PDQ Yachts was founded in 1987, when the present malaise of the Canadian pleasure boat building industry was gaining momentum. Nonetheless, the optimistic PDQ team were determined to bring into production a "modern, commodious, performance catamaran of impeccable quality." All principles are keen sailors and multi-hull enthusiasts. They include president and director Harvey Griggs, an engineer with a doctorate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alan Slater, a manufacturing consultant who has been designing one-of catamarans for 20 years; and vice-president Simon Slater, with ten years prior experience in the marine industry. They are backed by a board of directors with experience in law, finance, accounting, technology, manufacturing and marketing.
A prototype for the PDQ (Pretty Damn Quick) 34(as the initial model was called) was built at their quarters on the site of the defunct Whitby Boat Works, and used as a plug to make the molds for the production run. The first boat pulled from the molds was launched mid-summer, 1989. The cat was displayed in the Toronto area, then sailed to the Annapolis Boat Show, and was sold there.
There has been a steady flow of orders, with the seventh finished PDQ about to leave the shed when I visited the premises in September, 1990. Lynx, the demonstrator cat, was being prepared to sail to the 1990 Annapolis Boat Show (where she was sold, and orders taken for two more).
The PDQ is a big boat for her length. Her overall beam is more than half of her overall length, a modern departure from older catamaran designs which generally had less than half beam-to-length ratio. The topsides are high, making for a big step up from the dock to the deck. Each bull has accommodations under a raised coachroof, with another level of coachroof over the bridge deck cabin spanning the area between the hulls. The 'three story high' effect may offend traditional monohullers, but it is nicely styled, and decorated with dark tinted port lights and stripes.
From deck level you step around the in-hull cabin coachroof to enter the large (nine-foot by seven-foot) cockpit. The mainsail boom is above head-bashing height when standing in the footwell. There is room to walk around, with the two speed, self-tailing sheet winches easily at hand but not in the way.
The helm station, at the forward starboard corner of the cockpit, has a comfortable pedestal seat. Knot/log, depth and wind instruments are mounted in the bulkhead in front of the vertical wheel. The twin engine controls are mounted vertically on the bulkhead at the left hand side of the station.
I went for a sail with Simon Slater and Sarnia's Paul Milne, owner of the then-incomplete #7. The twin Yamaha 9.9-hp four-stroke outboards, mounted under the cockpit seats, could hardly be heard as we motored away from the floating dock at Whitby Marina. Once clear of the channel we made sail on an offshore wind - according to the instruments - of 14 to 16 knots, gusting over 20 knots.
We began the sail conservatively, pothering along with a single reef in the main and about two-thirds of the 135 percent genoa rolled out from the optional Harken roller-furling gear. Paralleling the shore in the flat water, we reached at five to six knots. The deck was heeled to about 5 degrees. The boat felt rock solid: a full cup of coffee at the helm station would hardly have the ripples in it.
I took over the helm, and found the directional stability was such that I only occasionally touched the wheel to make small corrections. When I became accustomed to the boat we rolled out the remainder of the genoa and bore away dead downwind, wing and wing, to get a few miles offshore where we could feel the wave action.
All control lines - the roller-furling line, mainsail halyard and reefing lines - are lead aft, with Spinlock clutches to control the lines and one winch to ease the work. The system works well. Everything is neatly at hand when standing at the forward end of the cockpit, with no difficult stretching required.
As we ran downwind the boat remained bolt upright, with no tendency to roll or to broach. The 40-ft tall rig is mounted on the coachroof, the uppermost level of which is close under the boom. There is no space for a permanently mounted boom vang. As the boom sawed up and down, trying to, and eventually succeeding at, making a goosewing gybe, I noted the need for a vang/preventer tackle to control the sail when well off the wind. A nine-foot-long track for the mainsheet car runs across the aft end of the cockpit and easily controls sail shape when the wind is on or forward of the beam.
We gybed over as I went to a reaching course parallel to the waves. First the windward hull was lifted by a wave, then dropped as the wave passed under the bridge deck, to lift the lee hull and drop it, just as the next short, steep wave lifted the windward hull. It is a sharp, jerking motion, the most uncomfortable point of sail on a multihull. The motion on the PDQ was better than some, and no worse than other multihulls I have sailed on.
Close-hauled, the PDQ sailed at an apparent wind angle of 35 to 40 degrees. The molded fibreglass, low aspect-ratio keels prevented noticeable leeway. She tacked positively, with no hesitation through the eye of the wind. I surrendered the helm to go below to feel the motion there. The interior accommodation is entered through an offset, bi-fold, smoked acrylic door. I dislike these arrangements, as they offer little security from potential break-ins, and they usually leak water from rain storms when the bow of the boat is not pointed into the wind.
Entering the bridgedeck cabin from the cockpit, there is a raised lip to step over. Then one places one's foot into a channel six inches lower than the cockpit sole, so arranged to give standing headroom when going to the large dinette - directly ahead - or when moving into either of the hulls.
Close-hauled with the apparent wind in the 20-knot range, I stood at the galley counter in the port (then windward) hull and found there was little motion. The effect of the slight heel was not apparent, and the pitching was hardly noticeable. The centre of rotation (the point of least movement) of the boat seemed to be right in front of the galley sink. Items placed on the counter stayed where they were set down. On a monohull everything not tied down would have ended up in a heap in a leeward corner.
The galley, three steps down from the bridgedeck house to the cabin sole, is large and well laid out, with counters running along the inboard and outboard sides of the hull, each side being a one-piece molding. There is a large counter-level icebox which extends over the bridgedeck, a single sink, a two-burner stove and many small lockers.
At the forward end of each hull is a large sleeping cabin, each with a queen sized berth -enormous compared to most monohull V-berths - as well as hanging lockers, smaller lockers and two opening deck hatches for ventilation. Aft of the galley in the port hull lies a lounging cabin with a settee which converts to bunk beds.
The bright and airy head, sink and shower area is situated aft in the starboard hull. The size is generous, and the fibreglass molding makes it appear clean and inviting and easy to care for.
The nav station and electric system control panel lie mid-hull, over a chart table with a fold-out leaf that makes it large enough to plot on a full-sized chart from the settee opposite. I would locate the VHF and loran where they could be operated from the bridgedeck, dinette or the companionway, as I wouldn't want to dash down to that part of the boat, where visibility is severely restricted, to locate something on a chart or to speak on the radio.
After we beat back to the harbour entrance we started one engine and doused the sails. I was surprised at the directional stability of the boat. I would not have suspected that only one engine was propelling the boat from the straight track and ease of steering I experienced. One of the outboards will propel the boat at about five knots; both engines push her to about eight knots.
As I approached the dock we started the second engine for increased control. The foredeck seems huge when approaching a dock, and slow and easy are the watchwords. Windage is considerable, yet the boat gripped the water and I felt in full control.
I slightly misjudged my approach and had to kick the bow at the last minute with a burst of power on the standard engine - an easily judged manoeuvre that quickly corrected my error. As a minor criticism, I found the controls for the engines awkwardly placed. They are mounted vertically at the same level as the wheel, side by side, and the levers must be pushed up or down with the left hand.
The engine system works well, with the outboard engines mounted a significant distance forward from the transoms. They can be raised clear of the water with the use of a tackle arrangement for reduce drag under sail. There wasn't a hint of cavitation in the conditions I experienced. Because the engines are not mounted directly in front of the rudders, there is no steerage from the helm that would be provided by prop wash when the boat is nearly dead in the water. However, there is easy directional control through engaging or reversing individual engines. With a little practice on this docile cat the technique would be quickly learned.
I had noted in the brochure for the PDQ 34, the model I was sailing, "...that under favourable conditions you can sail at 10 to 15 knots." I also noted on the drawings that the transoms are shown clear of the water. The boat I sailed floated nearly three inches deeper in the water than shown in the drawings when at the dock with three people in the cockpit. We had also sailed at a maximum sustained speed of about eight knots, under what I would call favourable conditions.
"The original concept was for a lightweight racer/cruiser," said Slater. "Our customers want refrigeration systems, hot and cold pressure water systems, increased storage battery capacity, and other amenities. It all adds weight, which slows the boat."
In January, 1991, the company announced the updated version of the PDQ, renaming her the PDQ 36. The primary change is an additional 21 inches on the waterline with reverse-sheer transoms incorporating molded-in steps. The additional length will increase buoyancy aft - and carrying capacity - while preserving the narrow, three-foot-wide waterline beam of the symmetrical hulls.
All fibreglass moldings are smooth and nicely engineered. The fibreglass is a tri-axial knitted fabric, the resin is isophthalic acid based, with iso-based gelcoat for osmosis blister resistance. The hull, deck and underwing employ Klegecell foam core, vacuum-bagged for optimum resin penetration.
The hardware is first-class and well installed. Sizing is generous, with some of the fittings appearing massive for the boat. Marine plywood is used as backing pieces, and all bolted-on hardware can be accessed by removing the interior liner.
The interior finishing is improving, with fibreglass moldings replacing woodwork where appropriate to tidy up some earlier less-than professional production techniques. The boat they displayed at the 1991 Toronto International Boat Show had a much better interior finish than the boat I sailed on the previous September.
The model I sailed had lifelines along the side decks, but no pulpits or pushpit. These are optional railings I would not sail without. A few more handholds around the boat would be helpful. Although there is very little heeling, the boat does move, and it would be reassuring to have something to grab at in places like the cockpit's forward bulkhead near the sail controls, at the companionway, and near the door at the head.
The PDQ 36 is a strong, high-quality boat, one that will add credibility to the increasing acceptance of cruising multihulls. I am sure this cat will live up to her claimed speed under sail if she is not loaded beyond her designed displacement. And even if heavily loaded, her performance will still be equivalent to a fast monohull. But you will have much more interior accommodation than an equivalent-length mono, and she will sail flat!
LOA 36 ft. 5 in.
LWL 34 ft. 4 in.
BOA 18 ft. 3in.
Beam 13 ft at center line of hulls
Draft 2 ft. 10 in.
Sail Area (Main) 300 sq. ft.
Dispacement 8,000 lb.
To see if this boat is available, go to http://www.boatcan.com for listings!