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VIDEOS: Two catamarans, one mission: a smooth ride

A power catamaran with nice lines? Never, you might think.

Well, take a look at this cat, the Freeman 40. Its sharply raked bows and reverse sheer immediately got my attention when I saw the boat at the Miami International Boat Show.

“Catamarans have been boxy-looking, aesthetically unappealing to people,” says Billy Freeman, founder and owner of 4-year-old Freeman Boatworks in Charleston, S.C. “We wanted it to be attractive and still provide that smooth ride cats are known for.”


Click play to watch the boat in action as Freeman sales manager Bob Dayhoff talks about its features.

The show boat had been sold to a hardcore fisherman, so it had sparse seating and lots of fishing components. With its 13-foot beam, several anglers can spread out and fish, walking without obstruction from bow to stern.

“This boat has 30 percent more room than a comparably sized monohull,” Freeman sales manager Bob Dayhoff says.

The builder used cold-molded construction for this 40, but future models will be built with fiberglass and composite coring materials, Freeman says.

With four F300 Yamaha outboards, a custom T-top, an electronics package and synthetic teak decks, the show boat was $475,000. A similarly equipped 40 with twin 350-hp Yamahas is about $430,000. The company also builds a 33-footer.

Tibona 20

Some hull designs never go away. Case in point is the Tibona 20 catamaran, which is based on the Seagull 19, a popular power cat from the 1990s.

Dan Hollins, of Sarasota, Fla., bought the molds for the boat about two years ago and recently completed what he calls the Tibona 20. "It seemed to fit everything I was looking for in a boat — a stable platform for the family and being able to get offshore for fishing, and the ride of a catamaran," he says.

Hollins, 30, has built a durable vessel with yacht-like fit and finish, he says. "I could have made it a lot less expensive, but the perfectionist in me came out," he says. "I may have made it too pretty for the market."

The cat has a beam of 8 feet, 4 inches and draws 13 inches, and Hollins builds it with a solid-glass bottom and cored sides and decks. "Basically, I'm keeping it old school," says Hollins, who runs a fiberglass repair and refit business, Boat Medics. "Everything is hand-laid."


Click play to watch a slideshow as Hollins details the Tibona 20.

The console has room for a portable head, and a walkthrough transom leads to a boarding/diving platform. Options include a leaning-post 20-gallon bait well and a T-top. To save deck space, Hollins mounts the T-top piping to the console, which he bolts to integrated 3/8-inch-thick aluminum plates in the deck.

The Tibona 20 gets 3.5 mpg at 24 mph, and 3.1 mpg at 31 mph, he says. Top end is 39 mph.

The $44,500 base price includes the outboards, an aluminum trailer, leaning post, console, fishbox, rod holders, nav lights, stainless-steel deck hardware and three batteries.