Maine Cat 38 Review

Maine Cat 38

Well! It’s nice to see American builder Maine Cat continuing to turn out its simplified, lightweight cats that are fast, easy to single hand and somewhat affordable. There are many choices when it comes to sailing catamarans, with everything from cruisers like the Leopard 45 to more performance-oriented cats like the Gemini Legacy 35 on the market, but the amenities and complexities are piling up on these boats—and the price points are rising proportionally.

Maine Cat 38


On hull number one, which debuted at the Rhode Island International Boat Show, the owner specified only one engine, which seems a bit counterintuitive and counterproductive to a catamaran. The helm station is aft and centered on the main deck, fronted by the engine box that holds one small outboard engine with an extra long shaft (25”). Dick Vermeulen, Maine Cat president, was quick to point out that subsequent hulls will go back to having twin 15 HP four-stroke outboards to leverage the easy maneuverability that cats enjoy due to the engines being set far apart. The motors are fully retractable to clear the waterline when under sail.

On the first iteration of the model, the helm seat had good proximity to the mainsheet winches aft and a good view of the mainsail via the overhead hatch. When the two outboards are added in subsequent units, the single centerline engine box will disappear and the helm will move forward. The good news is that the aft space will then provide plenty of room for settees on either side and that the jib will be better visible from the helm seat. The driver will also be closer to the two forward working winches that control most of the lines aboard. It seems however, that you won’t see the mainsail from the helm unless you open the overhead hatch.

The layouts are somewhat customizable and the options list is fairly long. Maine Cat believes that you should be able to buy an affordable base boat without the expense and added complexity of ancillary equipment. You can then add as your wallet and tolerance for maintenance allows. On the first hull, the entire starboard hull housed the owner’s stateroom with a double bed aft, a desk and stowage lockers amidships, and a head with a stall shower forward. Four steps lead down to the port hull where the galley occupies the middle and widest portion of the space and two bunks are at each end.

A galley-down arrangement is polarizing and people will either love it, or not. Also, a second head in place of the forward bunk would make sense since in the current arrangement, everyone will need to enter the owner’s suite to get to the only head aboard.

Maine Cat 38 model

The standard rig is a Selden fractional mast (fixed and deck stepped) with a self-tacking jib on a furler and a full batten main. Total upwind sail area is 845 sq. ft. which is plenty for a boat with only a 12,500-pound displacement. The design is fairly narrow with an almost 12:1 length to beam ratio. The twin hulls have fine entries, each with a 3’2” beam at the waterline. About a foot off the water, a chine runs from near the bow all the way aft to the transom. Not only does this provide a drier ride, but also, the “shoulder” it creates allows the hulls to flare outward and widen to six feet, which creates more interior volume for better accommodations.

The Maine Cat 38 has dagger boards for better upwind performance. These are fully retractable for less drag when sailing off the wind. With the boards down, the draft is 6’6” but with them up, sailors can gunkhole in waters just 2’5” deep.

Speed is the order of the day and the 38 is expected to sail 16 to 18 knots off the wind. That’s not bad for a boat with only 36’5” of waterline. Part of this speed has to do with the hull design and rig but most can be attributed to the lightweight build. The Maine Cat 38 is made of resin-infused, thermoformed CoreCell coring. In this process, the CoreCell is heated to make it flexible and then shaped without the need for extra cuts and grooves or excess resin to fill them. The result is significant weight savings and therefore more agility.

Whether cruising or club racing, the Maine Cat 38 will find an audience, and most likely a sizable one, at that. It seems indeed that the world is going to the cats, but at least some of these new multis are no dogs.