Moorings 514 Power Cat - That's usGreg Nicoll

Four sailors charter a Moorings 514 PC in the Abacos

Canadian Yachting magazine has always taken the lead in promoting the charter experience, exploring the Caribbean as well as more distant world destinations. Many of us across Canada start getting ‘twitchy’ in late August thinking about shrink-wrapping our boats and the long stretch of winter that lies ahead. Canadian Yachting has tried our best to keep boating a part of our reader’s year-round activities through our stories and pictures. Over the course of many years, we have featured great sun destinations, different types of sailing boats and suggestions on how to make your chartering experience better. It occurred to us however, that not all of our readers are sailors, in fact, many like power boating. Perhaps we have been doing them a disservice. Time to fix that!

One of the fastest growing charter boat trends over the past decade has been the option of sailing catamarans. Their large, spacious and comfortable interiors allow several couples and/or families to better enjoy a chartering experience. However, the last few years have seen the emergence and growth of power catamarans. So, we decided to investigate this latest emerging trend. 

Moorings 514 - TransomOur friends at The Moorings suggested we try their new Moorings 514 PC, made exclusively for them by South African yacht builders, Robertson and Caine. 

Let me confess that our skipper and crew for this mission were all sailors. We grew up in our sport with possibly a little ‘attitude’ – thinking that sailors stood on a higher rung of the ladder than those who chose to push those big noisy, wake-making, gas-guzzling boats that destroy serenity. Okay I said it.

On this trip, we felt were going to the dark side. Well, it really wasn't the dark side as our boat was based in Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas which was bright and sunny, averaging 30°C most days, where the waters were crystal clear in hues of blue and the white sand beaches were soft underfoot. Absolutely no dark side here.

The Moorings 514 PC is the largest of the power cats offered by The Moorings. The overall length is 15.54 m (51 ft.) with a beam of 7.64 m (25 ft.) and at first look, its size can be a little daunting. The Moorings team at Marsh Harbour took their time with us, went through all the systems of the boat and gave us a solid understanding of what lay ahead. These boats are specifically designed for charter fleets, so everything is clearly marked and user-friendly.

Moorings 514 - Catamaran designThe first thing one notices about the 514 PC is how spacious and open the boat feels - it is not just the size, but the visuals – natural light from the large windows everywhere; even the soft interior colour tones added to the roomy feeling. The beauty of a catamaran is that the layout allows for both group time and private time.

Charterers could easily have 8 to 10 people sitting in the main saloon enjoying a gourmet meal and laughing the night away. The same size group could also be enjoying breakfast outside on the aft deck with a large pot of coffee watching the sunrise. In the afternoon, I see gathering on the flybridge where there's plenty of room to spread out for cocktails (with easy access to a wet bar and refrigerator), while grilling hors d'oeuvres on the barbecue. The U-shaped flybridge settee has convertible backrests that allow for a number of configurations; sitting forward or backward depending on where the sun sets, and also allowing enough room to dance the night away in the moonlight. I can't imagine a sailboat owner ever saying that!

The 514 PC also has several areas for quiet time. I especially loved the sitting area just in front of the main saloon, boasting two nice little couches with foldaway tables, perfect for quiet conversations or finally enjoying that novel that's been on your night table for the past six months. Just in front and below the helm is a queen-size sunbed moulded into the hardtop surrounded by a safety stainless steel rail – fantastic for catching some rays. But make sure to apply your sunblock first as it’s very easy to slip into an unexpected siesta on that comfy sunbed. 

Moorings 514 - SaloonWhat sets catamarans apart from traditional monohull sailboats or powerboats are the cabins. On the 514 PC, there are four large double-berth cabins, each with their own head and separate shower compartments. The catamaran configuration allows for each cabin to be isolated in its own quarter of the boat with lots of storage space and good ventilation as well as easy escapes to the deck without disturbing anyone. I love my friends. I love saying good morning and goodnight to them. However, I love being in my own space and not having to tiptoe through the main cabin to catch a sunrise! 

One of the very few things I had trouble with was the lack of a step-up to the elevated berths in the aft cabin. This made it hard to be ‘stealthy’ in the middle of the night. The forward cabins have steps for easier access to the berth.

Somewhere, somehow the duties for chartering get divided up. Some take command of the flybridge; some take charge of the mooring lines. But if you're the galley princess, or prince, life is good. The galley, which is part of the main saloon, is massive, with a large, stainless steel double sink, a microwave, a three-burner stovetop, a decent-sized oven, a two-drawer front opening fridge/freezer, plenty of Corian countertop space, lots of storage, a coffeemaker, a toaster and the all-important blender. Preparing great meals was easy. Clean-ups were quick.

Moorings 514 - Underwater lightingNow, let's get to the guts of the matter. I must admit that there were a few times when I thought it would be great to put up a sail and meander to the next island hide-away or picturesque port town. We are on a power catamaran and therefore had no sails. So, we used the twin Yanmar 350HP diesel engines to power us wherever we wanted to go. In a comparable catamaran sailboat, you would have twin 55HP engines – good enough to get to where you’re going, but certainly not like the power cat.

In one particular stretch, we ran into a strong head wind that we easily powered through. We might have struggled with the smaller sail sized engines. As a sailor, I have never filled two large gas tanks and I spent a few days rubbing my credit card thinking that this was going to hurt. I read the fuel specs during our time onboard and quietly calculated how much it would cost to fill the twin 200 gallon tanks. At the end of our journey, tied up to the fuel dock, the dock master handed me a yellow slip and I was really surprised at how little fuel we burned during our trip. It was easy to calculate the fuel consumption to run the generator for the air-conditioning as fuel came from the port tank. The low fuel consumption is the result of the small amount of wetted surface provided by the catamaran-shaped hulls and the fact that, according to the spec sheet, the 514PC draws just over three feet.

Did we miss not having a keel? Not really, as we were able to get close enough to shore to reach the white sandy bottom where our Delta 20kg (55lb.) anchor could get a firm hold and we were still able to wade ashore. Never once did I feel that engine noise was overwhelming, in fact, engine noise was never a factor in our enjoyment of this trip.

Moorings 514 - GalleyAnother aspect of the 514 PC that took some adjustment was the height of the foredeck. When approaching a mooring ball, you had to have the boat hook extended as far as possible to reach the mooring lines. I would suggest practising a mooring ball approach in the open water before attempting it in a small confined harbour as there needs to be some co-ordination between the crew and the skipper up in the fly bridge. Then, once we got the “hook” of it, it was easy.

Hope Town Harbour was a little tight as many boats had arrived before us, so we had to search for an available mooring ball. Our ‘new to power boating’ skipper, Katie, easily manoeuvered throughout the harbour, around many boats until we found an available ball. We were tied up in minutes and were ready to explore this amazing port town.

We really came to enjoy and appreciate the hydraulic dingy lift off the stern that we also used as a swim platform. It was simple, quick and easy to lift or lower the dinghy on the platform with the controls on a cable. This allowed us to walk around and make adjustments, as the boat was being lifted or lowered. (To engage the lift you need to have the port engine revving at about 1,100 RPM.)

Moorings 514 - CabinTo most powerboaters, many of these tasks and controls are second nature as they have been working with the systems and operations for years. For us rookies, it took a little while to grasp the workings of a powerboat. The AC/DC electrical panel had a lot more switches than what we’re used to, but they were all clearly laid out, pretty much self-explanatory and it was easy to get all systems working properly including the generator, which we needed to power the air-conditioning. The helm was complete with a full Raymarine instrument package including C95 colour chart plotter and a P70 colour autopilot with a depth sounder. The boat was equipped with a fantastic Fusion 700 I series Marine stereo that included an internal iPod/ iPhone docking station. It took a little time, but we figured out how to manage the sound system as there are four separate regions you can control – the saloon, aft deck, forward cockpit and fly bridge, each with individual controls.

For my power boating friends and sailors alike, The Moorings 514 PC offers a great boating experience to share with friends and family. This catamaran is so comfortable and well-balanced that even your non-boating friends will have a wonderful chartering experience. Check one the 514 PCs at one of The Moorings bases in the BVIs, St. Maarten, the Abacos (Bahamas) and Grenada.

This opens up Caribbean chartering to far more people!


Moorings 514 Power CatPhoto Captions

Photo 1 - Yup…that’s really us and our Moorings 514 Power Cat in the Abacos – not a brochure shot.

Photo 2 - With the power transom lift serving as both a dinghy lift and your own beach for swimming, the stern is where the action is!

Photo 3 - The attraction of the catamaran design is the expanse of deck area. The 514 includes a seating area ahead of the saloon windows and on the coach roof, a sunbed.

Photo 4 - The spacious saloon has a dining area for everyone to be comfortable.

Photo 5 - The 514 includes underwater lighting – cool for dockside and excellent at the anchorage in the evenings.

Photo 6 - The galley has the space and equipment for serious chefs and grand meals.

Photo 7 - Bright and roomy cabins feature an overhead escape hatch and opening ports for air flow at night without running the A/C or the generator.

Photo 8 - Stable, efficient and comfortable describes the experience of cruising in a Moorings 514 Power Cat.