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  • Hi, looking for advice on a new boat. I currently have a 79 Prindle 16. I've owned for about 10 years, but some gaps in sailing due to moves etc. I also grew up daysailing with family in Michigan great and inland lakes on small monohulls. Currently live in San Diego and sail on Mission Bay. Wife is not an avid sailor but enjoys the beach & social sailing. I'm 6'4 230 lb, wife is average height and fit. Since our last beach day a baby daughter appeared. We also have a medium size dog and likely will have another kid.

    What we've done so far is trailer the boat, solo setup + launch and sail to where my wife wants to beach and then we spend the day there alternating between beaching and sailing (with me spending more time solo sailing and wife doing more beaching). I've taken up to 3 adults (2 big guys & 1 women) & toddler on the Prindle which is fine. Slow sailing in light wind of course. I’ve never taken the dog, I doubt if that would go well on the Prindle.

    I keep the boat at home in the garage and the Prindle 16 is just about maxed out length wise (trailer tongue folds, the hulls itself are limiting. Mast stored off trailer elsewhere). There’s no other place for it to go at home and I have no desire to rent storage so ~16 ft LOA is a must have, although I can prep the boat for trailering in the driveway.

    There is nothing particularly wrong with the Prindle but it is older and so I've been thinking about whether it's time to look for something new(er). It would be trailered, solo setup/launch/recover, solo crew. At this point in my life it is only going to be used on family beach days. Goal is easy to rig, rewarding to sail, as much performance as possible with something family can enjoy and minimal hassle factor. Minimizing storage space at home would also make my wife very happy - garage is stuffed with two boats, m/c etc. Budget is not a major constraint. I already have too many projects so I don’t want another one.

    The boat I really like is the TopCat K3/K4 because it's about the same size as the Prindle but can be broken down to cartop (incl 2 piece mast). I probably wouldn't actually car top all that often but it would make storage easier and in theory would let me pull a trailer and still bring the boat cartop on a roadtrip vacation. The big downside is they are unheard of in the US, if I went that route I'd have to buy a new boat sight unseen.

    Xcat looks like easy to break down, somewhat available in the US, but I'm guessing a major compromise on performance, and also appears to be more cramped on the tramp despite the similar length.

    More practical choice is Nacra 500 which I also really like and of course they're around new and used. Seems like that would be a very nice modern upgrade of my boat but not a game change (i.e about the same for storage, setup, and family friendliness I assume)

    Hobie Getaway seems like it’s built for this mission except the length might be tight & maybe compromising on the fun for me. Maybe I could squeeze it in with rudders off. They are also available for rent on Mission Bay so in theory I could own the boat I really want and rent the minivan when needed.

    Does anyone have any experience with the TopCat at all? And any other boats that I should be considering?


  • We have a Nacra 5.0 & a 5.7. & a Hobie 18 Magnum. I personally don’t sail the 5.0 with more than two adults. It’s a ton of fun so,o, or two up when the wind gets to 20.
    I’ve had 4 on the 5.7, with decent sailing in 15mph wind.
    I also have a Dart 15 for solo days when he wind is really blowing & everybody else stays on shore. They were built in England, for big wind, & designed with car topping in mind. The entire boat comes apart with no tools. Personally, if I had to cartop, I’d find another hobby.
    Yes, it makes storage smaller, BUT, you have to get the beams into the hulls, feed the tramp, tension the tramp, attach the stays, then continue with normal rigging. I’ve read some of the accomplished English sailors can do it in 45 minutes, but that’s the real serious racers, with lots of practice.
    One strong man can heft the Dart hulls onto a low car, but a minivan needs two, unless you have a “third hand” system.
    You might like the Nacra 5.7,(570). Carries a big load, big uncluttered tramp. No boom, no boards, & the same rigging setup as the 5.0,(500).

    Hobie 18 Magnum
    Dart 15
    Mystere 6.0XL Sold Was a handful solo
    Nacra 5.7
    Nacra 5.0
    Bombardier Invitation (Now officially DEAD)
    Various other Dock cluttering WaterCrap
  • Thanks. A 570 is just too big to fit at home unfortunately. That said I think taking more than two adults would be pretty rare and there are rental Getaways available if we wanted to take someone else out. The TopCat is a similar design to the Dart I believe (I've never seen either of them). I would definitely not car top it routinely or assemble prior to every sail, I just thought the ability to break it down (relatively) quickly could come in handy.


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