need to clear a prop? Just hit the electronic lift button and up comes the engine. This also means that the running gear is out of the water when the boat is not being used.

The covered 4-foot by 14-foot afterdeck is the only space on the boat that is on the small side, but still adequate for a couple of folding chairs. A fully glazed stainless-framed sliding door provides easy access to the saloon, but watch your step. The view entering this area is so enticing that you need to be careful not to miss the step down. There is also a full-height door on the port side of the entry, providing access to the “basement” level. I’m not sure what else to call the large space below the saloon. It could easily be outfitted with extra equipment that complements the owners’ cruising plans.

The 84-square-foot saloon is dominated by a beautiful island galley with a stool-height counter. A semi-custom light fixture above the sink sets a nautical theme. The galley is complete with a rear counter and plenty of cabinetry. To port is an L-shape settee with an adjustable side table that doubles as a dining table. To starboard is a beautiful open staircase leading to the sky lounge.

A convenient corridor to port of the galley provides space for refrigeration, electrical panels, access to the port hull and finally, the master stateroom located on the main deck. The queen-size berth is accessible from all sides, drawer and shelf space is plentiful, and two large portlights give natural light to the entire cabin. The master head features a step-down entrance to a dedicated shower space located in the starboard hull. You will never worry about shower stall water running into the rest of the head.

The guest cabin is located down the steps in the port hull. The after space holds a regular-size berth and plenty of storage while the head and large shower stall are located forward. I imagine that once settled into the double berth, it would be quite comfortable, but getting in and out looks to be an acquired skill.

Truly the penthouse of the TrawlerCat 42, the table adjusts to dining or cocktail height.

Truly the penthouse of the TrawlerCat 42, the table adjusts to dining or cocktail height.

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

The best is yet to come as we take the open staircase up into the sky lounge. This is clearly the penthouse suite. The entire 13-foot by 11-foot space is open and has huge windows providing a 360° views around the boat. To my knowledge, there is not another builder who offers a comparable space in a boat anywhere near her size. An enormous, leather-upholstered U-shape settee surrounds a table which can be used at cocktail or dining height. Wooden blinds allow the occupants to shade the area from direct sunlight. The forward third of the sky lounge is dedicated to the captain and crew, providing forward-facing seating for up to four people. The helm is situated to the starboard side with twin Raymarine screens and room for more instruments if desired. A joystick control talks to the outboards, and its position changes the relationship of each engine separately. No bow thruster is required to walk the boat sideways into a slip. A centerline weatherproof Dutch door leads out to the multi-level foredeck. Acres of space and several seating options will attract plenty of patriots to the foredeck on the Fourth of July. The anchor, its windlass, and tackle are all conveniently located between large hatches on either side, perfect for storing fenders and docklines.

Spanning the superstructure’s full beam, the master suite provides all the space a couple would need for extended cruising.

Spanning the superstructure’s full beam, the master suite provides all the space a couple would need for extended cruising.

ON THE WATER

As we rounded out of the speed-controlled canal and into the open waters of Tampa Bay, Vincent nudged the engines to life. Something was missing. The loudest sound was the gentle hum of the air conditioner. I checked my decibel meter, reading an incredible 47dB(A), about that of a library reading room. Because the motors are not inside the hull, there is barely a sound or vibration telegraphed through the structure into the cabins, particularly the lofty sky lounge. Watching the sea and shore silently slide by the large windows was almost eerie. Conditions could not have been better for comfortable cruising, but it was clear that no chance for tackling rough water was in the cards.

The back porch eases boarding and provides good access to the outboards. 

The back porch eases boarding and provides good access to the outboards. 

My general impressions are that the boat is extremely quiet at all speeds and that fuel usage is comparable to trawlers of similar size at speeds around 9-10 knots, and up to a fast cruise of 12-13 knots. Above that, the fuel burn on the outboards goes up significantly.

I took over the helm and found the drive-by-wire steering system very responsive. With the helm hard over in either direction the boat would turn its own length with no leaning or skidding. Visibility fore and aft from the helm is unlimited. Those features, combined with the extreme quiet while underway, would certainly make for a very enjoyable cruise.

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When our test was completed, we went to the docks at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The dock master had assigned a space that was not a challenging landing. Nonetheless, I was surprised to see just how easy it was to maneuver the big cat. Vincent manned the joystick while I watched the engines working, first together, then independently, occasionally one to port and one to starboard. The cat sidled up sideways, perfectly nestled up to the cushioned pilings.

The boat’s owner has taken her to his home on the east coast of Florida. By the end of August 2016, she will travel north to the fall boat shows. My guess is that she will be the only 40-foot outboard trawlercat on display, so I hope they can tie stern in: It will be an attention getter. After writing this article I learned that a customer who recently ordered a new TrawlerCat 48 has requested that she also be built with outboards—twin 400-horsepower Suzukis. 

Bob VincentEndeavour Catamaran Corp.3703 131st Ave. NorthClearwater, FL 33762Tel: (727) 573 5377endeavourcats@aol.com

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